Adoption creates a parent-child relationship with all the rights and responsibilities a birth parent has to a child. The Westchester County Office of Children's Services offers a full range of adoption services that can help make a difference in a child's life. Read the profiles of children waiting for adoption now, right here in Westchester County.
Every year, we raise awareness of these children who are available for adoption through our Heart Gallery. The gallery is a travelling showcase of the children's protraits. The point is to show each child as he or she really is - a wonderful child in need of a second chance.
To begin the adoption process or to receive more information regarding adoption simply dial 2-1-1 and our partners at the United Way will assist you.
If you are interested in becoming an adoptive parent, here are some things you should know:
What is adoption?
- It is a legal process whereby you take a child into your family to be raised as your own.
- Unlike foster care, adoption is permanent.
- When a child is placed in your family, a caseworker supervises the placement for a period of not less than six months.
- A court hearing is then held, which transfers custody and guardianship to the adopting parent.
What are the requirements to be an adoptive parent?
- Must be at least 18, but there are no maximum age restrictions.
- Can be single, married, widowed, divorced, or legally separated. Couples are required to be married a minimum of one year. Proof of marriage, legal separation, divorce or death of a spouse is required.
- Need an income sufficient to meet your family’s needs. Accepted sources of income include pension, disability, or public assistance.
- Must be in good health. Applicants are asked to have a physical examination to documents that their health permits them to care for a child.
- Must be able to provide a child with his or her own bed although children can share a room.
How do you become an adoptive parent?
- By attending an orientation meeting and 30 hours of training with other applicants.
- By providing personal references and current medical reports for all family members.
- By participating in individual interviews with the Home finding caseworker.
- By arranging for us to speak with all family members during visits in your home.
How long does the certification process take?
The certification process, including training and completion of the home study, generally takes from 3-4 months.
What children are waiting for adoption?
- Children over the age of ten
- Sibling groups of two or more, with one child being ten or older.
- Children with physical, mental, or emotional handicaps.
- Most children waiting for permanent families live in foster homes, group homes, or institutions.
- A large percentage of waiting children are African American or Hispanic. An attempt is made to place children in families with similar racial and ethnic backgrounds.
What about infants?
- Healthy children from infancy to ten years of age are available in extremely limited numbers at this time.
- Those who can only consider such a child are placed on a waiting list.
What will it cost to adopt?
If a family is adopting a child who is in foster care there are no fees charged. Subsides are available to assist with the child's day-to-day care and medical needs. In addition, parents who adopt children with special needs are eligible to receive a one-time payment of up to $2,000 as reimbursement for non-recurring adoption expenses related to the legal adoption of the child.
What is subsidized adoption?
- Families adopting handicapped or hard-to-place children are eligible for benefits regardless of the own income.
- Medical subsidy (under New York State Medicaid) is also available for some children.
- Under certain circumstances, subsidy can remain in effect until the children’s twenty-first birthday.
What is a home study?
A home study usually consists of a series of interviews between a family and a social worker to help applicants think through their ability to adopt a child. It is important that people considering adoption be stable, sensitive, patient, and capable of giving a child love and understanding. Social workers want to be sure that a person or couple have a realistic understanding of the commitment they take on when they adopt, and that they can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child in their home. Interviews with husband and wife or a single adoptive parent are conducted by GPS II/MAPPcertified trainers. Applicants are asked to provide written information about themselves and their life experiences.
What information is available to adoptive families and adoptees?
Medical information (with identifying information deleted) is available at any time to parents who adopt a foster child and to the adoptee when he or she reaches 18 years of age. The New York State Department of Health also operates an Adoption Information Registry which allows adult adoptees to obtain non-identifying information on such things as background information on birth parents. The Adoption Information Registry also provides New York adoptees and birth parents with a vehicle through which they can register if they wish to be identified to one another.
Can the biological parents come back to take the child?
When a child is placed with the adoptive family, the parents have previously relinquished the child to an agency, or their parental rights have been terminated through a formal court procedure.
The New York State Department of Social Services also issues Family Albums and Blue Books which contain photographs and descriptions of children who are available for adoption. These can also be found in local libraries or can be viewed at our office located at 112 East Post Road, White Plains, New York from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, except holidays.
What are Post Adoption Services?
Post adoption services are provided to adoptive parents and children to assist with problems, issues or concerns that may arise after the adoption has been finalized. These supportive services are available until the adoptee reaches the age of 21. The WRAP program (Westchester Resource for Adoption Program) was developed by the Westchester Institute for Human Development and is located on the campus of Westchester Medical Center. Services provided include: clinical consultation; monthly support groups; parent-to- parent connections to build supportive relationships for families; assistance obtaining services such as appropriate school placements and therapeutic services in the community; an adoption library providing a selection of books, articles and videotapes related to adoptive family life; and ongoing trainings for adoptive parents on issues related to adoption.