Back in 2010, the Florida Court of Appeals ruled that the law banning LGBT people from adopting was unconstitutional. Then at the beginning of 2015, same-sex marriage was finally legalized. While these strides towards equality were momentous on a larger scale, they have also been victories for those in the LGBT community who have been looking to adopt. Here’s what you need to know about LGBT adoption.
Single Gay Person and Same-Sex Adoption
A single gay person, as well as a same-sex couple, can adopt a child in one of two ways: through the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) or with a private agency or person. Adopting through a private agency or person does allow you to match with specific criteria that’s important to you, but it’s a lot more expensive. Adopting through DCF is cheaper and Florida will even reimburse your adoption expenses (including attorney’s fees) up to a certain amount.
With DCF, you’ll need to go through classes, several interviews, questionnaires, background checks and home visits to make sure you are a good candidate for the child. If you pass, the DCF will place the child in your home during a “trial period.” Once this finishes, they’ll sign off on your adoption. If a same sex-couple adopts through DCF as a couple, they will both be recognized as a parent.
In addition to regular adoption, a gay stepparent can file to become the legal guardian of their spouse’s child, just like with a regular stepparent adoption. The first step in a stepparent adoption is filing the adoption petition and related paperwork. If there are parental rights that need to be terminated, an attorney can help you obtain consent. Once all that is filed, you can schedule an adoption with the judge assigned to your case and prepare for the judgement and paperwork to change the birth certificate. Generally, this process takes anywhere from 2 to 3 months once the petition is filed.