We have chosen to pursue a “private” or “independent”
adoption. Simply stated, there is no adoption agency
involved; we, along with our lawyer are managing the
adoption process ourselves. We chose this way,
because it allows the birth parents and the adoptive
parents to plan an adoption which best suits the needs
of everyone involved.
Regardless of which method an adoptive parent chooses
to pursue, the law in the State of New York requires that
certain procedures must be followed before a child can
be placed with the adoptive parents. New York law
requires that all adoptive couples pursuing a private
adoption or not working with an agency licensed by the
State of New York be “pre-certified” by a court.
To be pre-certified the adoptive parents must complete
a “home study.” The home study is a formal review of
the applicant’s desire and ability to be an adoptive
parents. It reviews such factors as the applicant’s
willingness to be an adoptive parent, the home
environment, and the applicant’s social and economic
background. As part of the home study, the adoptive
parents will be required to provide references, health
data, and information on their financial ability to raise a
child. The home study process is also an educational
one, since the adoptive parents will learn about the
differences between being a biological and an adoptive
parent, as well as various adoption-related issues which
may arise for them and their child.
Then, the completed home study, a petition for pre-
certification and fingerprint forms (to discover whether
the applicants have criminal records) are submitted to
the court. The State of New York will also be asked to
provide information about whether the adoptive parents
have any records or reports relating to child abuse or
mistreatment. The process is designed to weed out, to
the extent possible, parents who are unsuitable, such as
those who have criminal records for child abuse or
mistreatment, are mentally unstable, or the like.
Once the court has issued a pre-certification, stating
that the adoptive parents are cleared to adopt, the
In a private adoption, the adoptive parents actively
seek out a birth mother who is willing to place her child
with them. The search may take many forms:
advertisements in newspapers, letters to doctors and
other health-care professionals, and networking with
family and friends.
Once an adoptive parent has located a child available
for adoption, certain steps must be followed to ensure
that the process is as smooth and uncomplicated as
possible. New York State prohibits the birth mother and
the adoptive parents from being represented by the
same attorney. The adoptive parents and the birth
parents usually have their own attorneys.
There are a number of issues that must be addressed at
this stage, including, confidentiality, open adoption,
rights of the birth father and payment of expenses.
This is the wonderful thing about independent adoption;
we can openly discuss all of these issues, and come to a
mutual decision, that suits all of us.
After the adoptive parents have had custody of the child
in New York for at least three months, the baby can be
formally adopted. A follow-up home study will be
performed to attest to the integration of the baby into
its adoptive home. Once again, various legal documents
will be filed with the court, and an informal hearing may
The goal of all parties in the adoption process should be
to ensure that the best interests of the child are
protected. Indeed, every adoption should pass the most
stringent ethical and moral tests.
The information presented above is intended to provide
a general overview of the adoption process in New
York. It is not intended to be a comprehensive
summary of the law, and individual circumstances may