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Your Long Island Adoption Handbook

What You Need to Know About Adoption
Contact Us for a Free ConsultationCall 631-923-1910

Adoption can be a meaningful way to grow your family — roughly 107,000 children are waiting to be adopted at any given time. However, adoption can be intimidating to intended parents. The cost, the process, and the legal red tape can feel overwhelming and are often obstacles to successful adoption. Here’s what you need to know about adopting a child on Long Island.

Who Is Adoption Right For?

Adoption is the right option for any family that wants it — in fact, there are 1.5 million adopted children in the United States, and approximately 100 million people have been touched by adoption within their immediate families. You may want to consider adoption if you:

  • Are struggling with infertility and have been unable to conceive a biological child
  • Cannot or do not wish to pursue surrogacy
  • Have a medical condition that makes it impossible for you to safely carry a fetus to term
  • Have genetic disorders that you do not want passed down to your children
  • Want to provide a loving home to a child in need
  • Support the idea of a balanced population
  • Are financially, emotionally, and mentally prepared to bring a child into your home
  • Have a desire to help a child who has been abused, neglected, or harmed in other ways and has been placed in the foster system
  • Are a single parent wanting to start your own family
  • Are in a same-sex relationship and wish to become parents
  • Wish to choose the gender of your child
  • Want to expand your family to include individuals of different ethnicities or cultures
  • Support the decision of birth mothers to place their children for adoption
  • Have a family member or friend who has had a new baby they are unable to care for
  • Want to give a child born in a second or third-world country a chance to live a full and healthy life
  • Do not want to care for an infant and prefer to start your family with an older child
  • Have a stepchild that you want to adopt
  • Feel a calling to adopt a child

Types of Adoption

There are many types of adoption available for different types of families, including:

  • Domestic infant — Adoption of a newborn infant from the U.S., usually after selecting a birth mother in advance.
  • Waiting child — Adoption of a child in the foster system. Sometimes called public agency adoption.
  • International — Adoption of a child from a non-U.S. territory.
  • Independent — Adoption that takes place after the birth mother and intended parents connect through independent means versus an agency. Sometimes called a private adoption.
  • Open — Adoption that allows the birth parents and adoptive parents to maintain communication after the adoption is finalized.
  • Closed — Adoption that does not allow the birth parents and adoptive parents to maintain communication after the adoption is finalized.
  • Private agency — Adoption that takes place through a licensed child-placement agency.

 

In New York, court records of all adoptions are sealed, even in open adoptions. They cannot be accessed by the adoptive parents, birth parents, the adopted child, or the public.

‘The process of adopting a child, whether an older child in the foster system or a newborn infant from a birth mother, can be extraordinarily complex. It’s critical that you have a good understanding of the adoption process and what will be required of you at each stage.’

In New York, court records of all adoptions are sealed, even in open adoptions. They cannot be accessed by the adoptive parents, birth parents, the adopted child, or the public.

Understanding the Adoption Process

The process of adopting a child, whether an older child in the foster system or a newborn infant from a birth mother, can be extraordinarily complex. It’s critical that you have a good understanding of the adoption process and what will be required of you at each stage.

1. Learn About Adoption

The first step to making an adoption decision is learning about it. Ask friends or family members who have adopted about their experience. Consult adoption professionals for answers to your questions, and join online support groups to get a glimpse of day-to-day issues that both prospective and successful adoptive parents experience. Go over the fundamentals, such as the cost of adoption, home requirements, legal needs, etc.

“The average expense of adopting a child from a private agency is just under $40,000, while an independent adoption costs about $5,000 less. Adopting a waiting child, however, is significantly less. The average cost of a public agency adoption is under $3,000.”

2. How Much Does an Adoption Cost on Long Island?

The cost of adoption varies greatly depending on the type. The average expense of adopting a child from a private agency is just under $40,000, while an independent adoption costs about $5,000 less. International adoptions also vary in cost: adopting a South Korean child can be over $43,000, while adopting a child from China costs just over $36,000. Many private adoption agencies include counseling and other types of support for both adoptive parents and birth mothers, which increases their overall cost.

Adopting a waiting child, however, is significantly less. The average cost of a public agency adoption is under $3,000.

3. Prepare for a Home Study

All adoptions require a home study to be completed. During a home study, a social worker comes to your house and evaluates your environment and family dynamics to ensure that it’s appropriate to place a child with you. Many prospective parents dread the home screening — the scrutiny can feel invasive and as though your home and family are under a magnifying glass. Essentially, a home study only needs to answer two questions: are you able to become an adoptive parent, and do you have a safe environment in which to raise the child? Social workers aren’t looking for perfection.

What to Expect During an Adoption Screening

A home screening is generally conducted over the course of multiple meetings, although only one may be in your home. You and anyone else in living in your home will be interviewed, and may need to submit financial and medical records. A criminal background check for everyone in the home will be conducted and you may be required to submit to a medical exam, including a mental health evaluation. You can expect to fill out a great deal of paperwork and discuss your family, educational, and religious background with your social worker.

Home evaluations include fire safety inspections, public health inspections if your home has a septic system, and photographs of all areas of your home. If you have pets, you may be required to submit their veterinarian records to ensure they are vaccinated and well cared for. International and foster care adoptions may have different policies regarding home studies and what information must be submitted.

 

“Matching can take the longest of all the steps in the adoption process, especially if you want to adopt a U.S. newborn. However, public agency adoptions of older children tend to go more quickly.”

#4. Find a Match

Once you complete your home evaluation, you’ll begin looking for matches. Matching your family with a child goes both ways — not only is it important to ensure that you match with a child that meets your desired gender, age, and cultural criteria, but it’s critical to ensure that your family will be able to meet the child’s needs. Matching can take the longest of all the steps in the adoption process, especially if you want to adopt a U.S. newborn. However, public agency adoptions of older children tend to go more quickly.

 

Long Island Adoption#5. Prepare for Your Child’s Arrival

Next, you’ll need to prepare your home for the arrival of your child. When adopting a child outside the state of New York, you’ll need to obtain approval from the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) before you can bring your child home. If adopting an older child, ask your adoption professional about your child’s likes, dislikes, and any special needs they may have. Purchase seasonally-appropriate clothing in their size, foods they like, toys, games, and other comfort items. If adopting a baby, make sure you have formula, diapers, wipes, baby clothes, and other necessities. Prepare their room and make sure it’s clean with plenty of space for any items they may be bringing with them.

Take time off work when your child arrives and plan to spend plenty of time helping them acclimate to their new environment. You’ll also benefit from having the time to grow accustomed to having a new child in your home. If adopting a newborn, plan to take about as much time off as a birth mother would take for maternity leave. During the first three months after your child is placed, you will be supervised by the agency or another adoption professional before the adoption can be finalized. This waiting period allows you, your child, and the adoption professional to decide if the match is a good fit for everyone.

adoption long island ny

#6. Petition to Adopt

Once your child has settled in, you’ll need to complete an adoption petition to send to a Long Island family court in the county in which you live. At this time, you may request a name change if you wish, either to your family’s last name or a name of your choosing. If adopting an older child, discuss with them what they might want in regards to name changes. When petitioning to adopt a child, you legally assume full rights and responsibilities of the child’s care, health, and wellbeing. The agency is no longer required to supervise you.

#7. Finalize the Adoption

A judge will review your adoption petition and ensure it was completed in accordance with New York state law. The petition will be approved or denied — if approved, the adoptive parents are awarded permanent legal and physical custody of the child. If denied, you can appeal the decision. Common reasons for denial include a criminal record, incomplete or inaccurate paperwork, or revocation of biological parental consent.

“You cannot finalize an adoption without an attorney, so it would be in your best interest to get one involved as early in the process as possible, especially during the early stages of adoption when you need clear answers on legal questions and guidance on how to prepare for an adoption home study.”

Do You Need an Attorney to Adopt a Child?

You cannot finalize an adoption without an attorney, so it would be in your best interest to get one involved as early in the process as possible, especially during the early stages of adoption when you need clear answers on legal questions and guidance on how to prepare for an adoption home study. Your adoption attorney will: Discuss with you available options for adoption

  • Help you learn about the legal nuances of each type of adoption to help your family decide which is the best fit
  • File paperwork to start, continue, or complete the child placement process
  • Help you understand complex New York adoption laws
  • Appear on your behalf or represent you at adoption proceedings
  • Assist you in locating an adoption agency or setting up an independent adoption
  • Help you communicate with birth parents or foster homes
  • Help you finalize an independent adoption that you have set up
  • Connect you with adoption support and resources

Contact a Long Island Adoption Lawyer Today

If you’re considering adopting a child, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced Long Island adoption attorney. Instead of trying to put the pieces of the adoption process together yourself, your lawyer will guide you through learning about adoption, preparing your home, matching with a child, and finalizing your adoption. Adopting a child can be an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it can also be terrifying. Get the help you need to navigate adoption in New York by calling Hornberger & Verbitsky, P.C. We have the experience and skills needed to provide you with comprehensive legal support throughout the adoption process. Call us today for a consultation at 631-923-1910.

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