Understanding the Process of Child Adoption in NJ
Adopting a child can be an overwhelming, time-consuming, and emotional process. While the outcome is a joyous occasion, the overall procedure of getting there can be exhausting and emotionally draining. Navigating the process of filing hundreds of pages of paperwork, undergoing agency interviews and home studies, and making the adoption official in the court system is cumbersome and can take up a great deal of your time.
The good news is that there are expert attorneys out there who can help you navigate this process. If you want to learn more about adoption in NJ, read on. We’ll lead you through the adoption procedure and how to adopt a child in NJ.
Decide What Type of Adoption You Want to Pursue
There are different ways to adopt children, including:
- Agency Adoption
- Private Domestic Agency Adoption
- Domestic Independent Adoption
- Stepparent and Second-Parent Adoption
- Relative Adoption
There are pros and cons to each type of adoption. One’s financial situation, the child’s age, and the preference to the country are three things to consider when making your final decision.
Agency adoption involves the placement of a child by hiring a licensed child-placing agency.
Private Domestic Agency Adoption
Private domestic adoption is the pursuit of adopting a baby from the United States.
Following a child’s birth, the birth mother renounces all of her parental rights to a licensed child-placing agency.
To place the child, the agency will fulfill a comprehensive screening of the family and the prospective adoptive family’s home environment. They will supervise the entire process right from the start through to the completion of the child placement.
There are two types of private domestic agency adoption, “direct” and “identified.” In both instances, the birth parents relinquish their parental rights to the child-placing agency.
With a direct adoption, the birth parents will allow the agency to select the adoptive parents. However, sometimes the birth parents choose the adoptive parents themselves. They are provided with the family’s profile, including family pictures, videos, letters, and more to help them decide which family they would like to place their child with.
In many instances, both the birth parents and adoptive parents meet on their own. In this case, they bring in an agency to assist them legally and sensibly with the adoption processes but found each other outside of the agency on their own.
Domestic Independent Adoption
Independent adoption is where the birth parents select the adoptive parents after learning about them from family, friends, the internet, and news media outlets. Vice versa, those looking to adopt are actively searching in these ways as well.
This adoption arrangement can be made directly with both parents or through an adoption agency. However, unlike the private domestic agency adoption, the agency will only be involved in the evaluation phase.
If you want a newborn or infant, this is a good option. The child’s birth parents must present background information. Before birth, you can get updates on the health of the mother.
Independent adoption offers more freedom to both parties involved. Both parties can openly discuss issues and receive guidance from their attorneys and or facilitators as needed. The time to adopt can be much shorter, and the criteria are less stringent using this method. The cost can be significantly less than a private domestic agency adoption because there are fewer agency fees associated with this type of adoption.
In New Jersey, different laws are governing this type of adoption. There are legal issues that must be addressed. Therefore, hiring an adoption attorney is vital to ensure the adoption is finalized in court in the best interest of all involved.
Stepparent and Second-Parent Adoption
In many cases, it’s a stepparent’s wish to become the legal parent. There are NJ laws put in place for this to happen. Before the stepparent adoption can be granted, the parental rights of the child’s birth parent who is not the stepparent’s spouse must be terminated. This is when it becomes necessary to hire an adoption attorney because the courts will need to be involved. A judge will evaluate the biological parent’s history with the child financially and quality time spent together.
When two people live together and are not married, and the second-partner wants to adopt the child, this is considered, second-parent adoption. The first parent does not need to terminate their parental rights. As in a stepparent adoption, a second parent adoption does not terminate the parental rights of the original parent.
When the birth parent or parents cannot perform their parental obligations, a relative, such as a grandparent and an aunt or uncle, may want to adopt the child or children. If both parents agree to forgo their parental rights, the relative adoption can be straightforward, and the process can be relatively easy. When one or both birth parents are unwilling to surrender their parental rights, it is time to call an adoption attorney. An agency with experience can often get their rights terminated without their voluntary surrender.
What Type of Adoption is Best For You?
An attorney with expertise in adoptions will be able to help you decide what type is best for you and help you navigate the process.
If you are adopting through an agency, a home study will be required. A home study ensures that the parents have a safe and healthy home environment to offer the child. A home study typically includes interviews with both parents and anyone else who lives in the home, interviews with references, an inspection of the home, and verification of income, employment, and other personal data.
Home studies will usually be conducted at the beginning of the process, and you must have an approved home study before you are considered for the placement of a child. An adoption attorney can help you prepare for these interviews as well as prepare your home for an investigator to visit.
Placement and Finalizing the Adoption
Adoption in NJ and placement of a child may take months, depending on which type of adoption you choose. If you want a child of a certain age, particularly a baby, you may be waiting longer. Birth mothers or birth parents typically select the adoptive parents in an agency adoption.
Once a child is placed with you, a court process must be completed for the adoption to become official. NJ adoption laws stipulate that birth parents cannot surrender a baby to an agency until 72 hours have passed after birth. Once they surrender the child, they cannot change their minds as long as they follow the appropriate procedures.
Hire an Attorney to Handle You Adoption in NJ
Adoption in NJ and all other states can be complex. It is a time-consuming process and requires strong attention to detail and an understanding of state laws and regulations surrounding adoption.
If you are considering adoption in NJ, contact the attorneys at Dalena & Bosch. Our New Jersey attorneys are experienced in all family law matters and can help you navigate the adoption process no matter which type of adoption you choose. Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation.