Frequently Asked Questions

The Florida Statutes govern the requirements for adoptions in the state of Florida. If you currently reside in another state, the answers to the following questions may differ, because each state has its own set of adoption laws.

What is a board certified adoption attorney?

Adoption law board certification provides a necessary and important protection for birth mothers and adoptive parents.  It distinguishes attorneys who have special knowledge, skills and proficiency in adoption law along with superior professionalism and ethics in their practice.  Certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar.

The certification of adoption attorneys also allows the public to differentiate those attorneys who are expertly skilled in the area of adoption law from lawyers who do not understand the unique complexities of the adoption statute.  Florida adoption laws have changed almost every year over the last decade, and what once was a simpler, form-based process now requires an experienced, specialized, intuitive approach to the complicated statutory framework.  Board certified adoption attorneys are experts in this area and, as such, are thoroughly conversant with the adoption statute.

Brian T. Kelly is one of the first attorneys in the state of Florida to become board certified in adoption law by the Florida Bar.

There are only 17 board certified adoption attorneys in the state, three that practice in Duval County, including Brian and his partner, Michael A. Shorstein.  These board certified attorneys are the only Florida lawyers allowed to identify or advertise themselves as specialists or experts in the field of adoption law.

Does the birth mother have to pay legal fees or expenses?

No. All fees and expenses, including medical expenses, are paid by the prospective adoptive parents.

Does the birth mother have to live in, or move to, Florida to work with Brian Kelly?

No. If the birth mother lives in another state, efforts will be coordinated with an attorney or licensed child-placing agency in that state.

How much financial assistance can the birth mother receive?

Financial assistance is available for actual living and medical expenses during the term of the pregnancy and for a period after the child is born, not to exceed six weeks. Reasonable living expenses are rent, utilities, basic telephone service, toiletries, necessary clothing, transportation, insurance, and expenses found by the court to be necessary for the health and well-being of the birth mother and unborn child.

What if the birth mother is under the age of 18?

A birth mother under the age of 18 has the power to consent to the adoption of her child. It is not necessary to contact her parents or other family members. A parent 14 years or younger must have a parent, legal guardian, or court-appointed guardian ad litem to assist and advise the parent as to the adoption plan.

Can the birth mother choose the adoptive parents?

Yes. Birth mothers are encouraged to specify the characteristics of the family that she would like to raise her baby. Information will be provided about several families with similar characteristics requested. Birth mothers can speak with the adoptive family by telephone or in person prior to making a decision.

Can the birth mother see the baby after the birth?

Yes. The birth mother determines how much contact she would like to have with the baby. Some birth mothers desire to “room in” with the baby at the hospital, while others choose to have limited or no contact.

When does the birth mother sign the papers to terminate her rights?

After the birth of the child and before hospital discharge, the birth mother will sign the legal papers, which terminate her parental rights to the child. A consent for adoption, once signed, is binding and irrevocable.

When do the adoptive parents receive the baby?

Immediately. Many birth mothers request that the adoptive mother be present in the delivery room so that she can be with the baby from the moment of birth. The adoptive parents take the baby home from the hospital.

Can the birth mother receive pictures and updates after the baby is born?

Yes. The adoptive parents provide pictures and updates for a period of at least 18 years after the baby is born. The adoptive parents send them to Brian Kelly, who then forwards them to the birth mother.

How much does it cost to adopt?

There are several factors that determine the total cost of an adoption. For example, if a teenager is living at home with her parents, and has medical insurance, the costs will be low. On the other hand, if a birth mother does not have insurance or Medicaid and requires assistance with her living expenses, it will be more expensive.

Once a birth mother has selected the adoptive parents, a written estimate of the anticipated total cost of the adoption is provided.

Birth mother expenses and support may include medical care, counseling, living expenses, transportation, and other miscellaneous costs.

How do birth mothers learn about Brian Kelly?

There are multiple avenues used by birth mothers to get the help they need. Brian Kelly advertises to birth mothers (e.g., phone books, newspapers, periodicals and media); networks with medical providers, hospital social workers, and other professionals; receives referrals from prior birth mothers; and receives referrals from churches, agencies, and fellow attorneys.