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For many people, adopting is the perfect solution to a frustrating situation. They can’t have children of their own for medical reasons, but they still want to be parents and raise a family. Adoption lets them fulfill this biological need, while also providing a stable home to a child who might otherwise end up in the foster care system. In New York City, bringing adoptive parents together with needy children is taken seriously and there are laws in place to protect the children and to help the potential parents.
Who Can Adopt and Who Can Be Adopted?
In New York, there are no laws restricting which children can be adopted. Gender, race, and age are not considered in determining if a couple may adopt a given child. Technically, this means an adult may even adopt another adult. The only legal stipulation in this regard concerns older children. Those children over the age of 14 years must give their consent to be adopted by a couple or individual. Otherwise, the law is unrestrictive in this manner.
While some jurisdictions do still restrict who may adopt a child, that’s not the case in New York, either. Anyone may adult and same sex couples are as free to adopt a child as heterosexual couples. In fact, before same sex marriage was legalized in New York, one partner in a gay relationship would adopt the other partner to help achieve the same rights as heterosexual couples.
According to the law, any adult may adopt, either as an individual or as a part of a couple. Where a couple is adopting, both partners must adopt the child, unless the couple is legally separated. If the couple is not separated, but has lived apart for at least three years, this is also grounds for releasing both partners from participating in the adoption.
Minors may also adopt under certain circumstances, according to New York law. If the minor is married, this automatically emancipates him or her, which makes the minor eligible to adopt a child. In some cases, an older sibling who is still a minor can adopt a younger sibling, so they may stay together. Usually, this privilege is reserved for those close to their 18th birthday.
The final stipulation in regulating an adoption under the law is in requiring state residency. The adopting individual or couple must maintain a residency in the state for a three month period, before petitioning for an adoption. The law is somewhat lenient in this regard. The adopting individuals can apply for adoption sooner, but the adoption cannot be finalized until they have lived in the state for three months. Since legal proceedings usually take time to pursue, this rule may not be as prohibitive as it outwardly seems.
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A Closer Look at Adult Adoptions in NYC
In adopting an adult in New York, the adopting parent must submit an application with the court and await the results of a criminal background check. The backgrounds of other persons living at the same residence will also be conducted. A criminal conviction won’t automatically disqualify anyone from adopting, but it will be considered by the judge. In making his determination, the judge will look into the facts of the conviction.
The adoptee must also appear before the court to give his or her consent to be adopted. The judge may want to know more about the relationship between the adopting persons and the adoptee to ensure no one’s rights are being abused. The court will want to ensure the adoption is in the best interests of the person being adopted. Once the adoption is finalized, the court authorizes the issuance of a new birth certificate. If the adoptee wants a name change to reflect that of his adopting parent, this is also the time that will be done.
Recent rulings have determined that an adult adoption can only be authorized in cases where a parent/child relationship exists. The idea behind this ruling was to prevent same sex couples from pursuing an adoption to gain rights afforded to other couples. The laws don’t want adoptions to be exploited for these reasons, because the concept behind an adoption is to do what’s best for the adoptee.
While some people are reluctant to pursue an adoption, because they fear the complications that entails, New York law makes that a relatively straightforward process. While there are some stipulations to be considered, an experienced adoption attorney in New York City can help you navigate the legalities of adoption. Once you take the first step, it won’t be long before your family has grown.