How To Adopt A Child In New York City: Most Detailed Guidance And Document Checklist


Adopting can be an overwhelming and often confusing time for any set of new parents. Regulations, laws, and restrictions can vary from country to country and even state to state. Knowing the guidelines and basic process of adoption in the location of interest can be huge assistance and can turn that overwhelming time into one of great excitement.

Know The Steps

To adopt a child in New York, one of the best resources to investigate almost immediately is the Office of Children and Family Services: Adoption page. Whether making the choice to adopt privately or through public avenues, this page is a remarkable wealth of information. Immediately on the left side of the page, prospective parents can select the Adoption Process tab that details the basic steps of adoption in New York.

1. The Agency

The first step of adoption in New York, and arguably one of the most important steps, is to select an adoption agency. There are almost 150 agencies that serve the Empire State and those agencies vary in everything from the type of adoption to fee associated with adoption. Careful selection is critical at this stage as it is often extremely difficult to change agencies once the adoption process has already begun. A list of authorized adoption agencies in New York can be found on the Office of Children and Family Services website as well.

2. The Paperwork

After prospective parents have identified an adoption agency, they must begin the task of preparing forms and applications. The application to adopt is typically a standard application that details the prospective family’s background and will include a criminal history check. Once the application is complete, a home study must also be conducted. To be compliant with New York state law, the home study must be completed within four months of the application and will include the agency staff, immediate family members, and the prospective family. A summary will be made of the prospective family that will be used in the child placement process. 

3. The Match

Prospective parents will work very carefully with their agency in the child placement process. During this time, a search for the appropriate child for their family will take place. Although it can be emotionally difficult, it is often best for prospective families to consider multiple children at one time instead of limiting themselves to just one child; this allows the family more opportunities if something were to fall through with the one-child they are interested in adopting. The goal in this stage is to match the needs of the family with whatever is in the best interest of the child. New York offers a listing of all children available for adoption in an online photo listing.

4. The Process

Once a prospective family has chosen a child, several opportunities will be scheduled to allow visiting between the family and the child. New York does not have a specific number of visits required; this will be something that will be determined on a case-by-case basis between the prospective family and the agencies involved. Again, the best interest of the child must be placed first in this process.

5. The Wait

Once the child moves in with the family, the adoption does not immediately become final in New York. With the exception of a foster child whom the adoptive family knows, state law requires a minimum period of three months during which the family will be supervised by the adoption agency. This time period is critical to the success of the adoption as it allows the family time to get to know each other and the agency time to ensure the needs of the child are being met. Once the three-month time period is over and provided it has been successful, the family may petition the State of New York for permanent adoption of the child. Even if working with an agency and attorney though, it is beneficial for prospective adoptive families to understand current New York statutes in relation to adoption. With the help of an attorney licensed in New York, the petition will be filed, and if all goes well, accepted in court.

6. The Home Stretch

Once the adoption is finalized, support from the agency or state does not immediately end. Children with high needs adopted in New York are potentially eligible for all federal as well as state subsidies and these adoptive parents must be aware of potential subsidies. In addition to subsidies, all adoptive children move through a transition period, particularly if they are older. Continued reliance on the agency for post-adoptive support can be a lifeline as well, particularly in the form of counseling, support groups, or other services.

Adoption can be a blessing for any family but when armed with information specific to the state prospective families are interested in adopting from, it can move from blessedly overwhelming to blessedly calm and exciting.

What are the steps to adopt children in New York City?

  • 1. The Agency

There are almost 150 agencies that serve the Empire State and those agencies vary in everything from the type of adoption to fee associated with adoption. Careful selection is critical at this stage.

  • 2. The Paperwork

To be compliant with New York state law, the home study must be completed within four months of the application and will include the agency staff, immediate family members, and the prospective family.

  • 3. The Match

Prospective parents will work very carefully with their agency in the child placement process. During this time, a search for the appropriate child for their family will take place. Although it can be emotionally difficult, it is often best for prospective families to consider multiple children at one time instead of limiting themselves to just one child.

  • 4. The Process

Once a prospective family has chosen a child, several opportunities will be scheduled to allow visiting between the family and the child. New York does not have a specific number of visits required.

  • 5. The Wait

With the exception of a foster child whom the adoptive family knows, state law requires a minimum period of three months during which the family will be supervised by the adoption agency. This time period is critical to the success of the adoption as it allows the family time to get to know each other and the agency time to ensure the needs of the child are being met.

  • 6. The Home Stretch

Once the adoption is finalized, support from the agency or state does not immediately end. Children with high needs adopted in New York are potentially eligible for all federal as well as state subsidies and these adoptive parents must be aware of potential subsidies.

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