Five Common Challenges in Adoptions
For those seeking to adopt a child, there are three primary ways it can be done. Each has its pros and cons. First, there is a traditional adoption. This is where an adoptive parent or parents contact an agency or find a private individual seeking to place a child for adoption, and the parties reach an agreement. Second, there are international adoptions. Finally, there are foster adoptions. Each has a unique set of challenges. However, in all situations, there are a few common challenges that potential adoptive parents should understand before making the commitment to bring a new child into their lives. Perhaps the most important step in the process should be consulting an experienced adoption lawyer near you to review the process and ensure that there are as few problems as possible along the way.
Florida Adoption Law
In Florida, a person cannot adopt a child if the child has a living parent who maintains parental rights. This means that generally there must be some agreement that the biological parents’ legal rights to the child must be surrendered as part of the process. In a traditional adoption, this occurs as part of the paperwork that is filed with the court. However, when a child has been removed from the biological parents by the State of Florida, things can be a little trickier. Under the Florida Adoption Act, first there must be a determination by a judge that the biological parent’s legal rights have been terminated. This is a multi-step process, which includes:
- A finding that the parent is unfit or a voluntary surrender of rights
- A finding that it is in the best interests of the child to be adopted
- A finding that all legal rights by biological parents have been forever terminated
Once these steps are completed, the court can entertain a petition for lawful adoption. In these cases, the State of Florida – through a licensed child placement agency – will take physical custody and legal guardianship of the minor until such time as the court approves the adoption.
The Five Most Common Challenges With Florida Adoptions
The five most common challenges in an adoption tend to include:
- Delays in Juvenile Court proceedings – A parent may begin to make progress, and a child may go back and forth between a biological parent and foster placement several times over the course of many years before finally reaching the point of the parent’s rights being terminated. This can be painful for all involved.
- Change of mind – Sadly, many traditional and private adoptions fail when a biological parent, usually the mother, changes her mind about giving the child up for adoption.
- Court delays – Though less common, sometimes court dockets can get very full, causing repeated delays just getting a petition heard in front of a judge.
- Agency disputes – While adoption agencies do great work, they are still in business. Sometimes there are disputes over agency fees, procedures, and timing. These can also lead to headaches.
- Procedural mistakes – Perhaps the most common challenge in an adoption case is making simple and avoidable procedural errors in filing the wrong paperwork, missing certain forms, or not knowing where to file things. These are all quite avoidable.
If you are seeking to adopt a child in south Florida and need help guiding you through the process, call the Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC today. Often, we can save adoptive parents time and money by getting involved early. Call or find us online to learn more.