FAQs

Adoption Services

  • Can birth mothers receive living expenses?

    Yes. Florida law permits adoptive parents the actual and reasonable living expenses during the pregnancy and up to a maximum of six weeks following delivery if the birth mother is unemployed, underemployed or suffering from a medically-diagnosed disability. This typically is handled through the agency.

  • Does it help to call your office to get updated about my place on the list?

    No. Such calls are time consuming and take away from the time we have to search for suitable birth mothers. In addition, such calls are largely unproductive as your place on the list is a compendium of many factors and doesn’t necessarily bear a relationship to when you will be selected by a birth mother.

  • How am I matched with a birth mother?

    The birth mother usually makes a “dream family list” that identifies the qualities important to her in an adoptive family. She is then presented with several families on our list that meet her requests and who have comfort levels matching her various social and medical history. She then selects from those families. Occasionally, birth mothers prefer us to select the adoptive family, and this is done in chronological order taking into consideration social/medical situations.

  • How much does adoption cost?

    The costs of adoption are wide-ranging, primarily depending on the birth mother’s living and medical expense needs. Generally, the costs range from $30,000 to as high as $40,000 or more even. You will be able to tell us your adoption budget so we can stay within your parameters.

    In matched situations where an adoptive family has already identified birth parents, fees typically range from $7,000 to $13,000 depending on the extent services were provided.

    In older child or sibling adoption situations, fees range based on services provided.

  • What is a home study?

    An independent investigation to verify your suitability as adoptive parents. They are valid for up to one year in Florida and can be updated easily. If you need assistance in obtaining a home study, Heart of Adoptions, Inc. can complete your home study or can refer you to a qualified professional if you live outside Florida. See our forms page to download our application. Our sister agency, Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc. handles international home studies, please visit www.heartofadoptionsalliance.com

  • What is post placement supervision?

    Florida law requires monthly post placement supervision visits for a minimum of 90 days and this is usually done by the individual or entity that conducted your home study. If additional visits are needed, you will be notified. Please be sure to notify your post placement provider when you receive a placement.

  • What kind of contact will we have with the birth parents?

    Whatever is agreed upon by you and the birth parent(s). It is common for birth parents to want to speak to the prospective adoptive parents on the phone, exchange letters and/or meet at lunch or the time of placement. Almost always, this face-to-face contact is limited to pre-birth and the hospital period, although some birth mothers request a baby dedication or one-time meeting shortly after birth. On-going contact after adoption through pictures and letters is required for a minimum of five years (unless waived by both parties) and in many cases, birth parents request eighteen years. This is done confidentially through the agency or Child Connect, so identifying information is not exchanged.

  • What tests will be run on the birth mother?

    We generally request HIV, drug screening, hepatitis and all the customary OB/GYN tests. Sonograms are also routinely done.  You can usually request any other type of testing or additional sonograms, excluding amniocentesis which the doctors will only perform for a medical reason. There may be a charges associated with additional medical testing.

  • When can I obtain a birth certificate?

    We apply for the birth certificate after finalization of the adoption, and it usually takes 4 - 6 weeks thereafter to obtain.

  • When can I obtain a social security card?

    Not until the adoption is finalized and you receive the birth certificate. You can then apply for one at your local office.

  • When will my adoption be finalized?

    Florida law permits finalization once the 90 day post-placement supervision period has expired; however, the Petition for Adoption cannot be set for final hearing until 30 days after entry of the Final Judgment Terminating Parental Rights. Finalization generally occurs within five months after placement, but can be delayed by a birth parent’s failure to cooperate or the court’s crowded docket. We will notify you when your final hearing is set.

  • Will I receive a refund of living expenses if the birth mother does not place?

    We have the birth mother sign a financial agreement, which obligates her to repay such monies if the match fails. In reality, very few birth mothers have the resources to do so. The financial agreement may allow you to write off such losses as a bad debt. In addition, you can pursue a judgment against the birth mother, which is valid in Florida for 20 years (and renewable for another 20). An attorney that specializes in creditors’ issues can then handle pursuit and enforcement of the judgment.

  • Will the birth mother receive counseling?

    We strongly advocate counseling for the birth parents, and insist on it to the extent possible. We refer birth parents to free local resources in their area for counseling and support (i.e. crisis pregnancy centers), and to private counselors. Many birth mothers are not willing to attend counseling and, of course, cannot be forced to do so.

  • Will you work with military families?

    Yes. Please discuss with an adoption case worker how this could have an effect on timeframes for various situations. It may be necessary to have a Power of Attorney drawn up to include wording of “adoption related decisions." Please speak to your caseworker regarding the specifics of your case.  

  • Will you work with out-of-country families?

    Yes. We work with families residing outside the United States,  but many international families should be aware that the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption may govern their adoption. If so, a referral to our sister agency, Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc. will be made. Additionally, the adoption laws of the adoptive family’s country of residence must also be followed as well as citizenship and/or permanent resident cards must be up to date and meet all regulations.

  • Will you work with out-of-state families?

    Yes. We process many Interstate Compact adoptions and assist in reconciling the conflict of laws that often exists between states. Please feel free to discuss specific regulations/requirements of ICPC with an adoption case worker.

Adoptive Families

  • Are there age, marital, religious or other restrictions?

    There are no restrictions due to religious beliefs. There are no blanket restrictions on age or marital status, and each case is handled based on its individual merit.

  • Can a birth parent change his/her mind once a consent for adoption is signed?

    Pursuant to Florida law, a birth parent who executes a consent for adoption involving a child six months or younger, does not have a grace period in which to change their mind. The consent for adoption is permanent and irrevocable from the moment it is signed, and only can be overturned based on fraud or duress. However, in cases where the birth mother is placing a child older than six months, the birth parents have 3 business days to revoke a consent for any reason.

  • Can birth mothers receive living expenses?

    Yes. Florida law permits adoptive parents the actual and reasonable living expenses during the pregnancy and up to a maximum of six weeks following delivery if the birth mother is unemployed, underemployed or suffering from a medically-diagnosed disability. This typically is handled through the agency.

  • Can I place my application on a “hold” status?

    Yes. In the event that you decide to place your file on a hold status (i.e. you are matched with a birth mother via another agency, you choose to pursue fertility treatments, you become pregnant), you must notify the adoptive parent coordinator who will place your file on hold for up to six (6) months.  If you do not contact the adoptive parent coordinator before the expiration of the six (6) months to obtain an extension, your file will be closed. Please be advised that the length of time your file is on hold does not count toward your total wait time.  If your file is closed and you decide to re-apply to our agency at a later date, you will be responsible for re-starting the process.

  • Does it help to call your office to get updated about my place on the list?

    No. Such calls are time consuming and take away from the time we have to search for suitable birth mothers. In addition, such calls are largely unproductive as your place on the list is a compendium of many factors and doesn’t necessarily bear a relationship to when you will be selected by a birth mother.

  • How am I matched with a birth mother?

    The birth mother usually makes a “dream family list” that identifies the qualities important to her in an adoptive family. She is then presented with several families on our list that meet her requests and who have comfort levels matching her various social and medical history. She then selects from those families. Occasionally, birth mothers prefer us to select the adoptive family, and this is done in chronological order taking into consideration social/medical situations.

  • How does a disrupted adoption affect my position on the waiting list?

    The agency will attempt to expedite another match for families who experience a disrupted adoption.

  • How does your agency initially connect with birthmothers?

    We have the ability to work with birthmothers from all over Florida and many across the nation. They typically connect with us through yellow page advertising, Internet search engines, and word of mouth referrals.   

  • How much does adoption cost?

    The costs of adoption are wide-ranging, primarily depending on the birth mother’s living and medical expense needs. Generally, the costs range from $30,000 to as high as $40,000 or more even. You will be able to tell us your adoption budget so we can stay within your parameters.

    In matched situations where an adoptive family has already identified birth parents, fees typically range from $7,000 to $13,000 depending on the extent services were provided.

    In older child or sibling adoption situations, fees range based on services provided.

  • What information will I have on the birth parents?

    In most situations, you will receive a lengthy family, social and medical history compiled by the birth mother, and sometimes the birth father. Where possible, we also obtain medical records from the OB/GYN and the hospital. If requested, we can obtain criminal records or other third party documents. We cannot guarantee the health or medical history of the baby.

  • What information will the birth parents have about me?

    Your “Dear Birth Parent” letter and family profile should include information you want your birth mother to know about you. The birth parents may also ask additional questions which will be answered with your approval. It is common, for example, for a birth mother to want to know the first name you select for the baby.

  • What is post placement supervision?

    Florida law requires monthly post placement supervision visits for a minimum of 90 days and this is usually done by the individual or entity that conducted your home study. If additional visits are needed, you will be notified. Please be sure to notify your post placement provider when you receive a placement.

  • What is the pregnancy program fee?

    These are monies that are collected from adoptive parents, they are included in your fee schedule. These monies are set aside for future adoptions to be used for various reasons, such as: a birthmother may need some assistance before an adoptive family is found, the agency may need to uncover some possible fraudulent adoption plans, or a baby may be born with unexpected special needs and may require additional medical care and services before a family is choosen or exceedes the family's anticipated budget.

  • What is the profile of a typical birth mother?

    There are many different variables, but our statistics show most birth mothers who have placed their children with our adoptive families are between 19 and 30 years of age, are single parents to one or more children, know the realities of parenting, and are more likely to go through with an adoption plan. Expectant mothers in their teens sometimes choose adoption; however, many decide on parenting or abortion.

  • What kind of contact will we have with the birth parents?

    Whatever is agreed upon by you and the birth parent(s). It is common for birth parents to want to speak to the prospective adoptive parents on the phone, exchange letters and/or meet at lunch or the time of placement. Almost always, this face-to-face contact is limited to pre-birth and the hospital period, although some birth mothers request a baby dedication or one-time meeting shortly after birth. On-going contact after adoption through pictures and letters is required for a minimum of five years (unless waived by both parties) and in many cases, birth parents request eighteen years. This is done confidentially through the agency or Child Connect, so identifying information is not exchanged.

  • What rights do birth fathers have?

    In Florida, if able and aware of the pregnancy, a birth father who desires to establish and/or protect his rights is expected to pay a fair and reasonable amount of the expenses incurred in connection with the mother's pregnancy and the child's birth, in accordance with his financial ability, when not prevented from doing so by the birth mother or others. We attempt to locate and contact birth fathers to see if they will voluntarily cooperate with the adoption and sign a consent or affidavit of nonpaternity.

    For unmarried biological fathers who are located and will not cooperate, the Florida law has mandates that we serve them with a notice of the birth mother's intended adoption plan. The notice gives the potential father a period of 30 days within which to indicate his intent to contest the adoption by taking certain specified actions which include that he register with the Putative Father Registry, file an affidavit with the court committing to certain obligations with respect to the child, and provide physical and financial support to the unborn child. If the unmarried biological father fails to timely complete the required actions, we seek a court determination that he has no rights to the child. If the unmarried biological father timely completes the required actions, he preserves his right to notice and his consent to the adoption is required as if he had been married to the birth mother or was otherwise established to be the child's legal father. In such cases, his failure to provide financial support to the birth mother during her pregnancy remains a basis for the court to waive his consent and the judge will determine if he provided the pre-birth support necessary to veto an adoption. All placements are at-risk.

    This means you may have to return the child should termination or finalization be denied by the court. Additionally, birth parents and legal parents have a period of 1 year to challenge termination of parental rights and any subsequent adoption, measured from the time the termination of parental rights order is entered. Arguments may be made to extend these time frames if there is fraud or other misconduct.

  • What should we say or not say in communicating with the birth parents?

    You should focus on being yourselves, letting the birth parents get to know you and establishing a comfort level. We want the birth parents to have concern and empathy for your situation, and for you to understand theirs. You should not be interrogative, ask for personal or confidential information or question medical history. If you have a question in this regard, let your adoption caseworker handle the matter.

  • What tests will be run on the baby?

    We request routine newborn testing and where indicated, HIV, drug screening, and hepatitis testing.

  • What tests will be run on the birth mother?

    We generally request HIV, drug screening, hepatitis and all the customary OB/GYN tests. Sonograms are also routinely done.  You can usually request any other type of testing or additional sonograms, excluding amniocentesis which the doctors will only perform for a medical reason. There may be a charges associated with additional medical testing.

  • When will the consent for adoption be signed?

    Pursuant to Florida law, the consent will be signed no sooner than 48 hours after delivery unless the birth mother is being discharged earlier by her doctor. With a c-section, the wait may be slightly longer as we must ensure that the birth mother is free of narcotic medication.

  • Will I receive a refund of living expenses if the birth mother does not place?

    We have the birth mother sign a financial agreement, which obligates her to repay such monies if the match fails. In reality, very few birth mothers have the resources to do so. The financial agreement may allow you to write off such losses as a bad debt. In addition, you can pursue a judgment against the birth mother, which is valid in Florida for 20 years (and renewable for another 20). An attorney that specializes in creditors’ issues can then handle pursuit and enforcement of the judgment.

  • Will my insurance cover the baby?

    Most insurance companies in Florida are mandated by law to provide coverage for an adopted child. Coverage can exist from the moment of birth if the adoptive family agreed to the placement prior to the child’s birth. Additionally, federal laws, including the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 "OBRA '93" (private employers) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 "HIPPA" (governmental employers), prohibit discrimination against adopted children. Therefore, health insurance coverage for adopted children is available to all families covered by group health plans at the time of placement, which is defined as the time when the adoptive family assumes financial responsibility for the child. Health insurance plans that are individual plans (not employer-sponsored) are not subject to federal regulation. If you are covered by an individual plan, you should check the laws of your state to determine your rights. We suggest that you contact your insurance company as soon as you have a match so that you can ensure your coverage is in place for the child’s birth.

  • Will you work with military families?

    Yes. Please discuss with an adoption case worker how this could have an effect on timeframes for various situations. It may be necessary to have a Power of Attorney drawn up to include wording of “adoption related decisions." Please speak to your caseworker regarding the specifics of your case.  

  • Will you work with out-of-country families?

    Yes. We work with families residing outside the United States,  but many international families should be aware that the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption may govern their adoption. If so, a referral to our sister agency, Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc. will be made. Additionally, the adoption laws of the adoptive family’s country of residence must also be followed as well as citizenship and/or permanent resident cards must be up to date and meet all regulations.

  • Will you work with out-of-state families?

    Yes. We process many Interstate Compact adoptions and assist in reconciling the conflict of laws that often exists between states. Please feel free to discuss specific regulations/requirements of ICPC with an adoption case worker.

Agency Information

  • Can I work with more than one agency at a time?

    Yes. We encourage you to network, but require that you inform us if you have been matched through another agency. You may request to be removed from our waiting list or placed on a hold status. Remember that a home study is good for one year or one placement, so it will need to be updated in the event you have taken placement of a child and would like to continue towards another adoption.

  • What is a home study?

    An independent investigation to verify your suitability as adoptive parents. They are valid for up to one year in Florida and can be updated easily. If you need assistance in obtaining a home study, Heart of Adoptions, Inc. can complete your home study or can refer you to a qualified professional if you live outside Florida. See our forms page to download our application. Our sister agency, Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc. handles international home studies, please visit www.heartofadoptionsalliance.com

  • What is post placement supervision?

    Florida law requires monthly post placement supervision visits for a minimum of 90 days and this is usually done by the individual or entity that conducted your home study. If additional visits are needed, you will be notified. Please be sure to notify your post placement provider when you receive a placement.

Birth and Delivery

  • Can a birth parent change his/her mind once a consent for adoption is signed?

    Pursuant to Florida law, a birth parent who executes a consent for adoption involving a child six months or younger, does not have a grace period in which to change their mind. The consent for adoption is permanent and irrevocable from the moment it is signed, and only can be overturned based on fraud or duress. However, in cases where the birth mother is placing a child older than six months, the birth parents have 3 business days to revoke a consent for any reason.

  • How and when will we know when the baby is born?

    We have a 24-hour on-call system for the birth mothers to reach us when they are admitted to the hospital for labor. We suggest that you carry a prepaid cell phone after being matched with the birth mother so we can reach you at any time, especially if the birth mother requests that you be present for delivery.

  • What tests will be run on the baby?

    We request routine newborn testing and where indicated, HIV, drug screening, and hepatitis testing.

  • When will the consent for adoption be signed?

    Pursuant to Florida law, the consent will be signed no sooner than 48 hours after delivery unless the birth mother is being discharged earlier by her doctor. With a c-section, the wait may be slightly longer as we must ensure that the birth mother is free of narcotic medication.

  • Will my insurance cover the baby?

    Most insurance companies in Florida are mandated by law to provide coverage for an adopted child. Coverage can exist from the moment of birth if the adoptive family agreed to the placement prior to the child’s birth. Additionally, federal laws, including the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 "OBRA '93" (private employers) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 "HIPPA" (governmental employers), prohibit discrimination against adopted children. Therefore, health insurance coverage for adopted children is available to all families covered by group health plans at the time of placement, which is defined as the time when the adoptive family assumes financial responsibility for the child. Health insurance plans that are individual plans (not employer-sponsored) are not subject to federal regulation. If you are covered by an individual plan, you should check the laws of your state to determine your rights. We suggest that you contact your insurance company as soon as you have a match so that you can ensure your coverage is in place for the child’s birth.

Birth Fathers

  • Can a birth parent change his/her mind once a consent for adoption is signed?

    Pursuant to Florida law, a birth parent who executes a consent for adoption involving a child six months or younger, does not have a grace period in which to change their mind. The consent for adoption is permanent and irrevocable from the moment it is signed, and only can be overturned based on fraud or duress. However, in cases where the birth mother is placing a child older than six months, the birth parents have 3 business days to revoke a consent for any reason.

  • What information will I have on the birth parents?

    In most situations, you will receive a lengthy family, social and medical history compiled by the birth mother, and sometimes the birth father. Where possible, we also obtain medical records from the OB/GYN and the hospital. If requested, we can obtain criminal records or other third party documents. We cannot guarantee the health or medical history of the baby.

  • What rights do birth fathers have?

    In Florida, if able and aware of the pregnancy, a birth father who desires to establish and/or protect his rights is expected to pay a fair and reasonable amount of the expenses incurred in connection with the mother's pregnancy and the child's birth, in accordance with his financial ability, when not prevented from doing so by the birth mother or others. We attempt to locate and contact birth fathers to see if they will voluntarily cooperate with the adoption and sign a consent or affidavit of nonpaternity.

    For unmarried biological fathers who are located and will not cooperate, the Florida law has mandates that we serve them with a notice of the birth mother's intended adoption plan. The notice gives the potential father a period of 30 days within which to indicate his intent to contest the adoption by taking certain specified actions which include that he register with the Putative Father Registry, file an affidavit with the court committing to certain obligations with respect to the child, and provide physical and financial support to the unborn child. If the unmarried biological father fails to timely complete the required actions, we seek a court determination that he has no rights to the child. If the unmarried biological father timely completes the required actions, he preserves his right to notice and his consent to the adoption is required as if he had been married to the birth mother or was otherwise established to be the child's legal father. In such cases, his failure to provide financial support to the birth mother during her pregnancy remains a basis for the court to waive his consent and the judge will determine if he provided the pre-birth support necessary to veto an adoption. All placements are at-risk.

    This means you may have to return the child should termination or finalization be denied by the court. Additionally, birth parents and legal parents have a period of 1 year to challenge termination of parental rights and any subsequent adoption, measured from the time the termination of parental rights order is entered. Arguments may be made to extend these time frames if there is fraud or other misconduct.

  • When will the consent for adoption be signed?

    Pursuant to Florida law, the consent will be signed no sooner than 48 hours after delivery unless the birth mother is being discharged earlier by her doctor. With a c-section, the wait may be slightly longer as we must ensure that the birth mother is free of narcotic medication.

Contact After Placement

  • What kind of contact will we have with the birth parents?

    Whatever is agreed upon by you and the birth parent(s). It is common for birth parents to want to speak to the prospective adoptive parents on the phone, exchange letters and/or meet at lunch or the time of placement. Almost always, this face-to-face contact is limited to pre-birth and the hospital period, although some birth mothers request a baby dedication or one-time meeting shortly after birth. On-going contact after adoption through pictures and letters is required for a minimum of five years (unless waived by both parties) and in many cases, birth parents request eighteen years. This is done confidentially through the agency or Child Connect, so identifying information is not exchanged.

  • What should we say or not say in communicating with the birth parents?

    You should focus on being yourselves, letting the birth parents get to know you and establishing a comfort level. We want the birth parents to have concern and empathy for your situation, and for you to understand theirs. You should not be interrogative, ask for personal or confidential information or question medical history. If you have a question in this regard, let your adoption caseworker handle the matter.

Expenses

  • Can birth mothers receive living expenses?

    Yes. Florida law permits adoptive parents the actual and reasonable living expenses during the pregnancy and up to a maximum of six weeks following delivery if the birth mother is unemployed, underemployed or suffering from a medically-diagnosed disability. This typically is handled through the agency.

  • How much does adoption cost?

    The costs of adoption are wide-ranging, primarily depending on the birth mother’s living and medical expense needs. Generally, the costs range from $30,000 to as high as $40,000 or more even. You will be able to tell us your adoption budget so we can stay within your parameters.

    In matched situations where an adoptive family has already identified birth parents, fees typically range from $7,000 to $13,000 depending on the extent services were provided.

    In older child or sibling adoption situations, fees range based on services provided.

  • Is the earned income credit and dependant deduction available for adopted children?

    Yes, if you otherwise qualify under the IRS rules and regulations. These are two separate tax benefits.

  • Is there a tax credit for adoption?

    Many adoptive parents are entitled to a federal adoption tax credit on their income tax obligations. Parents who adopted a child who has been determined to be special needs by the state or county child welfare agency can claim the maximum credit regardless of whether they have qualified adoption expenses at all. For other adoptions (other than stepparent adoptions, which are not eligible for the credit at all), parents can claim the credit for qualified adoption expenses up to the maximum amount of the credit in any given year.* So if a family has $5,000 in expenses for a private, non-special needs adoption, they can claim only that $5,000 not the maximum. Families who have expenses above the maximum can only claim the maximum. In all cases, how much a parent will actually receive in a given year depends on their tax liability as the credit is currently non-refundable (but it does carry forward).  Please be aware that we are not versed in tax law and provide no advice or opinion regarding your eligibility for the tax credit.  We encourage you to consult your own tax attorney, accountant, or other trusted tax advisor with any tax questions.  You may also be interested in reviewing adoption credit materials found at www@irs.gov for a fuller discussion of tax related benefits for adoptive parents.

     

    *For taxable years beginning in 2014, the credit allowed for an adoption of a child with special needs is $13,190; the

    maximum credit allowed for other adoptions is the amount of qualified adoption expenses up to $13,190. Phase outs do apply beginning with

    adjusted gross income in excess of $197,880.

     

  • What is the pregnancy program fee?

    These are monies that are collected from adoptive parents, they are included in your fee schedule. These monies are set aside for future adoptions to be used for various reasons, such as: a birthmother may need some assistance before an adoptive family is found, the agency may need to uncover some possible fraudulent adoption plans, or a baby may be born with unexpected special needs and may require additional medical care and services before a family is choosen or exceedes the family's anticipated budget.

  • When and how can I take the dependency deduction?

    Check with your tax advisor, but generally in the year you accept placement of the child. If you do not yet have a social security number, an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number can be issued in the interim. You must complete IRS Form W-7A, which can be downloaded at www.irs.gov or you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-3676.

  • Will I receive a refund of living expenses if the birth mother does not place?

    We have the birth mother sign a financial agreement, which obligates her to repay such monies if the match fails. In reality, very few birth mothers have the resources to do so. The financial agreement may allow you to write off such losses as a bad debt. In addition, you can pursue a judgment against the birth mother, which is valid in Florida for 20 years (and renewable for another 20). An attorney that specializes in creditors’ issues can then handle pursuit and enforcement of the judgment.

  • Will my insurance cover the baby?

    Most insurance companies in Florida are mandated by law to provide coverage for an adopted child. Coverage can exist from the moment of birth if the adoptive family agreed to the placement prior to the child’s birth. Additionally, federal laws, including the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 "OBRA '93" (private employers) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 "HIPPA" (governmental employers), prohibit discrimination against adopted children. Therefore, health insurance coverage for adopted children is available to all families covered by group health plans at the time of placement, which is defined as the time when the adoptive family assumes financial responsibility for the child. Health insurance plans that are individual plans (not employer-sponsored) are not subject to federal regulation. If you are covered by an individual plan, you should check the laws of your state to determine your rights. We suggest that you contact your insurance company as soon as you have a match so that you can ensure your coverage is in place for the child’s birth.

Information Sharing

  • What information will I have on the birth parents?

    In most situations, you will receive a lengthy family, social and medical history compiled by the birth mother, and sometimes the birth father. Where possible, we also obtain medical records from the OB/GYN and the hospital. If requested, we can obtain criminal records or other third party documents. We cannot guarantee the health or medical history of the baby.

  • What information will the birth parents have about me?

    Your “Dear Birth Parent” letter and family profile should include information you want your birth mother to know about you. The birth parents may also ask additional questions which will be answered with your approval. It is common, for example, for a birth mother to want to know the first name you select for the baby.

  • What should we say or not say in communicating with the birth parents?

    You should focus on being yourselves, letting the birth parents get to know you and establishing a comfort level. We want the birth parents to have concern and empathy for your situation, and for you to understand theirs. You should not be interrogative, ask for personal or confidential information or question medical history. If you have a question in this regard, let your adoption caseworker handle the matter.

  • What tests will be run on the birth mother?

    We generally request HIV, drug screening, hepatitis and all the customary OB/GYN tests. Sonograms are also routinely done.  You can usually request any other type of testing or additional sonograms, excluding amniocentesis which the doctors will only perform for a medical reason. There may be a charges associated with additional medical testing.

  • Will my insurance cover the baby?

    Most insurance companies in Florida are mandated by law to provide coverage for an adopted child. Coverage can exist from the moment of birth if the adoptive family agreed to the placement prior to the child’s birth. Additionally, federal laws, including the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 "OBRA '93" (private employers) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 "HIPPA" (governmental employers), prohibit discrimination against adopted children. Therefore, health insurance coverage for adopted children is available to all families covered by group health plans at the time of placement, which is defined as the time when the adoptive family assumes financial responsibility for the child. Health insurance plans that are individual plans (not employer-sponsored) are not subject to federal regulation. If you are covered by an individual plan, you should check the laws of your state to determine your rights. We suggest that you contact your insurance company as soon as you have a match so that you can ensure your coverage is in place for the child’s birth.

Misc

  • Should I update my will?

    Once the adoption process is complete and you have welcomed your son or daughter home, make an appointment with your attorney to revise your Last Will and Testament. Having an up-to-date Will is important for all of your children whether they came to you through birth or adoption.

    There are many reasons why parents should have a current Will. Two of the most important reasons involve naming your children as beneficiaries of your estate and appointing their guardians. Although most states treat adopted children the same as birth children, it is best to specifically identify your adopted child(ren) as a beneficiary of your estate. Making the decision is to appoint a guardian of the child is important, and be sure to name someone as conservator of the child's property. A Will is the only place you can make these designations. If you fail to designate someone to act in these capacities, the Court will make the determination for you.

  • What are the ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children) Safeguards?

    The ICPC offers safeguards to all parties involved in the adoption, especially the child.

    • Requires both a home study of the adoptive family and an evaluation of the interstate placement be completed.
    • Ensures the sending and receiving state’s laws and policies are followed before the interstate placement is approved.
    • Assigns responsibility to the sending agency, thus guaranteeing the child’s legal and financial protection.
    • Allows the prospective receiving state the opportunity to consent to or deny the adoptive placement.
    • Provides for continual supervision and regular reports on each interstate placement.
    • Ensures the sending agency does not lose legal jurisdiction of the child after moving to the receiving state.
  • What is the Indian Child Welfare Act?

    The ICWA is a federal law that was enacted in 1978 to protect American Indian children who are members of or eligible for membership in an Indian tribe from being placed for adoption with non-Indian families. The ICWA allows for a tribe to intervene in a termination of parental rights proceeding and, in some cases, allows for jurisdiction to be transferred to the tribe. In order to determine that a child placed for adoption does not fall within the ICWA, we request information from the birth parents as to whether they, or their relatives, are eligible for tribal membership. In order to comply with the ICWA, we must contact any tribe that the birth parents indicate may have an interest in the child. In most cases, the child does not qualify for tribal membership and the tribe responds that it has no intention to intervene in the placement. An adoptive placement that involves a child with American Indian heritage is at risk until such time as the tribe indicates that it has no intention to intervene and until the birth parents’ rights are terminated.

  • What Is the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children?

    The ICPC is a uniform law drafted in the 1950’s, which today has been enacted in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The ICPC contains 10 articles which establish the procedures for interstate placements and assign responsibilities for all parties involved in placing a child for adoption. The ICPC applies only to children who are placed for adoption across state lines, but not to placements made with a parent, stepparent, grandparent, or other close adult relatives.

  • What time is needed to process ICPC? (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children)

    ICPC typically requires the submission of your baby’s medical records so only when these items become available can the ICPC package be completed and sent. Once the ICPC paperwork has been submitted, it takes an average of 7–10 business days to process. This is an average time frame and some ICPC offices can take longer. Adoptive families should make the necessary arrangements to stay in the state for at least 2 weeks. Only one parent must stay with the child or foster care can be arranged if necessary.

    Adoptive families will be notified immediately upon ICPC approval. We need to know where you are at all times during this wait and have as many contact numbers as possible. Clearance for you to return home MUST be received by you from our office, not your home study agency or the ICPC offices of your home state.

    We understand the adoptive family’s desire to get back to their home and share their excitement and joy with family and friends as quickly as possible. We encourage you to use the time to bond with your newest family member during the ICPC process. Looking at the clock or counting the days that have passed will only make the wait seem longer. We will endeavor to minimize your wait. However, the wait for ICPC approval is generally out of the control of the agency or your attorney. You will be contacted only when ICPC approval has been given. Until that time, we appreciate your patience and understanding and ask that you refrain from contacting the agency or your attorney to see if ICPC approval has been granted. These requests are not favored by the Florida ICPC office.

The Papers

  • When can I obtain a birth certificate?

    We apply for the birth certificate after finalization of the adoption, and it usually takes 4 - 6 weeks thereafter to obtain.

  • When can I obtain a social security card?

    Not until the adoption is finalized and you receive the birth certificate. You can then apply for one at your local office.

Disclaimer

The information provided above is based on Florida’s adoption law. It is a brief introduction to a complex topic. This is not a complete dissertation of the law, is not tailored to a specific case, and you should not rely on this document. Moreover, this information may change as the courts interpret the law. When you have specific questions regarding your particular adoptive placement, please address them with us or another qualified adviser.