November was National Adoption Awareness Month, a time to celebrate the joys of adoption. It was also a time to focus on the more than 100,000 children in the United States foster care system waiting to join a loving, permanent family.
To commemorate National Adoption Month in Florida, on November 1, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) launched “30 Days of Amazing Children: Exploring Adoption,” an online campaign to highlight those children in Florida available for adoption.
In the state of Florida, there are approximately 750 children in the foster care program currently awaiting adoption. Every day last month, DCF featured a different video of either a teenager or a sibling group on the Adopt Florida website at www.adoptflorida.org. Every week the Adopt Florida website also featured a blog written by adoptive parents to tell the story of the adoption of a child into their family
Kurt Kelly of the Florida Coalition for Children said that National Adoption Month highlights the state’s community-based care lead and provider agencies, systems that have made Florida a leader nationally for the “number of adoptions taking place each month across the state.” Last year in Florida, 3,353 children were adopted, an increase of 100 adoptions over that of the previous year.
All around the state of Florida, various ceremonies were held to celebrate National Adoption Month. On November 23, DCF along with other agencies held a ceremony at the Broward County Courthouse celebrating the adoption of twenty children into their forever families.
Another celebration honoring National Adoption Month took place at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in West Palm Beach on November 22, with twelve children being adopted into their forever families, too. This celebration was hosted by the DCF, ChildNet, Children’s Home Society of Florida, Circuit Court Judges and various other agencies.
All together according to DCF, more than thirty adoption events were held throughout Florida last month as a part of National Adoption Month.
In 2009, a South Carolina couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, adopted a baby girl whom they named Veronica. Veronica was a multiracial child, a mixture of Hispanic, Caucasian and a small percentage of Cherokee Indian blood, too. The couple arranged the adoption with the child’s birth mother well before the baby was born and the decision was made to have an open adoption, one in which the child would maintain a relationship with her biological mother.
The biological father of Veronica had signed a waiver stating he would not contest her adoption; however, four months after the child was born, he made the decision to petition for custody, stating he had changed his mind, that he wanted to keep his daughter and that he also wanted his child to be raised with the Cherokee people.
Matt and Melanie Capobianco, fought to keep their daughter, but after raising Veronica for two years, a South Carolina court ruled that under federal law – the Indian Child Welfare Act – Veronica must be returned to her biological father.
Although the Copobiancos appealed the family court judge’s ruling, Veronica was removed from their care in 2011, when she was two years-old.
The Capobiancos have been fighting to retain custody of Veronica for the past two years. Their legal custody to retain custody of their daughter finally came to an end last month when South Carolina’s highest court ordered Veronica to be returned to her adoptive parents, saying it had erred in its 2011 judgment giving custody to the Dusten Brown, the little girl’s biological father.
Although Veronica’s adoption has been finalized by the courts, the Capobiancos do not yet have custody of their daughter. Their legal battle for Veronica may be far from over because Cherokee tribal lawyers say they will continue the battle to let Brown keep custody of his daughter.
Adoption can, at times, be a tumultuous process, as it can change family relationships permanently. The adoption process in Florida is quite extensive and a home study will be required to ensure the adoptive parents are financially stable and can not only provide for the basic needs of a child, but provide a safe and nurturing home, as well.
When you have made the decision to adopt a child, contact an experienced Florida family law attorney to provide competent legal representation throughout the adoption process.
Unlike many celebrities seeking international adoptions, one celebrity adopted two children from the United States. Steven Spielberg, the noted film director, screenwriter and producer, adopted two African-American children from the Los Angeles foster care system and then went on to establish the Children’s Action Network (CAN), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to finding permanent homes to the thousands of children in foster care and improving the outcomes for the more than 500,000 children in system, as well.
In recent years, international adoption has become vastly popular by celebrities, with the much hyped adoptions of Angelina Jolie’s and Madonna’s children. The number of healthy newborns and infants available in this country has been decreasing in recent years. Because of this, more and more U.S. citizens have pursued international adoptions.
Nevertheless, in the United States alone, there are 500,000-600,000 children that live in our foster care system, with over 200,000 awaiting permanent homes. Beginning in the 1990’s, legislative measures were passed by Congress aimed at assisting those children in the system. The Adoption Promotion and Stability Act of 1996 provided a tax credit available for those individuals who adopted foster care children, with the credit rising as high as $13,360 per child in some years. In a controversial 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable healthcare legislation, better known as Obamacare. One part of this legislation is the extension, expansion and enhancement of the adoption tax credit provided by the federal government, with legislation introduced this year that would not only expand the credit, but make it permanently refundable as well.
When an international adoption takes place, although the tax credit wasn’t meant for foreign children, those adopting receive the same tax benefits as those who adopt domestically. Though international adoptions may add to the diversity of our nation, the intended beneficiaries of the tax credit legislation are those “lost in the system” children in this country’s foster care system. There are those who feel the tax credit should be used to reclaim children from the foster care system, not subsidize international adoptions. Accordingly, they feel the international portion of the tax credit should not be renewed, but allowed to expire, in order to turn taxpayer resources, once again, back to those whom the credit was aimed for – the children in the foster care system.