Support Groups - In addition to services and counselors, support groups are a great way to learn from other families that have likely experienced what you are experiencing. Adoption support groups can be found in most communities. Find a support group near you.
Support for the Entire Family - Adoption Competent Mental Health Therapists
Professional help can be found in many places. Licensed Mental Health Professionals in your community who have completed Adoption Competency training specialize in helping adoptive families. Therapy for a child who has experienced trauma should be in a family setting, with the therapist providing the parent(s) the tools. Children who have experienced trauma will heal in a family setting. Find an Adoption Competent Mental Health Professional in your community.
Post Adoption Services Counselors - There also are Post Adoption Services Counselors throughout the state in every Community Based Care Lead Agency who can help you and your family. All families need help at some point in their lives, whether big or small. Unfortunately, many adoptive parents do not request post adoption services for many months or even years after a problem arises. Many times additional support is needed during the teen years because many teens “start wondering about their birth families”. Locate a Post Adoption Services Counselor.
Behavior - Sometimes as children grow up they do not make the most informed or “best” decision for themselves, which can result in negative consequences. Visit the Department of Juvenile Justice website to find a variety of resources and supports for parents.
Relationships in Adoption
Lifebook - Often times children who have been adopted want to remember adults that were significant to them from prior relationships – foster parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. A great way to do this is through a life book. Many biological children have “scrapbooks” of pictures of them from birth to their present, while children in foster care do not. A lifebook helps to document a child’s past and celebrate the wonderful times in their lives. This allows the family to honor the child’s life, one day and one event at a time. For more information please visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway, Sample Lifebooks.
Sharing Your Family’s Adoption Story - Adoption is very personal and can be difficult to share with others – family, friends, or strangers. Take time to talk to your adopted child(ren) to know what they feel comfortable telling people in each of these situations, and remember, this is their life story. If the child doesn’t want to share anything – that is ok. Know that their feelings might change in a few years when they are older.
It is important to keep in mind that people are naturally curious about how families come together, but do not always know the appropriate way to ask. Redirecting/rewording their question as well as setting boundaries can help the person to know the appropriate way to ask.
If you adopted your child(ren) at an early age it is better to tell them sooner rather than later that they are adopted. Adopted children who do not find out that they were adopted until their teens or adult life will often feel hurt and betrayed by their adoptive parents/family because they were not told sooner. With all of the social media that exists a biological family member could reach out to your child to learn about his/her life.
Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway for resources and articles that discuss sharing your adoption story and find tips on how to tell your child that they are adopted.
Post Communication Agreement - Sometimes children who are adopted want to remain in contact with their biological family members. When it’s safe for the child, it can be healthy for them to have an ongoing relationship with biological siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. It is important that any agreement made between the adopting family and the biological family is included in the adoption finalization paperwork. There are many ways a child can stay in contact with his or her biological family through visits, letters, phone calls, emails, etc. As a parent it’s important to remember that a sibling relationship is often the longest relationship people have throughout their life. Sibling relationships will change over time, so be aware that they will behave differently as they grow and develop.
504 Plan - The 504 Plan is part of the Rehabilitation Act which prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities. The 504 plan creates methods for the school to support a student’s education. Once a student becomes eligible, a team will write a plan that can be used to support the student during the school day.
McKay Scholarships - McKay Scholarships have provided thousands of Florida students with special needs the opportunity to attend a private school. The McKay scholarship is for eligible K-12 students with disabilities to attend a public or private school of their choice. Visit McKay Scholarship Program FAQs for more information.
Individual Educational Plan (IEP) - An Individual Education Plan provides a description of the special education needs for a student and provides support to fulfill the education needs described in the IEP. Post adoption services counselors can participate in the meetings to support your child. For more information please review the Developing Quality Individual Educational Plans.
Post Secondary and Vocational Education - Florida's children adopted from care are eligible for free tuition at any Florida state university, community college or vocational school in Florida up until age 28 for their Bachelor’s degree. Additionally, some Florida private institutions of higher learning will provide free tuition for children who have been adopted from foster care. Contact your Post Adoption Services Counselor for more information.
Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) - The 2011 Florida Legislature established the Florida Medicaid Program as a statewide, integrated managed care program for all covered services, including long-term care services. Some of the services covered are Medical supplies, equipment, prostheses, orthoses, mental health services, and Physician services, including physician assistant services and many more. For more information regarding MMA and its services please visit the Florida Medicaid Program and Children's Medical Services web sites. If you have a concern or complaint regarding your plan or services, please submit your complaint using the Florida Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program Complaint Form.
Children’s Medical Services (CMS) - Children’s Medical Services has a variety of programs that serve children with special needs. The programs include: Health Services - for eligible infants, children, adolescents, and young adults who have on-going physical or behavioral conditions; Child Protection & Safety - for infants, children, and adolescents who have been alleged to be abused or neglected; Child & Family Information - for families seeking information about parenting, family care and support, and overall well-being of your child; Early Intervention / Child Development - for eligible young children whose development is behind their peers and the families of those children; and Newborn Screening - for expectant parents and parents of newborn babies. Each program provides benefits to help families and using statewide of special qualified doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals. More information can be found at the Children's Medical Services web site.
Early Steps - Early Steps is Florida's early intervention system that offers services to eligible infants and toddlers (birth to thirty-six months) with significant delays or a condition likely to result in a developmental delay. Early Intervention is provided to support families and caregivers in developing the competence and confidence to help their child learn and develop. Find more information at the Florida's Early Steps System web site.
Children with Disabilities - Being a parent of a child with disabilities is not easy. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) serves Floridians with: Autism, Cerebral palsy, Spina bifida, Intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Children age 3-5 who are at a high risk of a developmental disability. Use the Resource Directory from APD to find resources in your area.
Financial Assistance (Subsidy) - Most children adopted from foster care are eligible for “Florida’s Adoption Assistance Program” which provides cash assistance to help offset the cost of raising the child(ren) until he/she turns 18 years old. Specific subsidy information for Florida can be found at the Florida State Subsidy Profile portion of the North American Council on Adoptable Children web site.
Reimbursement for Expenses - The Department of Children and Families is authorized to reimburse up to $1,000 in nonrecurring expenses related to the adoption of a child which have been incurred by the adoptive parents. For purposes of this subsection, “nonrecurring expenses” means one-time expenses, such as attorney’s fees, court costs, birth certificate fees, travel expenses, agency fees, and physical examination fees. Visit Florida's Adoption Assistance Program web site for more information.
Tax Credit - Adopted children may be eligible for an adoption tax credit, which is based on the year that the adoption was finalized. Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses can be used to figure the amount of your adoption credit. Please note that the law changes from year to year. More information can also be found at the Federal Adoption Tax Credit portion of the North American Council on Adoptable Children web site.
Federal Application for Student Financial Aid (FASFA) - Children adopted from foster care at the age of thirteen or older, are given special consideration when applying for student financial loans or grants. Submit a free application for federal student aid at the FASFA web site.
Ways to Contribute to OCOC
Every child deserves a forever, permanent home and family. You can make a difference - a child is waiting for adoption or foster care in Florida.
Our Partnership Program provides opportunities for businesses, organizations and individuals to join with OCOC in lending support to families.
Please consider donating your time and experience with us. Opportunities vary throughout the state but we can use any services you have to offer.