You may have found yourself unexpectedly expecting and are now wondering what you should do next. As an expectant parent, you may feel a great deal of emotions: overwhelmed, excited, scared, unsure, anxious, or worried. You may not know where to start or who to talk to about your options. On the other hand, you may have started researching to better understand the option of adoption for you and your baby. If you are just starting the process of learning more about adoption in Florida, you may have a lot of questions.

Educating yourself on the process of adoption in Florida and what goes into the process of creating an adoption plan for your baby, will help you deal with all of the emotions you are feeling. You will also get the answers and education you need for you and your child. A great place to begin when researching is Adoption.com’s resource guide on adoption in Florida. This is only some of the information on the website. Adoption.com offers a great deal of clear and helpful information on the process of adoption in Florida including the rules and regulations in the state and who is able to adopt your baby in the state. Additionally, this article will add to that knowledge and help the reader learn what they need to know..

  1. How to Choose an Adoption Service Provider in Florida

Adoption service providers include adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, or licensed social workers who can help assist the birth parents and adoptive parents in finalizing an adoption.  Adoption agencies can be public or private. Most public agencies in the state of Florida assist adoptive parents in finalizing a foster care adoption. However, private adoption agencies assist expectant parents in placing their babies for adoption with an adoptive family. They also can assist in adoptions from foster care in Florida. Adoption attorneys are attorneys who have their bar license in Florida to assist in finalizing adoptions in Florida and supporting birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents in the legalities of adoption in the state and all of the paperwork that comes with the process of finalization.

  1. Adoption Agencies in Florida

If you wish to go with an adoption agency to help you complete your adoption, or if you would like to learn more about adoption agencies a wonderful place to start is to read articles like this one on adoption agencies in Florida. The list provided includes a comprehensive directory of all the adoption agencies in the state of Florida. A long list like this can seem overwhelming, but realizing you have options will help you find a great adoption agency in the state of Florida.

You may feel overwhelmed because you are not even sure if you want to create an adoption plan for your baby. You may worry that if you ask an adoption agency for more information, you will be pressured to use them to place your baby for adoption. However, this is not the case. First, there is no pressure to place your baby for adoption at ANY time in the process. You are in control of the decisions made for you and your baby. You can interview as many adoption agencies as you wish without any pressure to use any of them or go through with creating an adoption plan for your child. You may also decide to go with an adoption agency and change your mind about your adoption plan later. You are allowed to do this at any point in the process. Further, if any person or adoption agency pressures you to place your baby for adoption just leave. This should never happen.

You may have a list of agencies you would like to interview, however, you are not sure of what questions to ask as you interview, call, or meet with each adoption agency on your list. Creating a list of questions to ask an adoption agency can be helpful, but it is also good to ask the questions on your heart as they arise during the conversation. The adoption agency you choose to use will be a big support system for you during your pregnancy and adoption process. So, it is important you feel comfortable with them and the social workers they use.

  1. Adoption Attorneys in Florida

As an expectant parent, you may be curious about using an adoption attorney and wonder why you would use an adoption attorney instead of an adoption agency in creating your adoption plan and placing your baby for adoption in Florida. When an expectant mother has been matched with an adoptive family for her baby, she may decide to use an adoption attorney instead of an adoption agency. Sometimes this is not the case and an expectant mother simply decides she prefers to use an adoption attorney. You may be wondering how you would connect or be matched with hopeful adoptive parents prior to using an adoption agency or adoption attorney. This can happen when the expectant parent connects with some hopeful adoptive parents from a mutual friend at church, through family or friends, or online through adoption photolistings.

You will need an attorney to help with your adoption if you do not use an adoption agency. Many birth mothers wonder if they can use anyone they know who is an attorney to finalize the adoption. However, very few general practice attorneys specialize or understand the intricacies of adoption in Florida. An attorney who specializes in adoption understands all applicable Florida state adoption laws as well as all federal laws pertaining to adoption.

  1. Who Can Complete an Adoption in Florida?

Adoption in Florida is similar to other states in that there are laws that regulate how the process of adoption works in the state and also who is eligible to adopt in Florida. According to Florida laws, hopeful adoptive parents can be single, divorced, widowed, or married. Married couples may jointly adopt a child that an expectant mother places for adoption. Previously, Florida prohibited LGBTQ+ couples from adopting in the state, however, in 2010 that law was overturned and any lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individual or couple may adopt according to the state constitution.

Adoption agencies and adoption attorneys, however, may have their own requirements for adoption. So, even if the state does not specifically name a certain requirement to adopt, the adoption agency may require more than the state for the prospective adoptive family to use their agency for adoption. All of the adoption agencies and attorneys should follow the state laws, but they may have additional requirements. Adoption agencies will walk the birth mother and adoptive parents through their own set of requirements for adoption.

In Florida, every hopeful adoptive parent must go through an approval process to adopt that is outlined by their adoption agency, home study agency, and/or adoption attorney. A home study is key to the approval process after a couple or individual meets the requirements for pre-approval from their adoption agency.

In Florida, the adoption home study process includes criminal background checks and FBI fingerprint livescans for each adult in the family in which the child will be placed. The home study will also include interviews with the hopeful adoptive parents and any other adults in the home. Sometimes, children of a certain age will be interviewed by a licensed social worker as well. The home study will include information on finances and a home inspection will be done to ensure the home is child proofed and safe. Additionally, the home study requires recommendations from family, friends, neighbors, pastors or rabbis, and if there are children already in the family, their teachers. The adoptive parents’ medical exams and health history will also be included in the home study. Finally, information on them as a couple and certificates of parenting classes completed will finish the home study. All of this home study information will be used by the social worker in conjunction with agency and state requirements to determine whether the prospective adoptive parents are eligible to adopt in Florida.

  1. Completing the Adoption in Florida as a Birth Mother

As an expectant mother or father, the adoption agency you will use to help facilitate and complete the adoption will also likely be working with the hopeful adoptive parents. The adoption agency will have profiles on these families for you to view to help you choose who you would like to adopt your baby. You will meet with them in person and ask whatever questions you have for them before making a decision. Just like all the decisions during this adoption process, you can change your mind at any time about your agency, the adoptive parents, and even placing your baby through adoption.

Once you choose an adoptive family for your baby, your adoption agency or adoption attorney will assist you and your baby’s future adoptive parents in deciding what birth mother expenses will be covered for the birth mother by the hopeful adoptive family. Florida laws allow adoptive families to reimburse or pay the birth mother’s living expenses, within reason, both during her pregnancy and after delivery of the baby for a maximum of six weeks if the birth mother is unemployed, not receiving enough employment, or is diagnosed with a medical disability. The birth mother’s expenses usually include medical expenses both during the pregnancy and after the baby is born during the post-partum period. The expenses can also include counseling, payment for housing such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, maternity clothing, baby clothing and newborn supplies, transportation, and food. As the birth mother, your adoption agency or adoption attorney will support your understanding about which expenses can be covered by the adoptive parents and which can not be covered.

After the birth of your baby, there are various steps for the adoption to be completed including the important step of signing the adoption consent or relinquishment paperwork. This finalizing of the adoption does not always happen at the hospital. Adoption in Florida allows you to have time with your baby before you sign any adoption consent baby work. The laws allow you to choose to spend time with your baby bonding before you sign the paperwork. You have the right to take as much time as you wish. There is no pressure to relinquish your rights and finalize the adoption just after the birth of your baby. You can change your mind at any time.

Florida laws state that the relinquishment or the adoption consent paperwork can not be signed by the birth mother until 48 hours after the birth of the baby unless the birth mother is being discharged from the birthing center or hospital sooner than 48 hours after the birth, which is rare. If the birth mother had a cesarean section delivery the paperwork can not be signed for an extra few days.

After the paperwork is signed, you will begin the next part of your journey as a birth mother. You can begin communicating according to the communication plan you agreed to with the adoptive family. This may include visits, texts, emails, or simply a scrapbook once a year. It is up to you.

After you place your baby through adoption, you may feel a myriad of many emotions and they can change rapidly. It is important to lean on your support system during this time. Talk to friends, meet regularly with your counselor, talk to your caseworker or social worker, and find a self-care practice. Think about your dreams and what you can do next with your life. Be gentle and patient with yourself and your emotions.

You will always be a part of the adoption triad (birth mother, adoptive parent, adoptee), adoption is a lifelong journey. During the process of pre-adoption, you were able to decide the communication level you wanted with the adoption family and your baby throughout their life. That communication can help you find comfort in your choice

If you would like to speak confidentially with an adoption professional about your pregnancy options, click here.