Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Florida

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.007

The adoptive applicant and other adult household members must be included in the home study.

Abuse and neglect history checks must be conducted on all adoptive applicants and other household members 12 years of age and older. The applicants must be informed of this requirement early in the home study process and must provide written consent for the checks to be completed. Abuse and neglect history checks must be current within 30 calendar days of placement of an adoptive child in the home. When the adoptive applicant or other adult household member has lived in another state within 5 years of the request for a home study, a child abuse and neglect registry check of the other State must be requested.

Local, statewide, and national criminal records checks and juvenile records checks must be conducted on all adoptive applicants and other household members 18 years of age and older. Local, statewide, and juvenile records checks must be conducted on all household members age 12 through 17.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.002

The preliminary home study must be completed by a licensed child-placing agency, a registered child-caring agency, a licensed professional, or an agency described in § 61.20(2), unless the adoptee is an adult or the petitioner is a stepparent or a relative. The Department of Children and Family Services is required to perform the preliminary home study only if there is no licensed child-placing agency, child-caring agency, or licensed professional in the county where the prospective adoptive parents reside.

In regulation: The department facilitates the adoption of children with special needs. Persons seeking to adopt non-special needs children will be referred to private agencies.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.005

An adoptive home study that includes observation, screening, and evaluation of the child and adoptive applicants shall be completed prior to the adoptive placement of the child. The aim of this evaluation is to select families who will be able to meet the physical, emotional, social, educational, and financial needs of a child, while safeguarding the child from further loss and separation from siblings and significant adults. In determining which applications for adoption should be approved, the following criteria must be considered:

  • The child's choice if the child is developmentally able to participate in the decision
  • The ability and willingness of the adoptive family to adopt some or all of a sibling group
  • The commitment of the applicant to value, respect, appreciate, and educate the child regarding his or her racial and ethnic heritage
  • The family's childrearing experience

Applications to adopt will be accepted from married couples and from single adults. Consideration should be given as to the stability of the marriage and/or any significant relationships.

Other qualifications include the following:

  • The family must have legal and verifiable income and resources to ensure financial stability and security to meet expenses incurred in care of the family.
  • The family's housing must provide the space and living conditions necessary to promote the health and safety of the family.
  • The physical, mental, and emotional health of the prospective adoptive household members must not jeopardize the safety and permanency of the child's placement.
  • When families have children by birth or adoption, the anticipated impact of a new child on the family must be considered.
  • Working parents must be willing and able to arrange to be with the child during the transition period.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.005

The preliminary home study must be made to determine the suitability of the intended adoptive parents and may be completed prior to the identification of a prospective adoptive child. The study must include, at a minimum, the following:

  • An interview with the intended adoptive parents
  • Criminal records and central abuse registry checks
  • 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

In regulation: A minimum of five written references shall be required. Only one reference may be obtained from an employer, and only one of the references may be obtained from a relative. All other references must be obtained from persons who either (1) have observed the applicants in situations that give some indication for their capacity for parenthood or (2) possess documentation or knowledge, as the result of their relationship to the applicant, of the applicant's capacity for parenthood.

The approved adoptive parent training must be provided to and successfully completed by all prospective adoptive parents except, licensed foster parents and relative and nonrelative caregivers who have previously attended the training within the last 5 years or have the child currently placed in their home for 6 months or longer and been determined to understand the challenges and parenting skills needed to parent the children available for adoption from foster care successfully.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.005

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

In regulation: An application may be denied when any of the following issues are present:

  • The adoptive applicant is experiencing a serious or chronic medical condition that compromises or could compromise the applicant's ability to provide the physical, emotional, social, and economic support necessary for the child to thrive.
  • The child abuse records check reveals verified findings of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
  • The criminal history checks reveal that the applicant has been convicted of crimes specified in statute as a disqualifying condition.
  • The applicant is a current or former foster parent, and the review of the foster parent file reveals that there have been care and supervision concerns or a violation of licensing standards.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092

The preliminary home study must be made to determine the suitability of the intended adoptive parents and may be completed before identification of a prospective adoptive minor. If the identified prospective adoptive minor is in the custody of the department, a preliminary home study must be completed within 30 days after it is initiated. A favorable preliminary home study is valid for 1 year after the date of its completion.

A minor may not be placed in an intended adoptive home before a favorable preliminary home study is completed unless the adoptive home is also a licensed foster home under § 409.175.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.010

The department has a legal responsibility to provide services until the finalization of an adoption. This period shall be no less than 90 days from the date the child was placed in the physical custody of the adoptive parent. The first home visit must be made within 1 week after placement. There shall be a minimum of three supervisory visits in placements that are nonproblematic. For placements that do not proceed smoothly, additional and more frequent contacts are necessary. The adoptive child must be contacted a minimum of once every calendar month until adoption finalization. The entire family must be seen together at least once during the postplacement supervision period.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 63.092; 63.112

If the adoptee is an adult or the petitioner is a stepparent or a relative, a preliminary home study may be required by the court for good cause shown.

Unless ordered by the court, no report or recommendation is required when the placement is a stepparent adoption or when the minor is a relative of one of the adoptive parents.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 409.401; Admin. Code § 65C-16.005

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

In regulation: Families from other States wishing to adopt Florida children may apply and be studied by an agency authorized or licensed to practice adoption in their State of residence. Out-of-State placements will be facilitated through established regional or national adoption exchanges or directly with out-of-State agencies and will comply with the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.002

If the current caregiver applies to adopt the child, the application must be evaluated through an adoptive home study. The home study must assess the length of time the child has lived with the current caregiver, the depth of the relationship existing between the child and the caregiver, and whether it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the caregiver.

Links to Resources

Explore Adoption (website) (Florida Department of Children and Family Services)

State regulations