Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - Florida

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Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 63.192; 63.112; 63.122; 63.142

A judgment terminating the relationship of parent and child or establishing the relationship by adoption, or a decree granting legal guardianship for purposes of adoption, issued pursuant to due process of law by a court or authorized body of any other jurisdiction within or without the United States, shall be recognized in this State, and the rights and obligations of the parties shall be determined as though the judgment or decree were issued by a court of this State.

A judgment or decree of a court or authorized body terminating the relationship of a parent and child, whether independent, incorporated in an adoption decree, or incorporated in a legal guardianship order issued pursuant to due process of law of any other jurisdiction within or without the United States, shall be deemed to effectively terminate parental rights for purposes of a proceeding on a petition for adoption in this State. If a minor child has been made available for adoption in a foreign state or foreign country and the parental rights of the minor child's parent have been terminated or the child has been declared to be abandoned or orphaned, no additional proceeding to terminate parental rights need occur, and the adoption may be finalized according to the procedures set forth in this chapter.

The petition for adoption shall be signed and verified by the petitioner and filed with the clerk of the court and shall state the following:

  • The date and place of birth of the person to be adopted, if known
  • The name to be given to the person to be adopted
  • The date petitioner acquired custody of the minor and the name of the adoption entity placing the minor, if any
  • The full name, age, and place and duration of residence of the petitioner
  • The marital status of the petitioner, including the date and place of marriage, if married, and divorces, if applicable to the adoption by a stepparent
  • A statement that the petitioner is able to provide for the material needs of the child
  • A description and estimate of the value of any property of the person to be adopted
  • The case style and date of entry of the judgment terminating parental rights
  • The reasons why the petitioner desires to adopt the person

The hearing on the petition to adopt a minor may not be held sooner than 30 days after the date the judgment terminating parental rights was entered or sooner than 90 days after the date the minor was placed in the physical custody of the petitioner, unless good cause is shown for a shortening of these time periods. The minor must remain under the supervision of the adoption entity until the adoption becomes final.

At the conclusion of the hearing, after the court determines the adoption is in the best interests of the person to be adopted, a judgment of adoption shall be entered.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.112

The following documents are required to be filed with the clerk of the court at the time the petition is filed:

  • A certified copy of the court judgment terminating parental rights or, if the adoptee is an adult or a minor relative or stepchild of the petitioner, the required consent, unless such consent is excused by the court
  • The favorable preliminary home study of the Department of Children and Families, licensed child-placing agency, or licensed professional as to the suitability of the home in which the minor has been placed, unless the petitioner is a stepparent or a relative
  • A copy of any declaratory statement previously entered by the court pursuant to § 63.102
  • Documentation that an interview was held with the minor, if older than age 12, unless the court, in the best interests of the minor, dispenses with the minor's consent

Background Studies

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092

The adoption entity must report any intended placement of a minor for adoption with any person who is not a relative or a stepparent if the adoption entity participates in the intended placement. The report must be made to the court before the minor is placed in the home or within 2 business days thereafter.

Before placing the minor in the intended adoptive home, a preliminary home study must be performed by a licensed child-placing agency, a registered child-caring agency, a licensed professional, or an agency described in § 61.20(2). The preliminary home study must be made to determine the suitability of the intended adoptive parents and may be completed prior to identification of a prospective adoptive minor. A favorable preliminary home study is valid for 1 year after the date of its completion. Upon its completion, a signed copy of the home study must be provided to the intended adoptive parents who were the subject of the home study. The preliminary home study must include, at a minimum, the following:

  • An interview with the intended adoptive parents
  • Records checks of the department's central abuse registry and criminal records correspondence checks under § 39.0138 through the Department of Law Enforcement on the intended adoptive parents
  • An assessment of the physical environment of the home
  • A determination of the financial security of the intended adoptive parents
  • Documentation of counseling and education of the intended adoptive parents on adoptive parenting
  • Documentation that information on adoption and the adoption process has been provided to the intended adoptive parents
  • Documentation that information on support services available in the community has been provided to the intended adoptive parents
  • A copy of each signed acknowledgment of receipt of disclosure required by § 63.085

If the preliminary home study is favorable, a minor may be placed in the home pending entry of the judgment of adoption. A determination as to suitability under this subsection does not act as a presumption of suitability at the final hearing. In determining the suitability of the intended adoptive home, the court must consider the totality of the circumstances in the home.

A minor may not be placed in a home in which there resides any person determined by the court to be a sexual predator, as defined in § 775.21, or to have been convicted of an offense listed in § 63.089(4)(b)2.

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.125

The final home investigation must be conducted before the adoption becomes final. The investigation may be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency or a professional in the same manner as provided in § 63.092 to ascertain whether the adoptive home is a suitable home for the minor and whether the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the minor.

The department, the licensed child-placing agency, or the professional that performs the investigation must file a written report of the investigation with the court and the petitioner within 90 days after placement. The report of the investigation must contain an evaluation of the placement with a recommendation on the granting of the petition for adoption and any other information the court requires regarding the petitioner or the minor.

The final home investigation must include the following:

  • The information from the preliminary home study
  • After the minor is placed in the intended adoptive home, two scheduled visits with the minor and the minor's adoptive parent or parents, one of which visits must be in the home, to determine the suitability of the placement
  • The family social and medical history, as provided in § 63.082
  • Any other information relevant to the suitability of the intended adoptive home
  • Any other relevant information, as provided in rules that the department may adopt

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.172

A judgment of adoption, whether entered by a court of this State, another State, or of any other place, has the following effect:

  • It relieves the birth parents of the adopted person, except a birth parent who is a petitioner or who is married to a petitioner, of all parental rights and responsibilities.
  • It terminates all legal relationships between the adopted person and the adopted person's relatives, including the birth parents, except a birth parent who is a petitioner or who is married to a petitioner, so that the adopted person thereafter is a stranger to his or her former relatives for all purposes, except that rights of inheritance shall be as provided in the Florida Probate Code.
  • Except for rights of inheritance, it creates the relationship between the adopted person and the petitioner and all relatives of the petitioner that would have existed if the adopted person were a blood descendant of the petitioner born within wedlock. This relationship shall be created for all purposes, including applicability of statutes, documents, and instruments, whether executed before or after entry of the adoption judgment, that do not expressly exclude an adopted person from their operation or effect.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 63.152; 382.017

Within 30 days after entry of a judgment of adoption, the clerk of the court or the adoption entity shall transmit a certified statement of the entry to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics on a form provided by the registrar. A new birth record containing the necessary information supplied by the certificate shall be issued by the registrar on application of the adopting parents or the adopted person.

Upon request, the Department of Health shall prepare and register a certificate of foreign birth for an adoptee born in a foreign country who is not a citizen of the United States and whose judgment of adoption was entered by a court of competent jurisdiction of this State. The certificate shall be established upon receipt of the report or certified copy of the adoption decree; proof of the date and place of the adoptee's birth; and a request that the certificate be prepared from the court, the adopting parents, or the adoptee if of legal age. The certificate shall be labeled 'certificate of foreign birth' and shall show the true country and date of birth of the adoptee. It must include a statement that the certificate is not evidence of U.S. citizenship. After registering the certificate of foreign birth in the new name of the adoptee, the department shall place the adoption report or decree under seal, not to be broken except pursuant to court order.