Adopting a Child With Birth Siblings

Adopting a Child With Birth Siblings

When one makes the decision to adopt a child who has birth siblings, it is understandable that there may be some added complexities. Even when a child does not have birth siblings at the time of the adoption, there is always the chance that his birth mother will go on to have other children. Navigating the situation can be difficult for the adoptive parents, as well as the children involved. Thus, it is important to not only know what the law says about sibling interactions, but consult with an experienced Miami family lawyer who has experience with adoptions involving these circumstances.

Laws Governing Sibling Relationships

It should serve as no surprise that keeping sibling relationships intact is typically (though not always) beneficial to the children involved. With that in mind, the courts have established some legal guidelines for these all important relationships. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 was the first piece of legislation that addressed this topic on a Federal level. It outlines the importance of keeping siblings in the same foster home whenever doing so is feasible. When this is not an option, the law requires that frequent visitations occur, permitted this would not be to the detriment of the children.

The issue of post-adoptive requirements of parents of adopted children with birth siblings is ultimately left up to the states. To date, Florida’s legislation only addresses adoptions completed by relatives, such as a grandparent. One of these is Statute 63.022, which seeks to keep siblings together whenever possible, whether it be in a foster home or an adoption. Another piece of legislation (63.0427) details the need for continued communication with birth siblings whenever the court deems appropriate. Both of these statutes come with quite a bit of gray area. Thus, the courts must consider the specifics of each unique case before determining what is best for the child.

If you are interested in welcoming a child into your home through adoption, selecting the right Miami family lawyer is of the utmost importance. Our office offers free consultations, and we would love to meet with you to discuss your unique situation. Give us a call today to schedule a meeting with one of our skilled attorneys.

Foster Care Adoption Basics

Foster Care Adoption Basics

More than 100,000 children are in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted. Each year, thousands turn 18 years old and leave the system without adoptive families. There are many misconceptions of foster care adoption that prevent potential South Florida adoptive families from taking action. A Miami adoption attorney can help guide families through the foster care adoption system and all the legal processes it entails. With such guidance and the basic information provided below, those who want to adopt will have no reason to shun foster care adoption.

The General Process Involved

The foster care adoption process, just like other types of adoption, cannot begin in earnest until the termination of parental rights is completed. The child’s birthparents’ parental rights must be legally terminated voluntarily or involuntarily by a court of competent jurisdiction. After the termination of parental rights, the child is legally considered free for adoption. This undertaking and further legal steps to adoption are complex procedures, plus adoptive families must meet inquiry, orientation, preparation classes, and home study requirements. Therefore, adopting through foster care lasts, on average, nine to 18 months. A Miami adoption attorney can guide adoptive families through this process with ease.

Cost of Foster Care Adoption

A very common misconception of adopting through the foster care system is that it is very expensive. The truth is that adopting a foster child costs from $0 to $1,500 on average. Typically, adopting directly from a public agency is free, while those who adopt through a private agency usually end up with out-of-pocket expenses. Often, those who adopt foster children have access to federal and state tax credits, adoption subsidies (specifically for “special needs” children), and other types of financial aid to support their adopted children until they reach adulthood.

Special Needs Children

“Special needs” is often used to describe children in the U.S. foster care system. Sometimes it deters potential adoptive families who do not know what the term means and are wary of its implications. Each state has its own definition, but generally a foster child is labeled as “special needs” when he/she has certain characteristics that may make him/her less attractive for adoption in the eyes of typical adoptive parents. In most instances, this term is used to describe older children (aged 5 and up), as well as children with one or more ongoing physical, mental, or emotional health issues. This designation can also be attributed to children that are members of a sibling group, as the siblings typically must be adopted together.

Single Adoptive Parents

In this article, the term “adoptive families” has been used liberally. However, it is important to note that the term (in this case), is used to describe families headed by two parents as well as families headed by a single parent. In all 50 states, unmarried single individuals are allowed to legally adopt through the U.S. foster care system. In fact, a significant portion of children adopted from foster care were adopted by single parents.

If you are considering adopting a child from foster care, call a Miami adoption attorney today. Our family law experts at Pimentel & Castillo are experienced at assisting South Florida adoptive families navigate the complex legal process, from termination of parental rights to final adoption.