Adoption changes the lives of both the adopting parent or parents and the adopting child. Working with an experienced Long Island adoption attorney can help you navigate the private adoption process more efficiently. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about New York adoptions.
Who may adopt in New York?
Under New York law, either a couple or a single person may adopt. A couple who adopts may do so regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation.
Can I adopt my spouse’s children if I am their step-parent?
Many times a custodial parent will remarry and want to have their new spouse adopt the child or children. Such an adoption is done all the time, but the requirements are rather strict in New York. First of all, the other parent must consent in writing, unless that parent has abandoned the child. The step parent adoption will relieve the birth parent who is giving up his or her rights of the obligation for child support. The prospect of being relieved of child support obligations will many times facilitate getting the release. If the child is fourteen years of age or older, the child must also consent in writing. After the proper consents are acquired, the court will want a criminal and medical background check performed on the adopting individual to ensure the safety and welfare of the child.
What is a private adoption? What is an agency adoption?
In a private or “independent” adoption, legal custody of the child passes directly from the child’s biological parent or parents to the adoptive parent or parents. In an agency adoption, legal custody is held by the licensed adoption agency before it passes to the adoptive parent or parents.
What is a re-adoption?
When adoptive parents adopt a child overseas, the adoption papers in many instances are in a foreign language, and there are logistic issues related to the adoption being recognized in the United States. Such adoptive parents can have a second adoption take place, with the second adoption being called a re-adoption, this time with the adoption being done in New York. The end result will be the issuance of a New York birth certificate with the adoptive parents listed as the parents of the child. Clearly, having the adoption take place in New York and being issued a New York birth certificate makes dealing with schools, social security, immigration, and other agencies much easier to handle.
Should both the birth and adoptive parents work with a lawyer? Can one lawyer represent both parties?
Although New York does not require a birth parent to be represented by a lawyer, courts do authorize a lawyer to be appointed for any parent who signs a judicial consent or surrender. Adopting parents may also choose to pay a birth parent’s attorney fees, but they must remember that the attorney represents the birth parent only.
It is wisest for both the birth parent(s) and adopting parent(s) in a private adoption to be represented by their own experienced lawyers. This way, legal issues are considered from both sides and potential conflicts are minimized.