Family is what life is all about.  One way to enrich a family is through the process of adoption.  Adoption is a wonderful experience. Yet it is also a complex legal process that should be facilitated with the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney.

If you are thinking about adoption and need quality legal representation, please contact our office.  We would be pleased to work with you to assist with your family-building goals.

Some of the areas we can help may involve:

    • Adopting a child
    • Stepparent or second parent adoption
    • Kinship adoption
    • Contested adoption and adoption litigation
    • Domestic adoption (New York or interstate)
    • International adoption
    • Federal adoption tax credit
    • Placing a child for adoption
    • Adoption Dissolution
    • Gestational carriers (also known as surrogates)
    • Fostering – Fostering is a beautiful way to learn whether adoption is right for you.  To learn more about inviting a foster child into your home, please visit Onondaga County Department of Children and Family Services.
Adopting a child

In New York, single individuals and both opposite-sex and same-sex couples may legally adopt children.  Adopting parents must follow particular legal steps in order to be awarded a court issued adoption decree.  The circumstances of each adoption vary.  Depending on the unique factors in each adoption, the legal steps may be relatively simple or they may be more lengthy and complex.

Stepparent or second parent adoption

Stepparent adoptions provide an adoptive stepparent with the same rights and responsibilities as a birth parent.

The general process for a stepparent or second parent adoption includes the following steps:

    • A Petition for Adoption must be filed.
    • In the situation where a parent of the child is giving up their parental rights so a step-parent can adopt the child, generally, that parent must consent to the proposed stepparent adoption.
    • The child’s birth parent (not the spouse of the stepparent) must be notified either personally or by publication.
    • The stepparent must undergo a criminal records background check.
    • A home study of the child’s living situation with the potential adopting stepparent will be required.
    • If there are issues pertaining to non-payment of support or abandonment of the child by the other birth parent for a period of at least one year, additional steps may need to be taken.
    • When the court issues a final decree of adoption, the judge will also issue an order terminating the other parent’s parental rights at that time.
Kinship Adoption

Kinship adoption (sometimes referred to as “relative adoption”) is the adoption of a child by the child’s relative.

Many situations may encourage a kinship adoption.  These may include the death of a parent, removal of a child by social services, incarceration or incapacitation of a child’s parents, and abandonment of a child.

Generally, four qualifications must be met to be successful in a kinship adoption:

1. The relative must be a grandparent, brother, sister, half sibling, aunt, uncle or first cousin and

2. The relative must have had physical custody of the child for a period of one year or more and

3. The child is not the subject of a pending dependency and neglect proceeding.

4. The birth parent(s) must have abandoned the child for a period of one year or have failed to provide support for a period of one year or more.

Federal adoption tax credit

Adoptive parents may be eligible for a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses and/or an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance.

Qualified adoption expenses may include reasonable and necessary attorney fees, adoption fees, court costs, travel expenses, and other expenses that are directly related to and for the principal purpose of the legal adoption of an eligible child.  In 2016, the maximum credit allowed by the IRS is $13,400.  The credit is subject to income limitations.

For additional information, visit the IRS website.

Placing a child for adoption

It takes a brave parent to make an adoption plan and to place their baby up for adoption.  It takes caring adoptive parents to adopt babies and make a legal, secure adoption plan for their family.

We can:

    • Represent the birth mother in the adoption process to make sure her rights are protected.
    • Connect birth mothers with resources to assist with their individual adoption plan.
Adoption Dissolution

Parents may seek adoption dissolution for various reasons: lack of attachment, financial strain, inability to handle a child’s destructive behavior or special needs, harmful or negative reactions of other children in the home, or other circumstances.

As you may imagine, there is a legal process for the relinquishment of parental rights in an adoption dissolution.

Practicing Attorneys

Contact Us at 315-422-1500 or email us at

Thank you for your inquiry. We will direct your matter to the appropriate practice group and/or attorney and respond as quickly as possible.
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