It is the act of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where it did not exist, thereby declaring the child to be legally the child of the adoptive parents and their heir at law and entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child born to such adoptive parents in lawful wedlock. FS 63.032 (2)
How are adoptions regulated in the State of Florida?
All adoptions in the state of Florida require the assistance of a Florida licensed attorney or agency licensed to place children for adoption, a Florida licensed attorney or an agency licensed in this or another state but receiving permission from the Department of Children and Families to make such a placement.
Licensed attorneys are called Intermediaries however the main title given to all licensed providers of adoption is “adoption entity” FS 63.032 (3)
Any parent, (see definition below) or legal guardian of the child, except that of the parent of an adult. It is only required for such a parent to receive notice of the adoption and consent is not required of such a parent.
Who is considered a Legal Parent in the state of Florida?
The mother of the child, if incompetent the legal guardian of the mother.
A man married to the mother when the child was conceived or born. Such a person is considered the legal father of the child.
Any man who has established a right to determine the welfare of the child by making an effort to take responsibility as a parent as listed below.
A man who has been adjudicated by the court as the parent of this child by the date a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed.
A man who has filed an Affidavit of Paternity with the Bureau of Vital Statistics or he is listed on the child’s birth certificate or filed a Paternity action under the Florida paternity statute before the date a petition for Termination of Parental Rights is filed.
An adoptive parent of the child.
As to a child who is placed with adoptive parents more than 6 months after the child’s birth, such a man must have developed a substantial relationship with the child and demonstrated a full commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood by providing reasonable and regular financial support to the child according to his ability, regularly visited the child and maintained communication with the child or person providing care to the child, openly lived with the child and held himself out as the father for at least 6 months within the 1-year period following the birth of the child and immediately preceding the placement.
Florida Law provides that this is an acknowledgement of paternity and this man would be entitled to notice.
It does not include an individual whose parental rights have been terminated or an alleged or prospective parent such as an unmarried biological father unless he has complied with the statute to protect his rights.
Florida law makes it clear that an individual either must give birth to the child or establish rights to the child in order to be considered a legal parent entitled to notice and an opportunity to assert a claim for the child.
If any of the above individuals have not consented to the adoption and waived service of process or appearance they must be served personally with a copy of the Petition for Termination of Parental Rights. If such a person cannot be located, then service by publication must be performed.
A “putative father” is a person who is alleged to be the father of a child, or who claims to be the father of a child, at a time when there may not be enough information available to determine if that is correct. Such a person is generally an unmarried biological father.
What rights does an Unmarried Biological Father have?
An unmarried biological father is not considered a legal father in the state of Florida and is defined in Florida as:
A biological father who is not married to the child’s mother at the time of conception or birth of the child and who, before the filing of a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights, has not been adjudicated by a court to be the legal father of the child or not executed any document affirming paternity of the child.
An unmarried biological father is not considered a legal father in the state of Florida unless he takes the initiative, provides support and care for the mother and unborn child and complies with Florida law as below.
An Unmarried Biological Father's rights are determined by the following:
Florida Law provides that an unmarried biological father, by virtue of the fact that he engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman, is deemed to be on notice that a pregnancy and an adoption proceeding regarding the child may occur and that he has a duty to protect his own rights and interests in the child.
If he is served with an Notice of Intended adoption plan, he must respond to the court within 30 days with an affidavit stating that he is personally fully able and willing to take responsibility for the child’s care and agree to a court order of child support and contribution to the payment of the mother’s pregnancy and the child’s birth expenses in accordance with his ability to pay.
He must file a notarized claim of paternity with the Florida putative father Registry/state of Florida Office of Vital Statistics before the date the Petition to Terminate Parental Rights is filed. Obtain form at: www.doh.state.fl.us.
He must have paid a reasonable amount of the living and medical expenses incurred in the mother’s pregnancy and the child’s birth in accordance with his financial ability.