Adoptions In New York
Adoption is a process where a person or persons assumes the role of a parent of another, typically a child, from their biological or legal parents. Legal adoption means that all rights and responsibilities are transferred from the biological parent or parents to this individual.
New York is a progressive and reasonable state in relation to its views and laws on adoption. The laws are in place to protect the rights of all parties involved in the adoption process with great emphasis placed upon the best interests of the child. The attorneys at Donnellan Law, PLLC, can guide you through every step of this process.
Types of Adoptions
In New York, there are four types of adoptions:
- Agency adoption: this is an adoption where the placement of a child is made through an agency organized under New York state law, authorized to receive children for the purpose of adoption.
- Private-placement adoption: sometimes referred to as an independent adoption, this is any adoption other than an agency placement.
- Stepparent adoption: this is an adoption in which one spouse, in a remarriage, adopts the child(ren) of the other.
- International adoption: this is an adoption where a New York resident adopts a child(ren) born and living in another country.
Who is Eligible to Adopt?
In order to adopt a child(ren), you must be certified by the court as a qualified adoptive parent. An adult unmarried person, an adult married person, and an adult married couple together, or any two unmarried adult intimate partners may adopt a child(ren).
Adoptions are also allowed in the following situations:
- An adult married person who is legally separated may adopt another person. This does not create any obligation on the nonadopting (separated) spouse.
- A foster parent who has cared for a child(ren) continuously for a period of 12 months or more may apply to the authorized agency for adoption. If the child(ren) is eligible for adoption, the agency is to give preference and first consideration to the foster parent’s application. The final decision, as in all adoption applications, is at the sole discretion of the court.
- The unmarried partner of a child(ren)’s biological or adoptive parent has the standing to adopt where both individuals are formally raising the child(ren) together as one family. This includes LGBTQ+ -relationships.
- An adult or minor married couple together may adopt a child(ren) of either of them born in or out of wedlock, and an adult or minor spouse may adopt such a child(ren) of the other spouse. Subject to the circumstances of the situation, the adoption may depend upon the consent of termination of the rights of the other biological parent. This is commonly known as stepparent adoption.
Who Must Consent to an Adoption?
Unless the court excuses the consent of a necessary party, the following consents are required to adopt a minor:
- The adoptive child(ren), if over the age of 14.
- Both parents, or the surviving parent, whether adult or minor, of a child(ren) conceived or born in wedlock.
- The mother, whether adult or minor, of a child(ren) born out of wedlock.
- The natural father of a child(ren) born out of wedlock where certain legal criteria have been met regarding their relationship to the child(ren) and/or the natural mother.
- Any person or authorized agency having lawful custody of the adoptive child(ren).
Under certain circumstances, subject to the court’s determination, the consent of a parent(s) may not be required where they indicate an intent to forego their parental or custodial rights and obligations. This occurs when the person or persons who have legal custody fail to visit or communicate with their child(ren) for a period of six months, even though they have the ability to do so.
When the judge signs the order of adoption, the relation of the parent(s) and child(ren) becomes final. At that point, all the rights, duties and other legal obligations of the parent(s) and child(ren) are established. A new birth certificate will be issued showing the adopting person(s) as the parent(s) of the child(ren). The original birth certificate will be sealed.
Confidentiality and the Adoption Process
Although it is common today for an adopted child(ren) to know about their adoption, the records relating to the adoption are sealed by the court. The adoption file and the information contained in it can only be opened to the appropriate parties upon application to the court and a showing to the court of good cause. Mere curiosity is not deemed “good cause.” However, the need for essential medical data for example, may be.
If the adopted child(ren) was born in New York State, the birth parent(s) may execute a statutory form allowing the state to release a copy of the original birth certificate to the child(ren) once they reach the age of 18.
Such approval or disapproval may be amended at any time by the birth parent(s). They may also submit to the adoption registry any newly discovered medical information, which is intended to serve the best interest of the child(ren).
New York State presently maintains an adoption registry under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Health. Prior to reaching the age of 18, the adopted child may seek and receive only non-identifying information relating to the birth parent(s). However, upon the age of 18, if both child(ren) and birth parent(s) file with the registry, each indicating a desire for contact, arrangements may be made to provide appropriate information to the parties.
If you are looking to adopt or have questions about adoption, the attorneys at Donnellan Law, PLLC can help. Call our office at 518-602-3820 or use our online contact form, to schedule a confidential legal consultation.