Effective date: 7/7/2016
(1) A person seeking to adopt a child who does not meet the definition of special needs pursuant to Florida Statutes § 409.166(2), will be referred to the Adoption Information Center. Birth parents seeking adoption planning for their children will also be referred to the Adoption Information Center.
Terms Used In Florida Regulations 65C-16.002
- Attachment: A procedure by which a person's property is seized to pay judgments levied by the court.
(a) Grandparent. A grandparent who is entitled to notice pursuant to Florida Statutes § 63.0425, must be afforded the opportunity to have a home study completed and to petition for adoption. If grandparents apply to adopt the child, prior to a Memorandum of Agreement to Adopt being signed by another applicant, the application must be evaluated through an adoptive home study.
(b) Current caregiver. If the current caregiver applies to adopt the child, the application must be evaluated through an adoptive home study. The home study must assess the length of time the child has lived with the current cargiver, the depth of the relationship existing between the child and the caregiver, and whether it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the caregiver.
(c) Relatives and nonrelatives with whom child has a relationship. Persons known to the child, but who do not have custody of the child, may wish to be considered for adoption. If such persons apply to adopt the child prior to a Memorandum of Agreement to Adopt being signed, the application must be evaluated through an adoptive home study. The depth of the relationship existing between the child and the applicant must be assessed and included in the home study. The “Memorandum of Agreement,” CF-FSP 5072, October 2010, is incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-06973.
(d) Family new to the child. Many families who pursue adoption do not have a specific child in mind when they apply. These families must be provided information about the children available for adoption through the department, and must be helped, through training, preparation, and the home study process, to determine if special needs adoption is appropriate for their family.
(a) When considering adoption placement of a sibling group, consideration must include the fact that a sibling relationship is the longest lasting relationship for a child and placing siblings together, whenever possible, preserves the family unit.
(b) In situations where consideration is being given to separating siblings who are in an open dependency case, a sibling separation staffing shall be held. The staffing shall consist of at least three (3) members with adoption experience. The members must consider the emotional ties existing between and among the siblings and the degree of harm which each child is likely to experience as a result of separation. The positives and negatives of keeping the children together must be thoroughly explored, and at least one (1) member must be assigned the role of defending the position of placing the children together. In particularly difficult cases, professionals who have expertise in sibling bonding and adoptions may be consulted.
(c) The decision to separate siblings who are in an open dependency case must be approved in writing and documented in the Florida Safe Families Network (FSFN) by the community based care (CBC) or subcontractor staff charged with this responsibility. The CBC or subcontractor staff shall prepare a memorandum describing efforts made to keep the siblings together and an assessment of the short term and long range effects of separation on the children. The memorandum must also include a description of the plan for post-adoption communication or contact, as described in Rule 65C-16.020, F.A.C., between the children if separation is approved.
(d) If, after placement as a sibling group, one child does not adjust to the family, a decision must be made regarding what is best for all of the children. The adoption staff must review this situation as a team, and choose the plan that will be least detrimental to the children. The staffing shall be conducted as any other sibling separation staffing as prescribed in paragraph (3)(b), of this rule. The decision and rationale must be documented in the FSFN. This documentation must also include the plan for future contact if the decision is to pursue separate placements.
(e) If the Department takes into custody a child who is a sibling of a previously adopted child(ren), the Department, CBC or subcontractor staff shall advise the adoptive parents of this occurrence at the time of removal. If the child becomes available for adoption, the adoptive parents of the previously placed sibling(s) shall be notified and given an opportunity to apply to adopt the child. The application of these adoptive parents will be given the same consideration as an application for adoption by a relative, as described above.
(4) Requests for consideration made after the Memorandum of Agreement to Adopt has been signed. Once a Memorandum of Agreement is signed by the prospective adoptive parents, the Department will not complete a homestudy on any new applicant to adopt the child, unless court ordered.
(5) The following factors must be considered in determining the best interest of the child when selecting an adoptive family and when multiple families apply to adopt the same child.
(a) Attachment. Consideration must be given to the quality and length of the attachment to the current and potential caregiver. The age of the child at placement with current caregiver and the child’s current age must be considered in assessing attachment. The ease with which the child attached to the current family and any indications of attachment difficulty in the child’s history must be evaluated. The number of moves and number of caregivers the child has experienced will be an important factor in determining the likelihood that the child will form a healthy attachment to a new caregiver.
(b) Siblings. Consideration must be given to whether the potential caregiver is willing to adopt all members of a sibling group.
(c) Kinship. Cultural values and traditions are more likely to be passed on to who have a shared history with extended family. Consideration must be given to the quality of the relationship with a relative seeking to adopt a child. Some children will already know and trust the relative seeking to adopt. If not, the willingness of the relative to participate in pre-placement activities to promote the development of a relationship must be considered.
(d) Permanence. The capacity and willingness of the prospective adoptive parent to access needed services and meet the child’s need for permanence must be evaluated. The ability of the prospective adoptive parent to understand the needs of adoptive children in different developmental stages and his or her awareness of the inherent challenges of parenting an adopted child must be carefully considered.
(e) Post communication or contact. The willingness and capacity of the prospective adoptive parent to agree with post-adoption communication or contact with siblings or a significant adult that is determined to be in the best interest of the child must be determined.
(6) In any adoptive placement of a Native American child, the federal “Indian Child Welfare Act” governs the order of placement preference. While the Indian Child Welfare Act gives a placement preference, it allows each tribe to establish a different order of preference by resolution, and that order must be followed. The Act lists the placement preference for adoption of an Indian child in the following order:
(a) A member of the child’s extended family;
(b) Other members of the Indian child’s tribe, or
(c) Other Indian families.
(7) Study of the Child. The case manager or adoption counselor must conduct a study of any child to be placed for adoption. In addition to aiding in identifying an adoptive placement, the child study is also documentation of the child’s special needs for subsidy purposes and serves as a vehicle for sharing the child’s history with the adoptive family. The child study must include current and projected or future needs of the child based on all available information regarding the child and the birth family’s medical and social history. A study of the child shall include:
(a) Developmental History. A developmental history must be obtained from the birth parents whenever possible. When the child has been in care for a period of time, developmental history obtained from birth parents must be supplemented by direct study and observation by the case manager or adoption counselor, foster parents, pediatrician, and if indicated, psychologist, teacher and other consultants. The developmental history must include:
1. Birth and health history,
2. Early development,
3. Child’s characteristic way of responding to people,
4. Deviations from the normal range of development; and,
5. Child’s prior experiences, including continuity of care, separations, and information regarding other known significant relationships and placements the child has had prior to and since entering foster care.
(b) Medical History. A medical examination must be completed by a licensed physician, preferably a pediatrician, to determine the child’s state of health and significant health factors which may interfere with normal development. The medical history must take into consideration the following:
1. Circumstances of birth and possible birth trauma,
2. Congenital conditions which may or may not have been corrected or need additional correction or treatment,
3. Physical handicaps that may interfere with normal activity and achievement,
4. Significant illnesses and health of the child, parents and other family members; and,
5. Immunization record of the child.
(c) Family History. Family history shall be obtained from birth parents when possible and shall include any medical and mental health information about both parents and any siblings. Information about the child’s birth family shall include:
1. Age of both parents,
2. Race, national origin or ethnicity,
4. Physical characteristics,
5. Educational achievements and occupations,
6. Health, medical history and possible hereditary problems,
7. Personality traits, special interests and abilities,
8. Child’s past and present relationship with family members and the significance of these relationships; and,
9. Actual or potential impact of past abuse, neglect or abandonment.
(d) Psychological and Psychiatric Evaluations. Psychological or psychiatric evaluations of children known or suspected of having mental health problems must be obtained prior to the adoption placement. Any child who will be placed for adoption with medical subsidy for treatment of a psychological or psychiatric condition must have had such an evaluation within the 12 month period preceding the adoption placement.
(e) Heredity. There are no hereditary factors that rule out adoptive planning for a child. Genetic and medical professionals will assist in deciding which hereditary conditions limit life expectancy or adversely affect normal development.
(f) Pre-placement Physical Examination. Prior to placement every child must have received his or her most recent well-child check-up as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. No child will be placed without a physical that has been conducted within 12 months of placement unless there is a known or suspected medical condition. When there is a known or suspected medical condition, a physical within six (6) months prior to placement will be required. If the adoptive family prefers, an additional examination may be completed at their expense, and a copy provided for the child’s case record. It is important that this examination be thorough and provide the potential adoptive family and the case manager and adoption counselor with a clear understanding of the child’s physical condition.
(g) Education. An educational history must be documented for the child, including all schools attended, current grade, and a summary of the child’s report cards and his or her 504 or Individual Educational Plan, if applicable. An interview with the child’s current teacher is required in order to document issues related to academics, socialization skills and behavioral concerns.
(8) A copy of the child study shall be provided to the adoptive parents prior to the adoptive placement. The identity of the birth family shall be protected when providing the child study to the family. The information must be shared either using the “Disclosure Information to Adoptive Parents” form CF-FSP 5328, December 2010, incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-06975, or a form developed by the CBC provider. If the CBC provider chooses to use its own form, that form must contain all of the elements of CF-FSP 5328, February 2016.
Rulemaking authorized by Florida Statutes § 63.233. Law Implemented 63.039(1), 63.0425, 63.0427, 63.085 FS. History—New 2-14-84, Formerly 10M-8.02, Amended 5-20-91, 4-28-92, 4-19-94, 8-17-94, 1-8-95, Formerly 10M-8.002, Amended 12-4-97, 12-23-97, 8-19-03, 11-30-08, 7-7-16.