I just don't know where to start with everything. Would I need a home study? Can't we just go through the courts and do everything on our own?
You will need a home study and the assistance of an adoption agency or attorney with experience in interstate adoption issues (there are very important steps to take). This is not something you can do "on your own". If you need a list of experienced adoption professionals in Florida, please feel free to contact me at www.adoptfla.com.
The first step would be for you to obtain a home study because the adoption of your cousin’s child does not qualify as a relative adoption in Florida. A home study is required for adoptive parents who are not related to the person being adopted within the third degree of consanguinity. Home studies are performed by licensed social workers or child placing agencies. Additionally, because this does not qualify as a relative adoption, you must utilize an attorney or agency to handle the adoption. This is not the type of case that you are permitted to handle on your own. Depending upon your city of residence, we are familiar with many home study providers and attorneys that can assist you for a very reasonable fee.
Next, you should contact an attorney who specializes in adoption law to determine your best course of action. In Florida, adoption is a complicated legal process and an attorney experienced in this area will be best served to help you and advise you. Florida is currently the only state which provides for board certification of adoption attorneys. Such certification allows the public to differentiate those lawyers who are proficient in the area of adoption law from those attorneys who may not understand the unique complexities of the adoption statute. If you do not know how to locate an adoption attorney in your area, feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or you may contact the Florida Bar, (850) 561-5600.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
I agree with the above, you will need an adoption attorney. This is not something that you can or should do on your own.
The above is for informational and educational purposes only, does not establish an attorney client relationship, and cannot be relied upon as legal advice. The only legal advice offered is to have this matter reviewed and discussed by a competent attorney of your own choice.