Florida is known as the sunshine state, but that doesn’t always mean that every day will be cloudless. Countless individuals and families throughout the state face challenges with unplanned pregnancy, fertility, and family planning. These issues bring these individuals and families to the doors of adoption out of curiosity, desperation, and desires to build brighter futures.
Determining whether adoption is the right path for you is a big decision. The first step doesn’t have to be one of commitment though. Learning what you can about adoption today will help you see how it can change your life tomorrow. Adoption will change your family, your community, your outlook—your entire life. As you consider what this change will look like for you and your family, start to learn all that you can about the key players in the adoption triad, the Florida adoption process, and adoption agencies near you.
The Adoption Triad
The adoption triad is made up of three groups of people: the expectant mother and father, the hopeful adoptive parents, and the child who is being placed for adoption. Each of these groups is essential and has specific needs to consider throughout the adoption process. It is important to not only recognize these needs, but also understand how a healthy relationship between each of the groups can encourage a positive adoption experience overall.
In the context of an adoption, expectant parents are the mothers and fathers of children who are being considered for placement. These individuals, couples, and sometimes families face unplanned or unexpected pregnancies. For one reason or another, they feel that each of their futures, including the future of their child, would be better if the child is placed for adoption. Until the placement is finalized, individuals who are considering placing a child for adoption are referred to as expectant parents. After the birth and finalization is complete, expectant parents are then referred to as birth parents or biological parents.
Hopeful Adoptive Parents
Hopeful adoptive parents make up the second group of the adoption triad. Because of infertility, challenges in family planning, or just the desire to adopt, these individuals, couples, or families that have a desire to raise a child have turned to the adoption process to make their dreams a reality. Hopeful adoptive parents will spend thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and countless sleepless nights over an adoption that they one day hope to complete. The completion of the process will depend on this group’s eligibility to adopt and an expectant mother choosing to place her child with the hopeful adoptive parents. Once the child is born and the placement is finalized, the hopeful adoptive parents are then considered the adoptive parents of the child.
Domestic infant adoption is what most people think of when they think about the adoption community. A domestic infant adoption refers to an adoption situation where an expectant mother in the United States places her child with a family soon after that child is born. However, infant adoption is not the only type of adoption out there. International adoption is also common in Florida and throughout the nation. International adoption involves a potential adoptive couple traveling overseas to adopt a child from a foreign country. Additionally, in the United States, older children and teenagers are also considered eligible for adoption when they are placed in the foster care system and their biological parents have surrendered their rights. Foster adoption is less common but is another way that forever families are brought together.
The Adoption Process
There are many different circumstances that would lead an expectant mother to choose adoption for her and her child’s future. Young women who don’t feel prepared to parent a child due to their age, lifestyle, or circumstances surrounding their pregnancy may feel that adoption would be the best adoption for the well-being of both herself and her child. Teens and young, unmarried women are not the only ones who consider placing a child for adoption. Women who may already have children may not feel able to add another child to their family due to financial burdens, toxic relationships, or for other reasons. Whether it is finances, lifestyle, or any other reason that would prevent a mother or couple from providing the best life to a child, there are some mothers who feel that the adoption option would be best in the long run.
When these and other women find themselves face-to-face with an unplanned or unexpected pregnancy, the first step in the adoption process is to consider the options: parenting, abortion, and adoption. An options counselor, often found at adoption agencies, can be a good resource for learning about each of these choices, the consequences, and which would be best for the expectant mother. Because it can be such a life-changing decision, turning to a reliable, unbiased resource can be the best help for finding peace with whatever decision the expectant mother makes regarding the future of both her and her child.
Finding a Professional
Both expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents should also seek professional help when they begin the adoption process. It is never too early to start consulting with adoption professionals about the adoption option. Most agencies can even offer counseling or information about whether or not adoption is right for an individual or family. Finding mentorship, counseling, and professional advising for and throughout the adoption process can help to ensure that qualifications are met in completing an ethical adoption.
When and if adoption is chosen, an adoption agency will help both parties understand what to expect from an adoption, make a plan, and access appropriate resources throughout the process. Adoption attorneys are another great resource for expectant mothers and hopeful adoptive parents. An attorney is typically used in private adoptions where a match between a potential birth mother and hopeful adoptive parents is made prior to the involvement of an adoption agency.
Accessing Physical Support
Financially navigating an adoption can be difficult for everyone involved. Hopeful adoptive parents face expenses that they never thought they would need to plan for. Thankfully, financial assistance between adoption agencies, grants, the adoption tax credit, and fundraising, adoption doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly expensive.
For expectant mothers, adoption agency services are completely free. Additionally, an agency may offer to assist in any pregnancy-related expenses including medical care, maternity clothes, groceries, transportation, counseling, and even rent (*please check with your agency to get a better understanding of what expenses could be covered for your pregnancy as agencies can differ in what they offer expectant parents). On the other hand, hopeful adoptive parents will encounter different types of expenses throughout the adoption process. Agency fees, legal fees, birth mother fees, home studies, and expenses involving preparing for a child to enter the home can add up fast. Adoption grants, fundraising, and other resources can help hopeful adoptive parents better plan financially for these expenses along the way.
Accessing Emotional Support
Emotional support is also important to secure before, throughout, and after a placement is complete. Every member of the adoption triad has unique emotional needs that must be addressed. A healthy adoption is made up of healthy individuals who take care of themselves by asking for help and seeking out assistance when it is necessary.
Friends and family can be a great emotional foundation for people who are going through the adoption process. As peers, they can be around throughout the process and beyond; they can be the backbone for stability on the hard days and a voice of encouragement. Because they already know and love the individuals involved in the adoption, they can be a trustworthy ally. But they are not the only ones who can or will be sufficient support throughout someone’s adoption journey. Support groups, mentors, and counselors will also be a reliable source of emotional support for a member of the adoption community. Often, these individuals are not only familiar with the situations, but maybe they’ve also been through it themselves. There is something about a group of birth mothers or adoptive parents coming together to share their stories. Sharing experiences can help individuals find peace in their circumstances and closure in their destinations.
Checking the Boxes
Anyone who begins to consider her place in the adoption process must also consider her adoption plan. There are plenty of steps to the adoption process, and depending on the individual’s circumstances, there could be extra steps of hoops to jump through before and during finalization.
Some of the most important tasks that an expectant mother must be sure to complete throughout the adoption process is securing physical support before placement, legal assistance during the placement, and emotional support post-placement. This can be accomplished by creating an adoption plan with an adoption professional as soon as possible. Remember, it is never too late to start preparing for adoption with an adoption plan.
Adoptive parents also have a number of tasks to complete throughout the process. Before a hopeful adoptive couple can even consider progressing towards placement, they must go through each stage of the eligibility process. This includes and is not limited to completing home studies, screenings, interviews, and adoption applications. Throughout the process, they will also need to manage agency fees, birth mother fees, and other legal fees. This can all seem overwhelming at the moment, but an adoption agency can be a great resource in managing all of these tasks and more.
The placement is complete when the adoption is finalized and the appropriate paperwork has been completed by the birth mother (and father when applicable), the adoptive parents, and a judge. Typically, birth parents will sign all of the paperwork that is required of them at the hospital, adoption agency, or another predetermined location shortly after the birth of the child. The adoptive parents, on the other hand, will need to go to court to finalize the adoption with a judge who will play a part in completing the paperwork and make the placement official.
Adoption Agencies in Florida
An adoption agency can help every member of the adoption triad complete the adoption process ethically, legally, and with as little stress as possible. These adoption professionals have been through the adoption process several times. They have the resources and experience needed to ensure that each step of the adoption process goes smoothly for those involved. For an expectant mother this typically means that her physical, mental, and emotional needs are met. This is done through counseling services, financial aid, legal assistance, and post-placement involvement. Adoptive parents also utilize adoption agencies to complete the process properly and find a match for placement.
Below is a list of Florida adoption agencies. There are several secular, faith-based, and full-service agencies throughout the state that are prepared to help anyone who is considering adoption. Check out the adoption agency nearest you and what services they offer. Most adoption agencies have an online form or hotline for inquiries for expectant and hopeful adoptive parents.
Gladney Center for Adoption – Brandon, Florida
Florida Adoption Center LLC – Melbourne, Florida
Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida – Port Richey, Florida
Sunshine State Adoption and Home Study – Orlando, Florida
Adoption Star – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Connected by Love Adoptions – Plantation, Florida
Connecting Hearts Adoption Services – Orlando, Florida
Adoption Miracles – Tampa, Florida
Adoption in Florida by Shepherd Care – Hollywood, Florida
Adoption Authority – Jacksonville, Florida
Gift of Life Adoptions – Orlando, Florida; Hudson, Florida; Pinellas Park, Florida
Alliance for Children Adoption – Miami, Florida
Heart of Adoptions – Tampa, Florida; Naples, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Coconut Creek, Florida; Merritt Island, Florida
AFC Adoptions – North Miami Beach, Florida
Most of what you need to know about Florida adoption can be found online, through your adoption agency, and from peers in the adoption community. Adoption is a beautiful option for people to pursue brighter futures as individuals and families. Yes, adoption requires sacrifice and patience. It is a process that has its flaws and roadblocks. Regardless of the hardship that an adoption journey may introduce into the lives of individuals and families, it can be a beautiful expression of love and compassion for all who are involved. Learn more about the adoption community, the adoption process, and what an adoption agency near you can offer in terms of service and support.