Your legal right to work with a private adoption agency to help select a home for your child.
Under Florida law, section 63.082 of the Florida Statutes, a parent may place their child for adoption with a private adoption agency, even if the child is under jurisdiction of the juvenile dependency court and in foster care as long as no final judgment of termination of parental rights has been entered. This means that if Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) (aka DHS) has taken away your child, as long as your parental rights have not been terminated, you can still choose adoption for you child!
This process, called intervention, allows a parent to regain a sense of control over her child, participate in the selection of a prospective adoptive family, and have the comfort of knowing that the child will be placed quickly into a loving home, a forever home!
Sometimes, parents facing a dependency or termination of parental rights action by the DCF are not aware that they can still have a voice in determining where and when their child may be placed for adoption.
What will happen in this type of adoption process, an intervention, is a private adoption entity, such as Adoption Choices of Florida, intervenes into the DCF case and handles the adoption pursuant to the wishes of the biological parent. This process allows the child to be removed from the foster care system and placed privately into a loving family chosen by the birth parents.
There are many benefits to an intervention, including a faster transition from the state system into a permanent home. Most importantly, intervention allows the birth parents, and not the state, plan for the child’s future. The birth parent will not need to attend any further hearings and the court system is thereby freed up to devote its resources to other cases where attention is needed.
In order to rely on the law that allows birth parents to choose a private adoption placement, parental rights must still be intact. This means that although DCF may have already taken the child from the home, there has not been a final termination of parental rights hearing and the issuance of a judge’s order terminating the parental rights. Every intervention is different and there are many factors to consider to ensure the best possible outcome for the child. Please call us at 800-985-8108 to learn more about your specific options.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the process of a child becoming adoptable?
“When a child is removed from a home by the state, the parent(s) is/are given an opportunity to be reunified with the child. That is the stated goal but the time period is limited and the parents have to prove to the Court that reunion is appropriate within a certain amount of time – typically one year. If the parent is unable to finish the case plan, the State then initiates the termination of parental rights petition and a trial is conducted. Holding a TPR hearing is typically the last resort. If parental rights are terminated, the child becomes available for adoption through the State. Some children are adopted by the foster parents, and others require the locating of willing-to-adopt adoptive parents. Since the parental rights of the parents have been terminated, the biological parents are out of the picture.”
What benefits do children of the state receive?
“When a child’s parental rights are terminated through the State, that child is entitled to certain benefits. These benefits will be carried with him/her to his/her new family – insurance, stipends, access to special needs services, tuition, and other assistance. Some, if not all, of these benefits are not available if the child is adopted through the intervention process.”
Do most foster parents wish to keep the children placed in their care?
“Some foster parents are foster parents because they want to help children on a short term basis and others are foster parents because they wish to adopt. It is my understanding that folks are discouraged from becoming foster parents for the sole purpose of eventually adopting.”
“What is ‘intervention’ and how does it work?”
“The whole concept of allowing outside parties to intervene was a) to allow the parents to have some say in what happens to the child and b) alleviate some of the backlog in the foster care system.
So, there is period of time where a party can file a motion to intervene – post-removal from the parent’s home and pre-TPR. In other words, the State has removed the child, placed the child in foster care and the parental rights have not been terminated. By filing motion to intervene, an outside party comes into the case and says, “the mother has selected me to adopt this child and I have a valid homestudy.” Legally, the Court is limited in what it can do – by statute, the Court needs to determine (in very rough terms) if the 3rd party has a valid homestudy and if the placement with the 3rd party is in the best interests of the child.”
What are the positive sides of intervention?
The prospective adoptive parents (the 3rd party or Intervenor) like it because the child is already born, the costs are lower, and there is relatively low legal risk.
The parents like it because at that point they have met with and picked the family to adopt and have some control of the adoption. Additionally, they may possibly retain post-placement contact privileges.
The Court system likes it because it means there is one less case on the docket and the child is placed with a home study ready family.
From a purely financial aspect, the State likes it because many of the benefits that would normally stay with a child adopted through the foster care system until the child is 18 stop upon a successful intervention. For a family to step in and privately adopt would save a great deal of money for the State. Presumably the adoptive family has the resources to provide the best care for the child.”
What are the negative sides of intervention?
“Well, the problem is: What about the foster parent that has been caring for the child for months or even years and all of a sudden is told that someone has intervened and the child is to be removed? They say, of course, “The child’s best interests are to stay here with us,” and “Why do these strangers, picked by the mom, get to come in and adopt now? They don’t even know the child.” “Isn’t anyone going to take into consideration what the child wants?”
Clearly, the older the child, the longer the child has been with the ‘fosters’, the attachment level, so on and so forth, all makes a difference. Certainly, an older child that has been with a foster parent for many months and has demonstrated bonding attachment issues, does not make for an appropriate intervention.”
What would be a perfect situation for intervention?
“The “ideal” intervention situation is one where an infant is removed and placed with a ‘career’ foster parent (one who is not looking to adopt) and the parent decides quickly to pick a third party to adopt and intervene.”
And a situation where an intervention would be disastrous?
“The worst case scenario of situations is where a child has been placed in multiple homes over the years, experienced trauma, been with a current foster parent for a significant period of time, and has a history of difficulty bonding.”
In Florida, how does this work? What of best-case, worst-case situations? Does the law step in?
“In the ideal situation, the intervention process works as designed.
In the “worst case scenario” situation, the child’s best interests would trump the parent’s desire to place the child with a 3rd party.
Of course, it is never as clear cut to always have the ideal or worst case, it is always somewhere in the middle. The law, in Florida, is that if the birth parent has executed a valid and binding consent to an adoption, the court is also prevented from comparing the birth parents’ choice of prospective adoptive parents with other potential placements that the court or the Department might choose for the child, assuming the placement of the child is in the best interests of the child. In other words, is the placement wish of the birth parent for the child, appropriate for the child?
The bottom legal line is that if the State believes removing a child from a current placement is significantly detrimental to the child, there should be an objection to the intervention and if the State’s concern/objection is valid, then the Court will rightfully deny the Motion to Intervene. The tricky part is to not get drawn into the ‘which home is the better home’ argument.”
Attorney Mark Miller interview. Originally retrieved from here.