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New York Adoption: Overview of the Law

Deciding to adopt a child is one of the most significant decisions that you will make in life. After you have taken the steps of finding a child to adopt, there are many more actions to make and legal implications that come with the adoption process. Every prospective adoptive parent must file a petition with the court, meet specific qualifying requirements, and provide background information. Besides basic demographic information, the information includes the following:

  • Marital/family status and physical and mental health status
  • Property owned and income
  • Compensation paid or agree upon with respect to placement of the child for adoption
  • Whether either adoptive parent has ever been respondent in any proceeding concerning allegedly abused, neglected, abandoned or delinquent children
  • Any relevant information relating to the social, familial, religious, emotional, and financial circumstances of the adoptive parents

Types of Adoption

There are various types of adoptions, but a basic breakdown is between agency adoptions which involve foster care agencies and independent or private placement adoption. Both are regulated by New York law, but the adoption process varies slightly depending on the type of adoption.

New York Adoption Overview

Although nothing can take the place of the skilled insight that an attorney brings when it comes to comprehending the law, it's also practical to apply a more simplistic approach. The chart below provides a summary of laws related to New York's adoption process including links to the relevant statutes.


Agency Adoption

In an agency adoption, the child is placed in the care of the state and the adoptive parents apply to adopt through the foster care agency or the private adoption agency.

Certification: The agency conducts a home study to investigate the prospective parents. If they pass the background check, the agency certifies them as qualified parents.

Consent for adoption: Consent is given through the agency; no other action is needed.

Private Placement Adoption

Any adoption that isn't an agency adoption is a private placement adoption. This includes step parent adoptions and international adoptions.


  • Prior to the child's placement, the court must ensure that the adoptive parents are approved to take custody of the child by conducting a home study and back ground check. If the parents pass, then the court will certify them as qualified adoptive parents for up to 18 months.
  • After receiving the petition, the court may authorize or require further investigations from time to time up until the granting of the final order of adoption.

Consent for adoption: Consent must be acquired from birth parents and from the child if the child is 14 years or older Consent can occur either in front of a judge (judicial consent) or not in front of the judge (extrajudicial consent).

  • Judicial consent: given in writing in front of a judge; it's immediately irrevocable. In other words, the parent can't change their mind and have the child returned.
  • Extrajudicial consent: must be in writing, signed, and notarized. Parent has 45 days to change their mind and take back consent. However, this doesn't mean the child is returned to the birth parents. If the adoptive parents object, then a hearing will be required. There, a judge will decide if consent was properly taken back in time and decide custody based on the "best interest of the child."


If the court determines that the there has been compliance with all the requirements and is satisfied that the adoption is in the child's best interests then the court will grant the adoption. The court issues an order of adoption and/or a certificate of adoption to the adoptive parents. These documents verify the parent-child relationship and that the adoption has been completed.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New York Adoption Overview: Related Resources

Discuss Adoption with an Experienced New York Attorney

The adoption process can be a lengthy one requiring a lot of patience and commitment, but it's also a complex process that should be handled by someone with expertise and experience. If you need help with your adoption plans, use FindLaw's attorney directory to locate an attorney today.

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