About Adoption

In New York State, most adoption petitions are filed in the county where the adoptive parents live. Depending on the county, the Family Court or the Surrogate's Court decide adoption cases.

A Family Court or Surrogate's Court Judge must approve all adoptions. This is done by signing an Order of Adoption.

There are two kinds of adoptions in New York, agency adoptions and private placement adoptions. The procedure is a little different between the two types of adoptions.

Most adoptions are of children under the age of 18.


Who Can Adopt

In New York State, almost anyone can become an adoptive parent. An adoptive parent must be 18 years old or older and can also be:

  • an unmarried person,
  • a married couple,
  • two unmarried intimate partners,
  • a married person who is legally separated from his or her spouse, or
  • a married person who has been living apart from his or her spouse for at least 3 years before the adoption case is filed.

You may not be allowed to adopt if you have a felony conviction. Visit Adoption Collateral Consequences.


Adoption in New York

In New York, court adoption records are sealed.

This means that no one can see the court records of an adoption including the public, the adoptive parents, the birth parents, and the adopted child.

Children can't be bought or sold.

It is a crime to buy or sell children. Any situation that sounds or looks like the buying or selling of children is a criminal act and will be investigated and prosecuted in New York.

A readoption case can be filed for international adoptions in New York State.

When an adoption is completed in a foreign country and the only documents to show the legal adoption of the child is issued in the foreign country, a Petition for Registration of Foreign Adoption Order can be filed in either the Family Court or Surrogate's Court. This will allow the adoptive parents to get a New York court order that recognizes the foreign adoption and allows the parents to get a New York birth certificate from the Department of Health. A full readoption case may be necessary to satisfy immigration requirements.

Birthing agreements (sometimes called surrogate parenting agreements) are not binding in New York.

This means that a New York court will not force a birth parent to give her child to another person because she agreed to do so, even if the agreement is in writing.

If the child being adopted is not from New York State, the adopting parents must get approval before the child is brought into New York State.

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is a nationwide procedure for the placement of children across state lines. Requests are processed through the NYS Office of Children and Family Services' ICPC Unit.

New York State has an Adoption Information Registry.

The Adoption Information Registry can help an adopted person get medical information or general information about their birth parents or, in some cases, siblings. No information that can identify either the adoptee or birth parents is given unless permission has been given.


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