Westchester Adoption Lawyer

Adoption is an important moment for families. As the parent of an adopted daughter, Mary F. Kelly knows the joy adopting a child brings. As a Westchester adoption attorney, she knows how to guide you through the legal process of adoption.

Types of adoption

In private-placement adoptions, no government agency is involved. These take place when adoptive parents find a child through a private agency or personal network. In step-parent adoptions, a child is adopted by a spouse of one of the birth parents. Second-parent adoptions usually involve the “second parent” in a same-sex couple who might not otherwise be considered a legal parent. Grandparent adoptions are, of course, when the parents of a birth parent adopt a child. In international adoptions, the child is born in a different country. Adult adoptions often take place so the adult “child” can inherit money or property. Mary F. Kelly has decades of experience with private-placement, step-parent, second-parent, grandparent, international and adult adoptions.

Legal adoption process

For all adoptions, the adoptive parents have to undergo a criminal background check and a home study by a social worker. Then the adoptive parents fill out a petition for adoption and a collection of legal documents to be submitted to court. Although you are not required to hire an adoption attorney, this step is time-consuming and best handled by someone familiar with the court process. After the court approves the petition, it will issue an order of adoption making the adoption official.

Rights of birth parents

After signing an order of adoption, the judge seals the adoption record. The court will unseal records only for a compelling reason, like the child having a life-threatening disease. Unless the adoption is an “open” one, where the birth parents and adoptive parents agree to have an ongoing relationship, the birth parents’ rights to the child are terminated before the adoption takes place.

Finding birth parents

We have handled cases of adoptees who want to find their birth parents. Or sometimes it’s the birth parents who want to make contact. The New York State Department of Health keeps a database that helps adoptees and birth parents contact each other if they both want to. The Adoption Information Registry also has information about birth parents like medical history and background that can be seen without revealing the identity of the birth parents themselves.


Contact Kelly & Knaplund at (914) 631-2657 to discuss your wish to adopt a child or your upcoming adoption. We are skilled at making the process as smooth as possible so you can enjoy the new addition to your family.

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