How to Adopt

Opening your heart and home to a Heart Gallery New York child is a wonderful and life-changing experience for parent and child alike. Approximately 16,000 children are in foster care in New York State. Adoption provides them with a new home and family to call their own. Being an adoptive parent means making a lifetime commitment to a child.

 
 
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The Inquiry

Thank you for considering to make a difference in the lives of New York State’s waiting children. Becoming a foster or adoptive parent will help a child feel safe and loved. All of the children that are photolisted on the Heart Gallery New York website are legally freed for adoption.

To learn more about fostering or adopting a child in New York, please contact the New York State Adoption Services (NYSAS) Parent Connection at 1-800-345-KIDS (5437), or at ocfs.ny.gov/adopt to connect you to a local adoptive or foster parent support group. In addition, staff at New York State-approved voluntary authorized adoption agencies and local departments of social services can answer your questions to help you decide if adoption is right for you.

The first step toward adopting a Heart Gallery New York child is to become approved adoption resource parent through an adoption agency. A Parent Recruitment Associate can refer you to an agency that will invite you to an orientation meeting so that you may learn more about the adoption process.

If you already have a home study and are approved as an adoptive parent by a foster care or adoption agency, we can forward your name and contact information to the agency responsible for the child or children that you inquired about. To inquire about a Heart Gallery New York child, please click on the child’s photo in the online gallery. You will be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire that will be forwarded to the child's caseworkers.  They will contact you to request a copy of your home study so that they can consider you as a match for the child. Prospective families can view all New York State  waiting children at http://ocfs.ny.gov/adopt/photolisting.asp

 

The Adoption Process

To learn more about adoption, please visit http://ocfs.ny.gov/adopt/

Listed below are the basic steps required to adopt a child in New York State. Each step is
described in greater detail by reading Adopting a Child from Foster Care in New York State

 

Step 1
contact  

Contact the New York State Adoption Service (NYSAS) at 1-800-345-KIDS (5437), or email them at adopt.me@ocfs.ny.gov to request information about the adoption process. NYSAS will guide you to lists of public or private agencies for you to contact for orientation information. In New York City, please call the NYC Administration for Children’s Services’ Parent Recruitment Hotline at 212-676-WISH (9474) and they will mail you the packet of information. You can also request information online here.


Step 2
Attend an orientation

Contact an agency and make an appointment to attend an orientation or register on-line. At the orientation, adoption professionals will give you an overview of the adoption process, answer your questions and guide you through every step of the process.


Step 3 
Complete the Adoption Application 

At the end of the orientation you will be given an application to fill out. Return the completed application to your adoption recruitment agency. Once social workers have reviewed it and are satisfied that the basic elements are in place, they will contact you to begin a home study.


Step 4
have a home study prepared

The home study provides the child welfare agency and the courts with comprehensive information needed to place a child in your care. You and your social worker will meet several times during the process. You will have a biographical and physical assessment completed and will submit various documents including copies of your birth certificate(s), marriage license (if applicable), income tax returns, and medical reports completed by your physician. All adults in your home must be fingerprinted and cleared through the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (or out-of-state CPS register, where applicable) and the Justice Center's Staff Exclusion List. Depending on the particular circumstances, a home study can take up to several months.


STep 5
complete a training series

While the home study is underway, you will attend an 8-10 week Model Approach to Partnership and Parenting (MAPP) training, where you will learn parenting skills, assess your own strengths as a parent, and better understand the particular needs of adoptive children.

 

STep 6
Have your home APPROVED

After satisfactory completion of your training and home study, your home will be approved as a pre-adoptive home.

 
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Step 7
Be Matched with a child

Now you are ready to begin the matching process. You will have the opportunity to look at pictures of New York children waiting for adoption, attend matching conferences and participate in other matching events. Your agency will assist both you and the child to make the right match. At this point, you and the child(ren) can begin visiting each other.


STep 8
Get to know each other

After you and the child(ren) become acquainted, the child(ren) will begin making home visits and/or overnight stays at your home. At some point, when you are both ready, the child(ren) may move in with you. During this pre-adoptive phase, you and your child will get to know each other. You will learn about your child’s medical and family history. You will also learn about adoption subsidies and reimbursements. You will sign an Adoptive Placement Agreement. The agreement says that you will take care of the child and intend to adopt.


STep 9
The child is placed
in your care

After the children move into their new home with you, it will take approximately 6-8 months—and in some cases longer— before the adoption can be finalized. The agency will remain involved with both you and the child during this time.

 

Step 10
Choose an attorney to file an adoption petition

Hire and work with your adoption attorney to submit the adoption petition to finalize the adoption in court. Finalizing an adoption in court generally requires a lawyer, which means that there will be legal fees and court costs. Families that are adopting children with special needs are eligible for reimbursement of some of these “non-recurring adoption expenses.”


STep 11
Finalize your adoption

Your adoption petition will be reviewed in family court. When the judge approves the match, you and your child will go to court to sign the final adoption papers. Congratulations! You are now a family.


STep 12
Post Adoption Services

Contact your local department of social services or a voluntary authorized adoption agency to learn how to
obtain post-adoption services, if necessary. Please contact OCFS Post Adoption Help for families at http://ocfs.ny.gov/adopt/post_adoption/

 
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Facts & Fiction

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about adoption. You may have more specific questions. Please call the New York State Adoption Service at 1-800-345-KIDS (5437), or email them at adopt.me@ocfs.ny.gov to learn more about the adoption process. In New York City, please call the NYC Administration for Children’s Services’ Parent Recruitment Hotline at 212-676-WISH (9474) to request an information packet, schedule an orientation, and find out all you need to know.
 

Do I have to be married to adopt a child? 
Both single and married people can adopt.
 

Can I adopt a child of a different race? 
New York State’s children are diverse and so are our families. Neither OCFS nor the agencies it works with discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual preference, gender, or age (however you must be at least 18 years of age).
 

Will I need to pay for adoption services? 
There are no fees when adopting through the State of New York. The home study will be prepared with no cost to you and financial assistance is often available to cover legal fees.
 

I do fine by myself, but am not sure if I make enough money to support a child. Is there financial support available? 
You don’t have to make a lot of money to adopt. Adoption subsidies and income tax credits may be available to help with the costs of raising a child.
 

What kind of help will I receive through the adoption process and after? 
OCFS and the agencies it works with will be there to assist you—from your first call to adoption finalization. You will have your questions answered, the agencies will work with you to match you with your child, and a staff member and your adoption attorney will help you complete the paperwork. After you adopt, there are parent groups and services to provide ongoing support and information.
 

I was arrested when I was 18. Will that affect my eligibility to adopt? 
It depends on the nature and severity of the offense and the length of time that has passed since then. When you attend an orientation, the staff will be able to give you more specific information.
 

I have children at home already and no empty bedrooms. Can I still adopt? 
Children of the same gender may share a bedroom. Call 1-800-345-KIDS (5437) for more information.