Birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child (aka adoptee) are the three main components of the adoption process.
Birth parents often referred to as birth mother (and birth father) is a woman who has given birth to a child, as opposed to an adoptive mother. Birth mothers are courageous women who give their children life and selflessly choose to place them in the home of another loving family, following through with an adoption plan.
An adoptive parent is someone who provides a permanent home to a child or children through the legal process of adoption. Simply put, an adoptive parent is a person who has adopted a child. An adoptive parent must complete all the requirements to legally adopt a child who is not related to him/her naturally. Any adult whom the court declares to be a fit parent can adopt a child. An adoptive parent can be a husband, wife, or husband and wife together, same-sex couples, and an unmarried person or a single person. The best interest of the child is given paramount importance in all policy considerations toward adoption.
Finally, the child, the adoptee. The adoptee is a person who has been adopted.
Behind the scenes, there are a few more key people assisting with the process.
For information purposes, we have outlined several here:
Most adoptions occur through a private adoption agency like Adoption Choices of Florida. Adoption agencies play the part of broker, bringing couples desiring to adopt together with birth mothers who are looking for a family to raise their children. Adoption agencies are generally licensed by the state to provide services to birth parents and adoptive families and to facilitate adoptions. Each agency tends to have its own guidelines and restrictions about the types of adoptive families they will service. Some agencies are more or less open to all people, while others restrict their provision of services to people from certain religions, races, ages, or possessing particular sexual orientations (e.g., heterosexual only). Adoption Choices of Florida welcomes ALL people! We believe the foundation for adoption is LOVE.
Agencies assign each birth mother to a Social Worker. Social workers will work with the birth mother to identify the type of adoptive parents she is looking for and to assist with the matching process. The social worker will make sure that the birth mother is adequately prepared for the decision of placing her child with an adoptive family and has considered all options available to her. He or she will also typically assist the birth mother in connecting with additional resources that might benefit her, such as finances, support groups, or medical assistance.
Social workers at adoption agencies also conduct the home study that are done with potential adoptive parents. They also perform follow-up visits after placement has occurred so as to check on the adoptive child’s adjustment to his or her new home. While the social worker’s primary role is always to protect the best interests of the child, he or she can also become an advocate helping both birth mother and adoptive parents through all the paperwork and steps that must be handled during the adoption process.
Lawyers are often necessary in adoption proceedings, as they are the only professionals competent to represent adoptive parents before the court that is empowered to make the adoption legal and permanent. Lawyers handle the legal paperwork and court filings that accompany this process. A birth mother may also select a lawyer to help her coordinate the adoption process in lieu of an adoption agency. In this role, the lawyer may help link a birth mother to adoptive parents, just as an adoption agency would.
The services of a lawyer who coordinates adoptions in this manner may include advertising for birth mothers (often before they have given birth) as well as facilitating meetings between birth mothers and adoptive parents to arrange adoption details. Lawyer-facilitated adoption may occur more quickly than otherwise possible (several months to a year), and as a result, the child may be delivered to the adoptive parents at a much younger age. In a lawyer-facilitated adoption, the adoptive family will still need to work with an agency for the home study process. Lawyers are not licensed to conduct these home studies, which are required by the courts before an adoption can be finalized.
Through expert counsel, Adoption Choices of Florida has in-house counsel to support all legal paperwork and proceedings for your adoption journey.
Facilitators are unlicensed individuals who work to connect adoptive parents to birth mothers. Adoption facilitators typically are paid an upfront finder’s fee of between $4,000 and $8,000 (U.S. Dollars) by prospective adoptive parents. These high fees are at least partially offset by the manner in which facilitators may streamline the adoption process by helping birth mothers and adoptive parents connect more efficiently than may be possible through alternative channels. All other expenses associated with adoptions (e.g., payment for lawyers, social workers, etc.) still apply.
Finally, no adoption is ever final until it goes before a Judge who is empowered by the state to place the final seal of approval on the adoption process. You can read what to expect at adoption finalization here. The judge reviews all paperwork submitted by the lawyers and social workers involved in the adoption process and makes the final determination as to whether or not the adoption will occur.