Understanding the New Jersey Adoption Process
Many parents are eager to adopt in New Jersey as the state has a reputation for being friendly to the adoption process. In fact, people have traveled from outside the state in order to finalize their adoption in New Jersey because state law tends to be inclusive while favoring adoption when it is in the best interests of the child. Since the child’s interests are paramount in a New Jersey adoption case, the system aims to protect finalized family arrangements that will not be subject to ongoing disruption over time.
Working With an Adoption Agency
State law gives strong support to adoptive parents who work with an adoption agency. State-approved adoption agencies are now under clear supervision and monitoring. Due to this regulation, individuals who work with these agencies can benefit from a streamlined process that can help them finalize an adoption relatively quickly and smoothly.
The birth mother should sign over her parental rights to the child at least 72 hours after the birth of the baby. That 72-hour period provides time to make sure that her decision was made in a clear state of mind without the pressure imposed by labor and childbirth. If the surrender of parental rights is signed in the proper time period with a state-approved agency, it is considered an irrevocable consent to adoption, and there is no additional waiting period under state law.
Parents should always make sure that they are working with a state-approved and -licensed adoption agency in good standing. The strong regulations that exist today are in place due to serious abuses that have taken place in past years that separated birth parents from their children without true consent. Even today, birth mothers can contest an agency adoption but only if they can prove:
Working with a legitimate adoption agency can help protect both adoptive and birth parents. A New Jersey adoption lawyer can provide guidance throughout the process to make sure that everything is proceeding according to plan. Adoptive parents who are considering an international adoption should also make sure that the agency they work with is accredited by the Hague Convention.
What About Birth Fathers?
In New Jersey, birth mothers are not required by law to identify the father of their child. However, adoption agencies are required to act diligently to identify the biological father of the baby being placed for adoption. If the agency identifies the father, it must notify him of his rights and seek his consent for the adoption. The birth father has a right to file an objection when he receives this notice because his rights to the child are equal to those of the birth mother. On the other hand, the birth father can also respond by signing a voluntary surrender of his rights.
If the agency does not receive a response to its notification or is unable to find the biological father, he must affirmatively act to assert his parental rights in order to legally protect them. The birth father has 120 days after the child’s birth to attempt to establish paternity or amend the birth certificate to add his name. If he does not act and never responds, the adoptive parents do not need to continue to serve the birth father as they proceed with their complaint for adoption. In this situation, an identified birth father can have his parental rights terminated by his inaction in the first four months after the child’s birth, and there is no need to pursue additional termination proceedings.
If the birth father is unidentified, the situation can be more complex. However, the court can terminate the rights of an unknown birth father during the adoption process as well. A New Jersey adoption attorney can advise adoptive parents about how an unidentified birth father could affect the process.
Filing a Complaint for Adoption
A New Jersey adoption lawyer can help adoptive parents file their complaint for adoption according to the timelines provided under state law. Experienced NJ adoption attorneys can work with parents to achieve a successful outcome and welcome their new child to their family. Potential adoptive parents can contact attorney Donald C. Cofsky for experienced adoption advice and representation as he has a track record of helping over 1,500 families grow. Call our office in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or our office in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555 to set up a consultation.