Buffalo Adoption Lawyers
Experienced Adoption Attorneys in Buffalo, NY
The underlying principle of the adoption process for residents of Buffalo as well as the rest of New York is very straightforward. However, because the life of a person is at stake, special steps and procedures must be followed. Additionally, there may be situations where there is resistance to the adoption. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the adoption, the Buffalo adoption lawyers at Cole, Sorrentino, Hurley, Hewner, & Gambino, P.C., can help you with the seemingly overwhelming and complicated process.
What Is Adoption?
Adoption is the legal process by which the parental rights of the birth parents are ended while another individual or couple takes on those parental rights. Generally, only children are adopted, but adults may be adopted in certain situations. After an adoption is complete, the law will view the adoptive family and child as if they were biologically related.
In order for an adoption to take place, the parental rights of the birth parents must end. This can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. In cases of the voluntary relinquishment of parental rights, the birth parents believe their child will be better off with different parents. If the parental rights are terminated involuntarily, it’s usually due to the death of both parents or by judicial order in cases of abuse or neglect.
In New York, adoptions will occur in two possible ways: private placement and agency adoption.
Private Placement Adoption
During a private placement adoption, the legal custody of the child will transfer directly from the birth parents to the adoptive family. Even though government or private adoption agencies are not involved in a private placement adoption, court approval will be needed before the adoption is complete.
Agency adoptions can occur when the child custody rights first transfer to an agency before transferring to the adoptive family or when an agency facilitates the adoption process. There are two types of adoption agencies: private and social services.
Private adoption agencies facilitate the adoption process between the birth and adoptive family. The private agency will have its own set of criteria for determining if an individual or couple may adopt a child and will conduct pre-placement certification requirements. Using a private adoption agency can be expensive, but makes it much easier to adopt an infant. Before using a private agency, adoptive families must make sure the agency has been approved by the state.
Social Services Agency
If a private agency isn’t used, a local department of social services may be used, such as Buffalo’s Erie County Department of Social Services. In these types of adoptions, the custody of the child will often transfer from the birth parents to the social services agency before then going to the adoptive family. In many instances, children are being adopted out of foster care and are of toddler age or older. As with private agency adoptions, pre-placement certification requirements must be met, such as a home study.
Who May Adopt?
You do not need to be married to adopt. New York allows individuals and couples to adopt. Also, there are no rules restricting adoptions based on marital status or sexual orientation.
The New York Adoption Process
Whether a private placement or agency adoption method is used, there are four main steps in order to complete a New York adoption.
Step 1: Pre Qualification and Certification
The person or couple seeking to adopt will have to go through a home study. During a home study, a social worker or other official will confirm that the adopting family is suitable for adoption. They ensure the family will pass the financial, child abuse and criminal checks. If the family is determined to be adequate, the court will approve them in a process called certification.
Step 2: Finding Birth Parents
Depending on the adoption process, the adoptive family may need to advertise the fact that they are looking to adopt. This can include notifying the local social services agency or alerting a private adoption agency of the family’s wishes to adopt a child.
Step 3: Working with Birth Parents/Consent
This step will vary widely, depending on how the adoption is taking place. For example, if a private adoption agency is used and the child has not yet been born, the adoptive family will want to help arrange proper prenatal care and ask the birth mother to sign a medical records release. And once the child is born, the birth mother (and father, if applicable), will sign papers terminating their parental rights. If a local social services agency is being used for adoption, there may be an involuntary termination of rights hearing before the adoption can take place.
Step 4: Adoption Finalization
The appropriate documents must be filed and court approval obtained. A hearing may also be held, although this is an informal court proceeding that should take less than an hour to complete. Once the child is home with his or her new family, a social worker or private adoption agency representative will visit the adoptive family to see how the child is doing.
Contact Our Buffalo Adoption Lawyers with Questions or Issues
The Buffalo adoption lawyers at Cole, Sorrentino, Hurley, Hewner, & Gambino, P.C., can help you with any questions you may have about adoption. Whether you’re looking to adopt or want to give up a child for adoption, our Buffalo adoption lawyers can help. All you need to do is contact us by phone or send us a message through our website.