ADOPTION FLORIDA

The decision to adopt can be overwhelming without the right advocate by your side. At Family Diplomacy we take the time to answer your questions about the adoption process and determine the best course of action for you and your family. We can help whether you are beginning the adoption process from scratch or seeking to adopt a stepchild, close relative, or adult.

STEPCHILD/STEPPARENT, CLOSE RELATIVE, AND ADULT ADOPTION

If you are seeking to adopt a stepchild, close relative, or adult, Florida law has established an accelerated process to help families like yours. At Family Diplomacy we will walk you through the steps that you can take to ensure that your stepchild, close relative, or adult adoption progresses in a smooth and expedited manner.

SAME-SEX ADOPTIONS AND ADOPTION OPTIONS FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY

Florida now has adoption options for the LGBT community. You may have questions regarding same-sex adoptions or the possibility to become a second parent to your partner’s children. Family Diplomacy will provide you with an overview of your family rights and tailor a plan for your specific situation.

COLLABORATIVE ADOPTION

If you are considering an open adoption, where a biological parent will continue to have contact with the child even after the adoption is finalize, then Family Diplomacy strongly recommends you consider the Collaborative Adoption Process. In the Collaborative Process, each party is represented by an attorney who is there solely to help the parties reach an agreement on finalizing the adoption and developing a post-adoption visitation plan. A neutral social worker or other professional is retained to help foster a relationship and facilitate communication between all parties.

Rights Recognized in Tampa’s Domestic Partnership Registry

As President Obama today expressed his support for gay marriage, the State of Florida continues to define marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” leaving homosexuals in loving relationships in a state of legal limbo.  Attempting to fill in the gap, many local county and municipal governments are passing “domestic partnership registries” which codify certain rights to heterosexual and homosexual partners.  Tampa, for one, has passed an ordinance creating a domestic partnership registry.

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

[Related:  In A Florida Child Custody Case, Does It Matter That I Am Gay?]

[Related:  In Which County Should I File My Florida Adoption Case?]

Tampa’s domestic partnership law recognizes the following rights for registered partners (to the extent that these rights are not superseded by other laws or ordinances or by contract):

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A Story of Second Parent Adoption

An article from The Guardian tells the tale of two lesbian partners who went through a second parent adoption:

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

When Patricia Moreno was pregnant with her first child, she went through the usual existential doubts about how life as a new mother would be. Moreno, a life coach and fitness trainer from New York, had been trying to get pregnant for well over a year. She had been through multiple rounds of IVF and suffered a miscarriage. When she did get pregnant, in December 2009, she and her partner, Kellen Mori, were over the moon, and then they started thinking.

The couple’s marriage was not valid outside the US or in many of the more conservative states; the baby, conceived by IVF using Mori’s eggs and donor sperm, would not be recognised federally as belonging to both of them. (Moreno, giving birth, would be recognised as the biological mother. Mori, who had provided the eggs, would have no automatic universal rights.) “I’m not the mum, but I am the mum,” thought Moreno and wondered idly who the baby would identify with more. As well as a good obstetrician, she and her wife of three years would be needing a lawyer.

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Legislative Update: Summary of Changes to Florida’s Adoption Laws

Logo of Florida House of RepresentativesMany bills relating to family law were proposed this past legislative session.  Many, if not most, of the bills died, while some, including House Bill 1163, passed both houses and were signed into law by Governor Scott.  House Bill 1163 (now Chapter 2012-81 of the Laws of Florida) made the following changes to Florida’s adoption laws (as summarized by the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Family, and Elder Affairs):

  • Requires that a petition for termination of parental rights contain facts supporting the allegation that the parents of the child is informed of the availability of private placement of the child with an adoption entity;
  • Removes legislative intent that all placements of minors for adoption be reported to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF or department);
  • Amends certain definitions in ch. 63, F.S.;
  • Exempts adoption proceedings which were initiated under ch. 39, F.S., from the requirement to search the Florida Putative Father Registry if the search was previously completed;
  • Requires the use of an adoption entity for all adoptions of minor children, unless the adoption is by a relative or stepparent;

New York Recognizes Gay Marriage. Do Floridians Have Options?

Beginning July 24, 2011, gay couples in New York will be able to apply for a marriage license.  This will make New York the sixth and largest state to recognize gay marriage.

Florida, unlike New York, does not permit gay marriage, nor does it recognize civil unions.  But there are things that partners can do to symbolize their love for one another and create certain rights and responsibilities.  You just have to be creative.

Let me give you an example.  One of the services that my firm offers is that we represent clients in name change matters.  I have heard all different reasons why a client wants a name change, including that he or she (a) has done some things he or she is not proud of and wants to turn a new leaf, (b) wants to take on the qualities of a religious or historical figure by taking on part of that figure’s name, and (c) simply does not like his or her name.

One day, a young woman came in for a consultation, and she had a touching story to tell me.  She said that she had been dating her partner for several years, and that they wanted to get married.  But, of course, Florida does not permit gay marriage.  However, this woman decided to declare her love and commitment by legally taking on her partner’s last name.  I was able to guide her through the judicial process of symbolically affirming her dedication to her partner through a name change.

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Advantages of a Stepparent Adopton

Florida has provided an expedited process for cases where a spouse seeks to adopt his or her stepchild.  Advantages of a stepparent adoption over the average adoption include the following:

  • Preliminary and final home studies to determine the suitability of intended adoptive parents and whether the adoption is in the child’s best interests are not required (though, in some cases, they may be ordered by a judge);
  • Proceedings for termination of the biological parent’s rights occur at the same time as proceedings for adoption, so an intended adopted parent does not have to wait until a biological parent’s rights are terminated prior to filing a petition for adoption;

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Pinellas County Seventh Annual Adoption Day Video

Below is a video from ABC Action News which follows one family through Pinellas County’s Seventh Annual Day of Adoption (November 2010):