How are adoptions done in New York?

baby-boy-1281127-sA single adult, a married couple or two adult intimate, even unmarried, partners together may adopt according to the New York Domestic Relations law.  Adoptions can be done through an authorized agency or by private placement including step parent, adult and foster parent adoptions.  Anyone that needs more information on the topic should consult with a New York or Long Island Family Law attorney to learn about their rights.  My office happens to handle such cases.

Petitions for adoptions can be filed in the Surrogates   Court or a New York Family Court.  The petition should include the names, addresses, age, marital status, religious faith (if applicable), and occupations of the proposed adoptive parents.  Similar background information about the adoptive child needs to be submitted, as well as the health and medical history of the child at birth and thereafter.  Known hereditary illnesses or conditions including any drugs or prescriptions taken by the biological mother while she was pregnant with the child should be disclosed.  Care should be taken to include any supplemental information that might have bearing on the child’s well-being including any special skills, hobbies or interests of the parents.  This kind of information can help make a court feel more comfortable about the adoption.  In the final analysis, a court needs to feel that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.

The birth certificate of the subject child should be attached to the application.  The petitioning parents will need to set forth when and how it is that the child came to be with the adoptive parent(s).  Information about the other members of the household in which the child will be living needs to be disclosed.  Anyone having legal custody of the child should be stated in the petition including their addresses.  If possible, a consent form from the birth or legal parents should be included with the application, however, consent is not always required under Domestic Relations Law Section 111 in situations such as when a parent has surrendered their child to an appropriate agency or a parent that has indicated an intent to forego their parental rights.  The consent of a child over fourteen years of age is usually necessary for the adoption.  The court reviewing the adoption application can determine whether consent is necessary for each specific case.

Notice needs to given to everyone entitled to know about the proposed adoption under the law.  Personal service of notice may be dispensed with by the court when with reasonable effort that person can not be served.  People entitled to notice can include, but not be limited to, the legal parents, guardians, a person that has filed a notice of intent to have his paternity declared, a person that has filed an acknowledgment of paternity, someone that the mother has sworn in a written instrument to be the father, or anyone that was married to the mother within six months after the birth of the child.

Once notice is given, the required consents submitted, and the application otherwise complete, in a private placement adoption for a child, the court will require an investigation.  The investigation should be performed by someone with the requisite experience and background to provide the court with the pertinent information to consider the propriety of the adoption.  Social workers and psychologists commonly perform such investigations for the court.  Once the investigation is complete and a report furnished to the court, the court needs to determine that the adoption is in the best interests of the child.  As with most New York family law matters, the best interests of the child is the most important and controlling standard to consider.

Whether someone is considering a step parent, foster parent, adult, agency or private placement adoption, it is advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process.  Anyone interested in discussing an adoption can feel free to call my office for a free initial consultation.  It would be my pleasure to speak with you about your situation.