If the child you hope to adopt either resides in Florida, or is expected to be born in Florida, you will need an attorney, known as an Intermediary to handle the placement and legal processing for you.
While the Intermediary (Adoption Attorney) represents the adoptive parents for purposes of handling the legal adoption of the child, the Intermediary (Adoption Attorney) also has significant responsibility to the child to insure his/her safety and welfare in the placement. For this reason, the Intermediary (Adoption Attorney) will assist adoptive parents in locating a social worker or adoption agency to do a home study for the adoptive parents with required background checks and clearances. This study will be filed with the court as evidence of the appropriateness of the home for the child.
The Intermediary (Adoption Attorney) will insure that all required documents are completed and signed by the birth mother and/or birth father prior to the placement. The Intermediary (Adoption Attorney), will take care of processing the termination of parental rights which makes the child legally available for adoption. The Intermediary (Adoption Attorney) will also make sure that all documents required by the court are correctly and timely filed so that the adoption of the child can be finalized.
Although the Intermediary (Adoption Attorney) does not legally represent the birth parents, if there is a stated need, or request by a birth parent, for assistance with medical or legal expenses, the Intermediary (Adoption Attorney) will assist with the handling of these expenses.
Once the adoption is finalized, the Intermediary (Adoption Attorney) will assist the adoptive parents in obtaining a new birth certificate for the child.
Our attorneys regularly serve as Intermediaries for the placement of children with adoptive parent. You may call and schedule a consultation for a better idea of what will be required in your specific case.
Step Parent Adoptions
If, as a family, you have decided that the best interest of your child will be served by the completion of a step-parent adoption, we can assist you with the legal processing.
If your child’s non custodial biological parent is deceased, a certified copy of the death certificate will be needed to process the step-parent adoption. If he/she is alive and willing to execute consent documents, we will prepare these documents and obtain the necessary signatures.
Sometimes the identity of the child’s non-custodial biological parent is unknown, the biological parent can’t be located, or he/she is objecting to the step-parent adoption. In these cases, it still may be possible to do a step-parent adoption, but some additional work will be required.
The law firm has processed hundreds of step-parent adoptions and can handle even the most complicated family dynamics.
The number of children living with, and being raised by, grandparents has been steadily on the rise in Florida for many years.
There are many financial benefits and significant legal, emotional, and physical benefits that can be provided to children if they are adopted by their grandparents. Grandparent adoptions can be processed with the consent of the parent(s), or can be processed based upon the financial and emotional abandonment of parental responsibilities by the parents.
The law firm can process the grandparent adoption, or if something less permanent is needed, can handle establishing temporary legal custody, or legal guardianship in favor of the grandparent. The law firm can also provide guidance and assistance with benefits that may be available for the child(ren) as a result of the grandparent adoption.
A consultation with our office can help you decide the most appropriate option for your family.
Sometimes the best solution for a child, whose parents are facing unexpected challenges, is a relative adoption. Relative adoptions are normally far less complicated than third party adoptions, and are normally less expensive for the adoptive parents.
When a child in Florida is adopted by close relatives, no background checks or home study will be required unless the child is in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
For many families, a relative adoption provides the perfect balance of safety and security for the child with peace of mind and comfort for the parents. A relative adoption can also provide important immigration benefits to a child who was not born in the United States.
The law firm can process the relative adoption for you, or, if something less permanent is needed, can handle temporary legal custody arrangements. A consultation can help you decide the most appropriate option for your family.
Re-Adoption/Domestication of Foreign Decree of Adoption
If you have successfully completed an international adoption and returned home to Florida with your child, it may be time to process a US Re-Adoption or Domestication of Foreign Decree of Adoption. In Florida, these terms are essentially synonymous and refer to the legal process of having the U.S. court recognize and grant legal status to your foreign adoption decree.
For some internationally adopted children, this process is required to formally complete their immigration application for citizenship status. For others, it is not required but can provide many desirable benefits, including the issuance of a Florida birth certificate and the opportunity to make any name changes the adoptive parents wish to make.
Re-Adoption or Domestication of Foreign Decree of Adoption is not a terribly complicated or particularly expensive process, but it can be a very important last step that should not be overlooked simply because the child has arrived home. In some cases, the failure to process a Re-Adoption can have disastrous consequences for a child’s immigration status.
If you are unsure as to whether or not this process is required for your internationally adopted child, let us schedule you for a consultation.
Finalization of Adoption
In Florida, children are typically rendered free for adoption, and then adopted in a single case, but this is not always the case for children born overseas or in other states, or children who have been the subject of juvenile dependency proceedings that resulted in a termination of parental rights of their biological parents. There are many times when adoptive parents from Florida are told by their agency in another state or country that they will need to have a Florida attorney finalize their adoption once the parental rights have been terminated elsewhere.
These cases can have complex interjurisdictional issues and it is wise for the Florida adoptive parents to have competent legal counsel to insure a smooth finalization of their adoption.
Our office has handled numerous inter-jurisdictional finalizations of adoption cases and can expertly guide you through this final stage of processing the adoption of your child, so that no “loose ends” remain.
Adoption of Children who are not U.S. Citizens
When an adoptive parent who is a U.S. citizen seeks to adopt a foreign born child who is residing in the State of Florida, complex immigration issues may be involved even if the child is closely related to the adoptive parent. While it is possible, under appropriate circumstances, to provide a child with legal permanent residency, and eventually citizenship, through an adoption by a U.S. citizen, it is a complicated process. This type of adoption should only be handled by a highly qualified adoption attorney working in conjunction with a highly qualified immigration attorney.
If you are contemplating the adoption of a foreign born child, we will be happy to assist you and work closely with an immigrations attorney to provide the child with a safe and stable home, and immigration status that allows him or her to remain in the United States.
Our office will work in conjunction with your immigration attorney to help the child qualify for the desired immigration status.
When the Florida Department of Children and Families has been, or is, involved in legal issues involving a child, it can be extremely complicated, and there is often more “misinformation” than reliable advice out there.
Because the DCF system is a challenging maze of statutes, regulations and internal policies, adoptive parents can easily become frustrated and overwhelmed. Although it may be tempting to “try to do it yourself,” this can quickly lead to disaster if you encounter even the slightest problems with the planned agenda.
The law firm’s sophisticated understanding of the process, motivations constraints and priorities within the Department of Children and Families allow us to competently advise adoptive parents at any stage of the case, and many times we can help bring about a positive outcome.
When a child is taken into custody by the Department of Children and Families Services and a parent wishes to make an adoption plan, the adoption entity will be required to intervene directly into the DCF case.
Our attorneys are skilled in intervention and can help. Schedule a consultation to discuss the facts of your case.
Interstate Adoption/Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC)
Each State has a comprehensive adoption code that governs every aspect of adoptions occurring within that State, including relevant time frames, required documents, legal processing, etc. As long as both the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) reside in the same state, compliance with the statute is relatively straight forward and uncomplicated.
When the birth parent(s) resides in a different state from the adoptive parent(s), the compliance issues can rapidly become far more difficult. Each State belongs to the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) in order to insure that incompatible state laws are coordinated in a manner that insures consistency and respect for the best interests of the child. ICPC processing is a level of bureaucratic compliance that requires sophisticated experience and knowledge in this particular area of law.
If it is handled correctly, adoptive parents can expect to receive clearance to return home with their child within two weeks of application and their adoption should finalize smoothly thereafter. If it is not handled correctly, adoptive parents can be prohibited from returning home with their child for extended periods of time and finalization of their adoption may be blocked permanently.
The law firm routinely handles interstate cases and has a great deal of experience in working with the complex issues involved in interstate adoptions.