Agency adoptions are adoptions for children who are placed either through a local department of social services (LDSS) or a New York-approved voluntary authorized adoption agency (VA). Agency adoptions follow a home study process and approval of the adoptive parent(s) based on the best interests of the child. Custody and guardianship of the child remains with the commissioner of the social services district or the VA until the adoption is finalized.
We are adoption attorneys in Schenectady for both agency and private adoptions. In our role, we proactively determine if the child is free for adoption, work with the adoptive parents and the relevant agency to complete the adoption filing, maintain an open line of communication with the agency caseworker and the court, represent the adoptive parents at the finalization ceremony, and insure that all post-adoption forms, including the new birth certificate are received by our clients. We assist adoptive parents mostly in Schenectady and Schoharie Counties.
Private placement adoptions are arranged between the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) after the adoptive parent(s) meet certain pre-placement certification requirements. These adoptions are not overseen by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
A foster child is any person in the care, custody or guardianship of an authorized agency, such as Department of Social Services, who is placed either temporarily or long term. Children may be placed voluntarily in foster care by their parents or by order of the Family Court.
A permanent home offers the best opportunity for children to develop and thrive and a permanent alternative home, such as a home with an adoptive parent, will be sought when it is clear that the birth parents cannot provide the home and continued foster care is not appropriate.
If a child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, if the parent has been convicted of a certain category of crime, or if the child have been determined to be abandoned, then parental rights may be terminated and the child freed for adoption.
Foster parents do not have custodial rights to the children placed in their care but, if they have cared for a child for at least 12 continuous months, they have preference and first consideration in the adoption of the child.
A prospective adoptive parent must first be approved by the authorized agency as an adoptive parent. After approval, an adoptive parent should speak to an adoption attorney for assistance in filing the adoption petition and supporting documents. The adoption attorney works collaboratively with the agency having guardianship of the child, whether private or public, to ensure the agency also files its necessary documents.
The practice of each court for filing and finalizing an adoption varies and, in general, we work in Schenectady and Schoharie Counties as we are most familiar with their practices.
Once the petition and supporting documents are filed and deemed complete by the court, a judge presides over the finalization ceremony. The adoptive parents and the child appear at the finalization ceremony, where the judge will finalize the adoption. Any family and friends that the adoptive parents wish to have share the day are also welcome.
After the adoption, the adoption attorney will insure that the agency and family have copies of the Certificate of Adoption. The adoption attorney should also insure that the adoptive parents have a copy of the approved, signed subsidy agreement. The adoption attorney will also confirm that the adoptive parents receive the amended birth certificate from the NYS Department of Health and provide guidance on obtaining Social Security numbers for the child, including obtaining the original Order of Adoption required by the Social Security Administration.
Outside of New York City, the procedure for payment of adoption attorneys' fees varies from county to county, but in general, for agency adoptions, attorneys' fees will be paid by the local social services district.