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New Florida adoption law focuses on best interest of children

It seems to be human nature to want to protect children from harm, especially when those children are particularly vulnerable. Because adoption hearings are held privately, people in Florida may have taken for granted that the law was looking out for children. However, every year more than a dozen children have been adopted by people whose parental abilities were questioned by child advocates. Those advocates are now rejoicing that a new law may provide more protection for children whose futures are uncertain.

The Child's Best Hope Act takes effect this month. This law gives judges more discretion in considering the welfare of children when the wishes of birth parents are suspect. Most often, the law will be dealing with parents who are incarcerated for violent crimes -- including the abuse or murder of the child's other parent -- and who wish to relinquish their parental rights to someone of their own choosing.

In one case, a woman was brutally murdered by her boyfriend while her 2-year-old son lay next to her. Instead of allowing the woman's parents to adopt the child, the boyfriend -- from his cell -- arranged for his own parents to adopt the boy. In another case, a traumatized toddler was placed with foster parents who coaxed her back to health for over a year with the hope of adopting her. The child's incarcerated father then gave custody to his own mother, and the court had to concede.

Before the new law, if one parent murdered the other, relatives of the murdered parent had no legal claim to the children. The Child's Best Hope Act allows judges to consider all factors when making decisions about who should adopt children. People in Florida desiring to adopt a child can now have more confidence that the best interests of the child are being considered. To find help in achieving that goal, they may contact an experienced attorney who will guide them through the complex process of adoption.

Source: orlandosentinel.com, "New law aimed at keeping accused felons from influencing adoptions", Kate Santich, July 2, 2016

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