What is the First Step in the Process for Adopting a Child?

A parent stands on the beach with their small adopted child, holding the small child's hands to help them walk.

In present society, there are many ways to form a family. However, still one of the most common is the traditional adoption of a child. Around 135,000 children are adopted in the United States every year, therefore, there is a clear path to this process that must be followed prior to the legal adoption to take place. Employing the assistance of a Florida Adoption Attorney will allow you to gather information and simplify this process for you as you start your family.

The first distinction to be made is what type of adoption is occurring. There are four types of adoptions in Florida: an agency adoption, a stepparent adoption, a close relative adoption, and an adult adoption. Each of these adoptions require a specific procedure and list of documents before a legal and formal adoption may occur.

In three of the four cases, the first step of the adoption process is the termination or waiver of rights by the legal or biological parents. The court must be presented with evidence that the legal or biological parents have either waived their rights to the child or their rights have been terminated by the court. Waiver may occur through a Consent for Adoption and Surrender of Rights. However, the birth mother of the child is unable to sign away these rights to her child until 48 hours after the child is born. A father of a child who is placed for adoption may sign away his rights at any time after the child’s birth. However, if the child is over the age of 6 months, the mother and father may file a Consent for Adoption and Surrender of Rights at any time, but they are given a 3 day grace period to revoke this waiver of rights to their child. Any type of consent or waiver of rights to a child must be done voluntarily, and the document must be signed by the parent, two witnesses, and a notary.

If a parent is unwilling to sign away their rights to a child, you may terminate their parental rights through a formal court proceeding. This proceeding requires the court to find the parent to be unable to properly care for the child, has neglected or abandoned the child, or even abused the child, and is unfit to parent. This is a very high threshold to overcome and requires an experienced Florida Adoption Attorney to argue your case.

In contrast, a waiver of rights or termination of the same is not required of a biological father if they are unknown and further, are unable to be located. However, you are required to make a diligent search through the Putative Father Registry. Nevertheless, unless a father registers their specific information regarding their possible paternity within this registry they will not be found, and will not be notified of the petition for adoption. Further, if you are adopting an adult, there is no need for the consent of the biological or legal parents of the adult to complete the adoption process.

Once parental rights are terminated or waived, you may continue in the adoption process. However, even this first step can provide complications and significant legal issues. Therefore, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Florida Adoption Attorney who can walk you through this process and protect your rights as well aid in the creation of your family.

Speaking to an attorney at our Florida office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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