Expectant mothers who are considering adoption in Florida can start making her adoption plan today.
The adoption process can be daunting. It is hard to know where to start. Each state has specific laws, different agencies, and varying protocols when it comes to adoption. For an expectant mother looking into the adoption process in Florida, it is better to approach the process prepared for what to expect. Expectant mothers who are considering placing her child for adoption in Florida can prepare to take the following steps in her adoption journey.
Talk About It.
Before an expectant mother dives head-first into an adoption plan, she should make sure that she has considered and weighed all of her options fairly. Expectant parents who are considering options should carefully study these options from unbiased sources so that each couple can feel confident that the right decision has been made in the end.
Some agencies like the Gladney Center for Adoption in Florida have a strong reputation for catering to the needs of every expectant mother, whether she has made her decision or not. One of the services that Gladney offers both expectant mothers and fathers is an options counselor. An options counselor will work with an expectant mother or couple individually to help determine if adoption in Florida is right for the individual or couple and how to continue the process.
If the option is available, expectant birth mothers may choose to speak directly with another woman who has been in her position. An expectant mother may already know someone who has been through the process, can be connected to an adoption advocate or an ally through an agency or may find someone through social media who have had similar experiences. Even though everyone’s path is different, and no two adoption plans are the same, speaking with someone who has been in the same shoes can be comforting and reaffirming of the decisions to be made.
Find a Support System.
The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a village to bring that child into the world as well. Odds are, that once an expectant mother has reached this stage of the adoption process, she has felt the mental, emotional, and physical pressures of life magnified by the decision to place her child for adoption.
While an adoption agency and fellow birth mothers can be a great resource of information and empathy for an expectant mother, a life support system of family and loved ones can lift a young woman in the times she feels hopeless. Before long, she should begin to communicate with her people about the decisions she has made and is expecting to make in the future. She needs a team of reliable, trustworthy individuals who understand that she is about to enter a whirlwind of emotions.
This support system needs to be prepared with all the information they can get about the adoption process and what to expect when a loved one is expecting. She will need a hand to hold, a listening ear, arms to fall into when she is feeling weak, and a shoulder to cry on when she faces tragedy. Her lifetime of being a birth mother is one that will require a lifetime of support. That foundation needs to be built as soon as possible.
Choose a Path: Agency or Private Attorney?
One of the first questions that expectant mothers and hopeful adoptive parents need to answer is whether the couple is going to choose an adoption plan through an agency or a private attorney. Sometimes, this decision will be based on whether or not a family has already been chosen by the expectant mother. In cases where a family has already been chosen, using an adoption attorney alone may be the simpler option. Choosing an attorney based on the experience with adoption is imperative. This approach will be hands-on and personal, but it will not include all of the additional services that an adoption agency could offer.
An adoption agency is sometimes preferred by expectant mothers for the appeal of free services, immediate support, and the reputation of an agency’s experience in the field. There are many secular and Christian adoption agencies in Florida that potential birth mothers and hopeful adoptive parents can consider in making the decision. Below is a list of just ten of those agencies throughout the state and which city each is located.
Gladney Center for Adoption – Brandon
Adoption by Shepherd Care – Hollywood
Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida – Port Richey
Gift of Life Adoptions – Pinellas Park
Florida Adoption Center LLC – Melbourne
ACF Adoptions – North Miami Beach
Adoption STAR of Florida Inc – Fort Lauderdale
Adoption Authority Inc – Jacksonville
Adoption Miracles – Tampa
Pick a Plan: Open or Closed?
Another important decision that many expectant mothers haven’t considered before is whether or not she would prefer an open or closed adoption. The terms open adoption and closed adoption simply refer to the level of contact between a birth family member and the adoptive family and child after the adoption is finalized. Whereas in the past, most adoptions were closed, today parents (both biological and adoptive) have a say in whether or not the different parties would like to maintain continuous contact. This decision will not only impact the relationship between the birth and adoptive parents, but it will also impact a child’s upbringing.
Choosing a closed adoption means that contact between a biological parent and the adoptee will cease after placement. Once the adoptee turns 18, the option to search for and reunite with a birth family member will become available to the child once both parties have signed documents agreeing to release identifying information.
On the other hand, an open adoption will allow for contact between both parties to continue post-adoption. Many will agree that an open adoption allows for more options to customize a plan that is best for the child and the relationship between birth and adoptive parents. Communication is key in an open adoption, and a foundation of trust and respect for everyone in the adoption triad is necessary for fostering a healthy, open adoption.
Pick a Family.
There are many things that an expectant mother can and must consider in selecting a family to place her child. During an emotionally difficult time full of options, this is one area that will take extra time and consideration. Before an expectant mother even begins her search for her child’s forever family, she may consider making a list of values and expectations for her child’s life. She may consider whether or not a hopeful couple already has children, religious beliefs, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, family values, and even where the potential family lives as factors in making her decision. Then, she can pinpoint which items are most important to her and begin her search.
Parent profiles are a great place for an expectant mother to start searching for her child’s forever family. A parent profile is a sneak peek into a couple’s or a family’s life. Often, a profile will include a picture, a brief biography of the couple’s or individual’s life, and the reasons for choosing adoption.
Adoption agencies are also a source that expectant mothers can use to find a match. If an expectant mother is using an agency in her adoption plan, the agency will often have its own network of potential adoptive parents for an expectant mother to choose from. She should never feel limited to the options presented by an agency. Social media or an expectant mother’s community might be the place to meet where she will find her child’s adoptive family. In those cases, agencies are typically more than willing to open doors to a preselected match. (Please note that only licensed Florida adoption agencies can advertise for adoption—either that a child is available or that someone is seeking to adopt. If a match is made across state lines using this method, check with your adoption agency about how this will affect your adoption plan.)
Make a Birth Plan.
Before the day of the birth, expectant mothers should prepare with a birth plan. A woman who is expecting to place a child at birth has a lot to consider before she delivers. Some questions an expectant mother should ask before the big day are:
- Who will be in the room during delivery?
- How much contact will the birth mother want after birth?
- Who will meet and hold the baby before placement?
- Will adoption papers be signed at the hospital?
- What procedures will be performed at the hospital for mother and baby?
- Where will the baby spend the first evening?
- When and how will the birth be announced?
While some of these questions can be answered by the expectant mother with counsel from her support system, others may be appropriate to discuss with the potential adoptive parents. The number one priority on the day of the birth is the health, safety, and well-being of the birth mother and the child.
As can be expected, there will be things that will not go according to plan, but the best thing that everyone can do under those circumstances is to be prepared and aware of the roles on the day of the birth. Although this may be an uncomfortable conversation, expectant and hopeful adoptive parents should sit down and discuss the birth plan and appropriate etiquette for the day of the birth.
Complete Prenatal Care.
Adoption agencies will assist expectant mothers with her day-to-day and long-term pregnancy-related expenses. These agencies have experienced and understand the challenge it can be to find quality health care, safe living conditions, and affordable food and clothing all while carrying a child that is being considered for placement. An expectant mother who is under these added stresses of having her basic needs met may consider what an adoption agency has to offer in these areas before choosing one to work with.
Expectant mothers who are looking into adoption in Florida should know that there is no monetary compensation for placing a baby for adoption, but the birth mother expenses will assist an expectant mother throughout her period of prenatal care and for a portion of her postpartum care. In Florida, allowable adoption expenses will include prenatal and postpartum care, living expenses, medical expenses, court filing fees, advertising costs (by licensed, adoption professionals), birth certificates and medical records, and any other professional fees pertaining to the pregnancy. The potential adoptive parents are responsible for these expenses, but may not, in addition, purchase additional gifts unnecessary services for the expectant mother without including those things on an itemized list on a signed affidavit. This protects both the birth mother and the adoptive family in any kind of circumstance that may occur throughout the adoption process.
Complete the Process.
Adoption paperwork is not signed until after the birth of the child. In Florida, as long as the birth mother is over the age of 14, she may sign the documents herself. Birth mothers under the age of 14 will need a parent or legal guardian to witness the signing of the legal documents.
In Florida, adoption paperwork is completed by the birth mother either 48 hours after the birth or the day she is released from the hospital or birthing center (whichever comes first). Up until the birth mother signs the appointed documents to place her child, she may change her mind. After the documents have been signed, the decision cannot be reversed (unless proven the document was signed under fraud or distress).
Once the paperwork is completed by the birth mother, the next step in the process is to continue following through with the adoption plan. Whether that means that contact will be maintained after the adoption in an open relationship, or if contact will be limited in a closed adoption, the birth mother may take this time to say goodbye or discuss the next meeting.
An unplanned pregnancy is life-changing. At a time when there seems to be a never-ending list of decisions to make, when the realities of adulthood demand attention, an expectant mother needs all the love and support she can find. She needs to feel confident in the choices she’s made for her child and herself and fully prepared for the process. As she does and with the help of her support system, she will come to feel the fulfillment of making the right decisions in her adoption journey.
Courtney Falk was adopted at 3 days old. Growing up in a home where adoption was discussed openly, she always had a passion for sharing her story. When she was 18, she reunited with both of her birth parents and continues to have a positive relationship with each of their families. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in professional writing. Since then, sheâ€™s had the opportunity to create and edit content in areas such as fitness, health and wellness, financing, and adoption. When she isn’t behind a book, you can find her dancing in the living room with her 11 nieces, attempting to cook, and tending to her extensive collection of house plants.