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In an adoption proceeding, the petitioner seeks to have the court give permanent legal rights and responsibilities to people, other than the child's birth (natural) parents. Adoptions are handled by the Family Court or Surrogate's in each county. The circumstances determine which type of court hears the matter.

There are two types of adoptions: "Private Placement" and "Agency" adoptions.

Private placement adoptions are conducted without the aid of a childcare or adoption agency. Persons who wish to adopt a child through a private placement must be pre-certified or approved to have temporary custody of the child while the court decides if they can adopt the child.

Agency adoptions refer to cases where a child is already in the custody of an agency and the rights of the birth parents already have been terminated. These adoptions are handled through the foster care agency which investigates the home of the proposed adoptive parents and prepares and files the necessary papers and reports with the court.

Once an adoption is approved by the court, the adoptive parent(s) are considered to be the child's legal parents, with all of the rights and obligations of birth parents. The rights of the birth parents are ended. If the child is over the age of 14, the child must consent to the adoption.

Adoption records are sealed when the court approves an adoption. Adoptive parent(s) are given an adoption certificate and the health department issues a new birth certificate with the child’s adoptive name. Going forward, adopted children may petition the court to have the records unsealed for medical reasons or for good cause.


For Further Information

General Information:


New York City Family Court

Fifth Judicial District

Adoption in Surrogate’s Court:

Seventh Judicial District

Adoption Forms

Adoption Records:

General Information

Seventh Judicial District


The Law