Adopting an Older Child

Are you considering adopting an older child? If so, be prepared for a lot of hard work, but also for the possibility of one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You’ll need a lot of patience, but you’ll also have the benefit of almost immediate engagement and feedback from your child. Here are some tips to help maximize the chances of a healthy relationship with your child.

Engage a Therapist

As a general rule, therapy can only help. Don’t assume, either, that it’s just your child who needs counseling. You may want to give your adopted child the opportunity to have private time with a therapist, but you’ll need it, too. Furthermore, there can be real benefit to spending some time together with a therapist.

Be Positive

Punishing negative behaviors is rarely effective with older children. Instead, find ways to reward your adopted child when he or she exercises good judgment or behaves in an appropriate manner.

Be Patient and Flexible

Everybody parents differently. If your child has been in foster care, he or she will have to adjust to a new system coming into your home. Don’t expect full compliance any time soon (or ever, perhaps). Give your child time to adapt to new boundaries and guidelines. In addition, if your child is not responsive to a specific approach, have the flexibility to try something different.

A Support Group Can Help

Often, you can learn best from others in similar circumstances. There are plenty of support groups for parents of older adoptees. Don’t wait until the child is in your home, though. Spend time with the support group before the adoption takes place, so that you can be proactive.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Domestic Adoptions Far Exceed International Adoptions

As surprising as it seems, adoption as a legal process in the United States dates back less than two centuries, to a time just before the American Civil War. Before states started establishing legal guidelines, adoption was little more than an informal practice. But much has changed in the last 150 years. Here’s a snapshot of what adoption looks like in America today.

The Overwhelming Number of Adoptions Are Domestic

Though international adoptees tend to be more visible, then number of children adoption from other countries has plummeted in the last decade, from more than 23,000 in 2004 to less than 6,500 in 2014. That’s less than 5% of the 135,000 minors adopted in the United States every year. Experts say that some countries have closed their borders to adoption and others have dramatically curtailed international adoptions. Nonetheless, the United States still adopts more children internationally than the rest of the world combined.

Nearly Half of All U.S Adoptions Are of Children in Foster Care

Statistics gathered by the Child Welfare Information Gateway indicate that approximately 40% of U.S. adoptions are through the nation’s foster care system. Sources say that more than 50,000 children go from foster care to being adopted each year, but it’s less than one-third of the eligible children. Nearly a third of the children in foster care will be there for at least three years before being adopted.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Preparing to Adopt through the Foster Care System

Adopting a child through the foster care system can be a great option for many. There’s a large pool of children in the foster care system—estimates put the number at or around 200,000. The costs of adopting through the foster care system are typically far less than through a traditional adoption and many states offer monthly benefits to parents who adopt foster children. You may also be able to provide health care coverage for the child through your state’s Medicaid program.

But there are also challenges. Many children in foster care are older—nearly a third have been in foster care for at least three years. They’ve most likely had a range of experiences—good and bad—that have helped shape their character, and which may require special care. Here are some tips to help make a foster care adoption successful.

  • Avoid “ideal child” syndrome — It’s natural to want to view a child as “perfect,” but every biological parent will tell that’s not realistic. For children in foster care, the negative experiences will likely outweigh the positive ones. There are reasons they are in foster care—there may have been drugs or sexual abuse or exposure to physical abuse or neglect.
  • Don’t spring the foster child on your existing family — You’ll want to fully discuss the adoption with all members of your family before you bring the child home. If you don’t, the children in your home will likely feel threatened and may ostracize the new adoptee.
  • Foster a child (or two) before you adopt through the foster care system — This will help you understand the unique challenges related to adopting a child through the foster care system, but will still allow you to evaluate whether a permanent adoption is the right thing to do.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

New Jersey’s Adoptees’ Birthright Act

In January of 2017 the final stages of the Adoptees’ Birthright Act went into effect. Now children who were born in New Jersey and who were adopted can have access to a copy of the original birth certificate.

This Act has also provided preferences for contact. This could include no contact at all, contact through an intermediary including a named intermediary, or direct contact. This does require filing of certain forms with the New Jersey Office of Vital Statistics.

Since this Act is retroactive, it does provide that birth parents who placed their children for adoption prior to this Act can have their identities remain confidential but that requires a specific request for such confidentiality and the filing of updated medical background information. The details of this as well as all forms can be found at the website of the New Jersey Office of Vital Statistics at www.nj.gov/health/vital/adoption.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a ChildIf you are struggling to start or build your family, you may have considered adoption. One of your first questions, and an important one—how much will it cost to bring a new child into your home through an adoption? Here’s an overview:

The Factors Affecting the Ultimate Cost of an Adoption

The total cost of your adoption will vary, based on a number of criteria:

  • Are you adopting domestically or internationally?
  • Are you using an adoption agency, working with an attorney or handling matters on your own?
  • What expenses have you agreed to pay to the birth parent?

The average domestic adoption usually costs about $30,000, but you can spend as little as $5,000 or $40,000 or more. Statistics show that the cost is customarily a little less when you use an adoption attorney, as opposed to an adoption agency, but that’s typically because the attorney won’t help you find a child—you’ll have to do that yourself. With a domestic adoption, though, the expenses that you pay on behalf of the birth mother are always negotiable, so your total cost will depend on how much you agree to pay.

It’s essentially meaningless to try to come up with an average cost for an international adoption, as the costs can vary widely. With most foreign adoptions, you’ll have travel costs in addition to the other expenses. Nonetheless, adoptions from China, South Korea and Ethiopia are comparable to the average cost of a domestic adoption.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Are There Age Limits on Adoptive Parents?

Are There Age Limits on Adoptive Parents?You may be considering adopting a child, but you’re concerned that you may be too old. You’ve heard others say that most agencies won’t consider you if you are over the age of 40. Are there restrictions or age limits on potential adoptive parents? What are your options?

Until the last couple of decades, there was generally an unwritten rule that cut off adoptions at the age of 40. Fortunately, for adoptive parents and for children, as the baby boomer generation has aged, the age at which adoption agencies will consider prospective parents has gone up, too. Experts say that better health, longer life spans and more active lifestyles among boomers have made them a more attractive option for adoption. In addition, because many of the older individuals seeking to adopt have prior experience as parents, they have been encouraged to take older children or children with special needs, because they have the tools to provide the care they need.

International Adoption May Be Easier for Older Prospective Parents

With most domestic adoptions, unless you are adopting within your family or as a stepparent, there are disadvantages to being older. Unfortunately, many birth mothers prefer younger adoptive parents, as they tend to favor people like themselves. With a foreign adoption, though, where the birth mother is not involved in the process, it can be much easier to adopt as an older person. For example, China has no upper limit on the age of an adopting parent, and some other countries will allow you to adopt up to the age of 60.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

How Long Does an International Adoption Take?

How Long Does an International Adoption Take?If you are seriously considering adoption as a way to start or build a family, you may be under the impression that international adoptions just always take longer than domestic adoptions. While the process of adopting a child from another country can be an involved process, there are countries and situations where the international process may actually get you a child sooner than a domestic adoption.

The International Adoption Process

The international adoption process is essentially a four step process:

  • The home study—The first thing you’ll need to do is complete a home study, which shouldn’t take more than six months, but can be done in as little as a month.
  • Completing your dossier—Once your home study is done, you’ll need to put together all the documents required to adopt in the country you’ve chosen. This is a fairly straightforward process and typically takes no more than a couple months. Once the dossier is complete, it will need to be authenticated and translated, which can take another month or so.
  • Processing your application—This is clearly the longest part of the process and varies wildly, based on the country. Some, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ukraine, will finish the process in less than six months. Most take one to two years, and China, which used to be a much faster process, now can take up to five years.
  • Obtaining your child’s visa through USCIS—Once your application has been processed, you must prepare and submit your application for an orphan visa, which can take a week or can take three to four months.

If everything goes smoothly, you can complete an international adoption in less than 18 months, not much longer than it would take to conceive a child.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Readoption: What Is It? Should You Do It?

Readoption: What Is It? Should You Do It?If you are considering an international adoption or have recently adopted a child internationally, you may have heard a caseworker or other person make reference to the readoption process. What is that and how does it affect you? This blog provides an overview of readoption and explains when you may want to consider going through the process.

In most instances, when you adopt a child internationally, the adoption proceedings actually take place in the child’s native country. The adoption, then, is recognized in that country—but what about the United States?

According to the Hague Adoption Convention, all adoptions involving countries that are signatories to the Convention are considered full and final. That means that if the child is from a Convention country and the parents are as well, there’s no need to go through the readoption process. In addition, in the United States, Congress has passed a law that gives the U.S. Secretary of State the authority to issue a certificate to be attached to a foreign adoption order, such that state courts and agencies also recognize the adoption. Unfortunately, at this time, a number of the countries providing the most children for foreign adoption—the Ukraine, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among them—have not signed the Hague Convention.

Why Would You Readopt?

There are a number of good reasons to readopt:

  • If you adopt the child in the United State, U.S. adoption laws will apply moving forward
  • A readoption can ensure that your child will have inheritance rights
  • You may be required to readopt to obtain a state birth certificate and name change—check your state adoption laws

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

The Second Parent Adoption

same-sex marriageEven though same-sex marriage is the law of the land now, there can still be legal challenges, especially when there are minor children involved. Typically, this is the parent who is biologically tied to the child. In many same-sex marriages, that person (the biological parent) is customarily the only one with actual parental rights. This may be the case, even in situations where both spouses raise the child together. There is a process, known as a second-parent adoption, where a non-biological parent can be granted many of the same rights as the biological parent, with any loss of rights by the biological parent.

With a second-parent adoption, the child essentially has two legal parents. Once a second-parent adoption has been finalized, the non-biological parent will have the same rights as the first, or biological parent.

It’s important, though, to determine whether your state allows second-parent adoptions. If the concept is not available, your first step should b to prepare and sign a co-parenting agreement, which lays out the responsibilities and rights of both parties. As a general rule, under a co-parenting agreement, you and your spouse will have equal rights and responsibilities with respect to discipline and training, as well as medical treatment, financial support and inheritance. A co-parenting agreement will usually set forth the terms of child care, custody and visitation in the event of a divorce.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Avoiding Adoption Scams

Adoption ScamsFor potential scammers, the emotions of the victim are often a powerful tool, convincing the mark to do things that border on the irrational. And there are fewer actions that are laden with more emotion than adoption proceedings. Unfortunately, the desire for a child has led many prospective adoptive parents to become victims of unscrupulous persons, from bogus adoption agencies to birthmothers seeking only profit. Here are some of the ways that you can be victimized in an adoption scam, as well as some of the steps you can take to avoid such an outcome.

  • A prospective birthmother may accept money and other gifts or goods from a number of adoptive parents simultaneously. This is neither legal nor ethical, but happens far too often. Frequently, the birthmother had no intention of ever giving up the child.
  • An adoption agency may charge substantial fees, but fail to provide any or all of the services set forth in the agreement.
  • Adoptive parents may promise the birthmother access to the child and then refuse to do so, once the adoption is final

The adoption process is somewhat unique, allowing the parties some degree of flexibility. Because fraud requires intent, it can often be difficult to go into a court of law and prove that you have been the victim of wrongdoing. For example, a birthmother may have the intent to put a child up for adoption right up to the time of birth and change her mind subsequent to delivery. In almost every instance, that would not be fraudulent behavior.

Because of the difficulty of demonstrating fraud, your best approach to avoid adoption scams is to ensure that you do your homework, and take certain steps to minimize the risk of deceit. This requires that you take time to educate yourself, that you have a strong knowledge of all parties with which you are working, and that you know your rights and the laws governing your adoption.

To educate yourself, consider doing the following if you are in the adoption process:

  • Do a Google search on the birth parent, spouse and family. See if they have a Facebook presence or are on other social media platforms.
  • If you get any kind of an image, get the file name for the image and Google it. You may find that the birth parent lifted the image from another website.
  • There are forums for adoptive parents to share adoption fraud experiences. Consider joining one of them.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients

with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

ASSOCIATIONS AND AWARDS

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