Archives for July 2019

Assistance for Special-Needs Adoptions

Pennsylvania Adoption Subsidies and Tax Credits

In 2015, more than 11,000 children in Pennsylvania entered the foster care system. Most of these children will end up bouncing between foster homes for years, but a lucky few—20% according to statistics released by Child Trend—end up being adopted. If you’re thinking of adopting a foster child, a PA adoption attorney can explain if you’re eligible for state/federal subsidies and tax credits.

Adoption Assistance Programs

Adoption assistance programs in the Keystone State are designed to offset expenses associated with the adoption of a special-needs child from foster care. In order to be designated with special needs, the child must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be diagnosed with a physical, mental or emotional disability
  • Have a genetic profile that’s associated with a high probability of developing a disability
  • Be between the ages of 5 and 18
  • Be a racial or ethnic minority

Siblings who are placed in the same adoptive home may also qualify for the reimbursement of adoption expenses.

Adoption assistance programs are designed to cover one-time expenses such as necessary medical and psychological examinations, transportation, lodging and food. Reimbursement for these expenses is capped at $2,000 per child. Families who are eligible for this assistance may also be eligible for state-sponsored medical coverage for the child they’re adopting as well as for a monthly adoption subsidy to cover the child’s expenses.

Federal Adoption Subsidy Programs

Title IV-E is the federal adoption subsidy program. It can be used to cover basic room, board, care and supervision costs associated with child rearing. In addition, the funds may be used to offset costs that are not quite as routine, such as diapers for children older than 4 years of age, school supplies and the cost of day camp. The amount of this subsidy will never exceed the highest amount that prospective parents might receive from fostering the child. However, the amount of the subsidy can be renegotiated if the child’s needs increase over time.

To qualify, the child must meet the eligibility criteria for the Pennsylvania-sponsored adoption assistance program. Additionally, the state of Pennsylvania must first determine that circumstances are such that the child should not be returned to his or her parents. The state will then make a reasonable attempt to place the child in a situation where the adoptive parents do not require government-subsidized support. Medicaid benefits are automatically awarded to children who qualify for Title IV-E funding.

If these criteria are met, then a child can qualify for Title IV-E funding in one of five ways:


  • The birth family met income and eligibility guidelines for the now-defunct Aid to Families of Dependent Children program (AFDC) in the month during which the child was surrendered to the foster care system. The criteria for AFDC eligibility hinged on the inability of the parents to support the child either through parental absence from the home, parental disability or unemployment.
  • The child with special needs was in the foster care system for 60 consecutive months or longer.
  • The child is eligible for Title XVI Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI is most often reserved for children with physical disabilities.
  • The child was born to a minor parent who is in the foster care system.
  • The child was deemed eligible for Title IV-E funding through a previous adoption, but that adoption is no longer legitimate.

At one time, Title IV-E funding also had age guidelines. As of 2018, however, children of all ages may be eligible.

Tax Credit for Adoption

There is also a one-time tax credit that adopting parents can claim on their federal tax returns that’s designed to help with expenses associated with the adoption. It’s a nonrefundable credit, which means that it can only be used to lower any existing tax liability. If you’re adopting a special-needs child, you may be able to write off as much as $13,810 in qualified adoption expenses.

While adopting a child with special needs may be complicated, it can also be rewarding. A PA adoption attorney will be able to help you determine if you might be eligible for federal and/or state payments that can help you deal with some of the associated expenses. Contact the law firm of Cofsky & Zeidman in Philadelphia at (215) 563-2150 to set up a consultation today.

Confidence in Your Ability to Be a Good Adoptive Parent

Having Confidence in Your Abilities as an Adoptive Parent

The average amount of time children are in New Jersey foster care before being adopted is around 3.1 years, according to data gathered in 2012. Many people looking to adopt a child feel nervous about their abilities to be good parents. Facing this fear is a normal part of the process.

Connect With Other Adoptive Parents

Talking with other people who have gone through the adoption process will give you insights and reassure you that you’re not alone. Lots of adoptive parents have the same worries in the beginning. For example, many worry about having what it takes to raise a child who experienced early traumas or dealing with birth parents trying to interfere. It’s normal to have these worries, so don’t let your sudden anxiety hold you back from adopting a child.

Whether you’re going through a private adoption or an agency adoption, you should consult with a New Jersey adoption attorney to protect your interests. This helps give you confidence in the legal aspects of adoption.

Discuss Potential Health Issues With Doctors

If you’re going through the closed adoption process, you might not have access to the child’s medical history and family medical history. This means that you will not know if the child is at a higher risk of mental disorders and other health issues. When you adopt a child who’s no longer a baby, you must be aware that they may have mental health issues to work through. You’ll need to have patience and an understanding of how children can be affected by their parents putting them up for adoption. Some of these children may have been abused as well.

Discuss these topics with various doctors and mental health care professionals to learn what to expect and how to handle them. When you know what to expect, you’ll feel more confident in your abilities to be a good adoptive parent. Schedule therapy appointments for the child if needed, and maintain a positive mindset that he or she can heal from their past traumas.


Learn About the Child’s Culture

In transracial adoptions, you should learn about the child’s culture to help him or her have pride in the culture and background. You could also connect with adults who have the same race and/or culture as the child you’re adopting. They may help you understand the culture and gently guide you if you get something wrong.

Incorporate aspects of your new child’s culture into the upbringing. This can include holidays and traditions from the home country. You’ll find it fun to learn about and experience another culture while raising your child.

Read Books and Listen to Podcasts on Parenting

The more you learn, the more confidence you’ll have in your parenting abilities. Don’t know where to start? You can ask your agency for advice.

Some books with good parenting tips for adoptive parents include:

  • “Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents” by Deborah D. Gray
  • “Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow” by Gregory Keck and Regina M. Kupecky
  • “Raising Adopted Children, Revised Edition: Practical Reassuring Advice for Every Adoptive Parent” by Lois Ruskai Melina
  • “The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole” by Lori Holden
  • “No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind” by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

Work on Yourself

Taking an interest in personal development helps give you more confidence in your parenting abilities. Consider making time to read inspirational and helpful personal development books. Working on improving yourself could help you become a better parent by cultivating patience, confidence, and high self-esteem.

Having confidence as an adoptive parent often comes down to making friends with other adoptive parents, learning as much as you can, and consulting with professionals. Of course, staying on top of all potential adoption-related legal issues is important, too. Protect your interests when adopting a child by working with a New Jersey adoption attorney. Contact Cofsky & Zeidman for advice on any type of adoption. You can reach our Haddonfield, NJ, office at (856) 429-5005 and our Woodbury, NJ, office at (856) 845-2555.

Why You Should Get an Adoption Attorney

How an Adoption Attorney Can Help

More kids are adopted in the United States than in any other country in the world, and if you’re considering adoption, then you’ll need assistance from a PA adoption attorney. By working with a lawyer, you’ll have an easier time making your way through the state and federal adoption regulations. An attorney will also help you fill out the mountains of paperwork you’ll be facing and file them with the right departments at the right time.

Adoption Is a Complex Legal Situation

From beginning to end, the adoption process is managed by a set of laws and regulations. There are state and federal laws for those who want to adopt and prospective birth mothers. With regulations comes paperwork, which can be overwhelming.

While this sounds like, and is, a lot of work, it’s not up to you to do it. When you hire an adoption attorney, he or she will handle the complex legal situations that your adoption agency may not have the ability to handle.

Along with overseeing the legal aspects of adoption that occurs through an agency, adoption lawyers also handle ones that happen outside of an agency. These types of adoptions are called independent adoptions. There are pros and cons to working with an adoption lawyer solely instead of both a lawyer and an agency.

The Pros and Cons of Working With an Adoption Lawyer

Officially, an adoption lawyer is a legal practitioner who specializes in family law and adoption. An adoption law firm would consist of two or more lawyers who practice in this area of the law. Some firms have just one attorney who specializes in it. In adoption law, attorneys handle situations that range from stepparent adoptions to independent ones. Most lawyers handle the legal part of any adoption, but they don’t pair possible birth parents to their clients. This makes them a better professional provider for relative, identified and stepparent adoptions.

Occasionally, an adoption lawyer may locate birth mothers or adoptive parents and facilitate the communication, living expenses and financial arrangements between them. However, these are services that are usually provided by an adoption agency. This part of the process is where an adoption attorney may not have as much experience.

The pros of working solely with an adoption lawyer include:

• Access to critical legal services. A major benefit of going with an adoption firm is that your adoption will be handled solidly and safely, increasing the security of the adoption. You’ll mainly notice this benefit when you’re dealing with the legal side of the adoption. Plan to hire an adoption lawyer for this part of the adoption even if you’re using an agency to facilitate the process.

• The authority to process identified adoptions. If a person already has a birth mother from whom he or she wants to adopt, like a family member or friend who is pregnant and doesn’t want to keep the baby, then this is an identified adoption. In this case, the only professional needed to complete the adoption process is an adoption attorney. Going this route is more affordable.

The downsides to working solely with an adoption lawyer include:

• Fewer leads. If you aren’t already undergoing the adoption process, then undertaking it with an adoption lawyer without an agency may delay when you receive a child. Adoption agencies are set up to pair prospective parents with birth mothers who don’t want, or are unable to, care for the children they’re carrying.

• Variable costs. The total amount that you’ll spend to adopt a child may fluctuate based on the law firm. Some bill hourly, which means that you may not be able to budget the cost.

Getting the Help You Need

When it comes to legal situations, it’s always best to hire a PA adoption attorney to make sure that everything is handled properly. If you’re considering adoption, then contact us at Cofsky & Zeidman in Philadelphia, PA, at (215) 563-2150. You can reach our Haddonfield, NJ, office at (865) 429-5005 or Woodbury, NJ, office at (856) 845-2555. We’re prepared to help you with your adoption.

What You Need to Ask Before Hiring an Adoption Attorney in New Jersey

Essential Questions to Ask an Adoption Lawyer in New Jersey

The most recent data reveals that 1,063 adoptions were finalized in New Jersey in 2015, and many children are still hoping to find adoptive parents to provide them with a permanent home. Whether you are seeking a lawyer to help you with a current adoption in New Jersey or you are trying to find a child to adopt, hiring the right lawyer is important. Ask these five adoption questions to a prospective NJ adoption lawyer to aid you in your search.

1. How Many Years of Experience Does Your Firm Have in Handling Adoptions?

Many types of law firms can handle adoptions. However, not all firms make adoption their primary practice. When looking for a lawyer to handle your adoption in New Jersey, you will be well served to find a firm that is primarily devoted to adoption.

Our firm has over 25 years of experience handling adoptions. We are well acquainted with helping families grow through adoption. Because adoption is our area of primary concern, we have insights into strategies that lead to successful adoptions.

2. How Many Adoptions Has Your Firm Finalized in That Period?

Before you hire a New Jersey adoption attorney, you ought to verify that they have had success in finalizing adoptions. Hiring a lawyer with more experience in this area can make the process more comfortable for the adopting parents, providing peace of mind throughout the process.

Our primary lawyer, Mr. Cofsky, has successfully completed over 1,500 adoptions. In addition, he has represented and advised adoption agencies in various matters of the law throughout the years.

3. What Kinds of Adoptions Does Your Firm Offer?

There are many types of adoptions available in New Jersey, each with their unique complexities. If your adoption is nuanced, be sure to ask specifically about the lawyer’s experience in that area.

At Cofsky & Zeidman, we have experience in many types of adoptions, including private adoptions, agency adoptions, post-adoption issues, foreign adoptions and more.

4. What Qualifications Does the Lawyer Who Handles My Case Have?

Looking into the certifications and qualifications of your adoption lawyer can give you insight into their competence. If the attorney you are considering hiring shows excellence in the field, the entire adoption process may be simplified.

Our NJ adoption attorney, Mr. Cofsky, has been very active in the adoption community and has received awards for his service in this area. Here are some of his credentials and accomplishments:


    • Led workshops and lectures at many adoption seminars


    • Spoke about adoption-related topics on television


    • Is the former president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys


    • Received the title of “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2005



5. Can I Read Testimonials From Other Clients Who Have Had Successful Adoptions With Your Firm?

Before you hire a lawyer to represent you during the adoption process, you’ll want to read some testimonies from former clients. These accounts will give you insight into the quality of care and competence of the lawyer from real parents.

Our law firm, Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, has received 5-star reviews from our previous clients. Marco writes:

“I could write volumes praising Mr. Cofsky. An online review is way too short to describe such an incredible attorney. Mr. Cofsky is professional, precise, knowledgeable, dependable…and most importantly, incredibly caring. He’s an awesome lawyer. I would hire him again in a heartbeat.”

Read more reviews here.

How to Schedule an Adoption Consultation Today

While the adoption process can be complicated, an attorney could help you get through the process. If you have additional adoption questions, schedule a confidential consultation to learn more about your rights and options. Our main office is located in Haddonfield, New Jersey. You can give us a call at (856) 429-5005 today. For additional ways to contact us, visit our contact portal.

Do You Need Consent From a Father Before Adopting?

Can a Previously Unacknowledged Biological Father Challenge an Adoption?

While finalizing an adoption can be straightforward if both parents consent or had their rights terminated, the process gets trickier if the biological father was not in the picture. Many adoptive parents end up worrying that an unknown father can appear one day and try to regain custody of their child. Understanding how paternal rights in New Jersey work can help reduce stress during this challenging process.

Understanding How Paternity Is Established

Many people in the process of adopting a child want to know what they should do if a man suddenly appears claiming to be the biological father. In these sorts of cases, it’s important to figure out whether the biological father has actually legally claimed paternity for the child. If the father was not married to the mother and has taken no legal steps to try to claim paternity, they cannot just show up and take your adopted child. They are only able to get involved with the adoption process if they have legally established paternity.

Usually, if both the biological mother and father agree that the father is the biological parent, they can fill out a voluntary certificate of parentage. If they do not agree, the person claiming to be the biological father can try petitioning the court to establish his paternity with a DNA test. Keep in mind that just establishing initial paternity does not mean a man will have the right to get custody of your adoptive child. It is simply a legal acknowledgment that the person is in fact the biological father.

How to Tell If a Father Actually Has Rights

In these sorts of situations, the main thing to focus on is whether the biological father has any parental rights in the first place. A father may automatically lose his rights if he was involved in a serious crime like the rape or assault of the mother. However, the usual reason that a biological father does not have rights is just that he waited too long to establish paternity.

The simplest option in an adoption with an unknown father is often not getting the biological father involved at all. In most areas, if the biological father does not establish paternity within a set amount of time, his parental rights are automatically terminated. This time period varies depending on location. It’s 120 days in New Jersey. The clock starts either when the child is born or when the preliminary adoption hearing is held, whichever occurs first.

How to Handle a Father Who Still Retains His Parental Rights

If you start the adoption process without knowing who the biological father is, there is a chance in the first few months that he could show up soon enough to still have paternal rights. Of course, the simplest option is just convincing him too also consent to the adoption. However, if that does not happen, you may still be able to finalize the adoption of your child.

Usually, these types of situations will end up being decided by the court. Our NJ adoption lawyer is capable of discussing these sorts of contested adoptions with clients. If you can show that the father has not tried to regularly care for the child and that he is unlikely to be able to care for the child in the future, you may still be able to finalize the adoption.

Ultimately, you usually do not need to be concerned as long as enough time has passed since the child was born. However, these sorts of cases can be complex, so it’s still important to have an experienced NJ adoption lawyer on your side. At Cofsky & Zeidman, we have a talented team that will be happy to help you navigate all the local and federal laws about adoption. You can call our office in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or our office in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555 to learn more about your options.

Can You Adopt a Child in New Jersey?

You Don’t Have to Be Related to Adopt a Child

There are various ways to adopt a child in New Jersey. While many adoptions are completed by married couples, other relatives and third parties are also qualified to go through the process. For example, adoption by a stepparent is the most common type of adoption in the U.S.

Several Types of Adoptions

Third-party adoption agencies are the traditional way to adopt a child. It is often an unrelated child that is placed with the adoptive parents. These parents undergo an extensive background check to make sure they can meet the emotional and financial needs of the child. After the adoption, the parents are often monitored by the agency to ensure the child is thriving in the new environment. With this type of adoption, the biological parents sign away all legal rights to the child.

Open Adoptions

Until recently, most adoptions were considered to be closed. In such cases, the biological parents had no contact with the child or the adoptive parents. Many children with these types of adoptions did not have the legal right to contact their biological parents until the age of 18. Today, adoption protocols have changed. Many biological parents know who completed the adoption, and they may even be in communication with the family.

Stepparent Adoptions

Stepparent adoption is becoming more common in the United States. When the one parent remarries, the other spouse may want to adopt the children. In this case, the other parent must give up their rights to children for the adoption to proceed in the court.

Second-Parent Adoption

In the past, same-gender couples often faced an uphill battle for the non-biological parent to adopt the children. If the couple breaks up or a spouse dies, the other spouse had no legal rights to the child. However, federal courts have been ruling that a non-biological parent partner can adopt their partner’s children. For this to happen, the other biological parent must give up the right to the children. This only extends to unmarried same-sex partners. Married couples can adopt in the same manner as a stepparent adoption.

Grandparent Adoptions

In the United States, many grandparents are raising their grandchildren. In some cases, the parents are unable to provide care and choose to give up their parental rights. In the past, this type of arrangement was done without any legal agreement. Today, many grandparents are choosing to have formal custody arrangements in place for the children. These agreements help the grandparents seek medical treatments for the kids or enroll the children in school without any disruption. It also protects the child if the biological parents want to restore their custody rights.

Rights of the Biological Parents

Biological parents’ rights cannot be terminated without cause. Many biological parents choose to give up their rights to their kids. However, the courts may step in and terminate the rights of “unfit” parents. After this happens, the child can be adopted by another party. For a child to be adopted, both parents must give up their rights. Fathers also have equal rights to their children, and the mother cannot give up a child without the consent of the father. If you have questions about your rights, contact a New Jersey adoption attorney today.

Children’s Consent

If the child is age 11 or under, he or she does not have to consent to the adoption. If the child does not want to be adopted by a certain individual, this can raise red flags with the courts. After the age of 12, the child must give his or her consent for the adoption to proceed.

Contact an New Jersey Adoption Attorney

An experienced attorney can help you navigate through the legal process of adoption. Whether you are a grandparent, stepparent, second-parent, or third party, Donald Cofsky can help you with the adoption. We can help make sure that all the legal requirements are met in your case. To learn more, contact our Haddonfield, NJ, office at (856) 429-5005 or our Woodbury, NJ, office at (856) 845-2555.