What is involved in the process?
Choosing an Agency
Adoption processes can be a long and complicated with many choices and decisions to make. It begins with choosing the right adoption agency. With over 130 agencies in New York State, this step may take some time. Once you have chosen and agency, it is very difficult to change it so it's important you choose wisely from the start. Both public and private agencies do not charge fees for adopting children that are under the care of local social services. When adopting a child who is under legal guardianship of an authorized voluntary agency, the fees are dependent upon the potential family's income. For a list of agencies, you can visit the New York State Office of Children and Family Services website here.
Submitting an Application
The next step is to submit an application to the agency that your family has chosen. On the application, it will ask questions about your basic information, your family's background, details about your home life and how many people are currently living in your home. It will also ask to describe the type of child you think would be suitable to adopt considering your situation. If you are uncomfortable with this or are unsure what to put, the agency can always help.
During this process, the agency will also check the criminal record of both parents as well as any other adults over 18 living in the house. They must also check with the New York State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Register to see if any of the prospective family members has harmed any children in this way in the past. Neither of these investigations will officially determine if the family can adopt, but it is the goal of the agency to ensure that children are placed in safe environments.
Homestudy and Training
Sometime within the four months after submitting your application to adopt, a caseworker from the agency will come to your home and perform a series of meetings and training sessions to make certain that this is the best idea for your family and for the child. It is essential so that the caseworker can get to know pertinent information about the prospective family and allows the family to realize the full ramifications of adoption. On occasion, it can prove difficult for the family and they may opt out.
There is additional training that follows which gives the potential parents an opportunity to fully understand adoption and decide if they are ready. They are able to identify strengths they can bring to the adoption situation and become more aware of what the child's needs would be. Most importantly, the agency workers are able to give the families helpful information, tips and skills so that they may be successful with the adoption of their child.
Finding a Good Match
After the training, a case worker will work with you to find a child that will match you and your family well. New York State has published The
Adoption Album that provides a listing of children in need of homes, along with a photo and short bio. Once a family wants to look further into a particular child, they contact the child's agency for more information and the agency will look over their homestudy paperwork. When agencies ultimately place children, they are looking to protect the child's best interests. They do this by trying to maintain as many of the child's connections as possible to their siblings, culture, and his/her family. It is best to consider multiple children throughout this part of the process and not to limit yourself.
Visiting Your Potential Child
Once that step is completed, it may be possible for you to actually visit the child you wish to adopt. These scheduled visits occur within the agency, at the child's current residence or at your home. They begin with short meetings and increase as the two get to know one another better. Each case is different with some families taking weeks of visits while others will take months before the child finally moves in.
Three Months of Supervision
After all of these steps are complete it is usually time for the child to finally come home. Even then, it is not finalized until after a three-month trial period. According to New York laws, it is a requirement that the agency check in with the family and supervise them for the short amount of time before the adoption become official and legally binding. It is the goal of the caseworker to give support and answer any questions, as well as make certain that both the child and family are at ease.
Completing the Process in Court
In the final stage, you will be asking the court to make the adoptive relationship with your child final by issuing an order of adoption. It is highly recommended that you have an attorney that is familiar with this process. It is required that they prepare your petition for adoption along with any supporting documents and file it with the court on your behalf. That is a service that our legal team at Lynn Poster-Zimmerman, PC can provide for all her prospective clients.
Importance of Quality Legal Representation
Adoption is a specialized area of law. It is important to work with an attorney who has experience and is well-versed in the laws and procedures that pertain to this field. You should feel confident that your attorney can be effective and thorough in guiding you through the legal process of adoption. Our firm has proven results in helping many families complete the adoption process and looks forward to assisting you and your family through this life-enhancing procedure.
Attorney Lynn Poster-Zimmerman has been practicing law since 1983 and brings to the table a wealth of legal experience and skills which you may need to handle any type of family law matter, including adoption. It is strongly urged that you contact her office for a consultation about your particular situation if you are in need of an adoption attorney.