Posts

I’m An Adult. Can My Stepparent Adopt Me?

When people think of adoption, they generally envision an adult adopting a minor child.  The adult may be a close relative or stepparent of the child, or not related to the child at all, but this is seen as the norm.

But can an adult adopt another adult?  Can a stepparent adopt an adult stepchild?

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Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

The unfortunate truth is that current Florida law is not conducive to recognizing the relationships that develop in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families.  However, there are steps that Florida and Tampa Bay LGBT parents can take to boost the recognition of their parental rights.

Adoption

If LGBT parents are committed to raising a child together and recognizing each parent’s rights, I highly recommend that partners consider adopting each other’s children.  This helps form an unbreakable legal bond between the children and each partner.  Though the law is not completely settled in this area, the judges in Hillsborough County (including Tampa) are granting adoptions by LGBT partners.  What’s more, an adoption attorney located in Hillsborough County (such as myself) can help Florida parents come before Hillsborough County judges no matter where in Florida the parents live.

Co-Parenting Agreements

Co-parenting agreements can be great evidence that LGBT partners intend to parent children together.  It can boost the argument that “psychological parenting,” or the formation of a parent-like relationship between a child and a non-legal parent, has occurred and make it or more likely that parental rights will be recognized by Florida’s legal system.

Hyphenated or Unified Last Names

A hyphenated or unified last name can go a long way in demonstrating to the Florida legal system that partners intended to raise children together.  For example, if partner 1 is named Jones, and partner 2 is named Smith, it would be helpful to have all partners and children’s last names hyphenated or unified, so that everyone has a last name of Jones-Smith, Smith-Jones, Smones, Jith, etc.  Florida has laws to aid in legal name changes.

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32 Year Old Man Legally Adopted

CNN has been reporting the story of Maurice Smith, a man who was adopted by his foster parents. Mr. Smith was an adult (32 years old) at the time of the adoption. Below is the video:

As in this story, adults may be adopted by their foster parents in Florida.

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I am an Adult – Is it too Late for My Florida Foster Parents to Adopt Me?

Many Florida foster parents and foster children have the mistaken belief that, once a child turns 18, he or she is no longer eligible for adoption.  In fact, Florida Statutes section 63.042 states explicitly that “[a]ny person, a minor or an adult, may be adopted.”

When teenagers come to live in a foster home, they oftentimes do not want to be adopted as they are seeking to exert their independence and may see adoption as a hindrance to that independence.

However, as children become older and more bonded to their foster parents, they may come to appreciate the permanence that comes with adoption.  Further, as foster children become adults, and begin thinking about starting their own families, they may come to realize that they want their children to have grandparents.

Fortunately, Florida has expedited procedures for adult adoption.

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A Tampa Adoption Story

Jeff Stidham posted the following Tampa adoption story on the website of Hillsborough County’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit:

Three weeks before their fifth anniversary, Ali and Tonya Muhammad began preparing for a new arrival: a baby boy destined to become one of their own. They welcomed young Marcus on Nov. 5, 2010, three days after his birth. Their anniversary.

And so began a two-year journey toward adoption that concluded Nov. 16 on National Adoption Day, when Marcus, now called Sameer, became part of a “forever family.”

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January 2013 Conference for Florida’s Adoptive Parents and Prospective Adoptive Parents

Florida’s Adoption Information Center is holding a conference on Saturday, January 12, 2013, in Jacksonville, Florida, for adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents.

Florida’s Adoption Information Center was “created by the Florida Legislature to serve as a clearinghouse in every area of adoption. The Center has served more than 175,000 people since opening in 1994. As a free service, the Adoption Information Center provides adoption information and referral services to adoptive parents, adult adoptees, birth relatives, pregnant women and professionals.”

Below is the agenda for the conference:

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In Which County Should I File My Florida Adoption Case?

Florida law provides a choice as to where prospective parents should file a case for termination of parental rights and adoption.  Generally, the adoption must be filed where (i) the child lives or (ii) the adoption entity, intermediary, or attorney for the prospective parents is located.

Which of these counties is chosen may be a strategic decision…

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Florida Adoptions and the Indian Child Welfare Act

When a potential client comes into my office seeking to learn more information about Florida adoption (whether it be stepparent adoption, close relative adoption, second parent adoption, or non-relative adoption), two questions almost always seem to catch the potential client off guard:

  1. Is the prospective adoptee/child a member of an Indian tribe?
  2. Is the prospective adoptee/child eligible to be a member of an Indian tribe?

If the answer to either of those questions turns out to be yes, then a federal law known as the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) is triggered and special procedures must be observed. In determining whether an adoption should be granted, a court must not only look at the best interests of the child, but also take into consideration the interests of the child’s Indian tribe. Preference for adoption is to be given to the child’s extended family within that tribe over a non-tribe member non-relative.

A recent South Carolina adoption case involved the Indian Child Welfare Act. The following video from CNN discusses this case of “Baby Veronica” and the impact of the Indian Child Welfare Act on her adoption:

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Can I Adopt My Grandchild in Florida?

Do you have a grandchild or other close relative living with you? Do you want to ensure that you have the legal ability to make healthcare, education, and other major decisions for the child? Do you want to legally establish the close relationship that already exists between you and the child?

You may be eligible to adopt your grandchild or other close relative, and fortunately, Florida has expedited procedures in place to facilitate such adoptions.

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