Adoption Requirements in Florida
Adoption requirements in Florida are necessary because they ensure the safety of the adoptee and prepare you for the responsibility of becoming a potential adoptive parent. Have you considered adoption as an option for growing your family?
If the answer is yes, you’ve probably begun to research the process and found that the requirements for adoption in Florida are quite stringent. In exploring your adoption options, many unanswered questions may have emerged, such as:
- Who can and who cannot adopt a child in Florida?
- What are the requirements to adopt a child in Florida?
- What are the Florida adoption training requirements that you must meet?
- Do they drug test for adoption in Florida?
- Do you have to be married to adopt in Florida?
- How old must you be to adopt in Florida?
Fortunately, these questions about the adoption rules in Florida can be answered with the help of adoption professionals in the state as well as multiple online sources. Many of those questions will also be answered in this guide, so keep reading to learn what you need to know about Florida state adoption requirements.
Adoption is an excellent way to grow your family and provide a loving home for a child who needs one. When many families begin their adoption journeys, they must first answer questions about their adoption goals and wishes.
Getting started means thinking about the details of the adoption process and how you want to expand your family. Before you can delve into the requirements for adopting a child in Florida, you’ll need to establish these core wishes for your adoption. There are many factors to consider when starting out, such as:
- The type of adoption you’d like to pursue
- Which adoption agencies you’ll work with
- Your adoption budget
- Your desired adoption timeline
- Your comfort level with birth parent contact
- And many others
Answering these questions represents your first step toward adoption. Your responses will guide your adoption journey and must be settled before you can move on.
General Legal Requirements to Adopt a Child in the State of Florida
There are three primary types of adoption in Florida: private domestic adoption, foster care adoption and international adoption. While each type has its own specific circumstances and requirements, there are a few general qualifications for adoption in Florida that apply in all types of adoptions.
Married and Single Adoption
In general, Florida state law does not require that prospective adoptive parents be married. Single parent adoption in Florida are allowed to adopt so long as the parent meets the other requirements to adopt.
However, just because the state doesn’t require prospective adoptive parents to be married doesn’t mean that single parents are allowed to adopt in every circumstance.
For example, some private domestic adoption agencies may consider marriage among their in-house qualifications to adopt a child in Florida. In international adoption, some countries may require that children adopted from their nations only be adopted by married couples.
Some agencies may also have other requirements related to marriage. For example, if a couple is married, an agency may require that the couple is married a minimum number of years before attempting to adopt.
Another common question regarding the criteria for adopting a child in Florida is whether same-sex couples can adopt. Florida is one of the 49 states that has established same-sex adoption in its state laws. Prior to 2010, same-sex adoption in the state was prohibited, but that’s no longer the case. And, thanks to the Supreme Courts groundbreaking Obergefell decision, same-sex adoption is now protected by federal law in every state.
However, individual agencies may not be supportive of same-sex adoptions even though they are allowed by state law. Make sure to consider this factor when selecting an adoption agency.
Adoption Age Minimum and Maximum
How old must you be to adopt in Florida? As is the case with marriage, there is no legal stipulation regarding the age of the prospective adoptive parent.
However, the fact that there isn’t a maximum or minimum age to adopt in Florida doesn’t mean that adoption professionals within the state don’t set their own age criteria for adoption.
For example, one of the foster care adoption qualifications in Florida requires that adoptive parents be at least 21 years old. Some private agencies may be reluctant to place a child with a prospective adoptive parent of an advanced age, though adoption by a senior citizen is legal.
In other words, though age minimums and maximums aren’t stipulated by law, private agencies and adoption professionals may require that prospective adoptive parents fall within a specific age range.
Can 21-year-olds adopt a baby in Florida? Technically, the answer is yes, at least in the case of private domestic adoption. However, those adoptions aren’t the norm and individual agencies can choose whether they will facilitate such adoptions.
Another commonly asked question about the state of Florida adoption requirements is, “Can a convicted felon adopt a child in Florida?”
The answer to the question isn’t as clear as some of the other adoption requirements in Florida. The short answer is that in general, felons can adopt a child. However, there are cases in which certain types of offenses may bar a prospective adoptive parent with prior felonies from adopting.
Part of the adoption home study process involves a criminal background check. It’s designed to protect the safety of the child and determine the quality of home life the adoptee will enjoy.
Florida statutes state that a child can’t be placed with an adult (other than a parent) who has been convicted of a felony involving crimes like assault, battery or a drug offense within the last five years.
Also, a home study is one of the pre-requisites for adoption in Florida. If the home study background check reveals offenses such as violent crimes, domestic abuse, child neglect, sexual abuse or abandonment by anyone over the age of 14 in the household may disqualify a prospective adoptive family.
Prospective parents who have felony convictions aren’t comprehensively barred from adoption in Florida, as adoption professionals and the courts can take the details of each situation into advisement during the adoption process.
However, prospective parents with felonies may have a tougher road to adoption in a practical sense.
Other Adoption Requirements in Florida
While state of Florida adoption requirements provide a loose framework of eligibility for prospective adoptive families, there are other things needed to adopt a child in Florida.
When adopting a child in Florida, requirements other than those guidelines set by statute may enter the decision to place a child in your home. The law leaves a gray area regarding adoption requirements and gives adoption professionals great latitude when determining the quality of an adoptive home.
Adoption professionals work to place adoptees in safe, stable, and loving homes that will provide them with an enhanced quality of life and improved future opportunity. Therefore, there are other criteria that may be considered during the adoption process to ensure that goal is met.
While these qualifications to adopt a child in Florida may not be established by law, the law does provide adoption professionals with the leeway to evaluate individual circumstances and set best practices where adoption eligibility is concerned.
Your health is an important consideration when adopting a child, regardless of the type of adoption you’ve selected. There is a physical aspect involved in raising a child, and your health will play a role in determining the quality of life an adopted child may enjoy in your home.
That’s why during the adoption home study process, you may be asked to submit recent medical records for review. Adoption professionals want to establish that you are in good health and that the potential adoptive home will be stable.
That said, Florida statute bars discrimination against prospective adoptive parents who may have physical disabilities unless that disability prevents the individual from serving as an effective parent.
There are no statutory financial criteria to adopt a child in Florida. However, as is the case with your health, adoption professionals will consider your financial ability to care for a child prior to placement.
Growing your family obviously comes at an additional cost that will stretch your household budget. The actual cost of adoption varies among the different adoption types. For example, international adoptions and private adoptions can be expensive, while foster care adoption is affordable.
There’s also the ongoing cost of providing for the needs of a child. You’ll need to be able to afford the basics of raising a child such as food, shelter, and clothing while also providing educational and developmental opportunities.
Your financial situation will be reviewed during the home study process as part of the pre-adoption requirements in Florida. You will be required to submit recent financial records to demonstrate your ability to care for a child. Potential adoptive parents are rarely, if ever, disqualified on financial grounds alone.
There are some resources available that can offer support for parents who are adopting through the foster care system. Those resources include:
- Health care coverage for the child
- Free college tuition at state universities, community colleges, and vocational schools for children adopted from foster care
- A federal adoption tax credit to help defer the costs of adoption
- Potential to receive a monthly subsidy through Florida’s Adoption Assistance Program
Adoption professionals go to great lengths to ensure that children are placed in stable homes where they will be loved and cared for. That responsibility means that the emotional environment of a prospective adoptive home is analyzed and evaluated.
While not considered one of the formal rules for adoption in Florida, you should be emotionally prepared for the adoption process. Your adoption professional will help you with that preparation, and your emotional state will be assessed during the adoption home study process.
To prepare to demonstrate your emotional preparedness to adopt, you may take a few of the steps below as applicable:
- Address past disappointments with infertility or miscarriage: You don’t want the past to shade your future when it comes to adopting a child. Evaluate your feelings about miscarriages or infertility and consult with professionals for advice on moving past your grief.
- Understand the adoption process: Knowing the legal requirements for adoption is important. However, it’s equally important to understand the range of emotions that can emerge during your adoption journey. Seek a support group for adoptive parents or speak with adoption professionals to help set your expectations.
- Communicate with your spouse: Adoption is a solemn responsibility, and it’s important that if you’re married, you and your spouse are both fully invested. Communicate openly about your adoption desires and concerns. Make sure that you are moving forward together with full disclosure.
- Accept the responsibility: Make sure that you, your spouse and your family understand the responsibility involved in adoption. You’ll be accepting a child into your family for life, which requires the buy-in of everyone involved. Communicate openly with one another and don’t move forward until everyone is ready to open your home to a waiting child.
Once you’ve prepared yourself for the emotional part of adoption, you can demonstrate your readiness to adoption professionals prior to placement of a child in your care.
Adoption remains one of the most rewarding ways to grow your family and provide for a waiting child who needs a home. Protecting the child is critical, which is why state of Florida adoption requirements are in place.
Understanding the adoption requirements in Florida can take some time and research, but there are adoption professionals who can help you navigate the process and understand your role in it. To learn more about who can adopt in Florida and what will be required of you as you navigate the process, contact a Florida adoption agency today.