1. What is the best part about adopting a child in New York? 

New York has a robust and diverse adoption community. New York offers ample resources for guidance, advice, legal, and financial assistance. Spence-Chapin’s Modern Family Center provides a community that understands and supports all members of the adoption community.

2. What are the requirements for parents to qualify to adopt in New York?

Most United States legal residents who are in good physical, mental, and emotional health are eligible to adopt. We are happy to share that all types of families adopt:  married couples, unmarried couples, LGBTQ parents, single women, and single men can adopt. Families of all ages, income levels, ethnicities, and religions adopt. Truly, the one thing that all adoptive families have in common is that they want to be parents – and from there they are as diverse as the kids themselves. Though adoption requirements vary depending upon the adoption path, all families pursuing adoption will complete an adoption home study. Through the home study process, your family will prepare and be approved to adopt. Your local adoption agency can answer specific eligibility questions related to the particular adoption path your family is considering.

3. Does New York require that I use an adoption agency to complete an adoption?

Adoption with an agency is only one of the ways New York families may choose to pursue adoption. Families can adopt through an accredited agency or an experienced adoption attorney. Families interested in the adoption of an infant typically pursue an attorney or private agency adoption. Families interested in international adoption will use a Hague accredited primary provider to help navigate the inter-country laws and documentation you will need for your international adoption.

4. How can I adopt a child through foster care in New York?

It is possible to adopt from foster care and every year thousands of children are matched with permanent adoptive families through the foster care system. There are over 100,000 children in foster care ready for adoption today. The majority of these children are teenagers, sibling groups, and children with special needs. Spence-Chapin is not a licensed foster care agency but does provide counseling and support to foster and foster-adoptive parents. In New York State, families can contact the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) for more information.

5. Where can I find children who are available for adoption through foster care in New York?

The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) oversees all public adoptions in New York State and we recommend vising their website for more information about how to adopt a child from foster care in New York State. 

 6. Can I advertise my desire to adopt in New York?

Connecting with birth parent(s) is an important part of the domestic adoption process and many families choose to advertise their desire to adopt. The amount your family may advertise will likely depend on your particular adoption path. Prospective adoptive parents should speak with their primary provider to discuss what kind of advertising makes sense for their family’s particular adoption path.

7. What are the regulations in New York regarding birth mother expenses?

The expenses that prospective parents can pay in connection with an adoption are regulated by state law and vary from state to state. In most states, including New York, adoptive parents can pay a birth family’s reasonable medical, legal, and counseling expenses. If working with an agency, it is important to ask your agency if you will incur birth mother related expenses. We know that every family’s adoption is unique, and we recommend speaking with your primary provider or an experienced adoption attorney knowledgeable in New York adoption law to determine how this may be relevant to your particular circumstances.

8. What do I need to know about the ICPC procedure in New York?

Once a child has been placed with your family, an adoption professional will file the relevant adoption paperwork. The Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) is a contract among member states and US territories that authorizes them to work together for the children who are placed across state lines for foster care or adoption. This paperwork usually takes one to two weeks, during which prospective adoptive family will need to remain in the state where the child was born. After ICPC is approved, the adoptive family will be able to return home with their child.

9. What does finalization look like in New York? 

After your child is placed with your family, the proper documentation will be filed in court. According to New York State law, two supervisory visits will be required after placement. You’ll then work with your adoption attorney to file the necessary paperwork for finalization in court. Your adoption professional will provide you with checklists to help you navigate and keep track of the necessary paperwork and help guide you through this paperwork process and the Court date.

10. What is the process for completing an international adoption in New York after my child is home?

By the time you your child comes home, you will likely be excited and relieved to be together. Depending on the country from which you are adopting, you may finalize the adoption abroad or may finalize after returning home to the United States. Adoptive families will complete reports for their child’s birth country, the number of which will depend on the country from which your child is from.

11. Are open adoption agreements legally enforceable in New York?

An open adoption is an agreement between birth and adoptive family and both are expected to uphold the agreement. This agreement may be formal or informal. An informal agreement won’t be presented in court, while the other is legally enforceable. A Post-adoption contact agreements (PACA) is legally enforceable in New York if the child is placed through a New York authorized adoption agency and must be approved by the court that has jurisdiction over the adoption.

Today, many birth and adoptive parents have an open adoption. Open adoption is when adoptive and birth families meet and are able to have ongoing contact with each other at their own discretion. The frequency and type of communication can range from the exchange of letters, e-mails, phone calls and pictures to planned reunion visits with birth families. Research shows that open adoption is beneficial to all members of the adoption tried: the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the adopted person.

12. Can adult adoptees access their original birth certificates in New York?

Due to the current laws, access to adoption records in New York State is limited.  New York is a closed records state which means that governmental agencies, courts, or adoption agencies will not release copies of original birth certificates. The New York State Health Department maintains a Free Adoption Information Registry that can help an adoption search and even facilitate a reunion.  It is a mutual consent registry which means that both parties searching must be signed up for a match to be made.

Answers to these questions provided by Spence-Chapin. To learn more, call them at 212-400-8150, email them at info@spence-chapin.org, or visit their website