Adoption can be a complicated process and arises in a variety of situations. Sometimes, a spouse that you share children with passes away and when the time is appropriate for you, you make the choice to remarry. You and your new spouse may determine that adoption is appropriate for your new family. Other times, a parent may not be in the picture for one reason or another, or may have even given up parental rights. In such cases, a new, solid relationship may present the opportunity to adopt. Unfortunately, there are also times when both parents pass away because of accidents or other occurrences and close family members or friends may choose to adopt children that have been left behind. There are also many couples that are unable to have children that choose to pursue adoption. Whatever the reason for adoption, most parents choose to go through the often difficult and lengthy process to ensure that the best interests of the child or children are being met.
In some cases, specifically those involving a stepparent or non-biological parent of the child pursuing adoption of that child with the knowledge and consent of the child’s biological parent if such knowledge and consent is necessary, it will be necessary to initiate a proceeding to confirm adoption. Confirming adoption will result in a legal document from a court that vests the rights of parentage in the parent pursuing the confirmed adoption. This can be helpful in cases where there may be a parent listed on the birth certificate more or less by default, but that parent may not be the child’s actual biological parent. In other words, a confirming adoption can be a useful tool in ensuring that a child’s legal parents as noted on a birth certificate are also recognized as the child’s legal parents by law. Confirming adoption is a way to confirm to a Florida court that you are ready to undertake the rights and responsibilities that come with being a parent. To understand the potential need for confirming adoption, it is important to understand common situations where the need for a confirming adoption may arise as well as why such need may arise.
When a Confirming Adoption May Be Necessary
There are many scenarios in which a confirming adoption may be a wise choice for the parents involved. These two general examples provide some insight as to when this might occur:
- A woman becomes unexpectedly pregnant for one reason or another. Perhaps it was the result of a prior boyfriend that passed away, or perhaps because of an affair. Prior to giving birth, an existing relationship has been mended or a new relationship has formed and the man that is part of the new relationship is there during the delivery process. Especially if he is her legal husband, he is presumed to be the father of the child for purposes of the birth certificate. However, the presumption that the man is indeed the child’s father is rebuttable, even if he is listed on the birth certificate. In this case he is not the biological father and pursuing a confirming adoption may be wise to ensure he has full legal rights and access to the child.
- A second situation might involve a lesbian couple where one partner was artificially inseminated. For purposes of the birth certificate, the female giving birth would clearly be listed as the biological mother of the child. However, while it may be possible to list the other female partner as a parent for birth certificate purposes, this is another example of a situation where the non-biological mother should consider pursuing a confirming adoption to solidify her rights to the child even if both women are legally married.
The Problem with Birth Certificates
As noted, birth certificates list information based on responses to questions regarding the information necessary to complete the paperwork related to that birth certificate. In Florida, as well as in many other states, a child’s father is presumed to be the spouse of the woman giving birth. However, that may not always be the case, and in some situations there may be no father in the picture and this role may now be filled by a woman. In any event, birth certificates, though they carry legal authority for certain things and can serve as proof of identity in certain situations, do not carry the legal authority of a court determining that a person does indeed have parental rights to a child.
General Florida Adoption Requirements
For those parents wishing to adopt outside of a confirming adoption scenario, there are some guidelines to keep in mind. Florida does not have a rigid set of guidelines for people to initially qualify to adopt from the state, but it can be a lengthy process sometimes taking up to a year.
- There are no excessive income requirements;
- You may live in a home or an apartment;
- You can be in your 20s or your 50s;
- You can be single or married; etc.
In other words, the pool of Florida citizens eligible to adopt is vast, and common misconceptions about the requirements of the adoption process should not inhibit anyone interested in pursuing adoption in Florida. While there are still rigorous investigations and standards in place to secure successful adoption, the standards are unique based on each individual case. However, certain things such as felony convictions can prevent you from being eligible to adopt.
Many people are under the false impression that income level plays an extremely important role in the adoption process, but while it is a factor considered during a home study, it is not usually the deciding factor in whether or not an adoption will be approved. According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, prospective adoptive parents will not be denied based on income alone. Income is simply used to gauge whether or not prospective parents are financially stable enough to provide for the most basic needs of the child or children they wish to adopt. Additionally, adoption from the state does not require an adoption fee or fees for related training and some other reimbursable expenses. There are many benefits to adopting children from the state of Florida. For more information on these benefits, check out this page.
Adoption and Divorce
One of the most important reasons to ensure that all legal matters related to adopting a child are properly in order is to ensure that you retain legal rights and access to that child should a divorce ever occur. Rarely are parents that are in the process of adoption simultaneously contemplating divorce, but life can take many strange turns in a matter of months or years. Ensuring that you are legally recognized as a child’s parents will ensure that you can retain the benefits of legal recognition as a parent and not lose them during or after a divorce. For more information about how divorce will affect your family situation, including situations involving adoptive children, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation about your circumstances. Speaking with a family law attorney that has experience handling many different types of divorce proceedings is an important first step in understanding how divorce will affect you and your family.