Poughkeepsie Adoption Lawyer
People seeking to expand their family through adoption often face many hurdles, legal and otherwise. Whether you adopt through a surrogacy arrangement, the child protection system (public adoption), a private agency, direct adoption, or pursue international adoption, you may face certain challenges as you grow your family.
There are few restrictions on adoption in New York. Married and unmarried couples, as well as single individuals, can all pursue adoption. Regardless of your specific circumstances, a Poughkeepsie adoption lawyer is here help you through every step of the process, providing the legal experience and practical guidance you need during this time. Our compassionate family lawyers are ready you to guide you through this transformative time in your life.
Prospective parents must be approved to adopt. The preapproval process is largely the same, whether the prospective adopter uses a private agency, goes through the foster care system, or pursues a direct adoption.
Prospective parents must complete a lengthy application asking detailed questions about them and the backgrounds of everyone in the household. Every question must be answered honestly, even if doing so seems unfavorable. It is often helpful for Poughkeepsie adopters to work with an attorney to complete the paperwork, as errors or misstatements may result in rejection.
A conviction for certain crimes may leave someone unable to adopt. Even a prospective adopter with a clear record may not be approved to adopt if someone in their household has been convicted of specific crimes, including violent crimes, crimes against children, domestic violence, and felony drug or assault crimes within the past five years.
Each person in the household must be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check, and their information will be run through the national sex offender registry. The State Police will run the fingerprints to ensure the individual has not been involved in a child abuse or neglect case.
Preapproval requires a social worker to visit the home at least once for a “home study”. They will conduct extensive interviews with all members of household, inquiring into about their background, relationships, health, education, work history, finances, hobbies, and day-to-day lives.
Prospective parents will be asked about their childhoods, any trauma they have experienced as adults, and how they have coped with it. Seeking help through therapy or psychiatric treatment is not disqualifying and may show an ability to recognize problems and seek help. Prospective parents should not shy away from disclosing such matters.
Prospective parents must submit documents verifying every aspect of their application and any issues that arose in the home study. They will need to submit personal references, letters from employers, treating physicians, mental health providers, and extensive financial documentation. An adoption attorney in Poughkeepsie may provide more insight into the specific documents that a potential adopter may need to provide.
Stepparent and Second Parent Adoption
Stepparent adoption is when a spouse wishes to adopt their current spouse’s biological or adoptive child. When a married same-sex couple has a child, although both partners are legal parents in New York, other states may not recognize the status of the non-biological parent. In that case, a stepparent adoption may ensure both spouses have legal parental rights wherever they go.
Second parent adoptions come into play when same-sex, unmarried couples have a child together through surrogacy or artificial insemination. Only the biological parent is a legal parent unless the other partner adopts the child. A second parent adoption ensures that both partners have legal parental rights.
A stepparent adoption cannot take place if the child’s other biological or adoptive parent retains their parental rights. If the other legal parent is deceased, a second parent adoption can occur. However, if the other legal parent is living, they must surrender their parental rights before a stepparent may adopt. A Poughkeepsie adoption attorney could help with negotiations between biological and adoptive parents.
Formalizing the Adoption in Court
A child must live with the adoptive parents for several months before the parents can file a petition for adoption. The required length of time depends on the family’s specific circumstances. During that time, a social worker may visit one or more times to assess how the placement is working.
Once the placement period is over, a Poughkeepsie attorney for the prospective parent(s) prepares a petition for adoption. If the child is age 14 or older, the petition must acknowledge the child’s consent to the adoption. A judge will hold a hearing which is primarily ceremonial, but the judge may ask the prospective parents and child to confirm some of the information in the petition.
At the end of the hearing the court will issue a certificate of adoption. Once the court has certified an adoption, New York Domestic Relations Law § 117 says the child is legally the child of the adoptive family with all the rights of any other child in the family.
Let a Poughkeepsie Adoption Attorney Guide You Through the Process
Adoption is an emotional rollercoaster, and the legal process can be taxing. If you have decided to expand your family through adoption, a knowledgeable attorney could ease the process considerably.
A Poughkeepsie adoption lawyer has the experience needed to help your family navigate the system. If you have decided to explore adoption, call today to speak with a dedicated member of our team.