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Many people have questions about adoption in the state of Florida. Some are interested in adopting a child, while others wish to place a child for adoption. Our Florida adoption lawyers assist families in the adoption process in Port St. Lucie, Stewart, Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, and other areas of the Treasure Coast and the State of Florida. The lawyers at Apfelbaum Law may be able to assist you with Florida open adoptions, closed adoptions, step-parent adoptions, and grandparent or relative adoptions, with the goal of a successful process for the whole family. 

Open Adoptions

In the past, adoptions were usually closed, meaning the adoptive family and biological family of the child did not meet, exchange contact info, or have any contact with each other. Typically, closed adoptions are handled by a third party, such as an adoption agency, a charity or church, or a law firm. In recent years, open or semi-open adoptions have become more popular. In an open adoption, birth parents and the adoptive family exchange contact info and can keep in touch with each other. In some cases, the adoptive family may pass along pictures or news of how the child is doing. In semi-open adoptions, there is less contact, but the two families may contact each other through the third party that handled the adoption, like an agency or law firm.

Open and semi-open adoptions have many benefits for everyone involved. The child may benefit from knowing about their biological family, and being able to contact the birth family may be helpful in some situations—for example, if the child becomes ill and needs a biological relative for a transplant. Or, the child’s doctors may simply need more information about family medical history to diagnose them properly.

Many adopted individuals have questions about their biological families, and may be happy to learn about or meet their biological parents. The adoptive parents may benefit as well. Sometimes in closed adoptions, the child may blame their adoptive parents for hiding information about their biological family, even if the truth is that they simply don’t know anything. A more open arrangement can reduce conflict and foster honest communication for everyone.

Closed Adoptions

While open or semi-open adoptions are usually a good thing, there are some situations where people prefer a closed adoption. For example, a person who became pregnant as the result of a sexual assault or an abusive relationship may not want any reminders of what happened. The birth mother may also wish to protect the child if she believes the birth father poses some sort of threat. Or she might feel the child is simply better off not knowing the circumstances of their birth. In these situations, a closed adoption may be the best way to proceed. An experienced Florida family law attorney will listen to your concerns, and explain your options so you can decide what to do.

Stepparent Adoptions

Often people play a major role in their stepchildren’s lives. In some cases, after forming a tight bond with a stepchild, they may wish to legally adopt the child. If you are considering adopting a stepchild/children, this process will allow you to do the following:

    • Have the right to give your surname to the child.
    • Have the right to participate in all major decisions about the child, including what happens if you and/or your spouse die or become incapacitated while the child is still a minor.
    • Assume legal responsibility for the welfare of the child.
    • Be listed as the child’s parent on their birth certificate.
  • Receive an expedited completion for uncontested adoption.

Grandparent and Relative Adoptions

In some cases, a child’s parent or parents may become unable or unwilling to care for them for a wide variety of reasons. These may include irresponsible parenting, mental health or other medical issues, substance abuse problems, child abuse or neglect, teen pregnancy, or poverty. Sometimes the situation may be temporary, and the parent may be able to step back in after taking time away—for example, after going to rehab to address addiction issues, seeking help for mental health difficulties, etc. However, there are other cases where the parents or parents are never willing or able to return to the task of parenting. In this situation, the grandparent or relative now raising the child eventually realizes that they may need to officially adopt the child or children in question, so they can have a legal say in all childrearing decisions. 

The adoption process allows the relative to provide the child with health insurance and enroll them in school. Depending on their circumstances, they may also be eligible for subsidized housing that includes the child. This process for a grandparent or relative is usually less complicated than for non-relative or newborn adoptions, and may require less paperwork. However, it’s still important to have an experienced Florida adoption attorney to help you ensure it is completed correctly.

If you need assistance with adopting or placing a child for adoption, or have questions about any potential legal matter, please contact Apfelbaum Law for a consultation. We have offices in Port St. Lucie and Stuart, but provide legal services throughout the Treasure Coast and Florida.