Every adoptive parent has a unique journey when it comes to growing their family. Jeanne Tate, Tampa’s 2021 “Lawyer of the Year” in Family Law, has built a storied career that has impacted the lives of families for almost four decades. Tate believes that she received this recent recognition not solely due to one accomplishment, but from the many years of work dedicated to adoption and surrogacy. As the managing partner of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A. and board-certified adoption attorney, she has mentored many lawyers in this field and even hired six of them to work with her.

Though Tate has handled many different cases throughout her career, one stands out for its lasting impact.

“We have been involved with adoption appeals in every district court in Florida, at the Florida Supreme Court, and at the United States Supreme Court, and each of those has made an indelible imprint on my mind,” she explains. “The most memorable case, however, has to be Heart of Adoptions, Inc. v. JA, a Florida Supreme Court case that outlined in fairly certain terms how adoptions must be handled. There is a tremendous need for stability and predictability when making placement decisions, so we are grateful for that contribution to our legal jurisprudence in Florida.” 

Family is one of the biggest influences on an individual’s life, and there are strong feelings that result from facilitating a successful adoption.

“Having the opportunity to help children find families and help adoptive couples complete their family dreams is the most rewarding aspect of practicing in the adoption arena,” Tate said. “At times I feel like we are doing God’s work, especially when we are able to help a severely disabled or special-needs child find forever parents.”

But as in all areas of the law, family law matters—and adoption cases specifically—can often present emotionally charged and challenging situations.

“Contested adoptions bring the biggest set of challenges to our practice because adoptive couples and birth parents struggle—as do we—in dealing with the possibility that an adoption plan might be overturned,” Tate said.

Although there are difficulties that come with the job, Tate says that with dedication to the right aspects of the profession, there are rewards that follow.

“Great attorneys have an unyielding dedication to the highest standard of ethics, are highly competent, remain devoted to the best interest of the clients, and earn the respect of their peers, the community, and the judiciary,” she said.