If your goal is to adopt an infant, the first decision to make is whether you will adopt domestically (within the United States) or internationally.
If you choose to adopt an infant domestically, there are two general types of adoption: (1) private adoption and (2) agency adoption. Infants can sometimes be adopted through foster care, but generally not immediately.
Many couples and individuals first meet with an adoption attorney when they are making the decision as to which type of adoption best suits their needs.
If you choose a private adoption, you will need to work with your attorney to become certified as qualified adoptive parents by the Family or Surrogate’s Court in the county where you reside. The certification process requires obtaining a home study, fingerprinting for a criminal history check, an address history for a child abuse/neglect check, providing medical clearances from your primary care physician, and providing some basic information about your finances. Once the Court certifies you, your certification is good for 18 months. You cannot take custody of a child until you have received your certification.
The next step is to find a birth mother. In a private adoption, you are responsible for networking and advertising in order to locate a birth mother. For more information on this process, please learn about finding a birth mother.
Private Agency Adoption
If you choose a private agency adoption, you will need to select an agency that is a good fit for you. Make sure that your agency is licensed in New York because New York adoptive parents cannot work with agencies that are not licensed in New York. This is a big decision and you should talk to several agencies before choosing an agency.
You should think of the process as an interview of the agency and some of the things you should ask about are:
- What is your fee structure?
- On average, how long does it take to match?
- How long has your longest client been waiting for a match?
- What type of openness do you allow/support?
- What types of post-adoption services do you provide?
- Do you handle interracial adoptions regularly (if applicable)?
- Do you handle LGBTQ adoptions regularly (if applicable)?
Many adoption agencies hold workshops for potential clients. These give you an opportunity to learn about the adoption process and get a feel for the agency and its staff. Ultimately, you want to pick an agency that you have good chemistry with because you will be working very closely with them for a period of time.
You do not need to be certified by the Court if you use an adoption agency. The agency is authorized to certify you and you will need to go through the same steps as described above for certification. The agency will also be responsible for advertising for birth mothers on your behalf and matching you with an appropriate birth mother.
If you are considering an international adoption, the first thing to determine is whether the country you seek to adopt from is a Hague or non-Hague country.
If the country is a non-Hauge country, the child must meet the definition of an orphan. You will select an agency licensed in New York who will partner with an agency in the foreign country. Form I-600A is used to qualify you as appropriate adoptive parents and then you are matched with a child in the foreign country. Form I-600 is then filed to have the child approved as eligible to be adopted.
If the country is a Hague country, the child needs to be deemed eligible for adoption by the country of origin’s central authority. You must work with a Hague accredited agency. Form I-800A is used to qualify you as appropriate adoptive parents and then you are matched with a child in the foreign country. Form I-800 is then filed to have the child approved as eligible to be adopted.
You will then travel to the foreign country and meet all applicable requirements of that country. While in that country, you will go to the United States Consulate with the child for the child’s medical examination, to fill out various forms, and to apply for the child’s visa.
When you return to the United States you will need to either readopt or register the foreign adoption in New York.