Deciding to adopt is one of the most exciting times in a parent’s life. However, adoption can be a complex legal process, and adoptive parents may benefit from working with an experienced Syracuse adoption lawyer. Adoptive parents need to follow strict legal guidelines during the adoption process and typically, adoptive parents need legal representation in an independent adoption.
The Syracuse family law attorneys at CDH Law PLLC have an in-depth knowledge of New York’s adoption laws. We provide our clients with the necessary legal representation to safely and legally adopt the newest member of their family. Whether you are a biological mother who is selecting adoptive parents or you are adoptive parents yourself, we are here to help. We will represent your interests and legal rights while guiding you through the adoption process.
New York Adoption Laws
Under New York law, any adult may adopt another individual, including two unmarried intimate partners and single New York residents. When the parent hoping to adopt a child is married, both spouses must adopt the child, unless they’ve been separated for at least three years.
In New York, if the individual being adopted is 14 years old or older, he or she must consent to the adoption. Additionally, if the person being adopted is a minor under the age of 18, the following individuals must consent to the adoption:
- Both biological parents if the child was born in wedlock
- The biological mother if the child was born out of wedlock
- The biological father if the child was born out of wedlock and maintained substantial and repeated contact with a child
Obtaining the consent of the child’s biological father can be difficult in some cases. However, if the child was born outside of wedlock, and the biological father does not engage in regular contact with a child, the adoptive parents do not need his consent. Regular contact includes making regular child support payments and monthly visits. Occasional contact or infrequent visits do not constitute regular contact under New York law.
Types of Adoption
Most New York adoptions are private placement adoptions or agency adoptions. Private placement adoptions occur when the biological mother chooses the adoptive parents. In agency adoptions, a licensed New York agency temporarily assumes responsibility for the child after his or her parents have surrendered their parental rights. The agency screens and chooses adoptive parents then surrenders the temporary rights. The adoptive parents undertake the formal process.
Sometimes adoptive parents assume that they don’t need to work with their lawyer when working with an agency. However, agencies do not always consider the legal interests of the adoptive parents. By working with their attorney, the adoptive parents can ensure that the contracts they sign are legally valid and in their best interest. Adoption lawyers ensure that the agency complies with New York laws while guiding the adoptive parents through legal issues.
Private or Independent Adoptions
In a private or independent adoption, the adoptive parents go outside of an agency and work out an arrangement with the biological parent or parents. Working with an experienced New York adoption lawyer is especially important in independent adoptions. Until the adoptive parents complete the formal court process of adoption, there is a possibility that the birth mother will change her mind.
In some cases, adoptive parents offered to pay for the mother’s medical expenses and living expenses during the pregnancy. An experienced lawyer will be able to draft a contract that both parties can sign that protects the adoptive parents’ interests. Should any legal issues arise during private adoption, your lawyer will be able to represent you in court. In some private adoptions, adoptive parents must pursue the termination of a birth parent’s rights to complete the adoption process. An adoption lawyer can help you obtain the legal documents you need to finalize the adoption.
In a relative adoption, a relative of the biological parents adopts the child. In many cases, a step-parent or grandparent will adopt a child. Most relative adoptions are considered private or independent adoptions. The state of New York provides a streamlined process for relatives to adopt children or step-children. Adoptive parents still need to complete a home study and submit an application, however. If you are considering adopting a relative, you may qualify to receive monthly benefits from the state of New York.
In an international adoption, parents from the United States adopt a child from another country. International adoptions are particularly complex. New York courts typically permit orders from foreign countries under New York law. These orders have the same legal impact as adoptions issued in New York state courts. However, both adopting parents must be residents of New York. New York Courts will confirm the validity of the foreign adoption through the child’s immigrant visa.
Adoptive parents must also pay for all travel-related costs and satisfy any other requirements set forth by the child’s home country. Many different legal issues can arise during an international adoption. In some cases, the foreign agencies that allow International adoptions are not truthful when describing the children in their care to potential adoptive parents. It’s wise to work with an experienced lawyer who can help you navigate this often complicated process.
Contact Our Syracuse Adoption Lawyer Today
Whether you are hoping to adopt a child or you would like to allow your child to be adopted, we can help. The experienced adoption lawyers at CDH Law PLLC enjoy assisting parents in adding new members to their family through adoption. We will guide you through every step and help facilitate the process while protecting your rights. Our lawyers give each adoption case the attention it needs and provide our clients with excellent legal guidance. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.