Disclaimer: These laws, rules, and regulations are for those who are adopting babies and children that are living in New York State. The prospective adoptive families are adopting FROM NEW YORK.
The Big Apple. I guess the word BIG applies to many things in New York, from the tall skyscrapers, the size of New York City, and of course…the rules, regulations, and laws in New York when it comes to adoption in NY. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
- Agencies and more! In New York State, agencies are not the only way to adopt a child. If a family wishes to grow their family via adoption, they can choose to go through an attorney and even foster care. Agencies and more! If a New York State resident is adopting internationally, these adoptions must be done through an accredited adoption agency or an attorney.
2. For those families that wish to foster to adopt, they can go through the Office of Children and Family Services. This agency takes care of all public adoptions in adoption in NY.
3. Extra, Extra, Read All About It! Prospective adoptive families may be able to advertise their desire to adopt a child. Some New York adoption agencies and some New York adoption attorneys have the adoptive parents create an ad or a profile for their family. The birth moms will then look through the ads/profiles and they get to pick one that they feel best fits the type of family they want their child to be raised in. This situation is usually used with open adoptions, where the birth mom and dad and the adoptive parent(s) know about one another. The type and amount of advertising used depend on the type of adoption. The adoption path one chooses will help determine the amount of advertising on the part of the adoptive family, if any.
4. Cost: Adoption in NY allows for the adoptive parents to assist in the birth family’s medical and legal expenses. It is not the law that an adoptive family must pay for the birth mother’s medical and legal expenses. Make sure to discuss with the agency or attorney that you are working with if you, as an adoptive parent will be responsible for the birth mom’s expenses concerning the baby/child.
5. ICPC WHO? ICPC stands for Interstate Compact on Placement of Children. This is a contract between different states that commences in adoption in NY once a child is placed with your family. This contract allows the state the adoptive family resides in and New York state to work with one another to finalize adoption paperwork. The adoptive family must stay in New York (or whichever state they’re adopting from) until the ICPC finalizes the paperwork for the adoptive family residing in another state. This process usually takes up to a couple of weeks. Once the ICPC paperwork is completed, the adoptive family can bring the baby/child home to their home state.
6. Adoption in NY requires two supervisory visits from the adoption agency and/or attorney you have been working with to ensure the placement is loving, safe, and a good fit. Amidst the visits will be paperwork for you to complete to assist in finalizing the adoption, and court dates to attend for finalization.
7. International adoptions are available in New York State. The adoptions may be finalized in either New York State or the country in which the child was adopted from. It all depends on the country the child is adopted from. The adoptive family will be required to complete reports on the child that is adopted, and those reports are for the country the child is adopted from. The agency or attorney you work with will help you through this process.
8. Open Adoptions: Adoption in NY does allow open adoptions. Open adoption is an agreement between the birth family and the adoptive family. The agreement is expected to be followed by all parties involved. The agreement may be formal or informal, depending on the situation. If the agreement is formal, there must be court dates in which the agreement is presented and agreed upon by a judge.
9. Post-Adoption Contact Agreements: Formal contact agreements are legally enforceable in New York if the child was placed through a New York authorized adoption agency. The agreement has to be approved by the court that has control over the adoption.
10. Access to Original Birth Certificates! I have NEVER been able to write this in an article before today: “New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed S3419 into law on November 14, 2019.” This law entitles New York State adoptees access—UNRESTRICTED ACCESS—to their original birth certificates. There is no waiting period for the birth mother or birth father to sign a waiver stating no contact wanted. New Jersey, in comparison, is a partial restriction state and allows birth parents to file disclosure vetoes that cut off adoptees from their OBCs. Nope, not New York. They went all in, as minimal interference as possible. Maybe they felt they had enough interference all these years, and now it is time to totally let go of the reins. New York is the 10th state to give adoptees this right. This law becomes effective on January 15, 2020. New York State has had closed records since 1935 when Governor Lehman signed into law closed records for ALL New York adoptees. Now, the details of the law, encompassing how to go about obtaining the original birth certificate are still being ironed out. It should be similar to a non-adoptee requesting a certified copy of their birth certificate. This law has shaken New York State, and I would say it has shaken the entire nation. Many New York adoptees have waited for years for this moment. New York legislature has tried numerous times before to unseal original birth certificates of New York adoptees and have been shut down. NO more! The adoption sites I have gone to for references in this article have information that now needs to be updated as it is rendered incorrect by this new law! It feels AMAZING to say that though! The old information are words that have tied adoptees’ hands behind their backs. They had been unable to unseal their original birth certificates, to find out, finally, from where they came. NO more!
11. New York State does not discriminate against gender, sexuality, race, marital status, income, and ethnicity when it comes to adopting. There are extensive background checks and home studies though, and those interested in adopting out of New York State must pass these vigorous background checks and home studies. Without these checks and balances, the adoption system would be open to those adopting who, for any number of reasons, should not be adopting a baby or child into their home. One of the background checks is completed by the State Central Registration of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. If you are pondering becoming an adoptive parent, you may be wondering how long do background checks take? They are usually completed (if everything goes smoothly) within three months’ time. Patience and time is critical in ensuring a child is adopted by a loving family who is a good fit for them.
12. New York State, like every state in the U.S, has foster children. If a family decides to adopt a child from foster care, New York State MAY HAVE adoption assistance to help with the cost of living and medical expenses for the child. Please note, the assistance is usually given to those who adopt a child with a disability or an older child from foster care. Many of the adoptions in New York State that are from foster care do not have fees associated with them. As far as court costs and attorney costs, you may be able to get reimbursed for some of those.
13. Relinquishing Laws in New York State: The consent to place a biological child can be reversed by the biological mother up until 30-45 days after the placement and signing of the child with the adoptive family. If a biological mother decides to revoke her consent for adoption, the adoptive family has the right to fight that revocation in the New York courts.
14. Adoption in NY as far as New York adoptees wanting to search for their birth families. Well, before the law was passed to open New York adoptee birth records come January 15, 2020, there were search engines such as Dobsearch.com, and there were adoption reunion registries where adoptees would put their information and the minimal information they knew about their birth family into the registry. They would hope a member of their birth family, hopefully, the birth mom, would also be searching and come across their registry information. I am not sure what will happen to the New York State registries once the records are open. I guess time will tell. Time marches on, and we will just have to wait and see how everything plays out.
15. SOCIAL MEDIA: Yes, good old social media. There are a multitude of Facebook groups and chats on Adoption.com for those interested in adopting either in New York or who live in New York and wish to adopt internationally. It seems in today’s age, groups and forums formed on social media can be on par with individual counselors and friendship groups. Discussions can be held in your house, with your pajamas on, at 2 in the morning just by typing to one another.
Now, I have discussed the basics in the process of adopting in New York State. I have geared this article, thus far, toward prospective adoptive families. Now, I would like to touch on adoption in NY as it relates to the birth families. They have a process they should follow as well, in addition to laws. They are just as important a player in NY adoption as the adoptive families. Let’s take a look:
- Adoption.com has a guide for those birth mothers who may be considering placing their child for adoption. Yes, the guide is long, very long. It has many links to sites that may be helpful to those considering placing their child. Don’t feel you have to read the entire article in one sitting. Please, this decision is not one that should be completed on a whim or in a few minutes. Read what you can. Click on a link and review what it says. If you feel overwhelmed, there is a link in the article that can connect you with an adoption professional that you can talk to over the phone, confidentially, about this life-altering decision.
- Adoption.com/directory/new-york: This link is simple and to the point. As a birth mom, you can fill out the required fields for what you are looking for, and a list specific to New York will appear. If you are in search of birth mom support, you fill out the field’s specifics for that. This site is easy to use and not overwhelming.
- If you, as a birth mom, are considering an open adoption, where you would have some contact with the adoptive family, there are profiles of prospective adoptive families you can search through, and see if one catches your heart. Although your child is being adopted from New York, the prospective families can be from another state.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: There is a multitude of Facebook groups for birth moms who need advice in choosing adoption for their child. There are sites specific to New York adoption for birth moms.
While the laws may change when it comes to New York adoptions, there are a couple of things that won’t change. There will always be children in foster care waiting patiently for their forever homes. There will always be at least one pregnant woman who is contemplating placing her child for adoption. There will always be questions about adoptions in New York, and there will always be answers. There will always be prospective adoptive families and prospective birth moms whose lives need a change. I hope this article helps those who are considering adoption in New York, no matter what role you play in the adoption process, whether it be an adoptive parent, a birth parent, or an adoptee.