Office of Children and Family Services

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Adopt a Child

Foster parents as adoptive parents

Many foster parents eventually adopt their foster children. In fact, most children adopted in New York State through adoption agencies are adopted by their foster parents. When a child has been in a foster home for 12 months, first consideration must be given to the foster parents as possible adoptive parents if the child becomes available for adoption.

Families interested in adoption may consider parenting a foster child who has a permanency goal of adoption. However, foster parents have no guarantee that they can eventually adopt their foster children. If a foster child has a goal of return to his or her birth family, foster parents must cooperate with visitation unless the goal is changed. In other cases, children who are free for adoption may be placed with relatives or may be moved to another adoptive home to be reunited with siblings.

Maintaining connections

Many adoptive children can benefit from maintaining connections with people from their past. Adoptive parents may formally or informally agree to maintain ties to the child's former foster family or birth family, but the adoptive parents maintain parental authority after an adoption is completed and will make decisions regarding the continuation of contact with birth family members. Issues may also arise regarding future contact between the child and siblings or grandparents.

Adoptive parents should recognize that there are times when children, especially older children, will want to have contact with members of their birth family or a former foster family. Respecting the experiences that children have shared with others before adoption helps the adopted child integrate into his or her new family. One way adoptive parents can do this is by helping their adopted children keep Life Books. If the child later decides to search for his or her birth family, the adoptive parents can help by being supportive and by offering advice and guidance.

The Adoption and Medical Information Registry (518-474-9600) provides a source for adult adoptees to obtain medical information about their birth parent(s) and to register to be matched with birth parents and or siblings.


Public and private agencies do not charge a fee for adoption services provided on behalf of children who are in the legal guardianship of the local social services commissioner. For adoption of children in the legal guardianship of voluntary authorized agencies, fees generally are based on the adoptive family's income. Few agencies charge fees when families adopt children with special needs.

Completing an adoption in court generally requires an attorney and the payment of legal fees, including court costs. Families adopting New York State children with special needs are eligible for limited reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption-related costs such as lawyer and agency fees. Local social services departments accept applications for such reimbursement.

For more information, contact the New York State Adoption Service at
1-800-345-KIDS (5437)

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