Since 1985, Pamela S. Wynn has handled step-parent adoptions, foster parent adoptions and close relative adoptions, as well as re-finalization and domestication of foreign adoptions. Pamela has been a leader in finalizing second parent adoption petitions for gay and lesbian couples in our community.
Pamela’s practice also includes newborn independent adoptions on a limited basis. Please call the office or use the email form for more information on newborn adoption.
Choosing An Adoption Attorney
- Contact an adoption attorney as early as possible in your decision-making process.
- Understand what the attorney charges and how the fees are structured. Be sure you can afford the fees and costs.
- Know the different types of adoptions and services the attorney provides.
- Ask how many adoption proceedings the attorney has handled.
- Ask for references. Ask lots of questions, share your concerns and provide the attorney with all relevant documents.
- Choose an attorney who has experience in the type of adoption you are considering.
Relative adoptions are treated somewhat less formally than other, non-relative adoptions. They do not require a homestudy as a general rule.
Step Parent Adoptions
In a step-parent adoptions, the stepparent assumes financial and legal responsibility for his or her spouse’s child. The non-custodial parent is relieved of all parenting responsibilities, including payment of child support. Procedures are simpler than for newborn adoptions, however, the non-custodial parent must usually sign a consent to the step parent adoption. In some serious cases, the consent of an absent parent may be waived for a step parent adoption. Pamela has a website devoted solely to step parent adoptions in Florida.
Second Parent Adoptions
For same-sex couples, a second parent adoption is similar to a Step Parent Adoption, although at this time it requires a home study. If you are interested in your partner becoming your child’s legal parent, come in and discuss a Second Parent Adoption. If you are married, second parent petitions may now be filed as Step Parent Adoptions.
- through the Florida Department of Children and Family Services (also known as foster care, child welfare, social services);
- through licensed private agencies (also permissible in many foreign countries).
- identified or designated adoptions where prospective adopting and prospective placing parents have located each other themselves (Identified adoptions); or,
- use attorneys or other intermediaries permitted by law;or
- use adoption facilitators (allowed in only some foreign countries);or
- doing the work yourself (permitted for some international adoptions) with the aid of in-country assistance.
If you want to pursue an adoption across state lines, you will be required to follow the laws in both states before the child can join your family. States have laws that governs how children can be placed across State lines (Interstate Compacts). You should consult an adoption attorney if you want to pursue adoption across state lines.
In weighing your options, you should evaluate your ability to tolerate risk. Of the options outlined above:
- agency adoptions provide the greatest assurance of monitoring and oversight since agencies are required to adhere to licensing and procedural standards; however the wait for a child may be lengthy;
- independent adoptions by attorneys provide assurance that the adoption attorney must adhere to the ethical standards set by the Florida Rules of Professional Responsibility;
- adoptive placements by facilitators offer the least amount of supervision and oversight. This is not meant to imply that there are not ethical, professional facilitators with good standards of practice; it simply means there are few or no oversight mechanisms in place to monitor such facilitators at this time.
In addition to risk factors above, other considerations in selecting the type of adoption you pursue can include:
- country restrictions (international adoptions)
- open adoptions
- child health
- your age, marital status, sexual orientation, etc.
Foreign or International Adoption is another way to build your family. In most cases, foreign adoptions are finalized in the country of origin, so once you come home with your child, he or she is already legally yours. However, in Florida the only way to obtain an official Certificate for Foreign Birth is to re-finalize the adoption here in Florida. A number of countries work with U.S. couples hoping to adopt, so identifying which country works best for your family is usually the first step to take when moving forward with an international adoption.
For international adoptions, your state laws, laws and regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS, formerly INS), the U.S. State Department, and the laws of the specific country will apply.