Are You Interested in Adopting A Child?
There are many reasons why individuals and families consider adoption today. Many people want to enlarge their family but have not been able to because of infertility, not having the right partner, or they just weren't sure about starting a family. Deciding to become an adoptive parent is an important decision, and Kids First of Florida is here to help you decide if it is the right step for you. We will help answer your questions about adoption and provide the support and information you need throughout the adoption process.
Who can be an Adoptive Parent?
* Must be 21 or older
* Complete background checks
* Financially Stable
* Committed to loving and nurturing a child in your home
* Have appropriate space for at least one child
* Can be single, married, or divorced.
What is the process of becoming an Adoptive Parent?
* Contact the Family Finder of your local community-based care (CBC) agency. In Clay County, Florida, Kids First is the CBC.
* Submit an initial application
* Attend an orientation for the PRIDE Training Curriculum
* Complete a 21-hour training course (PRIDE Training Curriculum)
* Receive an approved Home Study and complete all required documentation.
Frequently Asked Questions about Foster Care Adoptions
There are times when individuals and families that have been fostering a child, or children, decide that they would like to pursue adoption. Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about adopting a child from foster care.
What are the benefits of adopting a child from foster care as opposed to a private adoption?
Children adopted from Florida foster care receive Medicaid until they are 18 years old and qualify for free college tuition at any state college in Florida until they are 28 years old. Families who adopt a child from foster care are eligible to receive a monthly adoption subsidy until the child is 18 years old. The current amount of this subsidy is $417 a month.
Do you have a website that lists the children who need adoptive families?
While Clay County does not have its own website to list children available for adoption, we do utilize many other adoption websites. Our Family Finder can provide you with a list of websites.
Please note that most of our children are over the age of 8 years old. It is very rare for us to have a child under the age of 8 who is not adopted by their relatives or their foster parents.
What is the difference between a foster care adoption home study and a regular foster care home study?
An adoption home study for children in foster care is for the sole purpose of adopting a child in foster care and for whom parental rights have been terminated. You will receive a copy of your adoption home study once it is completed and you will be able to send it to other counties and states in consideration for foster children all over the country.
A foster care home study is for the sole purpose of licensing a family to provide temporary care for children who come into state custody. You will not receive a copy of your foster care home study. You will not be able to send your home study to other areas in consideration for children to foster in other counties without permission from Kids First of Florida's licensing department.
What does the adoption home study process involve?
Once you have completed the Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE) classes, your adoption home study will be assigned to our Family Finder at Kids First of Florida. You will receive an adoption packet for you to complete. This includes:
- an adoption application
- reference forms
- health certificates for your doctors to complete
- and other necessary forms for you to sign
In addition, you will be asked to provide:
- copies of current marriage certificates and/or divorce decrees for the applicants (or death decree if the marriage ended due to death of a spouse)
- copies of your two most recent pay stubs
- copies of vaccination records for any animals in your home (including outdoor dogs and cats)
All references must be completed on our forms although those completing the references may submit additional information if they choose.
Next Steps in the Adoption Process
Once your paperwork is complete, the Kids First Family Finder will visit your home to conduct the initial home study. They will need to meet everyone living in the home. For children over the age of five, they will need to speak with each one. They will need to see all areas of your home and take pictures. They will ask a lot of personal questions including questions related to background, childhood history, health, education history, work history, religion, discipline techniques, marital history/current relationships, and finances. They will need to come out to your home at least twice.
Applicants and all adults living in the home must submit to fingerprint background checks. These must be completed through our agency and not the police department for our agency to receive a clearance letter allowing us to proceed with the adoption home study. All members of the household between the ages of 12-17 must have juvenile checks completed on them. They do not need to be fingerprinted for this.
How long does it take for the adoption home study to be completed?
The length of time required to complete the adoption home study depends on the agency’s waiting list at the time and on the length of time it takes for your family to complete the requirements. The initial visit to the home takes about two hours.
How long is the waiting list to get a home study?
The waiting list at Kids First of Florida varies, depending on how many home studies are requested at any given time. Our Family Finder completes all the adoption home studies for families who graduate from PRIDE and families who have been matched to a child in another state or county.
Home study requests are organized into three prioritized categories:
Priority One: Families that have already been matched to a child for whom they are related or have a significant relationship. This includes home study requests received from other counties or states for Clay County families.
Priority Two: Families seeking to adopt an older child (age 12 or older).
Priority Three: Families seeking to adopt a young child (age 8-12).
Do you help me find a child?
Our adoption department’s main goal is to find forever families for the children in our care once parental rights have been terminated. As part of this goal, we offer free foster care adoption home studies to Clay County families. If a child in our care needs a permanent family and we feel you may be a match, we will contact you to see if you wish to be considered.
As finding homes for the children here in Clay County takes all of our time, we are not able to offer a matching service for families wishing to adopt children in other areas. You are welcome to send out your home study to any other state or county for them to consider you for their children. If an agency will not accept your home study directly from you, please let the Family Finder know and they will be glad to send your home study to that agency on your behalf. If the agency will accept a home study directly from you, it is your responsibility to send in your home study. We encourage you to be proactive in searching for your child.
When is a child available for adoption?
A child is only eligible for adoption after the parental rights of the parents have been terminated. Most of the children who come into our care have a goal of reunification with their biological family. Our agency is mandated to continually search for relatives to care for the child to maintain the child’s biological connection to their family. A high priority is placed on keeping siblings together.
It is important to know that if parental rights are not terminated, the child is not eligible for adoption. We have seen many foster parents become heartbroken after they become attached to a child in their home but cannot adopt the child due to the child being reunified with parents, or relatives being located.
What happens after I’m matched to a child?
Generally, after a family is matched to a child, a visitation process begins. Visits are generally supervised at first, then move to unsupervised day visits, weekend visits, and then placement. The exact visitation process depends on the child and the family. A “full disclosure” meeting is held to ensure the family is aware of the child’s history and current situation. The family will receive redacted court documents, medical records, psychological records, school records, and anything else the agency may have that is specific to that child.
Florida statutes require that a child be placed in the adoptive home at least 90 days before an adoption is finalized. During that time, a caseworker continues to come out to visit with the child. Please note that if you are matched with a child out of state, you will most likely be required to travel out of state to visit the child. Also, some states require that the child is in the adoptive home for six months before the adoption can be finalized. If your child is from one of these states, you will have to abide by those requirements.
Are there any other helpful tips I should know?
- Until you have your home study completed, most agencies will not be able to give you more information about the children you see on websites due to HIPAA regulations.
- After receiving additional information about a child, it is perfectly okay for you to say that you do not feel the child would be a match for your family. This will not decrease your chances of being contacted in the future.
- While you are waiting to be matched, take the opportunity to learn more about the special needs of children adopted from foster care. We recommend taking any additional training classes such as adoption webinars or CORE offered in Duval County at Children’s Home Society. We highly recommend reading Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes -Courter. Rhodes-Courter was adopted out of Florida foster care at the age of 12. She is now an adult who spends her time traveling to conferences and sharing her experience in foster care. We also highly recommend The Connected Child by Karen Purvis, David Cross, and Wendy Sunshine. We also have a mini-library at Kids First that is available to our clients.
Learn More About Becoming An Adoptive Parent
If you have additional questions about adopting a child, please contact us at 904.278.5644 or use the form on our Contact Us page.