Abandonment in Adoptions

In Florida adoption proceedings, each parent giving up his or her rights to the minor child for adoption is required to consent to the adoption and the termination of those rights. A parent’s consent is required in private adoptions, stepparent adoptions, and relative adoptions, and must be given before the adoption can be finalized. However, under certain circumstances, a court may terminate a parent’s rights and grant an adoption even without the parent’s consent.

Florida Statute 63.089 allows a court to terminate parental rights pending an adoption if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that a parent has abandoned the child being adopted. The law defines abandoned as
“a situation in which the parent or person having legal custody of a child, while being able, makes little or no provision for the child’s support or makes little or no effort to communicate with the child, which situation is sufficient to evince an intent to reject parental responsibilities. If, in the opinion of the court, the efforts of such parent or person having legal custody of the child to support and communicate with the child are only marginal efforts that do not evince a settled purpose to assume all parental duties, the court may declare the child to be abandoned. In making this decision, the court may consider the conduct of a father towards the child’s mother during her pregnancy.”

In re Adoption of Doe, a 1989 case, the Florida Supreme Court decided that a father who failed to provide any meaningful financial or emotional support to the mother during her pregnancy had abandoned the child. Despite being able to provide assistance to the mother, the father chose not to do so, forcing the mother to live off of public welfare and private charity. Since the Court determined the father had abandoned the child, his consent to adoption was not required.

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