Interested in being a Foster Parent? If so, click here. If not, call  850.453.7777 for more information. Looking for Adoption info? Click here or call  1.866.313.9874.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is included in the application process?
  2. How long does it take?
  3. How do I find out about “waiting children”?
  4. What is the Selection Process?
  5. What happens when I first meet my child and then after that?
  6. Who are the “waiting children”?
  7. Where are these children? Can we see them?
  8. If the children are in foster homes now, won't it be hard for them to move to a new adoptive home?
  9. Can we adopt more than one child?
  10. If we have problems after we get the child, will the agency help us?
  11. What if we meet a child, have a few visits, and then decide he/she just isn't the one for us?
  12. Can we get a child who doesn't have problems?
  13. Why did these children have to leave their parents in the first place?
  14. Why have some children had to wait so long for an adoptive home?
  15. Does it cause problems if we adopt a child who remembers his/her parents?
  16. Who are Adoptive parents?
  17. How much does it cost to adopt?
  18. Do a child's birth parents ever try to get him/her back?
  19. What if we adopt a child and when he/she is older he/she wants to find his/her original parents?
  20. How can I get information on adoption?
  21. I am an adoptive parent. How do I set up or make a change to my direct deposit for my adoption subsidy?
Q: What is included in the application process?
A: The first thing you will do is participate in a 30-hour parent preparation class called MAPP, Model Approach to Partnerships in parenting. These classes are generally held once a week for three hours a session for ten weeks. In the classes you will learn about the children in foster care, what happened to them to cause them to have been placed in foster care and what the impact of their experiences may be on their feelings and their behaviors. You will also learn about the impact parenting children who are in foster care will have on your family.

After the classes over you will complete the written application. This will include consent for an FBI fingerprint check, police checks, child abuse checks, and income verification. After you have submitted your application a caseworker will meet with you in your home to complete your adoptive home study. During this process they will ask you about your life experiences and identify your strengths as an adoptive parent as well as the needs you may have in caring for a child who has been abused, neglected or abandoned. They will also work with you to identify the child or children who will “fit” into your family. After your home study is approved you will be ready to identify the child who is going to become a part of your family. You will sign off on your completed home study, indicating it is accurate and then receive your own copy of it.
Q: How long does it take?
A: As noted, the classes usually take ten weeks to complete. Your adoptive home study may take up to three months after the classes to complete. How long it will be before a child is placed with you after your study is approved is impossible to say. Some families are able to identify a child they want immediately. Some families take a much longer time to find a child they feel will fit into their family. Some approved adoptive applicants never find the child they want to adopt because they are so very, very particular about the child they want. Generally speaking, then broader the “range” of children you are willing to consider, the sooner you will find the child you want to parent.
Q: How do I find out about “waiting children”?
A: There are lots of ways to learn about children who are available for adoption. You may see pictures of “waiting children” during MAPP classes. You may see a picture of a waiting child on a Nobody's Child segment on television. You may see a child’ picture and write up in the newspaper. You may see a child you are interested in on the Internet on Florida’s Waiting children (www.dcf.state.fl.us/adoption/). The Adoption Homefinder may contact you about a child whom they think may be of interest to you. Sometimes you may find a child for whom you want to be considered on a national adoption exchange out of this area and that is OK also. However, you need to keep in mind that after you are selected, you will be expected to visit that child in his own community at least once and perhaps several times. After you identify the child for whom you want to be considered you will submit your home study to the child’s caseworker.
Q: What is the Selection Process?
A: You or the Adoption Homefinder will submit your approved adoptive home study to the caseworker of the child you are interested in. Sometimes, there is only one family interested in a child. Sometimes there are many families who want the same child or children. Regardless, an adoption staffing committee will review the studies for the child and determine the one they feel most can meet the child’s needs. When that family is selected they will be contacted by the child’s caseworker and given all the information about the child. You will be told about the child’s personality, his academic performance, his behaviors and his history, etc. If after hearing everything about the child you want to proceed, a visit will be set up for you to meet.
Q: What happens when I first meet my child and then after that?
A: Sometimes first visits are in the foster home. Sometimes they are at a neutral place like a park or fast food restaurant. You and the child will have several more visits including some overnights after this first one as you get to know each other. As some point, when you, the child and the caseworker feel it is time, the child will move into your home as your adopted child. This will start a supervisory period of at least 90 days during which you will be adjusting to each other and becoming a family. A caseworker will be visiting regularly with you to support you and offer whatever referral services you need to ensure the stability of your adoption. When you think you are ready to make your adoption permanent, your caseworker will prepare the necessary papers for a lawyer to file with the Court. You and your child will go in front of a judge who will ask you some questions about your family and how you are doing together. He will then sign your Adoption Decree making you a “forever family”, giving you all the legal rights and responsibilities for your child, “as though he was born to you” as the Judge will tell you. Soon after this you will receive an amended birth certificate with your child’s new name and listing you as the child’s birth parent.
Q: Who are the “waiting children”?
A: Children who are waiting for adoption are children who are in the custody of the State of Florida (or of other states). These children were taken away from their birth families because they were abused, neglected or abandoned. Their parents have had an opportunity to make their homes safer so their children could be returned to them but for whatever reason, that has not happened. A Judge has determined that the child can never go home and has made them available for adoption. When this decision is made and the child is “freed” for adoption, there is no chance at all that anyone from the birth family can come back and get the child back.
Q: Where are these children? Can we see them?
A: Most children waiting to be adopted are living in foster homes. Some will be adopted by their foster parents, while others need new families. A few are in residential facilities. We are required by law to post information and photos about awaiting children on the AdoptUS Kids website and the State of Florida website www.dcf.state.fl.us/adoption/.We can't promise you a specific child from the book because another home may be ready before yours. But once you're approved for adoption, if the child who caught your eye is still waiting and we all agree that yours would be a good home, we will make the contact for you.
Q: If the children are in foster homes now, won't it be hard for them to move to a new adoptive home?
A: Yes, it will. It is always hard on a child to leave a place that has been home. Careful work must be done with the child to prepare for the move. While pre-placement visits will help, it is reasonable to expect that you and your new child will have some adjustments to make. We will try to help you understand some of the reasons for these problems, and find the solutions before you encounter them. Your love, attention, patience and understanding will be necessary to help your child during these periods. We strongly believe the benefits of a permanent home will soon outweigh the temporary problems.
Q: Can we adopt more than one child?
A: Yes, indeed! There are many brothers and sisters waiting to be adopted and we especially welcome families able to take siblings. We have many families who adopt a child and decide later that they want to adopt more children.
Q: If we have problems after we get the child, will the agency help us?
A: Yes. We will give you all the help we can. During the waiting period of at least three months before you go to court to finalize the adoption, we will have regular visits with you and will be on call to help with problems that arise. You should call us right away, rather than wait until a problem escalates. Even after the child is legally a part of your family. You can contact your adoption counselor for help.
Q: What if we meet a child, have a few visits, and then decide he/she just isn't the one for us?
A: That is one purpose of the “get acquainted” period. We want you to be sure this is a child you can love and care for. If you feel it just won't work, you don't have to feel guilty. We will talk about what went wrong and try to get a better idea of the right kind of child for your family. You may have to wait a while until we can better match you and a child to your family or until the kind of child you really want needs a home.
Q: Can we get a child who doesn't have problems?
A: No children, whether they are birth or adopted, are “problem free.” The kinds and degrees of problems will vary. Some children react in many different ways. Some want to see if you mean what you say about loving them and being a family forever. Your family is the chance these children need. Your family, love, attention and understanding, will help the child adjust as quickly as possible. Many adoptive children need help at different times in the adoption process. Their past experiences may mean that you will need to acquire support services at various developmental stages.
Q: Why did these children have to leave their parents in the first place?
A: There are almost as many reasons as there are children. Most of the children come to us through the courts because they have been abused or neglected by their parents. A few children are given up for adoption because their parents realize they cannot adequately care for them. When families cannot be reunited, we must look for new permanent homes for the children.
Q: Why have some children had to wait so long for an adoptive home?
A: The process of terminating both parents' legal rights is very thorough, sometimes complicated and lengthy. However, recent changes in the state's adoption law and practice make it simpler to free children for adoption and prevent them from spending needless years in foster care. We have a renewed focus on finding permanent homes for children.
Q: Does it cause problems if we adopt a child who remembers his/her parents?
A: Adopting an older child is different from adopting an infant who has never known any other parents. It means we must work with the children to prepare them for adoption, making sure they understand why they can't return to their birth parents. That kind of preparation is the responsibility of you and the counselors. Then you take over and help them adjust by talking freely about other places they have lived and by respecting their need to think well of their birth parents and foster parents. Sometimes older children keep in touch with various relatives including birth parents or former foster parents, and that does not mean they do not love their adoptive family.
Q: Who are Adoptive parents?
A: There is not a list of specific requirements; most of the time a person who is interested in adopting one of the waiting children and who can give a child loving care is eligible to adopt. Adoptive parents:
  • Can be single, married, or divorced.
  • May or may not have birth children.
  • Must be able to financially manage the addition of a child to your family, although there are no specific income requirements. There is a program available to help families with expenses, including medical expenses and ongoing financial expenses for waiting children who are eligible.
  • Must have room for another child, but you do not have to own a home.
  • Must have no criminal history that would prevent adoption approval.
Q: How much does it cost to adopt?
A: Our agency charges nothing. If you adopt an eligible waiting child, we can pay the legal and court costs of the adoption, and provide you with a modest monthly subsidy to help pay the child(ren)'s expenses. Most adopted children also have medical coverage until they are 18 years of age. In Florida, children adopted from foster care are eligible to receive college tuition assistance.
Q: Do a child's birth parents ever try to get him/her back?
A: This is a common concern of adoptive parents. Recent, highly publicized court battles for children have made everyone realize how important it is that all legal procedures are completed before the adoption. One advantage of adopting through a licensed agency is that you can be confident every legal safeguard has been taken to protect you and your adopted child. The parents of all children that are available to be adopted by us have either had their parental rights legally terminated or have legally surrendered their children for adoption.
Q: What if we adopt a child and when he/she is older he/she wants to find his/her original parents?
A: Some adopted people are curious about their birth families. This sometimes happens, particularly during adolescence, when young people are trying to sort out who they are. Often, we can give you enough information about your child's original family to satisfy their curiosity. It is not always easy for an adopted person to find out about his/her past. If your child feels it necessary to try, it's best if you relax and help in any way you can. Keep in mind that curiosity is natural and does not mean that your child wants to return to their original family. Your child will love you all the more if you can understand his/her need to know about early years.
Q: How can I get information on adoption?
A: There are numerous on-line resources. You may call the Adoption Home Finder toll-free at (866) 313-9874.
Q: I am an adoptive parent. How do I set up or make a change to my direct deposit for my adoption subsidy?
A: lease contact the Revenue Maximization department by calling (850) 437-8893.

Sponsored by Lakeview Center and the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families