Adoption Requirements in Florida

By Jennifer D. Melville
There are many children out available for adoption, just waiting for a family

Adoption is a great option for infertile couples, for established families looking to share their love, and for those who choose not to have biological children but want a family. There are more than 1.5 million adoptive children living in the United States. A small percentage of these children are international adoptions. For example, over 20,000 were adopted from foreign countries in 2002 alone.

Whether you want to adopt internationally or domestically, and whether you prefer to work through a placement agency or a local program, there are a few things you should know about adoption requirements in the state of Florida.

Age

Florida law does not state an age requirement for an adoptive parent, although it specifies that only “adults” are eligible.

There is no age limit for adoptees in the state. Babies, children, teens and even adults can be adopted under Florida law. The average age of an adopted child in Florida is six; however, the likelihood of being adopted drops significantly for children over the age of nine.

Relationships

Heterosexual married couples and single adults are eligible to adopt, although couples married for less than two years will be carefully evaluated. A step parent can adopt a spouse’s children. Florida law does not grant homosexuals eligibility to adopt a child. Over one-third (37 percent) of children adopted in Florida in 2007 were adopted by their foster parents, followed by 36 percent adopted by relatives.

Character and Abilities

Unless the Department of Children and Families deems a person an unfit parent, handicapped Americans cannot be prohibited from adopting because of their disability.

Before adopting, you must complete the 10-week Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) training and undergo a home study. A case worker will come to your home and to ensure it is a suitable place to raise a child. You will be interviewed and, if applicable, your spouse and children also. You will be asked questions about your support system, beliefs and parenting philosophy, finances, lifestyle, your childhood and your marriage. You’ll also be required to undergo a physical examination and submit a copy of your medical records from the past two years. You also must provides character references.

Financial Requirements

There is no set income requirement to adopt a child; however, a household’s finances will be evaluated as part of the home study to make sure there are adequate funds to care for the child. Income alone cannot disqualify potential parents, however.

Records

Background checks at the local, state, and federal level are a part of the home study process. A felony criminal record automatically disqualifies persons from adopting a child in Florida. Crimes that automatically disqualify applicants include conviction of a violent felony and a drug or alcohol related felony in the last 10 years. All household members will be checked for child abuse and neglect charges, and delinquency records will be checked for juvenile family members.

Consent

If a child is over the age of 12, he must give his consent to be adopted. Birth parents also must give consent for their child to be adopted if the adoptee is a minor, unless parental rights were terminated by a court of law.