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To adopt, one must go through a legal adoption proceeding which results in a Court-issued official Order wherein a new relationship of parent and child comes into existence.
There are several paths which may be available for adoption. Within the United States, one may take the path of independent (private) adoption or agency adoption. There are different procedures in either situation, and one must analyze which procedure is most comfortable and desirable to undertake. If adopting through an agency, it is required that the agency be approved and licensed by New York State. Such approval by New York State is necessary even if the agency is licensed outside of New York.
Based upon circumstances, one may be interested in bringing about step-parent adoption, which may occur when an individual, living with or married to the biological parent, seeks to adopt the stepchild or children. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, the consent of the second biological parent may or may not be necessary.
One may also look into adoption initiated by foster care. Not all foster care situations end in adoption.
Finally, one may look to adopt internationally. In this situation, one should seek out an adoption agency with sound credentials and with appropriate affiliations with a country in which one is seeking to adopt. Presently international adoptions have slowed down dramatically, and some countries have put a halt to international adoption.
The adoption laws of New York State are very positive, always looking to serve and protect the best interests of the child, but at the same time protecting a birth parent, as well as those individuals seeking to adopt. Restrictions in the law are prescribed to serve the interests of all concerned. The cost of adoption should not be overly burdensome, and payment of expenses to a birth parent should be approved by the Court.
Those who may adopt may be married or single, gay or lesbian, and heterosexual individuals or couples living together although unmarried.
Although the general procedure is that residents of New York can and do process the adoption in the New York Court, if a child to be adopted resides out of state, one must also process the placement of the child through the Interstate Compact of New York State and the Sister State where the child is born or resides.
Before one may take custody of a child, the individual(s) must be certified through the New York Courts and found to be a suitable person(s) to take custody of the child. Whether private or agency adoption, this will entail a home study by a certified social worker, a criminal record check, and child abuse clearance. A record involving criminality will not in and of itself bring about a denial of certification.
In taking custody and going forward with an adoption where the child is under 18 years of age, it is necessary to have appropriate consents of the birth parent(s) and/or a termination of biological parental rights.
The adoption is processed in either the Family Court or Surrogate’s Court in the county in which the adoptive parents reside. Upon finalization of the adoption, there will be issued an Order of Adoption which, among other things, will provide for the new name of the child. Thereafter, the original birth certificate will be sealed, and a new birth certificate will be issued naming the adoptive parent(s) as the parent(s) of the child, and the birth parent shall be relieved of all parental duties and shall have no rights over such adoptive child.
To the extend that surrogacy and adoption are related, it should be noted presnetly that surrogate parenting agreements have been declared contrary to the public policy of New York State, and are therefore void and unenforceable.
Although adoption law may appear simple in theory, there are many technicalities involved, and those contemplating adoption should consider obtaining appropriate information and counsel.
The information provided by the Nassau County Bar Association is not meant to serve as specific legal advice for a particular situation or as a substitute for consultation with a lawyer. If you require the services of a lawyer, you may call the Nassau County Lawyer Referral Service at (516) 747-4832, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.nassaubar.org.