Adoption

The following information is an overview of the information you need to know if you are considering adoption. To put the process in motion, please contact our law office for additional advice and legal representation.

There are two types of adoptions in New York State: agency adoptions of children who are already in the care of the state through a foster care agency or private adoption agency and private placement adoptions, where there is an agreement between the child's biological parents and the prospective adoptive parents.. Both types are regulated by state laws and the adoption must be approved by a court before it becomes official.

Adoptions can be open, where the adoptive parents will have ongoing contact with the birth parent or parents throughout, and after the adoption takes place; semi-open,where the adoptive parents will have limited communication with the birth parent(s), such as receiving photographs and letters; and closed, where there is no contact with the birth parent(s) before,during or after the birth of the child. In New York State since 2019, adoptees can obtain their original birth certificates when they turn 18 years old, and find out the names of their birth parents. Prior to this,adoption and birth records records were sealed to protect the privacy of parents who gave up their children for adoption.

The legal process of adopting a child can take at least six months from the time of the application before a child is placed in the home, and it will take at least three to twelve months after that before the adoption is finalized in court.

Prospective adoptive parents must follow these basic procedures in the adoption process in New York State -

1. Choose and licensed adoption agency.

2.Submit the application to adopt the child to the agency.. This application includes information on the parents' background, family composition and the number of people living in the family home. This information is necessary to ensure that the child is placed with a family most able to meet the child's needs. The agency will then check to determine if the parents or any person over 18 years old who resides in the home has a criminal background or has previously abused a child.

3. Complete the homestudy process conducted by the agency. This is an essential part of the adoption that helps the parents decide whether they are ready to adopt, and allows the agency to find out more about the prospective adoptive parents and place the child in their care.

4. Attend agency sponsored adoptive parent training. This training provides skills and knowledge needed when adopting a child, and helps parents understand the needs of adopted children.

5.Work with a caseworker to find an appropriate match. The caseworker's task in the matching process is to identify the child's needs and parenting skills and capacities of the adopters, and weigh up how the needs of the child can be met by the prospective adopters. The caseworker investigates the adoptive parents' home and background to make sure that it is appropriate for the child. This is required for the court to certify that the prospective parents are approved to take temporary custody of the child.

6. Visit with the child. After the agency decides that a child is ready to meet the prospective adoptive parents, the parents and child can then meet.up, either in the agency, in the home where the child lives or in the adoptive parent's home. Visits start as short meetings,increasing in length as the parents and child become acquainted.

7.Bring the child home.

8. Complete at least three months of supervision. Adoption does not become official the day a child is placed with the adoptive parents. The law mandates that agencies supervise families for three months after placement before the adoption becomes legal to allow the agency to ensure that the family and child are comfortable together and that the family can meet the child's needs. During this period, a caseworker will visit the family on a regular basis to provide support and assistance.

9. Finalize the adoption in Family court. After three months, if the placement is deemed successful, the agency will consent to the family's petition to adopt. The petition to adopt is filed in Family Court, and when all agency papers have been submitted, the adoption is finalized and the parents assume full legal rights and obligations for the child's care.

Before adopting a child, it is essential that the prospective adoptive parents try to obtain as much medical information on the child as possible, including

1. age, ethnic background, education,height,weight and medical condition of the birth parents.

2. Diseases or medical conditions that run in the child's family.

3.The health of the siblings.

4. Information on whether the birth mother drank alcohol, smoked or used drugs during the pregnancy, used any prescription or over the counter medications during pregnancy, had any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that might affect the child's health,or had any problems during pregnancy, labor or delivery.

5. The child's weight,length and head circumference measurements at and since birth.

6. Any medical problems that the child has had.

7. The results of any medical tests that the child has had.

8.The child's development in relation to standard age milestones, such as sitting up,walking or talking.

9. Information about the child'scare since birth.

10. Any physical, sexual or emotional abuse of the child.

FOREIGN ADOPTIONS:

The vast majority of foreign adoptions are accomplished through international adoption agencies. The agency helps to determine which country to adopt from and the specific legal requirements for adoption in that country. The Hague Convention governs the international adoption process,by setting forth various rules and regulations to protect the interests ot the adoptive parents and child.

In order to ensure that the child obtains US citizenship, it will be necessary for the adoptive parents to re-adopt the child in New York upon arrival back in the United States, when a court with jurisdiction over adoption matters enters an order of adoption in favor of the adoptive parents who previously adopted their child outside the United States. At least one of the adoptive parents must be a US citizen.

A major drawback in adopting a foreign child is that the adoptive parents will receive little or no information as to the child's medical history and background, and will probably never meet the birth parents..