New York foster and adoption guidelines

Different information is available for New York City residents, please visit the New York City foster and adoption guidelines.

On this page:

Foster and adoption licensing requirements

Adoptive and foster families vary in age, income, lifestyle, financial, and marital status. Some adoptive families are headed by a single, working parent. Some are two-parent families with birth children. Some have children already and some don’t. There is no "typical" adoptive or foster family.

Whether you are single or married, older or younger, renter or homeowner, you may apply to foster and/or adopt a child.

You need to be:

  • Willing to learn about the unique needs of a child
  • Patient and loving
  • Energetic and giving
  • Able to provide a secure environment; and equipped to meet the needs of a growing child

You do not need to:

  • Have parenting experience
  • Be married
  • Own your own home
  • Earn a high income

The process of adopting, from application to finalization, can be a lengthy one. It may take six months or more from the time you apply before a child is placed in your home. After the child is placed in your home, it will take at least three to 12 months before the adoption is finalized in court.

Additional adoption information:

Details and information about each step in the adoption process can be found on the NYS Office of Children and Families (OCFS) website.

All public and most voluntary (private) adoption agencies require prospective adoptive families to be dually certified and approved as foster families. For more information, see foster care licensing information below.

Additional foster care information:

Detailed information on every step of the fostering process is available on the NYS OCFS foster care website.

Costs to foster and adopt

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.

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.

Agency contact and orientation information

In New York State, there are more than 130 adoption agencies. Each of New York's 58 social services districts (public agencies) has an adoption unit, and more than 70 authorized voluntary (private) agencies statewide also work with adopting families.

Choosing an agency is a very important step. Talk to different agencies and adoptive parents or adoptive parent support groups to learn how the agencies work with prospective adoptive parents.

View a list of New York State agencies on the state website.

Contact and service information for adoption services in specific counties can be found on the AFFCNY information directory.

Para información en español, contacte:

Family Support Systems Unlimited, Inc
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Teléfono: 718-220-5400, Ext. 255

Broome County Department of Social Services
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Phone: 607-778-2533

Buffalo Urban League CAMMAP
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Erie and Buffalo
Phone: 716-250-2433

Adoption STAR, Inc.
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Erie and Williamsville
Phone: 716-639-3900

Nassau County Department of Social Services
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Phone: 516-227-8268

NY Council on Adoptable Children
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Phone: 212-475-0222

Catholic Guardian Society & Home Bureau
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Phone: 212-371-1000, Ext. 2128

Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Phone: 212-360-0300

Onondaga County Department of Social Services
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Phone: 315-435-3827

Suffolk County Department of Social Services
Ofrecen asistencia en español
631-853-KIDS (631-853-5437)

Westchester County Department of Social Services
Ofrecen asistencia en español
Phone: 800-454-3727

Y para información de contacto de agencias en Nueva York que podrán ayudarle en español, por favor visite esta pagina: Personas de habla hispana disponsibles.

Post-adoption support services

See a comprehensive list of post-adoption and guardianship support services and support groups available to families who live in New York.

Information on children

There are 25,397 children in foster care in New York State. Of these, 621 children are legally freed and waiting for an adoptive family and 3,051 children have a goal of adoption. To learn more about waiting children visit the NYSCCC waiting children.