Both minor children and adults may be adopted. In adult adoptions, the written consent of the person to be adopted and his/her spouse is required.
Who can adopt? A husband and wife jointly; an unmarried adult; or a married person without the other spouse joining as petitioner, if the person to be adopted is not his/her spouse and if the other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted or the failure of the other spouse to join in the petition is excused by the Court for good cause shown or is in the best interest of the child.
It should be noted that for most purposes, the person adopted obtains all inheritance rights of a child born to the adoptive parents, and loses all inheritance rights from the birth parents.
Stepparent, Relative, and Adult Adoptions
The adoption process for stepparent, relative, and adult adoptions is less complex than for non relative adoptions. As defined by statute, “relative” means a person related by blood to the person being adopted within the third degree of consanguinity. In these cases, the Court may terminate a biological parent’s rights and effectuate the adoption in the same proceeding. To commence an adoption action, the petitioner needs to file a Petition for Adoption, without having to file a separate petition to terminate the biological parent’s rights. The Court may terminate a biological parent’s rights if he/she signs a proper consent agreeing to terminate his/her rights, (or an affidavit of non-paternity, if applicable) or if the Court finds that the biological parent has abandoned the minor child as defined by Florida law. In these types of adoptions, a home study is generally unnecessary.
The result of entry of a Final Judgment of Adoption is that the petitioner will be deemed to be the legal parent of the person adopted. The adopting parent shall have the same rights and obligations as any other natural parent. The parent whose rights were terminated shall no longer have any right or obligation with respect to the minor child.
Non-relative minor adoptions
In cases involving the adoption of non-relative children, the adoption process involves two separate steps:
- the termination of the parental rights of the birth parents, and
- the subsequent adoption of the minor children.
In those cases, home studies are necessary to ensure an appropriate placement for minor children. Due to the sensitive nature of these proceedings, it is important that prospective adoptive parents consult with an attorney knowledgeable in the area of adoption.
Rights of unmarried biological father
An unmarried biological father is presumed to be on notice, by virtue of having engaged in sexual relations with a woman, that a pregnancy and an adoption proceeding may occur. Therefore, an unmarried biological father is responsible for protecting his rights and is presumed to know that his child may be adopted without his consent unless he complies with the requirements of the law, including registering with the Putative Father Registry.