Adopting a child is a serious decision that requires a huge investment of money, emotion, and time. It is a hugely rewarding undertaking, but it should not be pursued lightly. Luckily, the law is designed to fairly well ensure that no prospective parents decide to adopt a child on the spur of the moment.
The costs of adoption (both in time and money) depend largely on the circumstances in which you decide to adopt. For example, a matter where a stepparent decides to adopt their stepchild will likely be relatively quick — all that is required is a background check and a home study, and then the judge will more than likely approve of the adoption, particularly if the stepparent has been raising the child without issue for several years.
If you decide to adopt a child another way — that is through a private agency or public adoption, there will be a longer wait to finalize the process. In New York, according to the Office of Children and Family Services, it may take up to six months from the day you apply until a child is actually placed in your home. But there are additional steps after that, which may extend the time period anywhere from three months to twelve months before the adoption is actually finalized in court.
The adoption process is fraught with paperwork and procedural steps that should be followed closely. For this reason, it is wise to seek counsel from a licensed attorney in your state. The adoption process usually begins with the parent choosing which adoption agency they wish to use. Some agencies specialize in foreign adoptions, which can cause adoptions to take even longer. Others specialize in domestic adoptions, or are part of the foster system through the state.
After deciding what kind of adoption to pursue, you must file an application for adoption. Once the application is submitted, the process kicks off, and the clock starts ticking. First, various background checks (including criminal checks) are performed. There will also be an inquiry into whether or not you have been involved with Child Services. If you pass all of these checks, and sometimes even if you don’t, you will proceed to the adoption home study. This usually happens within four months of your application. Do not be discouraged if you made some youthful indiscretions before you begin the adoption process; if your background check reveals some checkered past, the home study investigator may simply inquire further as to the facts and circumstances of your background.
Meanwhile, you will usually be expected to attend some form of parent training with whatever adoption agency you have chosen. Once all of this has been completed, your agent will work with you to place the right child with you and your family. Obviously, this is not an exact science, and this can be what takes the longest for the adoption to be finalized. Finally, once the child is successfully placed with your family, you will likely complete a number of post-placement visits. For example, New York State law requires that the adoption agency monitor and supervise the placement for no less than three months.
The appropriate petition, papers and order must be filed with the Court before it can actually be finalized. A lawyer can help expedite this process and ensure it is done correctly. A judge must still finalize the adoption, often soliciting testimony from the prospective parents and even the home study investigator. If the court determines the adoption to be in the best interest of the child, it will approve the adoption.
As you can see, the entire adoption process takes at minimum three months, but very often lasts at least a year or more. Hiring a competent adoption professional can make the process much smoother and easier for you, and provide a voice of reason and assurance in what can be an emotionally fraught time for you and your family.
In the event that you find yourself facing any of these questions, please do not hesitate to contact Zurica Law at 917-538-3670. We will be happy to assist you in answering your questions and representing your interests.
Anthony Zurica is an Attorney specializing in Adoption Law and a guest writer for Considering Adoption. Based in New York City, Anthony stands by his clients as an ally and friend during the entire process of adoption, from application to successfully becoming a parent. Although adoption can be an emotional and oftentimes lengthy process, Anthony is committed to being there every step of the way, 24/7.
Dedicating his life to inspiring optimism and encouraging patience, Anthony works closely with individuals and families. Furthermore, Anthony is a proponent and advocate for LGBT families.
Anthony also volunteers as a CASA (court-appointed special advocate for children), and is on the junior board of the New York Foundling, a charity that that empowers thousands of children and families to live independent, stable and fulfilling lives throughout NY. Find out more and feel free to get in touch through his website, www.nycadoptionlawyer.com, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.