New York Adoption Lawyer

There are many reasons that people choose to adopt a child. In some cases the couple may not be able to have children naturally. In other cases the couple wants to give an orphaned child a home. In still other cases a stepparent or foster may want to ensure the inheritance rights of a child. Whatever the reason you have for choosing to adopt, it is important that you understand the process. Adoptions can be complicated and oftentimes setbacks occur. For example, in a stepparent adoption the biological parent may object. If the adoption involves a child who is not a citizen, there are complicated international and immigration regulations that must be followed. Anticipating potential roadblocks and quickly resolving setbacks is important to quickly finalizing an adoption and avoiding future child custody issues. If you are in need of a family lawyer because you would like to adopt a child it is important that you contact an experienced New York adoption lawyer who will explain to you the steps in the adoption process and help ensure the process is as smooth as possible.

What are the types of adoption in New York?

In New York there are two generally types of adoptions: agency adoptions and private adoptions.

Agency adoptions: An agency adoption occurs when the child is in the custody of an agency at the time of the adoption. In some cases the parents voluntarily give up the child to the agency. In other cases the agency takes custody and terminates parental rights because of a finding of abuse or neglect.

Private adoptions: With a private adoption no agency is involved. Instead, the adoption is arranged through a private agreement between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. In some cases such adoptions are stepparent adoptions, grandparent adoptions, or adoptions involving other family members. In other cases private adoptions involve strangers.

Whether the adoption is an agency adoption or a private adoption, the court must certify it before the adoption is legal.

Who may adopt in New York?

Under New York adoption law, in order to be eligible to adopt, you must be at least 18 years old. The law allows married and unmarried people to adopt. Married persons living together regardless of sexual orientation are eligible to adopt. If a person is married but separated, that person may adopt as an individual as long as the person has been legally separated or living separately from his or her spouse for at least 3 years. An unmarried couple who are intimate partners are eligible to adopt, regardless of sexual orientation.

Who must agree to an adoption?

Generally speaking, a child is placed for adoption under one of 3 circumstances: the child’s parents give the child up for adoption, the child is an orphan, or the child’s parents lose their parental rights. In order for a child to be eligible for adoption, the child’s parents must not be able to lawfully assert their parental rights. In order for a child to be eligible for adoption one the following must have occurred:

  • If the parents are married, both parents must agree to the adoption
  • If the parents were not married, the other must agree. The father must agree if the had a lot of contact with the child. Even of the father did not have a lot of contact with the child, the court may required that the father be informed of the adoption.
  • If the father is not identified, the father’s agreement may not be required.
  • If the parent’s rights were taken away by court order, their consent is not required.
  • If the parent’s rights were taken away by court order, the person or agency legally taking care of the child must agree to the adoption.
  • If the child is over the age of 14, he or she must also agree to the adoption.

Example. In Matter of Keyanna AA., 35 A.D.3d 1079(N.Y. App. Div., 2006), the stepfather of Keyanna wanted to adopt her. The step father petitioned the court asking permission to adopt Keyanna without the consent of Keyanna’s biological father. The biological father was never married to Keyanna’s mother and was incarcerated. He paid child support just once, saw Keyanna once, and sent a few cards to Keyanna over the years. Since marrying Keyanna’s mother in 2001, Keyanna has lived with and been supported by, her mother and stepfather. The court concluded that the consent of Keyanna’s biological father was not required due to his failure to have sufficient contact with Keyanna.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Whether you are seeking to adopt through an agency or privately, it is important that you are have experienced representation. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience with successfully representing clients who are seeking to adopt children, who have custody issues, and who have other family law matters. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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