Interventions in Florida Dependency Cases: The Private Adoption Option for Parents Facing Termination of Parental Rights

June 4, 2024

Your child has been taken by the Florida Department of Children and Families and placed in licensed foster care.  Shortly thereafter, the Department petitions the Court to terminate your parental rights.  What do you do? What are your options? What are your risks?

Option 1: You can proceed to trial on the allegations in the Petition, but if unsuccessful at trial, the Court will involuntarily terminate your parental rights and place your child in the custody of the Department for adoption; or

Option 2: You can consent to the petition and voluntarily surrender your parental rights leaving your child free for adoption by a person(s) the Department has chosen; or

Option 3: You can choose intervention. 

What is intervention? Intervention is a process that permits a parent facing termination of their parental rights, some decision-making rights to remove their child from the dependency system and to determine an appropriate long-term adoptive placement for their child.

The process…

A parent facing termination of their parental rights executes a consent for adoption of a child with an adoption entity or qualified prospective adoptive parents.  The adoption entity then motions the dependency court to intervene in the dependency case and change the child’s placement to the family the parent chose.  If granted, custody of the child is transferred to the adoption entity or to the family selected by the parent under the adoption entity’s supervision.

The decision to place your child for adoption privately via intervention can be an overwhelming and distressing experience for any parent.  In such a challenging time, you are not alone and there are several resources available to you to assist with your decision.   It is crucial to understand your rights, seek support, and take proactive steps to ensure your child’s safety and to protect your ability to make permanent decisions for your child.  

Please note, the statute recently changed and added a deadline on interventions.  The deadline allotted for a parent to choose intervention.  Specifically, a parent facing termination of parental rights must initiate an intervention within 30 days of the date a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed.  §63.082(6), Fla. Stat. (2023)

What to do when considering intervention?

  1. Seek Legal Representation: Immediately consult with an attorney experienced in terminations of parental rights and private adoption interventions as soon as you are served with the petition.  A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can guide you through the process and clearly explain your rights and responsibilities to you regarding adoption intervention in dependency cases. The sooner you retain counsel the more effective your attorney will be.
  2. Long Term Planning: Make a list of all the individuals whom your child knows and with whom they are strongly bonded.  Contact each individual and discuss their ability and willingness to accept short- and long-term placement and care responsibility for your child.  Gather each individual’s contact information (i.e. full legal name, birth date, physical address, social security number, email, and cell phone number) to provide to your attorney and to the adoption entity.
  3. Stay Persistent and Advocate for your Child: Be persistent in advocating for your child’s best interests throughout this process.  You know your child best. Stay informed, attend all court hearings, and assertively communicate your concerns and preferences through and after discussing same with your counsel.  

 

Jennifer F. Meister with Older Lundy Koch & Martino is here to help. Schedule your legal consult today

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