Are You Interested In Adoption In New Jersey?

Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Adoption Attorney

Here’s a General Overview to New Jersey Adoption Laws

njadoptionsAdopting a child is an exciting time.  It is likely to be a stressful period for everyone involved, both prospective parent(s) and child.

A trusted and experienced adoption lawyer can help with the process. Our firm has counseled prospective parents and individuals, including birth mothers, about the formalities and requirements of state, multi-state and international adoptions, including the re-adoption of foreign born children.

PERSONS WHO MAY ADOPT IN NEW JERSEY

Prospective adopting persons must have the capacity to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs and be of good physical, mental health and law abiding status.

The state mandates that an approved agency must use the best interests of the child as the standard in selecting adoptive parents. This of course is an impressive standard but I’ll explain it in further detail later on this page. Furthermore, an adoption agency may not discriminate with respect to the selection of adoptive parents for any child on the basis of age, sex, race, national origin, religion or marital status alone but these factors may be considered in determining whether the best interests of the child are served by a particular placement or adoption.

At Hanlon Niemann & Wright, we’re experienced, knowledgeable and equally important, sensitive. We really do understand . . . we’re parents too.

If you need advice on the adoption process in New Jersey (including adult adoptions) or would like to talk to a person you can feel safe in sharing your feelings, questions and concerns about NJ adoption, call me, Fredrick P. Niemann, Toll Free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  My hope is to make your dream of adoption tomorrow’s reality.

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LAW GOVERNING ADOPTIONS IN NEW JERSEY

The adoption of a child is governed by New Jersey Statutes which seek to promote a state policy of promoting the best interest of the child.  The “best interest of the child” standard controls the adoption process.

NJ adoption law creates a legally binding relationship of parent and child that lasts lifelong between persons who are not each other’s biological parent or child.

In addition to state laws, New Jersey has case law that govern adoptions. Case law means that a judge has decided a case where there were contested legal issues involving an adoption. Case law must also be followed by parties interested in adoption together with governing adoption statues.  It is largely an interpretation product of NJ statutes and evolving legal opinions.

There are several ways a legal adoption can take place in New Jersey. Whether you decide go through an adoption agency or to adopt from a private person, a judgment of adoption usually means that the legal relationship of the adopted child is completely severed with his/her biological parents and family. Legally, the adopted child becomes the child of his or her adoptive parents.

Call us today to discuss the adoption process in New Jersey.

Ask for Fredrick P. Niemann – toll-free (855) 376-5291

or email Fred at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com

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Mr. Niemann has been a wonderful attorney to me. I feel confident with his advice and what he tells me. When I visit his office, I feel welcomed. His staff is always pleasant and very friendly. I feel fortunate to have Fredrick Niemann as my attorney.

—Cecelia Lamicella, Freehold, NJ

Fred Niemann, New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

Fred Niemann, New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

 

THINGS TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR ADOPTION LAWYER WHEN STARTING THE ADOPTION PROCESS

When you’re starting the adoption process in NJ, there are a number of things to think about. Here’s a checklist of things you’ll want to discuss with your attorney when you meet with him or her:

  • If it’s a private adoption, have you already made promises and commitments to the birthparent, such as payment of specific bills, etc.?  If so, it’s important to make sure your lawyer knows the details.
  • Try to determine the costs of agency services and paperwork processing in international adoptions as soon as possible, so that you can plan to have the money available when you need it.
  • If you’re adopting a child from another country, find out whether the attorney also handles immigration matters. If not, you’ll need to find an additional attorney who specializes in immigration as well.

Additional Facts to Consider When You Adopt Locally, Interstate or Law From a Foreign Country

Foreign adoptions can have waiting lists, age restrictions on adopted child, and usually involve traveling to the child’s birth country. On the other hand, children of foreign adoptions have already been determined “adoptable and available,” which might not be the case with local adoptions.

If you’re adopting a child born, and residing, in another state, you must also follow that state’s adoption laws, procedures  and requirements as well as any intestate adoption compacts between the states. An interstate compact is a binding agreement adopted by consenting states when the adoption of a child is involved. It governs the details on how the adoption must be done.

Next you need to decide whether to go through an adoption agency or a private party, such as the birth parent. Usually, an agency has already obtained an order relinquishing or terminating the rights of the birth parents, which saves worrying over whether the birth parents will change their minds.

On the other hand, being patient and going through a private adoption process may bring you a child who wouldn’t be available through an agency.

Private adoptions can be “open” or “closed”. Open adoptions mean the birth parent keeps in touch with the child, through letters and photos or visits. A birth parent going through a private adoption is sometimes looking specifically for adoptive parents who’ll support an open arrangement.

The Adoption of a Step Child

If you’re a stepparent adopting a stepchild, you face different considerations. If the child is a minor, can you get the consent of the other biological parent? If you’re adopting a teenager, will the stepchild consent to the adoption? Will adopting your stepchild mean the end of child support from the parent whose rights are being terminated? Research into any existing judgment of divorced property settlement agreement is a must.

The Costs of Adoption Vary Greatly

For an infant, you’ll probably end up paying the medical bills of the birth mother, plus potentially other expenses permitted by the adoptive state of guardianship. With interstate and foreign adoptions, you’ll likely pay for the adoption process in both the child’s state and/or country of residence and your local Court of Jurisdiction, plus the cost of immigration for your child.

If you’re working with a private placement agency, find out if there is an attorney for the birth parent. If so, you may want to hire your own attorney to make sure you’re not taken advantage of when it comes to medical bills, support of the birth mother, and other costs.

What’s Next?

The processing of an adoption can be slow. While procedures vary by state and country, here’s a general guideline for New Jersey adoptions:

Just before or after filing a Complaint for Adoption, you’ll go through a pre-placement evaluation. A social worker or licensed agency person will ask questions about your family history, health, and family resources. This experience can be anxious, but hang in there.  You’re not alone.  The evaluation is intended to make sure that your home is suitable for a child and that you can provide for the child’s best interests.  Be honest with your answers.

To start you need to obtain the consent of the birth parents, or go through another process to terminate their parental rights, if they’re unwilling to consent. If a birth parent is a minor, the court appoints an advocate or guardian to protect their rights and to ensure they’re not being coerced into relinquishing their child. If a birth mother is married, her husband may be the presumed father (whether or not he’s the actual biological father), and you need to obtain his consent as well as the consent of the biological father.

In the case of an infant, you can go to court for a relinquishment hearing shortly after a child’s birth (usually at least two days later), then you can take the child home and begin a new life together.

Later on, a social worker will do a post-placement study to make sure that the child is being adequately cared for and everyone’s adjusting.

Sometime later, a final decree of adoption will be entered. After that, the decree can be set aside only if the birth parent can prove that their consent was obtained under fraud or duress, or that there was some defect in the adoption process that invalidates the entire proceeding. This is very rare. The more time passes, the less likely a court will overturn an adoption decree, even if a mistake occurred in the process.

When the decree of adoption is entered, the court will make arrangements to have the child’s birth certificate changed to name you as the child’s parent, just as if you were the birth parent.

From then on, your adoptive child enjoys all the legal privileges of any child born to you, including any rights of inheritance.

Fred Niemann, New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

Fred Niemann, New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

Do you have questions about adoption in New Jersey?  If so, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at

(855) 376-5291 or fniemann@hnlawfirm.com

to schedule a consultation about your particular needs.  He welcomes your calls and inquiries and you’ll find him easy to talk to and very approachable.

 

 

 

Adoption Attorneys serving these New Jersey Counties:

Monmouth County, Ocean County, Essex County, Cape May County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Bergen County, Morris County, Burlington County, Union County, Somerset County, Hudson County, Passaic County