Office of Children and Family Services

Adoption Services

Seeking Initial Authority to Provide Adoption Services in New York State


The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) welcomes your interest in becoming approved as a New York State authorized adoption agency. OCFS is statutorily responsible for the regulation, supervision and approval of adoption programs in New York State. OCFS looks forward to working with your new agency to provide quality adoption services to New York families. In New York, adoption agencies are not licensed. Agencies become authorized to operate by being approved by OCFS through the incorporation process. Approval is for a limited period of time, as specified by OCFS, and extensions require prior approval by OCFS.

SECTION 1: What are the steps to approval as an adoption agency in NY?

  1. Educate yourself on NYS statutes, regulations and policies which provide the legal and policy standards you will be obligated to follow in regard to the operation of an adoption program. (See Laws/Regulations/Policies below). Determine which type of adoption program you will develop such as domestic, international or a combination of the two. Only agencies that are also approved to operate a foster boarding home program can provide adoption services to children in foster care.
  2. Educate yourself on the incorporation process in NYS. Only not-for-profit corporations are eligible to apply for authorization as an adoption agency.  Refer to the NYS Department of State (DOS) website or contact DOS by phone at (518) 473-2492. Consult private legal counsel regarding the incorporation process, if necessary.
  3. Develop a business plan. A template business plan is available here.
  4. Select the location where you plan to maintain a main office in New York State.
  5. Based on the location of your proposed office, contact the appropriate OCFS Regional Office (RO) and ask to speak to the Adoption Specialist for an application packet.
  6. Complete the application packet and business plan and gather all supplemental information.  The application will have to demonstrate how the agency will comply with applicable legal and program standards involved in the operation of an adoption program.
  7. Submit the complete application, business plan and all supplemental information to the OCFS RO Adoption Specialist.
  8. A site visit will be scheduled by the OCFS RO Adoption Specialist. The site visit will include a full review of the proposed agency program including, but not limited to; policy, practice, record storage, security (what type of security), and if available, agency case records. 
  9. Authorization also requires review and approval by the OCFS New York State Adoption Service, Office of Financial Management and Bureau of House Counsel.
  10. An applicant nearing the final phase of the program approval will be required to submit to OCFS Counsel’s office for review and approval, as applicable, a proposed certificate of incorporation or certificate of amendment for New York corporations or a proposed Application for Authority for out of state corporations that gives the agency the authority to place children for the purpose of adoption. Refer to the NYS Department of State (DOS) website or contact DOS by phone at (518) 473-2492 for additional information regarding corporate certificates and filing.
  11. Your agency must file this approval along with your original certificate or application for authority with the Department of State. It is the act of filing of the certificate or application for authority and approval that results in your assumption of the legal authority to operate an adoption program in New York.
  12. Upon submission of the filing receipt to OCFS, your agency will be added to the list of New York State authorized adoption agencies.

SECTION 2: Laws/Regulations/Policies

The following New York State laws relate to the opening and operation of an adoption agency.

OCFS adoption related Title 18 of the New York State Codes Rules and Regulations (NYCRR).

The following OCFS Policy Directives can be found at:

  • 06-OCFS-ADM-07 2006 State Adoption, Termination of Parental Rights and Surrender Legislation
  • 06-OCFS-INF-07 Indian Child Welfare Act Compliance Desk Aid
  • 07-OCFS-ADM-01 State and National Criminal History Record Checks (for Foster/Adoptive Parents)
  • 07-OCFS-ADM-02 Revised Judicial and Extra-Judicial Surrender Forms and Voluntary Placement Agreement
  • 07-OCFS-ADM-15 Xctasys Law - Chapter 513 of the Laws of 2007
  • 08-OCFS-ADM-06 Criminal History Record Checks and Mandatory Disqualifying Crimes (Foster and Adoptive Parents)
  • 08-OCFS-INF-01 Mandated Reporters, Chapter 193 of the Laws of 2007
  • 08-OCFS-INF-03 Definition of State for the Purpose of Out-of-State SCR Checks
  • 08-OCFS-INF-06 Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance
  • 08-OCFS-INF-11 Adoption Information Registry - DOH
  • 08-OCFS-INF-12 2008 Statutory Amendments Concerning Surrenders and the Provision of an Adoption Information Registry Birth Parent Registration Consent Form and the Impact of the Death of a Prospective Adoptive Parent before the Completion of the Adoption
  • 09-OCFS-ADM-12 Inter-country Adoptions
  • 09-OCFS-ADM-18 Live Scan Technology for Fingerprinting Foster and Adoptive Applicants
  • 11-OCFS-INF-01 Adoption by Two Unmarried Adult Intimate Partners
  • 11-OCFS-INF-05 Clarification of Adoption Study Criteria Related to Length of Marriage and Sexual Orientation
  • 13-OCFS-ADM-09 Justice Center Staff Exclusion List Clearance Requirements
  • 14-OCFS-ADM-01 Termination of Notification of Subsequent Arrests in Closed Foster and Adoptive Homes
  • 14-OCFS-ADM-02 Procedures for Closing of a Voluntary Agency.
  • 15-OCFS-ADM-05  Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 as Amended by the Interethnic Adoption Provision of 1996
  • 15-OCFS-INF-01 Re-homing of Children