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Interested in public adoption? Learn the steps, resources

Mother and daughter having a conversation at the table.

In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. What’s the process for adopting a child from the state system?
2. Is being a foster parent a shortcut to adoption?
3. What kind of financial help is available?

Scroll through the photos in the Heart Gallery of Palm Beach County, and you’ll see face after face of children seeking adoptive parents. Most are older than 10, a few are physically and/or developmentally disabled, and others come in pairs as siblings who want to stay together.

For prospective parents interested in adopting from the state’s foster care system, also known as a public adoption, these are just some of the children looking for their forever home. They are in the state’s care for various reasons – including abuse, neglect or abandonment – and they no longer can live with their biological families.

Managing expectations about the age, heritage/cultural background and developmental ability of an adoptive child is an important part of the process, says Amy Garvin-Liddell, program manager of adoptions for Children’s Home Society of Florida. Another is being realistic about the process and how long it may take.


For every child, the adoption procedure is the same. The Road to Adoption, as outlined by the Florida Department of Children and Families, requires:

    • An orientation with experienced adoptive parents and counselors
    • An adoptive parent preparation course (CARE)
    • A home study to ensure the home is safe and secure
    • Approval and matching with a child
    • Supervision to ensure the child and family are transitioning well
    • Legal finalization

How much time each one of those steps can take, especially the matching, is specific to each child.

Garvin-Liddell also likes to advise potential adoptive parents to keep an open mind, remain flexible and be patient.

“Remember what brought a child into state care in the first place," she says. "They are coming from some sort of traumatic situation. Some children have been moved multiple times since entering the state system. Can you imagine being 4 years old and having lived in possibly 10 places. . . .  Love won’t fix everything. Parents have to be active participants in the child’s healing.”


Josh Kolkana, director of Homes of Hope & Villages of Hope program for the nonprofit children’s organization, Place of Hope, recruits and prepares foster parents and adoptive parents. He often shares that being a foster parent is not a shortcut to adopting a child.

“Some interested families have unrealistic expectations that they can adopt a baby who has been fostered in their care. Does that happen? Absolutely. But is that the norm? No,” Kolkana says. “If you want to grow your family through adoption, that’s great, but being a foster parent is often motivated by a different set of goals and desires than being an adoptive parent. ‘Is this about me growing my family to fit what I had envisioned as a child, or is it about me opening up myself and my family to a child who needs a home?’ Those are two very different motives for adoption.”


You don't need to be rich to adopt. Kolkana and Garvin-Liddell point to the significant support adoptive families receive if they choose children in state care. Public adoptions are free, plus parents are eligible for a federal tax credit, monthly financial support and health care for the child.

The child is eligible for free tuition to state schools and some private institutions. Read the full list of benefits here.


• Florida Department of Children and Families, Adoptflorida.org
• Amy Garvin-Liddell, program manager of adoptions, Children’s Home Society of Florida
• Josh Kolkana, director of Homes of Hope & Villages of Hope, Place of Hope


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Related resources

    • Parenting

    Florida Department of Children & Families

    Explore Adoption – urges families to consider creating or expanding their families by adopting a child who is older, has special needs, or is a part of a sibling group. Learn more about children available for adoption in their home state and community.

    800-962-3678 Website
    • Parenting

    Children's Home Society of Florida

    Adoption – Children's Home Society helps Florida families adopt children through the state system, as well as privately. The agency provides orientation, training, home studies and more.

    561-868-4300 Website
    • Other
    • Parenting

    Place of Hope

    A faith-based, state-licensed children’s organization based in Palm Beach Gardens providing family-style foster care; family outreach and intervention; maternity care; safety for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking; transitional housing and support services for youth aging out of foster care; housing and support services for homeless families; foster care recruitment and support; support for children and families traumatized by abuse and neglect

    561-775-7195 Website