Can Someone Undo an Adoption?
Bringing a new child into one’s family is a joyful occasion, and when that new member comes as the result of adoption, it is especially dear. While people commonly associate adoption with young babies going to childless couples, a person can be adopted at any point, even as an adult. And, the type of individuals willing to adopt are quite varied as well. Most adoptive situations are positive experiences for both the adoptive parents and child, but not all adoptive placements are a success. While it may be hard to imagine rejecting a child one took the time and effort to adopt, this unfortunate reaction does happen. A man in New York recently filed papers to reverse the adoption of his step-son, a boy he raised from the age of four months, seemingly to avoid paying child support. This case is certainly an outlier, and not reflective of the love and satisfaction most adoptive families have. However, there may be valid reasons to seek the revocation of an adoption, and this post will explore when Florida law allows a party to seek this remedy. It will also look at the different types of adoption recognized under Florida law, and the necessary qualifications of adoptive parents.
Who Can Adopt?
Any adult Florida resident with good character and the financial means to support a child is eligible to adopt. This means single individuals qualify to adopt, as well as the more traditional married couples. Gay couples and individuals are now also allowed to adopt, and the law prohibits discriminating against a potential adoptive parent based on a physical disability, unless the impairment impacts the person’s ability to parent.
Types of Adoption
Florida has four types of adoption: entity adoption (using an agency or attorney), stepparent adoption, close relative adoption, and adult adoption. Entity adoptions involve the use of a placement agency or an attorney to facilitate the adoption, and are typically used when a couple is searching for a child, or has complicated adoptive circumstances. Entity adoptions take the longest to complete and involve the most steps to achieve approval. Stepparent adoptions usually occur when one biological parent is willing to give up parental rights, and along with close relative and adult adoptions, can be accomplished in a unified proceeding that finalizes the termination of the parents’ rights and the adoption in one hearing.
Except for adult adoptions, all valid adoptions must include the termination of the parental rights of the biological parent. The termination can come through the voluntary consent of the biological parent, or a court determination that a parent forever loses rights to a child due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Adoptions of children 12 years or older require the child’s consent, and an interview to ensure the child understands the consequences of the adoption. In adult adoption, the consent of the parents is unnecessary, but they do have to receive notice of the adoption petition.
Revoking an Adoption
Most commonly, an adoption is revoked when a biological parent withdraws his/her consent within the statutory grace period. Florida has one of the more restrictive laws on revoking consent, and allows biological parents just three days to reverse their decision. This tight timeline is good for adoptive parents since it greatly reduces the likelihood the biological parent will be able to change his/her mind, and gives a definitive finality to the adoptive process. Once this revocation period has passed, the only way to reverse consent to an adoption is to convince a court that the adoption involved duress or fraud. Proving fraud or duress is quite difficult, and will only be supported in the most extreme circumstances.
Speak with a Florida Family Law Attorney
Adopting a child is one the most generous things a person can do. If you are interested in pursuing this process, talk to a family law attorney who can guide you through the legal requirements and help ensure the adoption progresses quickly and smoothly. The office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. has years of experience helping people walk through the complicated adoption process, and she can help you. Contact the office for a free consultation.