Legislation to Provide Children in Foster Care the NYS Right to Visit their Siblings

Waiting Children who Need Homes

A Guide to Adoption Options

While the number of children in foster care in New York State has decreased from 53,902 children in 1995 to 15,820 as of December 31, 2018, there are still hundreds of children who are legally freed for adoption and need a family to provide for them a loving permanent home.

These are children whose biological parents have had their parental rights already terminated by the state making New York their de facto “parent”. Because these children have no legal parent, they are the children who desperately need homes and families.

Few waiting children are three years old or younger; many are between the ages of 6 and 13; and over one third are teens, ages 14 and over. The average age of waiting children in the US is about eight years old. Several waiting children have physical, mental, or emotional challenges and disabilities; or belong to sibling groups who need to be adopted together. All of the children waiting in care have experienced some neglect and/or abuse in their lives. They need the stability and unconditional love of a family so that they can learn to trust… and to ride bikes, make cookies, read, play basketball and dance!

Costs and Fees Associated with Adopting a Legally Freed Child

Public agencies and, generally, private agencies do not charge a fee to foster or adopt children who are in the legal custody and guardianship of the public agency or foster care system. However, some private agencies charge fees for families that wish to adopt a child outside of New York State. The child’s State may reimburse the family for some or all of these fees. Completing an adoption in court generally requires an attorney and the payment of legal fees and any court costs. The approximate cost ranges from $0 to $2,500. (In the US, depending on the state, up to $2,000 of “nonrecurring” adoption costs for eligible special needs children may be reimbursed).

Families adopting New York State children with special needs are eligible for reimbursement of limited nonrecurring adoption-related costs, such as lawyer and agency fees, through New York. Families adopting children from other states with special needs may be eligible for reimbursement of limited, nonrecurring adoption-related costs through the child’s state or federal options. A good majority of legally free children also have adoption stipends that continue monthly. At what age the stipend ends, depends on the original stat’s laws.

All public and most voluntary (private) adoption agencies require prospective adoptive families to be dually certified and approved as foster families. Prospective families who have an approved NYS homestudy to adopt from foster care are eligible to adopt a child in foster care anywhere in the United States.

Find a Child who Needs a Family

See photolisting sites of waiting children below. All of these children are waiting to be adopted, but prospective families must have an approved homestudy and become certified adoptive parents to learn more about individual children, or be seriously considered as a potential adoptive family.

New York State Office of Children’s Services Adoption Album Photo Listing:

All the children in the OCFS Adoption Album photolisting are legally freed for adoption. Each child’s narrative will introduce you to the child while respecting the child’s right to privacy. The narrative is not intended to provide a detailed description of the child’s history or current needs. When it is determined to be in the child’s best interest, the agency contact will share more detailed information about the child with those who may be able to provide a permanent connection and/or adoptive home for the child.

Heart Gallery New York:

Heart Gallery New York is a collaboration between the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and Heart Gallery NYC, with the participation of five Heart Galleries throughout New York. Featuring the photographic images of New York children in foster care in need of loving, permanent homes, the mission of Heart Gallery New York is to raise awareness of New York’s waiting children, engage the community in their welfare and secure permanent, loving “forever families.”  

Meet Our Kids:

New York City’s Administration of Children Services “Meet our Kids” photolisting features children mostly between the ages of 7 and 16 who are waiting for adoption in New York State. Some children have special physical, emotional, mental or learning needs, and presently live in foster care or group care settings; some are in sibling groups who need homes together.

Wednesday’s Child:

Wednesday’s Child is a televised feature that helps recruit adoptive families who can provide permanent and loving homes for New York City foster children. Wednesday’s Child is hosted by NBC meteorologist Janice Huff several times a year.

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