Dinowitz Legislation Would Reform Adoption Law

January 14, 2005
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has introduced legislation to amend New York State’s adoption laws to grant full faith and credit to adoption decrees from foreign countries. This bill will provide the same rights to foreign adoptions as adoptions in New York State.

Under the current foreign adoption laws, families who want to obtain a New York State certificate of adoption have to re-adopt their child in New York State, which becomes a duplication of efforts and an unnecessary financial burden. Assemblyman Dinowitz’ bill will give the same benefits and rights to foreign adoptions that are given to adoptions in New York State, thus eliminating the duplicative process. As result of granting full faith and credit to foreign adoptions, the bill provides the issuance of a birth certificate, certificate of adoption and order of adoption. Dinowitz said, "This bill will make a positive impact on many lives by eliminating unnecessary steps of the adoption process; families of foreign adoptions will be able to obtain those critical documents, like a birth certificate, that families need to insure the same rights and privileges of their child—the same rights and privileges of those who adopt in New York."

Currently, families who adopt foreign children go through an adoption process similar to that of parents who adopt a child in New York State. But the outcomes of the adoption processes of foreign adoption and New York State adoption are different. If you adopt a foreign child, the family obtains documents like an adoption decree issued by the foreign government that are translated into English for use in the United States. If you adopt a child in New York State, the family obtains a birth certificate, certificate of adoption and order of adoption issued by a surrogate or family court in the family’s county. It’s these three documents that insure that the parents and child are afforded all of the rights and privileges like that of any United States citizen.

By not having these three documents, families of foreign adoptions may experience problems such as portability to other states or social security entitlements. There is a fear, for example, that a family from New York State who adopts a child from China and then moves to New Jersey may have problems establishing the legitimacy of the adoption, since a court in the United States did not authorize the adoption – thus the importance of a certificate of adoption issued by a surrogate or family court. So, the family of the foreign adoption is left only with the option of re-adopting in New York State. This is duplicative since the steps taken before finalizing the adoption of both foreign and domestic adoptions are similar. Further, not only is it laborious but it’s expensive to adopt, essentially forcing the families of foreign adoptions to pay twice.

Dinowitz stated, "I believe adopting a child is special thing. The process of adopting a child anywhere is an arduous process, and it should be. However, it should not be unnecessarily complicated, cumbersome, and financially exorbitant. This legislation will streamline the process to obtaining crucial documents that ensures that families of foreign adoptions do not have to live in fear that their child one day will be in a position of not being able to claim or be entitled to those same privileges and rights of any United States citizen."