If you live in The Sunshine State and you’re contemplating adoption as your path to becoming a parent, you’ve come to the right place. Chances are, you’ve been surfing the web and feeling a bit overwhelmed at all of the choices. The Sunshine State alone has so many options for adoption—so we’re here to break it down for you and tell you about an adoption agency that serves many regions in Florida—including the Cocoa Beach, Florida, region. Becoming quickly overwhelmed in your quest for an adoption agency is completely understandable. Google “adoption” or “adoption in Florida” or “Florida adoption agencies” or “adoption agencies in Cocoa Beach,” and you’ll immediately see what we mean! All of us who are parents through adoption have been there, done that. And we want to help you—now—to get the answers you’re seeking, so you can take the first steps toward adopting your child(ren) and forming your family. We hope that this Q&A format will help you find the right adoption path for YOU—and will help you make the decisions that will determine your future role as a parent.

What is an adoption agency? Do I have to use one?

An adoption agency is an organization that serves as an intermediary between adoptive parents and birth parents. The agency facilitates adoptions and serves both parties. This is an important distinction. Think of adoption agencies as a sort of “the Switzerland of adoption.” That is, a neutral third party that acts in the best interests of the child and advocates for both the birth parents and the adoptive parents to ensure that a safe, mutually agreeable adoption plan is made on behalf of the child. The ultimate and most important factor in the work that an adoption agency does is keeping the child safe and his or her best interests at the top of the priority list in terms of matching the child with a family and selecting the most perfect placement possible.

You don’t have to use an adoption agency, but there are many advantages to doing so. Using an agency is highly recommended. It takes the guesswork out of the process. One major plus is that the agency tells you exactly what to do when to do it, what paperwork/documents are needed, and the order in which you should perform the steps in the adoption process. For many prospective parents—most of whom are working full-time jobs—this service is key. A good agency stays in constant contact with you. They send email reminders and make follow-up phone calls. They give you checklists and deadlines and educational resources. They offer you perks such as waiting parent support group meetings, online reading materials that have been vetted by seasoned social workers and other experts. They offer consistency even after adoption through post-adoption support. And much more. It’s a huge comfort to overwhelmed prospective parents (and, it is SO EASY to get overwhelmed during the adoption process) to have a seasoned professional quite literally holding their hand throughout the journey. One such Florida agency is Adoption by Shepherd Care.

What is Adoption by Shepherd Care (ASC)? How is it different from other agencies?

Our Florida-based agency “has been providing competent and compassionate adoption services to birth parents, prospective adoptive parents, and children in need of a forever family since 1980.” ASC is licensed through the Florida Department of Children and Families. We are Hague accredited (this is applicable and important for those adopting internationally; ASC has a Colombia adoption component) and is a member of the National Council for Adoption, the Council on Accreditation, and the Florida Adoption Council. (See ASC’s complete list of accreditations, affiliations, and memberships here.) With more than 35 years of working with birth parents making adoption plans in the state of Florida, we have established an impeccable and esteemed reputation among families in Florida and throughout the United States. “When a family signs up for one of our adoption programs, we don’t take it lightly. We know their names and their situation. We will take their calls, answer their questions, and be available both now and for years down the road . . . . To us at ASC, you are not a case or a file—you are a person.” Our Executive Director, Joseph Sica, explains that “This may be surprising, but I believe one of the main qualities that allow our small agency to do such a significant amount of quality work is our staff’s attention to detail. They are continuously educating themselves, thinking things through, and researching to be ready for the next phone call, the next question, the next situation we are involved in. They are caring, committed, and stand ready to serve you.”

How did ASC come to be?

Founded in 1980 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency, our main program areas include comprehensive services to expectant parents who are making an adoption plan for their child, domestic adoption services, an international adoption program in Colombia, and other services (including domestic and Hague-approved international home studies, post-adoption supervision, and pre-arranged adoption services. For more information on the history of the agency, go to our About Us page

What should I be looking for in an adoption agency? How do I choose?

ASC has a wonderful write-up about this very topic at Adopción Doméstica. Because we don’t want to recreate the wheel, please refer to this article for details on all the quantifiable information you’ll need to be considering in order to make an informed decision—by “quantifiable,” we mean concrete, measurable things like fees, waiting times, accreditations, and more. You can also order a free informational packet from us as well.

What about post-placement services?

Florida requires that there be a supervisory period, during which time all parties ensure that the placement is the right fit and is appropriate for the child and his or her new family. The Florida supervisory period is 90 days from the day of placement. During this time, it is required that at least three post-placement supervisory visits occur, and detailed status reports are written. Adoption by Shepherd Care can provide such services. ASC believes that the post-placement period is a focal part of the adoption and parenting process. “Our team is committed to helping guide families as they parent children from difficult places, providing the support they need to ensure successful placements. One of ASC’s goals is permanency for children, and we seek to fulfill this goal with each family.”

Links/Resources/For Further Reading

For those who are pregnant and looking for support, get a free adoption guide and planner. Learn about how you can receive medical and financial support, transportation, housing, and counseling. Read the stories of real birth mothers, in their own words. Get employment and childcare resources.

For those interested in adopting internationally, get a free international adoption packet. Learn about our Colombia adoption program as well as about ways to finance your adoption. Discover the dossier. See photo listings of waiting children.

For those interested in ASC’s summer hosting program, we can send you our free informational packet. Learn about why it’s important to get involved as a host family for a visiting child in the summer and the steps you can take to be an integral part of this successful summer hosting program.

For those interested in adopting in the United States, we have a free informational packet. Learn about domestic adoption and ASC’s adoption services and how to market your family in order to be matched with a child. Educate yourself on the financing behind adoption. Learn about pre-arranged adoptions (e.g., relatives, stepparents, agency-independent adoption plans), post-placement services, the adoption process, and how to choose an agency.

And, most important, check out our Blog for some inspirational stories and helpful facts on All Things Adoption.

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