How to Adopt in New York

As a hopeful adoptive parent or pregnant mother considering adoption in the Empire State, you may feel overwhelmed by adoption processes, laws and qualifications. If you live in New York City, Buffalo, or anywhere else in the state, read on to learn how to adopt or place a child for adoption in New York.

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Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in New York

Every state has adoption laws regulating many aspects of the adoption process, from who can adopt to allowable adoption expenses. The following guidelines provide information on basic laws and guidelines for adopting in New York.

What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in New York?

Single adults and married couples jointly may adopt in New York. Unmarried adult intimate partners may adopt jointly.

An adult married person who is legally separated from his or her spouse or who has been living separately from his or her spouse for at least three years may adopt. However, the adopted child will not be the child or stepchild of the nonadopting spouse.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in New York?

Adoptive parents may make the following payments in New York:

  • Reasonable and actual medical and hospital fees related to the birth of the child
  • Necessary expenses incurred by the mother in connection with the pregnancy or birth
  • Reasonable and actual nursing, medical and hospital fees for the care of the child
  • Reasonable and actual expenses for the birth mother’s housing, maternity clothing, clothing for the child, and transportation

Living expenses may be paid within 60 days before birth and up to 30 days after birth, unless the court finds that there are exceptional circumstances.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in New York?

Foster parents in New York must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be in good physical and mental health
  • Provide references
  • Complete the New York home study

More information about foster care requirements in New York is available through the Office of Children and Family Services.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in New York?

When the adoption has been finalized in the child’s birth country, the adoptive parents may petition the court in their county for the re-adoption of the child.

A birth certificate will be prepared when proof is submitted to the commissioner that the child has been validly adopted by residents of New York pursuant to a judgement or decree issued by a court in New York, another state or a foreign country.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in New York?

The use of advertisement in adoption is not addressed in New York statutes. No organization except an authorized agency may place a child. This does not restrict or limit the right of a parent, legal guardian or relative to place a child for adoption.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in New York

New York as several laws in place to protect birth parents’ rights throughout the adoption process. If you are considering adoption for your child, it is important to understand the basic rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in New York.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

In a private placement, consent may be executed or acknowledged before any New York judge having jurisdiction over adoption proceedings. In a case in which consent is not executed or acknowledged before a judge, the consent will be executed or acknowledged before a notary public or other officer authorized to take proof of deeds.

In a foster care adoption, the consent must be executed before a judge of the family court.

Who must consent to the adoption?

Consent to the adoption is required from:

  • The parents or surviving parent of a child conceived or born in wedlock
  • The mother of a child born out of wedlock
  • The father of a child born out of wedlock who is at least six months old when placed for adoption, but only if the father has maintained substantial and continuous contact with the child
  • The father of a child born out of wedlock who is less than six months old when placed for adoption, but only if the father:
  • Openly lived with the child or the child’s mother for at least six consecutive months immediately prior to placement
  • Openly held himself out to be the father of the child during this period
  • Paid a fair and reasonable sum for the medical, hospital and nursing expenses incurred in connection with the pregnancy or birth
  • Any person or authorized agency having lawful custody of the child
  • The child, if he or she is at least 14 years old, unless the judge dispenses with that consent
  • When is parental consent not needed in New York?

    Consent is not required of any parent or person having custody of the child:

    • Who fails for a period of six months to visit and communicate with the child, although able to do so
    • Who has surrendered the child to an authorized agency
    • Whose child has been appointed a guardian
    • Who, by reason of mental illness or insufficient mental capacity, is presently and for the foreseeable future unable to properly care for the child
    • Who has executed an irrevocable instrument denying paternity of the child

    When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

    A judicial consent is irrevocable upon execution or acknowledgment. An extrajudicial consent is irrevocable 45 days after execution. The revocation will go into effect only if the adoptive parents fail to oppose the revocation or if the court determines that revocation is in the best interests of the child.

    What rights does the father of the baby have in New York adoptions?

    The Department of Social Services has established a putative father registry that records the names and addresses of:

    • Any man adjudicated by a New York court to be the father of a child born out of wedlock
    • Any many who has filed with the registry, before or after the birth of a child born out of wedlock, a notice of intent to claim paternity
    • Any man adjudicated by a court of another state or territory to be the father of a child born out of wedlock, where a certified copy of the court order has been filed with the registry
    • Any man who has filed with the registry an instrument acknowledging paternity

    A man may also establish paternity by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity with the child’s mother and witnessed by two nonrelatives.

    Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in New York

    One of the most important steps for prospective adoptive and foster parents in New York is the home study. The home study determines whether prospective parents are able to provide a safe, nurturing home to a child. The following section answers common questions about the New York home study process.

    What is included in the New York home study process?

    The New York home study must include the following:

    • A report of a physical exam conducted within one year regarding the family’s general health
    • Inquiry into the applicant’s experience with children and training to strengthen his or her experience and knowledge in this area
    • Checks with the State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment and checks of out-of-state registries if a member of the household lived in another state any time during the past five years
    • Fingerprint-based state and federal criminal history record checks for all adult members of the household

    Who is included in the home study process?

    The applicant and any adults residing in the applicant’s home must be included in the home study.

    Who will conduct the home study?

    The home study must be made by a disinterested person qualified by training and experience to examine the allegations set forth in the application. This includes a licensed master social worker, licensed clinical social worker, the probation service of the family court, or an authorized agency specifically designated by the court to conduct pre-placement investigations.

    On what grounds will the home study not be approved in New York?

    The home study will not be approved if current alcohol or drug abuse is found. The agency must deny an adoption application when a criminal history record of the adoptive parent reveals child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against a child (including child pornography) or a crime involving violence (including rape, sexual assault or homicide). The application will be denied if the parent has a felony conviction within the past five years for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense.

    In addition, the agency may deny an application when a criminal history record of the adoptive parent or any adult in the home reveals a charge or conviction of any crime.

    If the applicant is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment, the agency must determine on the basis of the information it has available whether to approve the application.

    When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?

    The home study must be completed and approved prior to placement.

    What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for New York?

    For an adoptive child under age 18, the adoption will not be finalized until three months after the adoption petition has been filed. A post-placement investigation will be made by a disinterested person, and a report will be submitted to the court within 30 days.

    The post-placement investigation will include information about:

    • The parents’ and child’s marital and family status and history
    • The physical and mental health of the family and child
    • The adoptive parents’ property and income
    • Payments made in connection with the adoption
    • Any involvement of either parent in any proceeding concerning allegedly abused, neglected, abandoned or delinquent children
    • Any other circumstances relevant to the determination of adoption

    What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in New York?

    The home study is not required when the adoption petition is filed by a stepparent for a stepchild who has resided with the birth parent and stepparent for at least one year.

    What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?

    All interstate adoptive placements must comply with the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

    What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?

    When a child is in the foster parents’ care for 12 continuous months and has been freed for adoption, the authorized agency will offer an adoption application to the foster parents or refer them to an authorized agency that operates an adoption program. The agency must assess and prepare foster parent adoptive applicants as follows:

    • Review the information about the family obtained in the original foster home study and annual recertification
    • Identify information needed in an adoption home study that was lacking or insufficient
    • Identify those areas of family functioning that may need further exploration or strengthening
    • Conduct an adoption study process that:
    • Does not repeat information gathering activities
    • Obtains additional or updated information, including criminal history record checks
    • Focuses on areas identified as needing further exploration or strengthening
    • Clarifies the difference between foster care and adoption and the issues involved in obtaining an adoption subsidy
    • Includes an inquiry into whether the applicant or other adult resident of the home is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment

    To start the home study process, contact one of these trusted New York home study providers:

    • Dr. Judith S. Lee, LCSW
      212-957-3938
      Dr. Judith S. Lee, LCSW provides home studies, home study updates and post-placement supervision reports for New York State residents.
    • Adoptions from the Heart
    • 1-800-355-5500
      Adoptions From the Heart (AFTH) provides home study services for all types of adoption.

    New York Adoption Professionals

    For more information about adoption in New York or to begin the adoption process, contact one of these local adoption professionals:

    For more information about foster care in New York, visit the Office of Children and Family Services.

    Things to do in New York

    Whether you find yourself in the Empire State for visits with prospective birth parents or you’re waiting for ICPC approval, here are a few fun places for adoptive families to visit in New York:

    More information about traveling to New York is available at www.iloveny.com.