Florida is home to beautiful sights, relaxing beaches, exhilarating amusement parks, lavish wildlife, and the most magical place on earth. The Sunshine State currently has approximately 8,000 children in foster care available for adoption and is a wonderful place to begin your adoption journey, whether you are an expectant or hopeful adoptive parent. 

You are Loved and Not Alone.

Before diving into information about Florida adoption, I want to remind you that you are loved. As an expectant parent, you may be feeling scared, shocked, and unprepared. Perhaps you are even feeling guilty or ashamed. These feelings are valid, and it is important to allow yourself to feel them as they come in waves, but it is even more important to remember the truths of who you are. You are loved. You are precious. You are not alone. We are here to support you as you venture through all the stages of this new adoption journey. There are multiple resources available to you, and you will make it through this. Through these trials and experiences, you will even grow and develop in strength, understanding, and character. In deciding to place your child for adoption, you are showing such strength, love, and bravery. Remember to breathe and care for you and your child through prenatal care, which can be supplied through an adoption agency or other resources. This time may be trying, but there is always hope. Remember that your decision to place your child for adoption is one of the most selfless and loving gifts you can give. Thank you for choosing life for your child, and taking this brave step in finding your child a family.

Choose to Place a Child for Adoption.

There are several resources available to you as you research and begin the decision-making process for whether or not to place your child for adoption. Adoption.com and Adoption.org have many wonderful resources, explaining each state’s adoption laws and regulations in multiple comprehensive guides

Develop a Support System.

It is important for you to first find a support system for proper advising and emotional needs. There are many support groups available to birth mothers in Florida. It is also recommended that you  attend counseling, or seek a mentor or online group, as well as trustworthy family and friends, that will help you healthily process this emotional and difficult time. Adoption.com provides free pregnancy support and counseling with trusted adoption professionals. This support is completely confidential and can provide you with personalized counseling, financial assistance, professional guidance, and instruction in finding the right family for your child. You need and deserve reliable assistance before, during, and after this adoption journey, and we are here to provide that for you. Adoption.ORG provides a service where you can speak directly with a birth mom who has experienced placing her child for adoption. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these trusted birth mothers. Here, you can find answers to your questions through a credible birth mom’s perspective, learn what birth moms recommend through the adoption process, hear their stories, and know you are not alone.

Find an Adoption Agency.

Adoption agencies or attorneys are a great way to start the adoption process. Sometimes expectant parents use adoption facilitators, who are unlicensed individuals involved in matching birth parents and adoptive parents. Adoption facilitators, however,  are not allowed in the state of Florida, so it is best to stick with adoption agencies or attorneys. An adoption agency will offer you support, help you discuss your options, and provide counseling during the decision to pursue adoption. Agencies can also be a resource in finding affordable prenatal care, which should be a priority after first learning about your pregnancy. Setting up an initial visit with a physician and developing a medical plan as soon as possible is important for both you and your child. 

The Gladney Center for Adoption is a great option for a professional agency partnership. This agency offers counseling, a program called Rest & Respite, medical care, financial support, legal services, and a Next Steps program which can help you further your career and reach your personal goals. The goal of many adoption agencies is to support you before, during, and after the adoption process, establishing a connection and becoming a lifetime support system for birth mothers. Gladney Center for Adoption has an abundance of online resources, as well as a local office in Brandon, Florida.

A good adoption agency can become a safe haven for expectant parents, as it provides help for mental, physical, and emotional needs. Doing your research and feeling confident in your choice of adoption agency is important. It is important to choose an ethical adoption agency that will protect everyone involved in the process. Remember you can always change agencies if there is anything that makes you uncomfortable during the process. Adoption agencies are meant to advocate for the needs and desires of you and your child.

Create a Plan.

Creating an adoption plan will establish and define the details of your wants and needs for you and the child. Adoption agencies are important while developing a plan, as they will help guide you in decisions throughout the adoption process.

 When creating a plan, you will make a decision on what kind of adoption you wish to have: open, semi-open, or closed. An open adoption is when the you and the adoptive family maintain contact and involvement in each other’s lives. The level of contact is previously agreed upon by you and the hopeful adoptive parents. A semi-open adoption is when there is limited contact between you and the adoptive family, also to a degree previously agreed upon. This type of adoption does not usually have face-to-face interaction. A closed adoption is when there is no interaction once the baby is placed with the adoptive family. 

Besides the adoption plan, creating a hospital plan will keep everyone on the same page regarding the child’s delivery, hospital stay, and medical care in the state of Florida. The hospital plan is specific to you and the child, determining whether or not you want to see the baby after birth, want the hopeful adoptive parents there during delivery, or want the family to come to the hospital after the birth. The entire plan and process is catered to your preferences and comfort level, and the adoption professionals are your and the child’s advocate.

Choosing Hopeful Adoptive Parents

Once you have established care for yourself, selected an adoption agency, and developed a plan, the next step is to choose a family for your child. This is a life-changing, but not easy, decision. Once you choose a family, you will be part of an Adoption Triad. The Adoption Triad are the members involved in the adoption process: the adoptee, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents. Whether or not you choose an open, closed, or semi-open adoption will determine your connection with the other members of the Triad. In order to find adoptive parents, the adoption agency or professional you choose to work with will ask you what characteristics you would like in an adoptive family. They will then match you with profiles of parents looking to adopt.  A parent profile is a way for you to get to know families seeking to adopt. The family writes a description of themselves, includes a picture, and provides information so expectant parents can learn more about them. Adoption.com has many parent profiles, and more potential adoptive families can be found through various adoption agencies. Some hopeful adoptive parents choose to utilize social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or blogs, to begin connecting with expectant mothers. Most agencies allow you to meet the potential adoptive families if you so choose, so you can personally develop a feel for the couple’s character, and how it may be for your child. 

Who Can Adopt?

In Florida, there are many people who can adopt. A husband and wife, single individuals, single parents, divorced individuals, LGBTQA+ couples, and a stepparent can adopt. There are no specific age requirements for those who wish to adopt in Florida, though adoption agencies or professionals may have specific age stipulations, and the most common minimum age requirement is 18. Florida also does not prohibit individuals from adopting because of a physical disability, unless it is determined the person is incapable of parenting effectively because of it. This is similar to laws in other states, as well. Home studies are required to ensure the safety of a hopeful adoptive family’s home. During the home study, all members of the household, including the children, are interviewed by someone, who is often a social worker, from the adoption agency. All members of the household over the age of 12 are also required to complete a background check, in order for the family to be eligible to adopt. The physical and mental health are also taken into consideration during the adoption approval process in Florida, and the hopeful adoptive parents may be required to present recent medical statements. In addition, Florida has requirements for emotional readiness, which includes learning about the Florida adoption process, emotionally preparing to raise a child with whom the parents are not genetically related, emotionally preparing to possibly maintain a relationship with the child’s birth family, assessing miscarriage or infertility grief, and fully committing to adoption upon full education of the process. The adoptive parent is fully educated and prepared in order to care well for your child. Those who have the love and means to become parents will not be prevented. Once the child is placed in their home, a social worker will visit the family at least three times before the adoption is finalized. This ensures the safety and happiness of your child.

Select a Family.

You can be confident that the adoptive home of your child will be safe, with all of the measures hopeful adoptive parents are required to complete. Selecting a family for your child will consist of consulting with your adoption agency, searching through parent profiles online, and potentially meeting the couple you choose. In Florida, a birth mother can consent to the adoption 48 hours after the birth of the child, when you sign relinquishment papers, as well as the day after being released from the hospital. Relinquishment papers are when you give up your parental rights and provide consent to the adoption. The ability to relinquish parental rights 48 hours after the baby’s birth gives you the ability to change your mind at any time during the process, until final legal papers are signed. 

Take Heart

Adoption is a life-changing and challenging process. I hope you found this information about placing a child for adoption in Florida helpful as you begin your adoption journey. I hope it brought clarity and helped launch your process in finding a family for your child, encouraging you during this difficult time, and journeying toward joy and healing. Remember that you are not alone during this, and there are multiple people willing and ready to help you in any way you need. Thank you for considering adoption and life for your child. You are giving your child their best chance. May you be free of guilt and shame, remembering you are supported and loved by many already, including your unborn child. As the adoptive older sister to a brother adopted as an infant, I can personally say I am grateful to his birth mother every day for her strength and sacrifice. Because of her, my little brother is leading a wonderful life, and I have had the honor of being his older sister. There is unconditional love shared by every member of the Adoption Triad, all working toward giving your child the best possible life. 

There is hope, love, and freedom in your future.

Comment with feedback or questions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, questions, or stories, as I hope to continue to support you with this process.

Hannah Fisher is a student in North Carolina, pursuing degrees in both Nursing and Psychology. Hannah is an older sister to 1 biological and 4 adopted siblings. She is passionate about adoption, family, and belonging. When she is not studying, Hannah can be found spending time with her family, writing articles or fiction, or enjoying music and movies.