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Adoption in New York is not as simple as going to an adoption agency and choosing a child to become part of your family. An adoption proceeding is a very serious matter in the state of New York. The state has set forth specific guidelines for prospective parents to meet before any adoption can actually be finalized, and the results of this adoption priority will be scrutinized in detail by the state before an adoption is completed. All prospective adoptive parents are required to complete an orientation and home study before even meeting an available minor child, unless the applicants already have a specific child in mind, as the state determines suitability of the child to the home. After an adoption appears to be on course for approval, it will then take an experienced and effective adoption attorney to represent the case in court when the final ruling is issued. In addition, there is financial assistance available when the child qualifies through various determinations by the state, such as a disability or being classified as a “hard to place” child. Qualifying the child as a difficult placement can be a challenge in some instances. As subsidies are not automatically applied to all adoptions, having an experienced attorney handling your adoption case means that all necessary requirements will be completed when the court finally is ready to make a decision, including qualifying the adopted child for some form of financial need. In addition, subsidies are also often available on a one-time basis to cover legal fees and court costs, but applying parents should be aware of these expenses.
Orientation and Home Study
The first step in the adoption process is orientation which must be completed before the potential adopting parent can begin choosing the right adoption service. All adoption services are certified by the state and will be in charge of the home study that is performed after the Application for Adoption is officially on file. The application will include a complete medical history and criminal background check, including being cleared through the state Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment for prior issues. Very often families adopt more than one child or have had an adopted child previously and there will be a prior history of home placement. This can also be a positive part of the process when a prior adoption has been successful because it establishes a solid opportunity for the adoption to be granted. It can also be one of the most difficult components as well, and many individuals who may think they want to adopt a child will decide they are not ready. This may also include a trial period that allows the adoptive child to live in the home for a short period under state supervision. While the state will have considerable input into the decision, it also helps to consult with an attorney because of the potential legalities involved in the adoption decision.
Subsidies and Medical Coverage
There are financial subsidies available to many adopting parents based on the medical evaluation and placement difficulty rating by the state. While disabilities are usually approved because of supporting medical documentation, determining if a child is “hard-to-place” can be difficult. Many times they qualify on both accounts, but those that are borderline situations may require the legal expertise of an experienced adoption attorney who can help discuss the case in specific detail. Children often qualify by age alone when they are older, but younger children could also potentially covered by financial assistance when a qualifying situation is documented as well. Your attorney can help ensure that all of the your rights to assistance are respected, including the rights of the children. One aspect of an adoption that many do not realize is the rights of the child, and the court understands well they are advocating for the adopted child as well as issuing a final decision. Many children are also eligible for medical assistance through Medicaid or the state health agency, and your attorney can help with ensuring eligibility. These benefits are normally required to be completed before the adoption is finalized, but post subsidies can still be awarded.
For many couples or individuals, adoption serves as a method to become parents or add to existing families. In many cases, the adoptive children urgently need a stable, safe environment or home that the natural parent or parents do not or cannot provide.
If you choose an adoption, understand that the process creates a new parent-child relationship and severs the former one. This action and many that are preliminary to an adoption have significant legal consequences. For these reasons, you may want the assistance of one of our NYC adoption lawyers.
What Are the Effects of an Adoption
New York Domestic Relations Law Section 117 details the legal ramifications of an adoption.
For the biological parents, an adoption relieves them generally of a legal duty to provide support. The adopting parents cannot look to the biological parents for any financial or other support. An exception does exist where a parent consents to adoption of the child by a stepparent, in which event the consent parent remains responsible to the child. Other parental duties and responsibilities for the actions of the child also vanish from the biological parents and fall to the new ones.
If you are considering placing your child for adoption, speak with one of our NYC adoption lawyers about the consequences to you. Upon an adoption, you as the biological parent lose all rights to custody, visitation and control over the child. The adoptive parents, rather than the biological ones, can decide matters of the child’s education, religion and socialization. Those actions are not subject to your veto.
Adoption also effects from whom the children can inherit property. In the absence of a will, the adopted children inherit by and through the adopting parents rather than the biological ones.
Who May Adopt?
New York law requires that you reside in the state for at least three months prior to an adoption. Otherwise, generally any adult may adopt a child. Your spouse must join in any adoption. Further, New York does not impose any restrictions related to the gender of the adopting parent. In other words, a adult male may adopt a girl and a adult female may adopt a boy.
If you seek an adoption, an NYC adoption lawyer in our firm can help you with the petition. As a prerequisite to a petition, you must qualify to assume custody of the child. To get temporary custody, you must satisfy the court that you and your home are suitable for taking care of the child. A licensed social worker will examine carefully the home environment and your behavior is parents. Based upon the worker’s report, the court will determine your qualification to have temporary custody.
If you pass this test, you are certified to have temporary custody for 18 months. Upon completion of the period, you can then petition the court for an adoption.
An NYC adoption lawyer in our firm can assist you with having an adoption order from another country registered and recognized in New York. When you file a “Petition for Registration of Foreign Adoption Order,” you will follow the procedures that apply to private placement adoptions.
Who Must Consent to an Adoption?
The biological parents’ agreement to the adoption represents an important part of the process. This is because the law closely guards the biological parents’ rights. An adoption severs the relationship between the natural parents and the children and extinguishes the natural parents’ rights.
Our NYC adoption lawyers can guide you, not only if you’re a prospective adoptive parent, but if you are a natural parent whose consent is requested. Under New York law, consent to an adoption and the voluntary relinquishment of parental rights must normally be in writing. You should take care in deciding to terminate your parental rights. Once you take the step, you can revoke it only in very limited circumstances. These may include duress, fraud or other circumstances that show you did not voluntarily relinquish your rights.
Sometimes, your inaction can be treated as relinquishment of your parental rights. If you are an unmarried father, you need to respond to an adoption notice or a notice of paternity promptly and carefully. Otherwise, you risk losing your parental rights, and the adoption can proceed. The biological parent’s consent is not required if parental rights have been terminated.
Aside from the natural parents, New York law requires that you get the consent of the child being adopted if that child is age 14 years or older.
Whether you seek to adopt or someone wants to adopt your children, please reach out to one of our NYC adoption lawyers to assess your rights, obligations and options.
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.