WHAT IS ADOPTION?
Adoption is a legal proceeding that creates a new legal and permanent parent-child relationship.
WHO CAN ADOPT IN NEW YORK?
Under New York law, an adult unmarried person or an adult married couple together may adopt another person. Also, the Domestic Relations Law of the State of New York states that "any two unmarried adult intimate partners together may adopt...."
The law also allows an adult married person living separate and apart from their spouse pursuant to a decree or judgment of separation (or pursuant to a written agreement of separation) to adopt. Furthermore, an adult married person who has been living separate and apart from their spouse for at least three years before commencing an adoption proceeding may adopt.
Private agencies may have rules and restrictions regarding who can adopt through their organization. Also, if you choose the path of international adoption, most countries have their own set of rules as to who can adopt a child.
AREAS OF PRACTICE
An agency must be licensed with the state before it can receive and place children for purposes of adoption. When a child is placed with an agency for purposes of adoption, prospective adoptive parents, with the assistance of an agency, will be shown pictures and biographical information of children available for adoption. In a foster care adoption, certain individuals have priority to adopt a particular child. For example, a foster parent who wishes to adopt a child who has been placed in their home for 12 continuous months has first priority over that particular child.
The social worker assigned to the child and social work staff will review an adoption application submitted by prospective adoptive parents. When an adoption application is accepted, the agency social work staff will conduct a homestudy and other investigations to determine whether the home and family environment of the adoptive parent(s) is suitable and in the best interest of the child. The homestudy will address such issues as the household finances, medical information, a personal history of each adoptive parent, the suitability of the home environment, and child safety issues. These reports, along with the other necessary paperwork, will be presented to the court.
Maria has years of experience working with adoptive parents through the process of an agency adoption. Maria has worked with adoptive parents before and after a child is placed for adoption to ensure that the rights of the adoptive parents are being protected. Once the matter is ready to go to court, Maria prepares and reviews all of the necessary paperwork to file the adoption and works with the adoptive parents, the court, and the agency involved to move forward towards finalization of the adoption.
readoptions and registration of foreign adoptions
A readoption is sometimes required when a child is adopted in a foreign country. The type of visa issued for the child (IR-4 or IH-4) mandates that the child be adopted once the family returns to the United States, in the state where the adoptive parents reside. In order to do this, the adoptive parents must finalize the adoption in their home state before the child's 18th birthday. Once the child is readopted, he or she will automatically become a citizen of the United States and the adoptive parents can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. This is a full adoption process where updated medical information, background checks, reference letters, and an updated homestudy, among other court documents, must be filed in court. If the child receives an IR-3 visa, then it is highly recommended that the adoptive parents file a Petition to Register the Foreign Adoption Order with the court. This will allow the adoptive parents to have an order form a U.S. court that recognizes the adoption as if it was finalized in New York. The child's name can be legally changed as part of this process as well. The adoptive parents will receive a Birth Data Record from the New York State Department of Health at the end of this process.
SECOND PARENT ADOPTION
Maria has experience representing same-sex and opposite-sex couples in second parent adoption proceedings which include adoption by an intimate partner of the birth or legal parent.
adoption and immigration
Maria has assisted adoptive parents with immigration forms related to adoption. This includes filing N-600 forms (Application for Certificate of Citizenship), and I-130 (Immediate Relative Petitions).
Stepparent adoption provides the legal recognition and protection of the relationship between a stepparent and stepchild. Without an adoption order, a stepparent does not have the same rights as the biological parent. Also, the legal right of inheritance from the stepparent is established by adoption.