The popularity of open adoption is a relatively recent phenomenon. There are many reasons why this option may be the right one for your family.
Why Open Adoption Could Be the Right Choice for You
It’s estimated that between 60 and 70 percent of all adoptions in the U.S. today are open adoptions. If you’re considering an open adoption in the Garden State, consulting with an experienced NJ adoption lawyer can be a useful first step.
What Is Open Adoption?
An open adoption is an adoption in which a biological parent maintains some sort of relationship with the family who adopted his or her biological child. The nature of that contact can vary. In some instances, the adoptive family may send the biological parent an occasional photo and an update while in other situations, the biological parent may be encouraged to visit and spend time with the child.
A closed adoption, on the other hand, is one in which the adoption records are sealed, and no identifying information is passed between adoptive and biological parents. Thirty states, however, have set up mutual consent registries allowing children who were adopted through a closed adoption procedure to seek information about their biological parents once they come of age so long as the biological parents agree.
The Birthright Act
In January of 2017, the Adoptees’ Birthright Act went into effect in New Jersey. This law unsealed the birth records of 300,000 individuals who were born in New Jersey and later adopted both within and outside the Garden State. The adoptees can petition to receive uncertified copies of their birth certificates, which will give them access to their birth name and to the time, date and place of their birth. Unless their biological parents specifically petitioned to redact the information before December 31, 2016, adoptees will also have access to the names of their birth parents. Birth mothers and fathers have leeway, however, over the degree of subsequent contact they wish to have with any child who was given up for adoption.
New Jersey Adoption Laws
New Jersey Statutes Title 9, Sections 3-37 describe the legal requirements for adopting a minor child in the Garden State. Title 2A, Section 22-1 stipulates the requirements for the adoption of an adult.
Any individual who is 18 years of age or older can adopt a child in New Jersey. While many adoptions are independent arrangements that are brokered directly between biological parents and adoptive parents, others are mediated through agencies.
There are two types of adoption agencies in New Jersey: public and private. Both are licensed by the state and subject to state regulation and scrutiny. Private adoption agencies are frequently affiliated with social service organizations and place children who have been brought to their attention by biological parents. Public adoption agencies, on the other hand, place children who through abandonment or abuse have become wards of the court.
What Are the Benefits of Open Adoption?
The prospect of an open adoption can be frightening to adoptive parents. Will their adopted child see them as parents, they may wonder? Will the biological parents ever be able to reassert a claim to the child? Nevertheless, there are many advantages to the open adoption model.
- Medical and genetic information: Increasingly, medical science is discovering that many chronic health conditions have genetic components. When adoption records are sealed, it can be difficult to get access to medical information that could help determine the most effective treatment strategies for a sick child.
- Self-esteem: Without reassurance from a biological parent, an adopted child can grow up believing that he or she was placed for adoption because of some horrible flaw. Such children can grow up with a sense of abandonment that can be very destructive to their self-esteem. Learning from a biological parent about the circumstances that led up to the adoption can go a long way toward bolstering a child’s self-confidence.
- Less uncertainty: What people don’t know is often scarier than what people do know. Where there’s an open channel of communication between adoptive parents and biological parents, adoptive parents are less likely to question a birth mother’s underlying intentions.
For more information about the adoption process in New Jersey, contact our NJ adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman today. We can be reached in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555.