The adoption process varies among states, but some similar general guidelines exist. To closely examine these processes, we concentrate on the state of New York. For example, The Office of Children and Family Services in the state of New York describes the legal process of adoption, from application to finalization, as lengthy. It can last up to six months or more, depending on the time you apply and before a child is placed into your home.
Additionally, it will take at least three to twelve months before the adoption may be finalized in court. The basic tasks in the adoption process in New York state include:
- Choosing an adoption agency;
- Completing the home study process;
- Attending agency-sponsored training;
- Working with a caseworker to seek out an appropriate match;
- Visiting with the child;
- Working with a caseworker to apply for a subsidy, if eligible;
- Bringing your child home;
- Completing at least three months of supervision, if necessary;
- Completing the adoption in court and;
- Contacting the agency for post-adoption services as needed.
In New York, there are more than 130 adoption agencies. New York’s 58 social services districts have an adoption unit, and more than 70 authorized voluntary agencies collaborate with adopting families statewide. Public and private agencies do not charge a fee for adoption services provided on behalf of children who are in the legal guardianship of the local social services commissioner.
However, fees generally are based on the adoptive family’s income for the adoption of children in the legal guardianship of authorized voluntary agencies. Few agencies charge fees when families adopt children with special needs.
Choosing an adoption agency is a crucial step. Communicating with different agencies and adoptive parents or parent support groups to learn how the agencies function with prospective adoptive parents is necessary for your benefit. It is difficult to change agencies once the adoption process has started. A list of these agencies is available on every state website. While attending agency-sponsored training, adoption agencies generally expect applicants to participate in adoptive parent training. This training consists of multiple sessions designed to:
- Assist families in understanding adoption;
- Examine the strengths they bring to adoption;
- Decide whether they are prepared to adopt;
- Provide skills and knowledge needed when adopting;
- Support families to understand the needs of foster children, as well as the kind of child they would best parent and;
- Working with your caseworker to find the appropriate child.
Once a home study has been approved, the family and the agency work together to place a child. There are no special formulas for this process. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and the agency and family team up to decide what placement would promote the child’s best interest.
Furthermore, with the child photo listing available on this website, New York State publishes a printed version of The Adoption Album. Each page includes a photograph and a brief biography of a child needing a family. The Adoption Album is updated regularly to add any children newly freed for adoption. Remember that copies of The Adoption Album are available at public and private adoption agencies, most libraries, and other locations across the state and throughout the country.
Sometimes an agency can directly link a prospective adoptive family with the child they have a desire to adopt. But, an agency must often contact other agencies to inquire about a child. Generally, families can be identified for children through the Family Adoption Registry. The Family Adoption Registry is part of The Adoption Album database and is an opportunity for prospective parents to register their interest in adopting New York State’s waiting children. It is recommended to look at the local state for any adoption regulations and understand the basic process for adoption.
When a family inquires about a child, the adoption agency submits a summary with additional information beyond that provided in the child’s photo listing. Usually, this is exchanged for a copy of the home study. The family and the child’s agency then review the material. If both parties remain interested, the agency includes the family in its final selection process.
When choosing a family for a child, agencies try to select a family that will maintain the child’s connections. Maintaining connections provides continuity in the child’s life and respects the link between the child and their family, siblings, foster family, heritage, and culture. The fundamental standard across all states for all adoptive placements is the child’s best interest, which is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Frequently, the child’s agency assigns a large pool of prospective adoptive families to make a placement. In considering which child you might wish to adopt, you will inquire about many different children at once. Families who limit themselves to one child early in the process may be disappointed. Considering the number of children, you are more likely to connect with a child.
What is the Purpose of Adoption Agencies?
At the Virginia Department of Social Services, adoption is to place children who have been permanently and legally separated from their birth parents with a new family. It is a social and legal process that provides new parent(s) the same rights and obligations as biological parents.
When you adopt, you expand your family by taking a child (or children) into your home as your family member(s) and then caring for and nurturing them to adulthood and beyond. While foster care adoptions are the most frequent, there are several types of adoption, such as international, step-parent, close relative, parental placement, and adult adoption.
Only two types of adoptive placements are authorized by Virginia law. These are agency placements and non-agency placements. Agency Placements (placements through local departments of social services or licensed child-placing agencies) happen when the child is in the custody of a local department of social services (LDSS) or licensed child-placing agency. In this situation, all parental rights are terminated, custody with authority to place for adoption is granted to the agency, and the agency approves the child’s adoption.
The priority of the LDSS is cooperating with the family of origin or prior custodian to return the youth home. The goal is to place children home with their family of origin within 12 months, and if the goal is changed to adoption, it should be finalized within 24 months of a youth entering into foster care. Timelines and deadlines can vary depending on each state. Researching the local rules and educating yourself about the process is suggested.
Non-agency Adoptions (parental, step-parent, adult, close relative, and intercountry placements) involve children not placed in the custody of a local social services department and are administered by Licensed Child Placing Agencies (LCPA). In a non-agency placement, the birth parents or legal guardian(s) consent to the adoption, and parental rights are terminated by entry of the final order of adoption. These adoptions are usually parental placement, step-parent, close relative, and adult adoptions.
A parental placement adoption is where the birth parent places the child with the prospective adoptive parent(s). Step-parent adoption is one where termination of parental rights of one parent has occurred and a new parent, such as a new spouse, is adopting the child. A close relative adoption is when a close relative adopts a youth. Adult adoptions take place when one or more persons adopt a person over the age of 18. LDSS is not involved in these adoptions unless the Circuit Court orders the LDSS or LCPA to submit a report of investigation or a suitability report.
When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?
If you are considering adopting through an agency, you must research regulations about how they function. If you require further assistance with your case, do not hesitate to contact a local adoption attorney to support you in the process.