Adoptive Families

Helping You Connect

If you are considering growing your family through adoption, we can walk with you through the entire adoption process, from beginning your home study all the way through the adoption finalization.  We would love to work with you as you walk through your domestic infant adoption journey.   We also handle stepparent and relative adoptions.

Couple talking to family counselor


The parties to an adoption proceeding can vary depending on the circumstances, e.g., whether it is an infant adoption versus a step-parent adoption, grandparent adoption, or adoption through foster care. In a private infant adoption, a few terms you may hear to describe interested parties include:

expectant mother: in the context of an infant adoption, an expectant mother is someone who is pregnant and considering an adoption plan. While this term may sometimes be used interchangeably with “birth mother”, this is the proper term to use prior to the birth and adoption of the child.

birth parent(s): Once an expectant mother commits to an adoption plan, she is commonly referred to as a birth mother or biological mother. The biological father may also be referred to as the “birth father.” Birth mothers and fathers who place their children for adoption are brave individuals, who have made enormous and loving sacrifices for their child and for the adoptive family.

prospective adoptive parent(s): This term is used to describe the person, or the couple waiting to adopt a child. Once the adoption is final, they may be referred to as the adoptive parent(s) or just the parent(s) of the child. After finalization, the adoptive parents are the legally recognized parents of the child.

adoption entity: the term adoption entity is a broad term that is used to identify the entity that is placing a child for adoption. In a private adoption in Florida, the adoption attorney may be acting as the adoption entity or “intermediary.” If an adoption agency is involved, the agency may be considered the adoption entity.

unmarried biological father: this term is used to define anyone identified by the birth mother as a potential biological father, who is not married to the child’s mother at the time of conception or birth of the child. This term applies unless this person is adjudicated by the court to be the legal father of the child prior to the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights, or this person files an affidavit pursuant to Fla. Stat. 382.013(2)(c).

Birth mother expenses are the reasonable living expenses of the birth mother which the birth mother is unable to pay due to unemployment, underemployment, or disability. Reasonable living expenses include: rent, utilities, basic telephone service, food, toiletries, necessary clothing, transportation, insurance, and expenses found by the court to be necessary for the health and well-being of the birth mother and the unborn child. The prospective adoptive parents pay the reasonable living expenses, and may pay reasonable and necessary medical expenses as well. The reasonable living and medical expenses may be paid by the prospective adoptive parents during the pregnancy and for a period of up to 6 weeks postpartum.

Notice and consent are significant issues in the adoption process. Understandably, the Courts want to ensure, to the extent possible, that interested parties are aware that there is an intended adoption plan, and certain interested individuals must consent to the adoption, unless consent is waived. People who must consent to an infant adoption, include:

  • the mother of the minor child

  • the father of any child conceived or born while the father was married to the mother

  • the father of the child if the child is his by adoption

  • the father of the child if the child was adjudicated by the court to be his prior to the date a petition for termination of parental rights was filed

  • anyone who has filed an affidavit of paternity or who was listed on the child’s birth certificate before the date that a petition to terminate parental rights was filed

  • an unmarried biological father who has timely and properly filed an acknowledgement of paternity with the Florida Putative Father Registry, and, in the case of a child under 6 months of age at the time of placement, has demonstrated a full commitment to his parental responsibility by:

    • filing a valid claim of paternity with the Florida Putative Father Registry

    • upon service of a notice of intended adoption plan, filing an affidavit stating that he is personally fully able and willing to take responsibility for the child, setting for his plans to care for the child, and agreeing to a court order of child support

Any person identified by an expectant mother as a potential biological father must be provided with a notice of the termination of parental rights proceedings if he can be located. If an adoption entity is unable to locate an individual who has been identified as a potential biological father, the adoption entity must conduct a diligent search for the person, which is often performed by the entity through the use of a private investigator. Fla. Stat. 63.088 sets forth specific inquiries that must be done, including inquiries with the United States Postal Service, Department of Corrections, Hospitals, and inquiry into other records that may indicate a location for the individual. The adoption entity must provide an affidavit to the court showing that the diligent search was completed pursuant to the statute. If the diligent search does not provide a location for the identified unmarried biological father, the individual must be served with notice by constructive service through publication in the county where the person was last known to have resided.

In the past, adoptions were often viewed as secretive exchanges, with some children not even knowing that they were adopted until well into adulthood, and many birth families left without any information about a child that was placed for adoption. This is referred to as a closed adoption. Thankfully, time and education on this topic have largely changed the adoption roadmap. Today, you will commonly hear people refer to adoptions as “open,” “closed,” or “semi-open.” An open adoption is an adoption where the adoptive family stays in contact with the birth parent(s), and sometimes even the extended biological family of the child. Open adoptions generally include contact through email and/or phone calls, as well as face-to-face visits. What an open adoption will look like for your family will depend on the circumstances, and the needs and desires of everyone involved. A semi-open adoption generally includes some contact between an adoptive family and birth mother, which may occur through the adoption entity. Semi-open adoptions do not generally include face-to-face visits. Whether an adoption is open, semi-open, or closed is not a legal issue considered by the Courts, but will be addressed as part of the adoption plan. At Stephanie M. Showe, PLLC, we request that all adoptive families agree to an open adoption plan, with the parameters to be discussed and developed through the adoption process based upon the desires of both the expectant mother and prospective adoptive family.