By Matt Cavallo
New York Law permits “[a]n adult unmarried person, an adult married couple together, or any two unmarried adult intimate partners together” to adopt someone. Dom. Rel. § 110. With regard to married couples, however, both spouses must adopt a child, except in circumstances where the spouses are separated by either a decree of a court or by agreement, or where one of the adult married spouses “has been living separate and apart from his or her spouse for at least three years prior to commencing an adoption proceeding . . . .” Id.
Overall, adoption in New York is described as a “legal proceeding whereby a person takes another person into the relation of child and thereby acquires the rights and incurs the responsibilities of parent in respect of such other person.” Id.
In addition, consent of the child to be adopted is required if the child is over fourteen years of age, although a judge or surrogate can waive such consent, and consent to adopt can also be required from the parent or surviving parent of a child born out of wedlock. Dom. Rel. § 111. The law regarding adoption also contains provisions entitling fathers to notice of adoption proceedings initiated for their out-of-wedlock children. See Dom. Rel. § 111-a.
The Surrogate’s Court or the Family Court will be the tribunal in which the adoption proceeding will occur. An adoption can occur by agency adoption, which involves the adoption of children who are in foster care, or by private placement adoption, which involves a private agreement between two sets of parents. Both situations will involve the original parents terminating their parental rights when the child is ultimately adopted. When these rights are terminated, the parent relinquishes their control over the child.
Adoption, like many legal processes, is often complicated and it may be prudent to seek counsel in such proceedings.