“My Children are in State Custody”: A Birth Parent’s Right to Choose the Right Family for their Child through Private Adoption

dcf adoptionHaving your parental rights taken away can make a parent feel like they no longer have any control over their child’s future. You can think of nothing else but your child and the kind of family he or she is with. You may be thinking: Is my child safe? Are the parents too strict or too permissive? Would they be open to my child visiting with me? Will they want to adopt my child, or will my child move from home to home?

But as a birth parent, until the court has actually terminated your parental rights, you have decision-making power. Statute F.S. 63.082(6)(a) states:

If a parent executes a consent for placement of a minor with an adoption entity or qualified prospective adoptive parents and the minor child is in the custody of the department, but parental rights have not yet been terminated, the adoption consent is valid, binding, and enforceable by the court.

When a birth parent consents to a private adoption while the child is in state custody, and “intervention” must take place in order for the child to be adopted privately. With adoption intervention, birth parents are able to design an adoption plan for their child, including choosing: if the family has children already, if it is a traditional family, a single-parent home, or even a same-sex couple. Birth parents may even be able to negotiate a communication agreement with the adoptive parents to include a schedule to receive pictures, updates, and perhaps even visitation with the child.

Adoption intervention, however, is not always appropriate. Considerations, including whether it is best for the child to be removed from the current foster home, should be made. If the child’s foster family has maintained custody for some time and expressed a desire to adopt, consenting to the foster family adopting, with an agreement for continued communication, may be in the best interests of the child.

If the child’s current foster placement is not suitable in the eyes of the birth parents, a private adoption plan may be a great alternative. With private adoption, even when you are not a direct part of your child’s life, you can still plan for the kind of life and family you envision for your child. Whether your child is placed with a two-parent family, in a home with (or without) other children, in a Florida home, and whether your child has a stay-at-home parent can all be decided by you. An agreement for pictures, letters, and/or visits from the adoptive parents may also be created so as to stay up-to-date with all of your child’s milestones.

No family is ever going to be you, but until your parental rights have been terminated, you can certainly choose the kind of life you desire for your child.