For many couples or individuals, adoption serves as a method to become parents or add to existing families. In many cases, the adoptive children urgently need a stable, safe environment or home that the natural parent or parents do not or cannot provide.
If you choose an adoption, understand that the process creates a new parent-child relationship and severs the former one. This action and many that are preliminary to an adoption have significant legal consequences. For these reasons, you may want the assistance of one of our NYC adoption lawyers.
What Are the Effects of an Adoption
New York Domestic Relations Law Section 117 details the legal ramifications of an adoption.
For the biological parents, an adoption relieves them generally of a legal duty to provide support. The adopting parents cannot look to the biological parents for any financial or other support. An exception does exist where a parent consents to adoption of the child by a stepparent, in which event the consent parent remains responsible to the child. Other parental duties and responsibilities for the actions of the child also vanish from the biological parents and fall to the new ones.
If you are considering placing your child for adoption, speak with one of our NYC adoption lawyers about the consequences to you. Upon an adoption, you as the biological parent lose all rights to custody, visitation and control over the child. The adoptive parents, rather than the biological ones, can decide matters of the child’s education, religion and socialization. Those actions are not subject to your veto.
Adoption also effects from whom the children can inherit property. In the absence of a will, the adopted children inherit by and through the adopting parents rather than the biological ones.
Who May Adopt?
New York law requires that you reside in the state for at least three months prior to an adoption. Otherwise, generally any adult may adopt a child. Your spouse must join in any adoption. Further, New York does not impose any restrictions related to the gender of the adopting parent. In other words, a adult male may adopt a girl and a adult female may adopt a boy.
If you seek an adoption, an NYC adoption lawyer in our firm can help you with the petition. As a prerequisite to a petition, you must qualify to assume custody of the child. To get temporary custody, you must satisfy the court that you and your home are suitable for taking care of the child. A licensed social worker will examine carefully the home environment and your behavior is parents. Based upon the worker’s report, the court will determine your qualification to have temporary custody.
If you pass this test, you are certified to have temporary custody for 18 months. Upon completion of the period, you can then petition the court for an adoption.
An NYC adoption lawyer in our firm can assist you with having an adoption order from another country registered and recognized in New York. When you file a “Petition for Registration of Foreign Adoption Order,” you will follow the procedures that apply to private placement adoptions.
Who Must Consent to an Adoption?
The biological parents’ agreement to the adoption represents an important part of the process. This is because the law closely guards the biological parents’ rights. An adoption severs the relationship between the natural parents and the children and extinguishes the natural parents’ rights.
Our NYC adoption lawyers can guide you, not only if you’re a prospective adoptive parent, but if you are a natural parent whose consent is requested. Under New York law, consent to an adoption and the voluntary relinquishment of parental rights must normally be in writing. You should take care in deciding to terminate your parental rights. Once you take the step, you can revoke it only in very limited circumstances. These may include duress, fraud or other circumstances that show you did not voluntarily relinquish your rights.
Sometimes, your inaction can be treated as relinquishment of your parental rights. If you are an unmarried father, you need to respond to an adoption notice or a notice of paternity promptly and carefully. Otherwise, you risk losing your parental rights, and the adoption can proceed. The biological parent’s consent is not required if parental rights have been terminated.
Aside from the natural parents, New York law requires that you get the consent of the child being adopted if that child is age 14 years or older.
Whether you seek to adopt or someone wants to adopt your children, please reach out to one of our NYC adoption lawyers to assess your rights, obligations and options.