The Home Study Process for Adoptions in Brevard County, Florida
When adoption is undertaken there are many hoops. Once such hoop is a series of home study visits of the adoptive family home and it can be stressful. Below is a summary of the homestudy requirements in our home state of Florida.
Subjects for Adoption Home Studies
Admin. Code § 65C-16.007
The adoptive applicant and other adult household members must be included in the home study. Criminal background checks will be conducted on the applicants and all persons age 12 or older residing in the prospective adoptive home.
Agency or Person Conducting the Study for adoption in Florida
Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.002
The preliminary home study must be completed by a licensed child-placing agency, a registered child-caring agency, or a licensed professional. The department is required to perform the preliminary home study only if there is no licensed child-placing agency, child-caring agency, or licensed professional in the county where the prospective adoptive parents reside.
In regulation: The Department of Children and Family Services facilitates the adoption of children with special needs.
Persons seeking to adopt non-special needs children will be referred to private agencies.
Qualifications for Adoptive Parents in Florida
Admin. Code § 65C-16.005
An observation, screening, and evaluation shall be made of the child and adoptive parents who demonstrate the ability to meet the physical, emotional, social, educational, and financial needs of a child, while safeguarding the child from further loss and separation from primary caregivers. In determining which applications for adoption should be approved, the following criteria must be considered:
- The child’s choice if the child is developmentally able to participate in the decision
- The ability and willingness of the adoptive family to adopt some or all of a sibling group
- The commitment of the applicant to value, respect, appreciate, and educate the child regarding his or her racial and ethnic heritage
- The family’s childrearing experience
Applications to adopt will be accepted from married couples and from single adults. Couples married less than 2 years must be given particularly careful evaluation.
Other qualifications include:
- The family must have income and resources to ensure financial stability and security to meet expenses incurred in adequate care of the family.
- The family’s housing and neighborhoods must provide adequate space and the living conditions necessary to promote the health and safety of the family.
- The physical, mental, and emotional health of the prospective adoptive household members must not jeopardize the safety and permanency of the child’s placement and will be considered in determining the best interest of the child.
- When families have children by birth or adoption, the anticipated impact of a new child on the family must be considered.
- Working parents must be willing and able to arrange to be with the child during the transition period.
Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Florida
Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.005
The preliminary home study must be made to determine the suitability of the intended adoptive parents and may be completed prior to identification of a prospective adoptive child. The study must include, at a minimum:
- An interview with the intended adoptive parents
- Criminal records and central abuse registry checks
- An assessment of the physical environment of the home
- A determination of the financial security of the intended adoptive parents
- Documentation of counseling and education of the intended adoptive parents on adoptive parenting
A minimum of five written references will be required. At least two of the references will be from nonrelatives. References must be obtained from persons who either have had the opportunity to observe the applicant(s) in situations that may give some indication of their capacity for parenthood, or who, as the result of their relationship to the applicant, possess or should possess documentation or knowledge of the applicant’s capacity for parenthood.
References should be obtained from employers of applicants and from schools or day care providers who have had an opportunity to know the family.
The approved adoptive parent training must be provided to and successfully completed by all prospective adoptive parents except licensed foster parents and relative caregivers who have previously attended the approved training or have been determined to understand the challenges and parenting skills needed to parent the children available for adoption from foster care successfully.
Stat. § 63.112 Petition for adoption; description; report or recommendation, exceptions; mailing.—(1) The petition for adoption shall be signed and verified by the petitioner and filed with the clerk of the court and shall state:(a) The date and place of birth of the person to be adopted, if known;(b) The name to be given to the person to be adopted;(c) The date petitioner acquired custody of the minor and the name of the adoption entity placing the minor, if any;(d) The full name, age, and place and duration of residence of the petitioner;(e) The marital status of the petitioner, including the date and place of marriage, if married, and divorces, if applicable to the adoption by a stepparent;(f) A statement that the petitioner is able to provide for the material needs of the child;(g) A description and estimate of the value of any property of the person to be adopted;(h) The case style and date of entry of the judgment terminating parental rights or, if the adoptee is an adult or a minor relative or a stepchild of the petitioner, the address, if known, of any person whose consent to the adoption is required and, if such person has not consented, the facts or circumstances that excuse the lack of consent to justify a termination of parental rights; and(i) The reasons why the petitioner desires to adopt the person.(2) The following documents are required to be filed with the clerk of the court at the time the petition is filed:(a) A certified copy of the court judgment terminating parental rights under chapter 39 or under this chapter or, if the adoptee is an adult or a minor relative or stepchild of the petitioner, the required consent, unless such consent is excused by the court.(b) The favorable preliminary home study of the department, licensed child-placing agency, or professional pursuant to s. 63.092, as to the suitability of the home in which the minor has been placed, unless the petitioner is a stepparent or a relative.(c) A copy of any declaratory statement previously entered by the court pursuant to s. 63.102.(d) Documentation that an interview was held with the minor, if older than 12 years of age, unless the court, in the best interest of the minor, dispenses with the minor’s consent under s. 63.062(1)(c).(3) Unless ordered by the court, no report or recommendation is required when the placement is a stepparent adoption or an adult adoption or when the minor is a relative of one of the adoptive parents.
Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Florida
Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.005
No minor may be placed in a home in which there resides any person determined by the court to be a sexual predator or to have been convicted of child abuse, murder, or sexual battery.
An application may be denied when any of the following issues are present:
- The adoptive applicant is experiencing a serious or chronic medical condition that compromises or could compromise the applicant’s ability to provide the physical, emotional, social, and economic support necessary for the child to thrive.
- The child abuse records check reveals verified findings of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
- The criminal history checks reveal that the applicant(s) have been convicted of crimes specified in statute as a disqualifying condition.
- The applicant is a current or former foster parent, and the review of the foster parent file reveals that there have been care and supervision concerns or a violation of licensing standards.
When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Florida
Stat. § 63.092
Before placing the minor in the intended adoptive home, a preliminary home study must be completed. A favorable preliminary home study is valid for 1 year after the date of its completion.
Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Florida
Admin. Code § 65C-16.010
The department has a legal responsibility to provide services until the finalization of an adoption. This period shall be no less than 90 days from the date the child was placed in the physical custody of the adoptive parent. The first home visit must be made within 1 week after placement. There shall be a minimum of three supervisory visits in placements that are non-problematic. For placements that do not proceed smoothly, additional and more frequent contacts are necessary.
The adoptive child must be contacted a minimum of once every calendar month until adoption finalization. The entire family must be seen together at least once during the postplacement supervision period.