(1) The Legislature finds that:
(a) The state has a compelling interest in providing stable and permanent homes for adoptive children in a prompt manner, in preventing the disruption of adoptive placements, and in holding parents accountable for meeting the needs of children.
Terms Used In Florida Statutes 63.022
- Adoption: means the act of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where it did not exist, thereby declaring the child to be legally the child of the adoptive parents and their heir at law and entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child born to such adoptive parents in lawful wedlock. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Adoption entity: means the department, a child-caring agency registered under…. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Adoption plan: means an arrangement made by a birth parent or other individual having a legal right to custody of a minor, born or to be born, with an adoption entity in furtherance of placing the minor for adoption. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Child: means any unmarried person under the age of 18 years who has not been emancipated by court order. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Court: means a circuit court of this state and, if the context requires, the court of any state that is empowered to grant petitions for adoption. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Department: means the Department of Children and Families. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- minor: includes any person who has not attained the age of 18 years. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
- Parent: means a woman who gives birth to a child and who is not a gestational surrogate as defined in…. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Person: includes a natural person, corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, or association, and any other legal entity. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Placement: means the process of a parent or legal guardian surrendering a child for adoption and the prospective adoptive parents receiving and adopting the child and all actions by any adoption entity participating in placing the child. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Relative: means a person related by blood to the person being adopted within the third degree of consanguinity. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Unmarried biological father: means the child's biological father who is not married to the child's mother at the time of conception or on the date of the birth of the child and who, before the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights, has not been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the legal father of the child or has not filed an affidavit pursuant to…. See Florida Statutes 153.10
(b) An unmarried mother faced with the responsibility of making crucial decisions about the future of a newborn child is entitled to privacy, has the right to make timely and appropriate decisions regarding her future and the future of the child, and is entitled to assurance regarding an adoptive placement.
(c) Adoptive children have the right to permanence and stability in adoptive placements.
(d) Adoptive parents have a constitutional privacy interest in retaining custody of a legally adopted child.
(e) An unmarried biological father has an inchoate interest that acquires constitutional protection only when he demonstrates a timely and full commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood, both during the pregnancy and after the child’s birth. The state has a compelling interest in requiring an unmarried biological father to demonstrate that commitment by providing appropriate medical care and financial support and by establishing legal paternity rights in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that in every adoption, the best interest of the child should govern and be of foremost concern in the court‘s determination. The court shall make a specific finding as to the best interests of the child in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature to protect and promote the well-being of persons being adopted and their birth and adoptive parents and to provide to all children who can benefit by it a permanent family life, and, whenever appropriate, to maintain sibling groups.
(4) The basic safeguards intended to be provided by this chapter are that:
(a) The minor is legally free for adoption and that all adoptions are handled in accordance with the requirements of law.
(b) The required persons consent to the adoption or the parent-child relationship is terminated by judgment of the court.
(c) The required social studies are completed and the court considers the reports of these studies prior to judgment on adoption petitions.
(d) A sufficient period of time elapses during which the minor has lived within the proposed adoptive home under the guidance of an adoption entity, except stepparent adoptions or adoptions of a relative.
(e) All expenditures by adoption entities or adoptive parents relative to the adoption of a minor are reported to the court and become a permanent record in the file of the adoption proceedings, including, but not limited to, all legal fees and costs, all payments to or on behalf of a birth parent, and all payments to or on behalf of the minor.
(f) Social and medical information concerning the minor and the parents is furnished by the parent when available and filed with the court before a final hearing on a petition to terminate parental rights pending adoption, unless the petitioner is a stepparent or a relative.
(g) A new birth certificate is issued after entry of the adoption judgment.
(h) At the time of the hearing, the court may order temporary substitute care when it determines that the minor is in an unsuitable home.
(i) The records of all proceedings concerning custody and adoption of a minor are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1), except as provided in s. 63.162.
(j) The birth parent, the prospective adoptive parent, and the minor receive, at a minimum, the safeguards, guidance, counseling, and supervision required in this chapter.
(k) In all matters coming before the court under this chapter, the court shall enter such orders as it deems necessary and suitable to promote and protect the best interests of the person to be adopted.
(l) In dependency cases initiated by the department, where termination of parental rights occurs, and siblings are separated despite diligent efforts of the department, continuing postadoption communication or contact among the siblings may be ordered by the court if found to be in the best interests of the children.
(5) It is the intent of the Legislature to provide for cooperation between private adoption entities and the Department of Children and Families in matters relating to permanent placement options for children in the care of the department whose birth parents wish to participate in a private adoption plan with a qualified family.