State licensing procedures come under attack nationally because licenses are sometimes given to dishonest, incompetent, and/or disreputable individuals who know there is big money to be made in adoption. Over and over, the Coalition cautions prospective adoptive parents to do their homework, and be sure the agency they work with is ethical, responsible, experienced, and safe. We need to continually reinforce this message with anyone who is pursuing adoption. Marie Dolfi, former president of the Capital Region Adoptive Families Coalition offers the following advice:
After hearing too many stories of people not doing their homework and complaints of impropriety, it amazes me how many people will work with an agency or attorney without investigating their professional credentials. All prospective adoptive parents [residing in or adopting from New York State] should contact the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to learn if any agency they are considering working with is licensed in New York and if there are any complaints against the adoption agency. If you are doing an agency adoption and the adoption is to be finalized in New York, the agency is required by law to be licensed in this state.
- Go to www.ocfs.state.ny.us/adopt/adagcy.asp for a listing of adoption agencies licensed by NYS.
- Contact Susan Gilman, NYS Office of Children and Family Services at 518-474-9406 to verify current agency licensure and learn of any specific complaints or discuss and issue you are having with an agency.
- If you wish to file a formal complaint against an adoption agency, you should send a letter to Susan Gilman, NYS OCFS, 52 Washington Street, Rensselaer, NY 12144.
- If you plan to finalize the adoption in a state other than New York, check to see if the adoption agency is licensed in that state.
- To verify an adoption attorney is in good standing in New York, call the Office of Court Administration at 212-428-2800.
- If you are considering international adoption, International Concerns for Children in Boulder, Colorado, Maintains a list of approved international adoption agencies that ICC has personally verified is licensed. ICC can be reached at 303-494-8333.
- For additional international information, the U.S. State Department at http://adoption.state.gov/ is a good resource.
Source: Marie Dolfi, ACSW, LCSW, is an adoptive parent in Albany, New York who specializes in providing educational and counseling services to individuals whose lives have been touched by adoption.