Adopting a child in Florida is a great way to build your forever family.
Discovering you are pregnant can be a hard situation. No matter what position you are in, you have the option of either parenting your child or placing him or her for adoption. For some, this decision will be based on financial security; for others, it will be dependent on the life plans of the mother. No matter your position, it is never too late to create an adoption plan.
If you are still in high school, an unplanned pregnancy may make you feel as though you need to drop out in order to care for the baby. Even with a great support system, you could find it too difficult to juggle taking care of the baby, going to school, completing homework, finding a job, and/or searching for child care. If you are one of the lucky ones whose partner stays involved, there may be pressure on him to obtain a job or to raise the baby while you are working or going to school. This is already a difficult decision, but making it as a teenager could be extremely challenging.
You might be in college and find yourself in the precarious position and realize that the best thing you can do is provide your baby/child with a loving family. You might also be someone who struggles with addiction and, although your desire is to stay clean, it is often challenging to say the least. What should you do? What are your options?
In Florida, there is a protocol to follow and this article will walk you through each step as you wrestle with one of the most selfless, difficult, and uneasy decisions you may ever have to make.
Deciding on Adoption
As stated on Adoption.com, the first step you must take is making the decision of whether to parent your child or place him or her for adoption. There are many couples who struggle with infertility, families who already have children but want to grow their family, and individuals who want a child and have the love and means to provide for him/her. This is a difficult decision that will take a lot of time to make on your own.
Finding an Agency or Adoption Attorney
The second task, once you have decided to place your baby for adoption, is finding an agency or adoption attorney that not only fits your needs but those of your baby as well. Find someone that works with you, not against. One such agency, although not based in Florida but does assist in adoptions nationwide and even worldwide, is The Gladney Center for Adoption. Finding the right agency can be crucial as these will be the people you deal with throughout the course of your pregnancy and sometimes even beyond that depending on the type of adoption that you choose. The Gladney Center for Adoption is known for working with expectant mothers from all backgrounds. Together with an options counselor, you can make a personalized adoption plan that is right for you. There is no pressure to commit, there are always people to support you, and you can feel confident that your best interest is being respected throughout the process.
Choosing What Type of Adoption You Want
That leads us into our third step. You now decide what type of adoption you would like.
- Open Adoption: Open adoptions are becoming more and more popular. In this type of adoption there remains open communication between you, the birth mother, and the prospective adoptive parents after the adoption is finalized. The trick is finding adoptive parents who are open to this. Open adoption means that there can be communication about and with the child through letters, photos, video, social media, or in-person visits. If this type is chosen by both parties, once the adoption is finalized there can be post-placement visits that are agreed upon by the biological family and the adoptive family. There can be varying amounts of openness in an open adoption arrangement, it all depends on what you as the birth mother and adoptive parents have chosen.
- Closed Adoption: You may choose this type of adoption for multiple reasons. It may be difficult to know anything about where the baby goes or who is parenting the baby. You may also be in the position where you know that if you spend time with your baby, you will want to parent him or her, even if this could place you in a difficult position. You may receive advice from those around you, your partner, parents, friends, or even the prospective adoptive parents, but the choice ultimately rests on your shoulders.
- Partial Adoption: This type of adoption contains both open and closed adoption aspects. The prospective adoptive parents may allow communication to a certain extent post-placement. Different families will have different agreements in place. Some will choose to share pictures and videos while others will only allow an occasional phone call. Typically, these less-open arrangements will not include in-person visits until the child is older.
Creating an Adoption Plan in Florida
Step four of the adoption process is creating an adoption plan. An adoption plan can be your guide throughout your pregnancy and the adoption process. This will be a great time to assess your financial situation and determine if you will need assistance throughout the process. Fortunately, expectant mothers who are considering adoption are often eligible for a great deal of financial aid throughout a pregnancy. If you choose an adoption agency or attorney in the state of Florida, there may be financial aid provided. Medical bills and other finances throughout your pregnancy may be paid for by the prospective adoptive parents.
During this stage, after choosing the type of adoption you want, you will also prepare a hospital plan. Creating this plan could make it easier to decide who gets to be in the delivery room for the birth of the baby and how you will return home after being released from the hospital. You may want only your support system there—this could include your parent(s), a friend, or the birth father. You may also want these last moments with your baby to be shared only between you and the birth father. This could allow the two of you time with your baby after he/she is born. Some birth mothers allow the prospective adoptive parents into the room, wanting to include them in as much of the birth as possible. Ultimately, it is up to you who you want to be present for the birth. You should feel zero pressure to do anything you are uncomfortable with on this day. Your top priority on the day of the birth is your and you child’s health and safety physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Choosing the Prospective Adoptive Parents
Step number five is choosing the people or individual you want to place your baby with. As you think through this, you are allowed to list the must-haves in those who adopt your baby—religion, age, hobbies, parenting styles, family life, etc. If you are using an agency, they may either have paper files on different families wanting to adopt or photolistings which are files about families on a computer. Knowing what type of family, and the characteristics you want them to have may make this step a little easier. As you look through each file, your gut instinct may be one of the best indicators you have. After deciding on adoption, this could quite possibly be the hardest decision throughout the process.
Once you have chosen your baby’s family, you may have the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face. When you’re in the thick of such a meeting, communication may not come easy. Here are some icebreaker questions that can help you get to know the family better.
- How long have you known your spouse?
- What do you like to do for fun as a family?
- Do you have weekly date nights?
- How will you broach the subject of adoption when the baby is old enough?
- Will you tell them about me?
- Is education important to you?
- How will you explain my baby’s heritage to him/her?
It may still be awkward, but remember that both of you should be working towards what is best for your baby.
After you have met the prospective adoptive parents, step six is signing consent. This is generally done before you leave the hospital, but after giving birth. Before the day of the birth, work with your adoption agency to understand all of your rights and the legalities of your adoption. After the birth and before you have signed any adoption paperwork, your child belongs to you. If you have questions about what those rights are, your agency, or attorney of choice, can help you understand them.
Living Your Life
Now that your baby is with his/her new family, you might find yourself at a loss at what to do next. You are not the same person you were when you found out you were expecting. You may even experience the five levels of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. If you have not participated in some form of counseling, a therapist may be able to assist you in moving through those stages so you can move forward toward the life you envision for yourself.
Do not be ashamed of the grieving process. Adoption can be tragic and traumatic. That doesn’t diminish the sacrifice you’ve made or your worth as a mother. Take care of yourself as you begin to embrace life post-placement. Find your support system and cling to them when things get hard. Your adoption in Florida can be a positive experience.
Foster Adoption in Florida
Foster adoption is utilized by many hopeful adoptive parents who are open to welcoming older children into their forever families. Although domestic infant adoption seems to be more popular and considered among hopeful adoptive parents, the foster adoption route is a great opportunity for these families to grow in love.
Foster adoption is not always the quickest route to growing a forever family. Not every child in the foster system is eligible for adoption. Remember that these children are often experiencing trauma, broken homes, and broken family relationships. They may not understand what it is like to live in a nurturing home with parents who are attentive to their children’s needs. This can pose some challenges. But when strong families open their homes to these children–young and old–another child gets at least a chance to have something positive and what feels like normal. If the opportunity is presented to adopt a child in the foster care system, the child and family will decide together if that is what is wanted by both parties. The adoption process may look slightly different in these cases, but the general idea is the same. A family will apply for adoption, finalize the legalities of guardianship and parental responsibility, and the family will go before a judge to finalize the adoption.
If you can open your home and heart to older children, the rewards can be exponential. One of the hard things about being a foster parent can be that many older children have a behavioral or psychological issue or even some other mental illness. This can be daunting even in small children, but families can work together to help children feel more comfortable, no matter what age your foster child may be.
Adoption in Florida
Now that you’ve learned a little more about adopting in Florida, you are one step closer to finding your place in the adoption community. Do not shy away from the adoption process because it may feel unfamiliar and intimidating. Contact your local adoption agency to learn more about your options and the services available to you for adoption in Florida.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.