While there are many similarities between most of the state adoption laws and practices in the United States, it’s important to know what the process is in the state from which you choose to adopt. Here are some basics for the state of New York.
1. Any adult may adopt regardless of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, marital status, or income status provided they have passed all of the requirements through the background and home study checks.
2. In addition to the criminal background check, prospective adoptive parents are also required to pass a check by the Statewide Central Registration of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. While it may seem like another daunting hoop to jump through, this second check shouldn’t add too much to your approval time; you can generally expect all background checks to be completed within about three months.
3. If you choose to adopt a child who is currently waiting (like a child in foster care) you may qualify for adoption subsidies from the state. Subsidies are generally available for children whom the state deems handicapped or difficult to place (like older children or sibling groups). Subsidies are determined on a case-by-case basis and continue until the child reaches age 21. If you believe your child qualifies for this subsidy, make sure to discuss it with your caseworker, because it has to be approved before finalization.
4. Most adoptions from the New York foster care system are without fees; you may even be able to qualify for a limited reimbursement of your court and attorney costs for finalization.
5. Adoption records are sealed in the State of New York. If you want to find more about your adoption, you may be able to find information from the New York State Health Department’s Adoption Registry, but if the first parents have not registered themselves, you will only be able to get non-identifying information (things like religion, ethnicity, and the race of the biological parents, but no names or locations). If all parties are signed up in the registry, you may be able to get names and current addresses of biological parents and siblings. You may also be able to access medical information.
6. The consent to relinquish a biological child is revocable up until between 30 and 45 days after the signing and placement of the child with the adoptive family. This means that the biological parents have up to forty-five days to change their mind. If the child’s birth parent revokes her consent, the prospective adoptive parents have the right to contest the revocation through the court system.