Archives for October 2018

Challenges Facing Those Who Want to Adopt

A New Jersey Adoption Attorney Can Help You

Many couples dream of adopting a child. There are many different types of adoptions in New Jersey. In 2012, 1,023 children were adopted from foster care. Some adoption cases are stepparent adoptions in which the adopting parent has already formed a relationship with the child. The legal process for an adoption is similar whether the adoption is for a stepchild or if the adoption involves an agency.

In many cases, the biological parent consents to the adoption. In a case that involves an agency, the parent may have been contemplating the prospect of adoption for a long time but may still change his or her mind after the birth of the child. In a stepparent adoption, a biological parent may revoke his or her consent or appeal the adoption decree if he or she does so within the time frame required by law.

How Does Consent to Adoption Work in New Jersey?

In some cases, a biological parent may sign a consent form allowing his or her parental rights to be terminated and for an adoption case to proceed without further notice to him or her. However, even after the consent forms are signed, the parent may be able to revoke his or her consent before the final decree is entered.

A parent may argue that the consent is invalid because the paperwork was signed on the basis of fraud, duress, or coercion. For example, if the parent was given the paperwork to sign but wasn’t allowed sufficient time to read it or was told that the purpose of his or her signature was different than consent to an adoption, he or she may be able to argue that they didn’t understand what they were signing and weren’t given a meaningful opportunity to consider it. If he or she was ordered to sign the paperwork pursuant to a threat of bodily injury to himself or herself or another person, then this is another reason that the consent could be declared invalid. For example, if a person threatened to harm the child if the parent didn’t sign a consent form, then the biological parent may be able to argue that he or she signed it due to duress, threats, or coercion.

What Can I Expect in a Contested Adoption Hearing?

In some cases, the natural parent of a child is unfit to care for the child but will not consent to an adoption. The petitioner who wants the adoption to go forward will need to present proof to the court that the parent is unfit and that his or her rights should be terminated. The petitioner will also need to prove that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. A court will consider factors related to the parent’s relationship with the child, such as how often the parent has had contact with the child, whether or not he or she has provided child support, and other factors related to the parent’s fitness to raise the child. If the child is old enough to testify about his or her wishes to be adopted, then a judge may wish to hear from the child.

What if an Adoption is Appealed?

If a biological parent opposes an adoption and thinks the court made the wrong decision, he or she may file an appeal. If a petition for adoption is denied, then a petitioner may also file an appeal to ask a court of appeals to reconsider the issues decided by the trial court. There’s only a limited amount of time to file an appeal after a final decree is entered, and only a party to the case may file an appeal. A court of appeals will generally only consider information that was presented at the trial court level and usually will not overturn a judge’s decision made below unless there was a clear error. To file an appeal, a notice of appeal must be filed at the trial court level and a transcript must be ordered from the court reporter.

Judges are often reluctant to terminate parental rights unless there’s clear evidence that it’s in the child’s best interests, such as abandonment, abuse, neglect, or severe and recurring substance abuse issues. A petitioner who’s going to court for a contested adoption case should expect to present as much testimony as possible through witnesses and other evidence that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.

What Should I Do if I Have Questions About Adoption in New Jersey?

If you have questions about adoption, then contact Cofsky & Zeidman and speak with a New Jersey adoption attorney. Our adoption attorney can help guide you through the process and explain what you can expect at each stage of the proceeding. Contact our office today by calling (856)429-5005 to schedule a consultation.

Separation of Immigrant Families

There has been a lot in the news about children being separated from their parents who have entered the United States either illegally, or who have requested asylum in the United States.

The courts have ordered the federal government to re-unite the children with their parents. Unfortunately, this has not necessarily been occurring.  In fact, it was recently reported that at least 300 individuals were sent back to their home countries in Central America without their children. Their children were then placed into state foster care.  As more and more time has passed, some of the foster families have asked for permanent custody, and although having signed agreements that they would not seek to adopt the children, it appears that this may now be happening.

The states’ foster care systems are not equipped to deal with these children.  Further, and more importantly, the separation of these children whether at a very young age or older, is devastating for them.  This is a situation which must be dealt with and remedied properly.  No child should be taken from his or her parents who may very well be excellent parents, especially when the separation is for punishment unrelated to child care or for political reasons.

Children Hope for a Loving and Stable Family to Foster/Adopt Them

Families Who Foster/Adopt Kids Provide a Dream Come True

Children are placed under state custody for several reasons, but this is never the fault of the child. One of the major dilemmas in the world today is that some biological parents fail to provide for or protect their children, and in many cases, reunification is never achieved. When this happens, parental rights are terminated, and the child or children are typically made available for adoption.

Who Is Capable of Fostering a Child?

It takes an open, committed and loving family to share their home with a foster child. For whatever reason a child is in state custody, there are undoubtedly circumstances that put them in the foster care system that were completely out of the child’s control. The emotional or physical needs of a child in foster care may be varied. It is important that foster children receive care, nurturing and supervision in an emotionally stable and safe home environment.

Potential foster parents must be at least 21 years of age and able to pass an extensive background check. In fact, one of the first parts of the process requires a state and federal criminal background check and child abuse clearance on everyone in the home who is age 18 and older. To obtain these clearances, a one-time full set of fingerprints is needed along with an approval certification from each state registry where an applicant has lived over the past five years.

What Else Is Necessary to Become Licensed to Foster?

  • A current physical and tuberculosis test
  • A safety check of the home
  • A completed home study
  • Financial stability but not abundant wealth
  • References from non-family members
  • Completed parental training

A home study is conducted by a social worker who outlines the strengths of the family applying to become a foster or adoptive home. A social worker can also be the perfect resource to assist families in identifying their strengths and then help to match them with a child who is waiting for a foster/adopt home.

Children living within the foster care system may be considered an emotional special needs adoption because of abuse and neglect they have endured. Some of the children in foster care have physical disabilities or suffer from birth defects or illness. The needs of children can vary as much as their personalities do, but all children want and deserve to be loved.

What Is Irrelevant and Not a Condition of Foster Care Licensing?

  • Marital status
  • Owning or renting a home
  • Gender and sexual orientation

Thousands of children across the country are hoping for a forever family that they can call their own. By nature, children have an inherent capacity to trust adults to do what is in their best interest. This is exactly the approach the family court systems across the country take when it comes to any child who is eligible for special needs adoption. When abuse or neglect have broken a child’s ability to trust, he or she may be adversely affected by physical and emotional scars. It is possible with proper care, nurturing and a loving environment that a child can heal from the scars and lead a full and productive life. Foster parents and adoptive parents have an opportunity to influence the lives of children in a meaningful way.

For more information and some adoption tips, contact a PA adoption lawyer who can guide you when it comes to the ins and outs of adoption.

If you are considering adopting a child who needs a forever family, please contact Donald C. Cofsky at the main office in Haddonfield, New Jersey, at (856) 429-5005; in the Woodbury, New Jersey, office at (856) 845-2555; or in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, office at (215) 563-2150.