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ADOPTION FAQs

Learn More About Adoption
in Hillsborough County

Most people who are thinking about adoption have a number of questions. We have gathered some of the most common questions about adoption on this page, but please do not hesitate to contact us for more information. You can complete our adoption information form or call us at 813.337.5705 to learn more.

Adoption makes a child a legal part of your family. The term “adoption” refers to the legal relationship created between the adoptive parents and the child. By adopting a child, the adoptive parent(s) receive the same parental rights, privileges, and responsibilities that they would have with a biological child. The adoptive child in turn receives all of the rights and privileges that govern a legally recognized parent-child relationship.

Adoption gives a child a second chance at having a family. It is an act of great love that transforms lives – including your own.

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 all be considered. There is also a special need for adoptive families with the love and patience to parent teens who may be slow to trust due to the trauma they have experienced.

To see children currently available for adoption through Children’s Network of Hillsborough, please visit our Children Available page.

Children’s Network of Hillsborough provides adoption services for children with special needs who were removed from their birth families due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect. They have entered the child welfare system through no fault of their own. 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.

For adoption purposes, a “special needs child” is defined as follows: 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 or she is:

  1. Eight years of age or older;
  2. Developmentally disabled;
  3. Physically or emotionally handicapped;
  4. Of Black or racially mixed parentage; and
  5. A member of a sibling group of any age, provided two or more members of the group remain together for purposes of adoption.

You can make an incredible difference in the life of a child or group of siblings by becoming an adoptive parent.

The adoption process begins by contacting Children’s Network of Hillsborough County. Please complete the form on the Adopt a Child page, or call us at 813.337.5705. 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 10-week 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 information about the children available for adoption, discuss the support available for adoptive families, and gather pertinent information about your family’s capacity for adoptive parenting.
  2. Providing information about your childhood experiences, motivation for adopting, parenting philosophy, discipline techniques, current lifestyle, and the impact that adopting will have on the family.
  3. Completing the screening process that includes local and state law enforcement checks as well as having your fingerprints screened at the federal level.
  4. Completing a physical examination and providing 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 is sent for approval by a Quality Management Specialist. When your application has been approved, you will be notified by the Adoption Case Manager.

After approval, you are encouraged to review the online listings of available children, as well to visit recruitment events that have children available for adoption in attendance. Please notify your Adoption Case Manager when you are interested and need more information about a certain child or sibling group.

Children’s Network of Hillsborough 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 related to travel and visitation prior to the child’s placement.

The answer varies. The process to become an approved adoptive parent includes attending a preparation course of six weeks; obtaining local, state, and federal background check clearance; providing documentation of a current physical exam; and completing a home study. These steps 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.

A variety of resources are available to assist families who adopt children from the child welfare system including:

  • MAINTENANCE SUBSIDY — A monthly stipend paid to help meet 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. However, youths who were adopted after turning 16 yeas old may be eligible to continue receiving the monthly stipend to age 21 if they participate in a qualifying activity.
  • NONRECURRING ADOPTION RELATED EXPENSES — Adoptive families are entitled to be reimbursed up to $1,000 for costs and services related to the adoption after finalization. Such expenses include attorney fees, court costs, travel expenses, physical examination fees, and birth certificate fees.
  • MEDICAID — Most children who were eligible for Medicaid before placement for adoption are eligible to continue receiving Medicaid benefits until age 18. If the youth was adopted after turning 16 Medicaid eligibility continues to age 21. 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 Children’s Network of Hillsborough.
  • 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 paying tuition fees, including lab fees, at a state university, community college, or a school district that provides post-secondary career 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.
  • FASFA (Federal Application for Student Financial Aid) — Children adopted from foster care at the age of  13 or older are given special consideration when applying for student financial loans or grants. (FAFSA.ED.GOV)
  • POSTSECONDARY SERVICES AND SUPPORTS — Financial Assistance in the amount of $1,256 per month if the youth was at least 16 years of age when adopted from  foster care, has reached 18 years of age but is not yet 23 years old, has earned a standard high school diploma or its equivalent, applies before age 21, is enrolled as a full time student in a postsecondary institution that is Florida Bright Future eligible, and has applied for financial aid, grans and other scholarships.
  • POST ADOPTION SERVICES — Children’s Network of Hillsborough has a Post Adoption Case Manager in each Case Management Organization. They assist families in identifying resources within the community, engage adoptive families in organized activities, and identify training/workshop opportunities. Adoptive families also have access to a local adoption support group and a toll-free support line to a licensed Psychologist.
  • FEDERAL TAX CREDIT — Families that adopt a child from  foster care may be eligible for a tax credit on their federal income tax credit. A tax credit is a reduction in the amount of taxes you pay the government. Speak with your tax preparer. www.irs.gov – Form 8839
  • QUALIFYING ADOPTIVE EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PROGRAM — The program provides state employees, school district employees, employees of the State University or Community College,  charter school employees, active military service members and veterans that live in Florida, a one-time benefit of up to $10,000 per child that a family adopts from Florida’s Child Welfare System after July 1, 2015.
  • 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 list 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 nonidentifying medical and social history.

Once your family has been selected for a 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 or her 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 nonidentifying 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.