Have you considered becoming an adoptive parent in New York? Opening your home to a child in need of a family is one of the most generous yet fulfilling things you can do. Most adults 18 years old and older can adopt here in the Empire State. This includes people who are single, married, LGBTQ+, straight, childless, parents, homeowners, and renters.
If you’re thinking about adopting, you may be wondering what the adoption process looks like in New York. In this blog, The Mandel Law Firm explores the key aspects of a New York adoption and what to expect when you apply.
Applying to Adopt in New York
There are dozens of private and public adoption agencies throughout New York. Selecting the right agency is a crucial decision because it is challenging to change agencies after the adoption process starts.
Once you have chosen an agency, your next step is to submit an adoption application. You will need to provide information about your background, family, household, and the type of child you feel prepared to adopt. Keep in mind that a criminal record or status as a non-citizen does not necessarily disqualify you from adopting, as long as you can provide a safe and stable home for a child.
If a child is under the legal guardianship of a local social services commissioner, there is no adoption fee, whether the agency is public or private. If a child is under the legal guardianship of a voluntary agency, income-based adoption fees may apply. However, agencies often waive adoption fees when parents adopt children with special needs.
Completing the Home Study and Training Processes
The home study is one of the most important steps in the adoption process. It can be intensive and time-consuming, but it’s meant to ensure the best interests of both adoptive children and adoptive parents. The home study is also prepared at no cost to you.
A home study consists of multiple training sessions, meetings, and home interviews with an agency caseworker. This process generally occurs within four months after you submit your initial application.
Most agencies will expect you to complete adoptive parent training, which is intended to help you understand the challenges of adoption, learn practical skills, and decide whether you are truly ready to adopt. After you complete the home study and training process, the caseworker will write a summary about your family and use it during the placement process.
Finding and Meeting an Adoptive Child
Once you have completed the home study and training, you will work with the agency to locate a child you feel suited to adopt. This process is more art than science, and each placement is decided on a case-by-case basis. The primary concern in all adoptions is promoting the child’s best interests, which includes your ability to maintain the child’s family connections.
Children can link up with prospective parents through Family Adoption Registry. In some cases, an agency can directly place a child with an adoptive family. But in many situations, different adoption agencies must work together to inquire about a waiting child. After the agency determines it is appropriate for prospective parents to meet a child, visitation can begin. Visits typically begin as brief meetings that increase in length as children and families get to know one another.
Placing the Child and Completing a Supervisory Period
If you and the child seem like a good fit, the agency will place the child in your home. However, keep in mind that placement is not the same as an official adoption.
Under state law, adoption agencies in New York must continue to supervise adoptive families for at least three months after placement. This mandatory waiting period gives you, the child, and the agency a chance to make sure everyone is comfortable together. However, exceptions may apply if you wish to adopt a child you have already been fostering.
Completing the Adoption Process in Court
After a successful supervisory period, the agency will approve your petition to adopt, and your next step is to finalize the adoption in court. The compassionate, skilled family law attorneys of The Mandel Law Firm can help you file and prepare your petition and represent you in court. Contact us today to learn more about how our New York adoption lawyers can assist you during a free initial consultation.