YOUR PRIVATE PLACEMENT ADOPTION OPTION WHEN YOUR CHILD IS IN THE SYSTEM OR IN FOSTER CARE AND YOU, THE PARENT, MAY BE FACING INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF YOUR PARENTAL RIGHTS.
INTERVENTION IS YOUR OPTION AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT.
IS YOUR CHILD BEING PLACED IN FOSTER CARE?
IS YOUR CHILD BEING PLACED IN RELATIVE CARE?
IS YOUR CHILD ALREADY UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES?
YOU HAVE OPTIONS
If your child is being placed in foster or relative care or is already under the supervision of the Florida Department of Children and Families and you do not feel you will be able to meet your case plan or the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is not going to give you a case plan, you have the option to choose a private placement adoption plan for your child rather than have your parental rights involuntarily terminated by the Court.
Under Florida law, the Juvenile Court must inform you at the arraignment hearing, in the order that approves the case plan and in the order that changes the permanency goal to adoption of your right to choose a private placement adoption plan for your child rather than have the Court involuntarily terminate your parental rights and permanently commit your child to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for subsequent adoption by prospective adoptive parents that are selected by the Department. Your ability to select private placement adoption for your child may only be exercised PRIOR to the state terminating your parental rights.
If you choose private placement adoption for your child, you may select the prospective adoptive parents rather than the Department. You may select a relative to adopt your child or a person who is non-related to you such as a friend, your child’s foster parent or any prospective adoptive parent matched with you through an adoption attorney or an adoption agency. The person or persons you select must be qualified to adopt (i.e. have or be able to obtain a favorable home study) and the Court must determine if the person or persons you selected are suitable to adopt your child and if placement of your child with the prospective adoption parent or parents is in your child’s best interest.
The Court will use these factors in determining if the placement of your child with the prospective adoptive parents you have selected is in your child’s best interest:
* The permanency offered
* The established bond relationship between your child and your child’s current caregiver (foster parents)
* The stability of the home in which your child has been residing (foster home) and the desirability of the foster parents in maintaining continuity of placement.
* The importance of maintaining sibling relationships, if possible.
* The reasonable preferences and wishes of your child, if the Court deems your child to be of sufficient maturity, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
* Whether a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed claiming certain specific grounds.
* What is best for your child.
* The right of the parent to determine an appropriate placement for their child.
If you wish to choose private placement adoption for your child, you MUST do so PRIOR to the Court terminating YOUR parental rights.
To choose this option:
1. Ask your dependency attorney to file a notice with the Court informing the Judge, the Guardian ad Litem and the attorney for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) that you are choosing this option for your child or, if you do not yet have an attorney, tell the Judge in open court.
2. Meet with an Adoption Entity (either a private placement adoption attorney or licensed adoption agency) to discuss your adoption plan and select your prospective adoptive parents. The Adoption Entity will then prepare a consent package which he or she will forward to your dependency attorney.
3. After reviewing the consent package, execute the consent package with your dependency attorney.
4. Once the consent package is executed, the Adoption Entity will file a Motion to Intervene along with a copy of the favorable home study of the person or persons you have selected as the prospective adoptive parents. The Court will then hold two hearings; the first to determine if the Adoption Entity has filed all the necessary documents to intervene and a second hearing within 30 days to determine if the change of placement to the person or person you have selected as the prospective adoptive parents for adoption is in the best interest of the child. The Court will then enter its Order within 15 days after the hearing. If the Court grants the change of placement, custody of the child will be transferred to the Adoption Entity for placement with the person or persons you have selected as the prospective adoptive parents and there wil likely be a transition plan ordered to assist the child or children with their adjustment.
5. By choosing private placement adoption for your child, you will know who is parenting your child, your child will have information about you, and you can receive yearly letters and pictures throughout your child’s minority from the prospective adoptive parents to update you on how your child is doing. It also gives you an opportunity for reunion with your child when he or she reaches the age of majority should your child so choose.
6. Time is of the essence in choosing private placement adoption for your child. The longer your child is in the system, the more likely it is that the Courts will make a determination that change of placement to the adoptive parent or adoptive parents you have selected may not be in their best interest.
ASK YOUR DEPENDENCY ATTORNEY ABOUT THIS OPTION. IN FLORIDA, UNDER FLORIDA STATE STATUTE 63.082(6), YOU, THE PARENT, HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE PRIVATE PLACEMENT ADOPTION RATHER THAN HAVE YOUR PARENTAL RIGHTS INVOLUNTARILY TERMINATED BY THE COURT. KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!
OTHER STATES MAY HAVE SIMILAR LAWS.
Information provided by:
Ellen M. Kaplan, Esq.
Board Certified Adoption Specialist
(Florida Bar #0875228)
9900 West Sample Road, Third Floor
Coral Springs, Florida 33054
(954) 510-2292 (fax)