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Understanding Florida adoption laws

Florida residents seeking to adopt a child will be glad to know that there are very few restrictions for doing so. As the Florida Department of Children and Families explains, virtually any Florida adult who has the desire and ability to love a child, provide for his or her basic needs, and is willing to make a lifetime commitment to him or her can adopt a child.

The Florida Bar has prepared a very helpful booklet entitled Consumer Pamphlet: Adoption in Florida that explains the adoption procedure in detail and answers many questions that someone seeking to adopt may have. For instance, Florida has four types of adoption as follows:

  1. Entity adoption
  2. Stepparent adoption
  3. Close relative adoption
  4. Adult adoption

Entity adoptions

In an entity adoption, an agency or individual such as an attorney acts as an intermediary between the biological parents and the adoptive parent(s), smoothing the adoption process by obtaining the biological parents' voluntary consent for the adoption and for giving up their parental rights to the child. In the case of an unmarried biological father, however, if he did not register his paternity with the Florida Putative Father Registry, his consent to the adoption is not required.

If the child being adopted is 12 years of age or older, he or she must consent to the adoption after being interviewed by the court or the agency involved. The adoptive parent(s) cannot finalize the adoption until 90 days after the child is placed in their home or 30 days after the court judgment terminating the biological parents' parental rights, whichever occurs later.

Stepparent and close relative adoptions

A stepparent may adopt his or her spouse's child(ren) assuming, in most cases, that the biological parent consents to the adoption and the court approves the adoption. In a close relative adoption, the court must find that the child's situation warrants a termination of the biological parents' parental rights and adoption of the child by a close relative such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle or adult sibling. As with entity adoptions, a child 12 years or older must consent to being adopted.

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