How to Get Started as a Adoptive Parent
If you are interested in becoming a adoptive parent, the first thing you need to do is call us. To receive more information by mail, please fill out the attached form below. Send this form via email to NBeeson@cnswfl.org or mail the form to Children's Network, Attn. Nancy Beeson at 2232 Altamont Ave. Ft. Myers, FL 33901 or call 1-855-933-KIDS (5437).
Adoptive Parent Inquiry Form
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who can adopt?
- Who are the children waiting to be adopted?
- What does it cost to adopt?
- How do I find out about the children available for adoption?
- How long does it take to adopt?
- What resources are available to families who adopt?
- What is the adoption process?
- Will I know about my adopted child's history?
- I still have a few questions about adoption. Who should I call?
Who can adopt?
Most adults who can provide a stable, loving home to a child can adopt. Married couples, single working parents, families with or without children, people who live in apartments or own their own homes, and people of any religious faith, race, and education level will be considered. There is also a need for adoptive families who have the patience to parent teens who may be slow to trust.
Who are the children waiting to be adopted?
The Children's Network of SW Florida provides adoption services for children with special needs who were removed from their birth families due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. Their parent's rights have been legally terminated making them free for adoption. They are in the care and custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families in foster homes, group homes or residential facilities. Parents seeking to adopt non-special needs children will be referred to private agencies.
What does it cost to adopt?
The Children's Network of Southwest Florida does not charge a fee for adoption services. The main costs for adoption are court and attorney fees which are eligible for limited reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption-related expenses. The prospective family may also incur additional charges that are related to travel and visitation prior to the child's placement.
How do I find out about the children available for adoption?
In addition to browsing the children featured on this local website, you can call us at (1-800-893-2645) to request information. To view all the children who are eligible for adoption within the state of Florida , you may access www.adoptflorida.org
How long does it take to adopt?
The answer varies. The process to become an approved adoptive parent includes attending a preparation course of ten weeks, obtaining local, state and federal background check clearance, providing documentation of a current physical exam and completion of a home study. The process can usually be completed in eight months.
When a child is matched with your family, pre-placement activities will occur including visits and regular communications with the child, the Adoption Case Manager and other involved professionals. Transitioning the child to your home will occur when the child, you, the Adoption Case Manager and all involved persons feel that it is in the child's best interest to do so. Once the child moves in with your family, the child's Case Manager will supervise the placement for a minimum of ninety (90) days. When the supervision period is completed, the Case Manager will provide consents to your attorney who will petition the Court to finalize the adoption.
What resources are available to families who adopt?
MAINTENANCE SUBSIDY - A monthly stipend paid to the adoptive parents to assist them in providing for the special needs of the adoptive child. Maintenance subsidies are negotiated prior to the child's placement with an adoptive family. In most cases, the family will continue to receive the monthly maintenance subsidy until the child's 18th birthday. The maintenance subsidy has to be renewed annually.
MEDICAID- Your adoption counselor will advise you of the child's Medicaid eligibility prior to the adoption placement. Any child who was eligible for Medicaid before placement for adoption is eligible to continue receiving Medicaid benefits until age 18. If you adopt a Medicaid eligible child in Florida and later move to another state, the child may qualify for Medicaid in the state of residence.
MEDICAL SUBSIDY - Assistance with the payment for medical, surgical, hospital, dental, outpatient counseling or other related services needed as a result of a physical or mental health condition of the child which existed prior to the adoption. The Medical Subsidy is paid for qualifying expenses not covered by any other insurance held by the parent(s) and must be PRE AUTHORIZED by the Children's Network of SW Florida. Payments can be made directly to the provider or reimbursed to the adoptive family upon presentation of receipts.
CHILDREN'S MEDICAL SERVICES - A child who is physically or medically handicapped at the time of adoption shall be eligible for services of the Division of Children's Medical Services Network if the child was eligible for such services prior to the adoption.
TUITION WAIVER PROGRAM - A child who was adopted after May 5, 1997 is exempt from the payment of tuition fees, including lab fees, at a state university, community college, or a school district that provides post secondary career and technical programs. Such exemption includes fees associated with enrollment in vocational-preparatory instruction and completion of the college-level communication and computation skills testing. This exemption remains valid until the young person reaches the age of 28.
ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE SCHOLARSHIP - Only children who are adopted out of foster care between the ages of 16 and 17 are adopted are eligible for this scholarship. The program provides financial and medical assistance to students enrolled in high school, a GED program, vocational training, college or university. Benefits will continue until an educational/training certification is acquired or the student turns age 23; whichever is first.
NON-RECURRING ADOPTION RELATED EXPENSES - Post finalization of an adoption, adoptive families are entitled to be reimbursed up to $1000 for costs and services related to the adoption. Such expenses include attorney fees, court costs, travel expenses, physical examination fees and birth certificate fees.
POST ADOPTION SERVICES - The Children's Network of Southwest Florida has a Post Adoption Case Manager in each Case Management Organization. The Case Manager is available to assist families in identifying resources within the community, engage adoptive families in organized activities and identify training/workshop opportunities. As well, adoptive families have access to a local adoption support group and a toll free support line to a licensed Psychologist.
Post-Adoption Case Managers:
Lutheran Services Florida (Lee and Charlotte Counties)
21175 Olean Blvd., Unit B
Port Charlotte, FL 33952
(941) 613-3901 ext 3911
Family Preservation Services (Collier, Hendry and Glades Counties)
2606 S. Horseshoe Drive
Naples, FL 34101
FLORIDA ADOPTION REUNION REGISTRY (FARR) - The Florida Adoption Reunion Registry is available to adult adoptees, birth parents, birth siblings of adoptees, birth grandparents, birth aunts, birth uncles and adoptive parents on behalf of their adopted minor child. If two or more people affected by an adoption in Florida lists themselves on the registry, then FARR gets in touch with both parties; FARR does not actively conduct searches. For registered adult adoptees whose birth family is not registered, FARR provides assistance in obtaining the birth family's non-identifying medical and social history.
What is the adoption process?
The adoption process begins by calling 1-800-893-2645. We will obtain your information so that a home visit can be scheduled.
The initial visit is a meeting that provides an overview of the PRIDE training program and highlights the criteria for becoming an adoptive parent. After this home visit, if you decide to proceed further, you will be invited to attend the (ten) 10 weeks PRIDE training program. During participation in PRIDE, you will begin the home study process which consists of:
1. A minimum of two visits to your home by an Adoption Case Manager who will provide additional information about the children available for adoption and supports available for adoptive families and gather pertinent information about your family's capacity for adoptive parenting.
2. Prospective parents will be asked to provide information about their childhood experiences, motivation for adopting, parenting philosophy, discipline techniques, current lifestyle and the impact that adopting will have on the family.
3. Prospective parents are required to clear the screening process that includes local and state law enforcement checks as well as having your fingerprints screened at the federal level.
4.You will be required to complete a physical examination and provide information about your health.
5. References will be requested from your employer, school officials if you have children in school, and character references from individuals who have known you and your family for at least two years.
6. All of the information gathered in a home study packet is sent for approval by a Quality Management Specialist. When your application has been approved, you will be notified by the Adoption Case Manager.
7. After Approval: You are encouraged to review the photos and narratives of available children on the website, and attend recruitment events when foster children who are available for adoption are in attendance. Notify your Adoption Case Manager when you are interested and need more information about a certain child or sibling group.
Will I know about my adopted child's history?
Once your family has been selected for child, the Adoption Case Manager will schedule an office for you to review the child's case record. You will be given the child's foster care history including the circumstances involving his removal, the child's medical history including the birth and delivery information, any assessments or psychological evaluations completed, the child's school history and the child's current daily habits and preferences. You will also be provided non identifying social and medical information about the biological parents and birth family. You may also request to speak with other professionals who are involved with the child.
I still have a few questions about adoption. Who should I call?
The Children's Network of Southwest Florida has a toll free number for your convenience. Please contact us at 1-800-893-2645 for additional information about adoption. We are available to speak with you in English or Spanish during traditional works hours: Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During non business hours and holidays, an answering system is available.
ADOPTION - The legal relationship created between the adoptive parents and the child. The adoptive parents are granted all the parental rights, privileges and responsibilities of the child as though the child was born to the adoptive parent(s). The adoptive child has access to all rights and privileges that govern a legally recognized parent child relationship.
PRIDE – The acronym for Parent Resource for Information, Development and Education. This ten week course is offered several times annually throughout the community. The weekly three hour classes are typically held on the same day each week for 10 successive sessions. Learning takes place in a highly interactive, adult group setting wherein families interested in adopting or fostering gain an understanding of the needs of children removed from their birth families and the effects that follow. Among others skills, families learn techniques to help children manage their behaviors, deal with grieving and losses and are taught ways to promote healthy attaching relationships with foster/adoptive children.
HANDICAPPED CHILD - Handicapped child means a child who possesses a specific physical, mental, or emotional condition or disability of such severity or kind that it would constitute a significant obstacle to the child's adoption.
HOME STUDY - A written comprehensive evaluation of the prospective adoptive family by a licensed child placing agency assessing the adoptive family's home and living environment, marriage, social activities, family relationships and their capacity for adoptive parenthood.
SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD - A child whose permanent custody has been awarded to the Department of Children and Families or a licensed child placing agency, and who has established significant emotional ties with his foster parents or is not likely to be adopted because he/she is:
1. Eight years of age or older;
2. Developmentally disabled;
3. Physically or emotionally handicapped;
4. Of Black or racially mixed parentage;
5. A member of a sibling group of any age provided two or more members of the group remain together for purposes of adoption.
SUBSIDY - Services and/or financial payment provided to the family based on the child's need. As a condition for continuation of the subsidy, the adoptive parents shall file a sworn statement with the Children's Network of Southwest Florida at least once each year to include any social or financial conditions which may have changed.
CASE MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION (CMO) - a contracted agency which provides case management and adoption related services for children who have been adjudicated dependent and for those who are permanently committed to the Florida Department of Children and Families for adoption and other permanency planning.