New Jersey Public Adoptions Through the State Agency
There are multiple ways people can adopt children in New Jersey, and these include working with a private agency, making a separate arrangement with the birth parents or adopting through the state’s Office of Adoptions Operations. In most cases, adoptions that take place through the Department of Children and Families, Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P) involve foster parents who have already developed a relationship with the children. The state has a mandate to reunite children in foster care with their birth families, but adoption can be an alternative when reunification is not possible for some reason.
Foster Care and Adoption in New Jersey
In some cases, years of foster care and attempted family reunification may not be prerequisites, and children may be available for permanent placement on a more immediate basis. However, the children who are available often face various challenges. They may be older, have special needs or require placement as part of a sibling group. In some cases, adoption subsidies are available to assist parents with the costs of supporting these children. Adoption subsidies can apply to medical coverage, legal fees or maintenance payments, and around 98 percent of children adopted in this way receive a subsidy. Our NJ adoption attorney can provide you with more information about the advantages and complications of working within the public system.
In order to become a foster parent and move through the state system, you must meet eligibility criteria. You may then specify the types of children you are willing to foster who need homes. The state does not discriminate against prospective parents on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity or marital or domestic status.
Home Studies for NJ Foster Care and Adoption
After you pass an initial review stage, a DCP&P resource family worker will contact you to begin a home study. While a home study is also required for private adoptions in New Jersey, the process associated with becoming a foster or an adoptive parent through the state is more intense.
During the process, the state provides 27 hours of training to parents, including background on the experiences and needs of adopted children. It is important to understand that many aspects of going through the state system can be challenging, and the emotional demands are not the least of these. Children can be reunited with their birth families after a long period of bonding with foster parents. In addition, many children in care face significant personal difficulties. Some have experienced trauma prior to the placement.
- Health checks
- Income verification
- Child abuse record checks
- Criminal background checks
- Personal and employment references
- Interviews with those living in the home
Whether they plan to adopt or wish to remain as foster parents, all resource families must go through the home study process. In addition, the family and home must be licensed through an inspection.
Matching a Parent With a Potential Adoptive Child
Prospective parents approved after a home study are entered into the system for a preliminary match of available children. If a child is already eligible for adoption, the placement will be supervised for at least six months by a state caseworker. This supervision will include home visits and other kinds of support.
If no issues arise during that time, DCP&P will consent to the adoption. Note that this only applies to children who are already available for adoption; children in foster care normally remain in the system for a much longer time, and depending on their circumstances, they may never be deemed eligible. The state’s consent will be forwarded to the parents’ NJ adoption attorney who can then file a petition for adoption, secure a date for the final hearing and obtain an amended birth certificate for the child.
Parents considering working through the state system to adopt a child can work with our NJ adoption attorney at Cofsky & Zeidman. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has helped over 1,500 families grow over the years. To set up an appointment for a consultation with an experienced adoption lawyer, call our office in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or our office in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555.