How to Prepare for an Adoption Home Study

Ways to Plan Ahead for an Adoption Home Study Visit

More than 130,000 children are adopted each year in the United States. Planning to welcome a child into your New Jersey home and family is a joyful and exciting time. Part of the process typically includes a scheduled home study visit with a licensed social worker, which is why you will want to be as well-prepared as possible so that the final report will prompt the state to approve your application to become an adoptive parent.

Things That You Can Do Ahead of Time to Prepare for a Home Study Visit

An ultimate goal of a home study visit is for adoptive parents to demonstrate that their home is a safe and healthy environment and that they can meet the emotional, financial, and physical needs of an adopted child. The following list includes several steps that you can take ahead of time to properly prepare for a home study:

• Make sure that your home is up to code for safety regulations.
• Practice asking and answering questions for an interview.
• Seek clarification of state laws and regulations by consulting with a New Jersey adoption lawyer.
• Compile a portfolio of documents that may be relevant to the home study process.

Setting time aside to perform each of these steps before your scheduled home study date may not only help you feel calm and confident about the visit but may also increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Demonstrate That Your Home Is a Clean and Safe Environment

When placing children with families through adoption, the state makes it a priority to ensure that a particular child’s new home will be a healthy and safe environment. The agency representative who visits your home is trained to assess the surroundings to determine whether they meet accepted standards and regulations. Before your home study visit, it is a good idea to make sure all your locks work properly, that you have functioning smoke alarms in the house, and that you have installed covers over all electrical outlets.

You may want to research ahead of time to clarify additional safety regulations, such as making sure that all stairways have railings. The agent might ask you to describe your emergency exit safety plan, and you should also be ready to tell the agent what disaster preparedness measures you have taken. In addition to safety, you’ll want to make sure that your house is clean, and while no one expects it to be perfect, it should be well-maintained.

Your Home Study Will Include an Interview

It is a good idea to think ahead about the questions the visiting agency representative might ask you so that you can have possible answers in mind. You can get family members to help you practice for your interview. Consider questions such as what type of social activities you enjoy or how your family typically handles problems.

Why Talking to a New Jersey Adoption Lawyer Is Helpful

A New Jersey adoption attorney is well-versed in all aspects of the adoption process whether you are welcoming a child through the foster care system or are arranging an international adoption. Any number of legal obstacles can arise that might delay your plans or impede your ability to adopt a child. Setting up a strong support network from the start can help resolve any problem issues that surface during the process.

Having Personal Documents On Hand Can Help

Paperwork pertaining to each member of your household, such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, and drivers’ licenses, may be something that your home study agent wants to see during the home visit. It is also helpful to have employment documents and tax information on hand as well as a list of contact information for your personal references.

It is always better to have personal documents readily available than to be caught off-guard by a request and have to locate information during your home study visit, which could lead to negative comments in the final report.

Try to Relax and Be Yourself

While a home study can sometimes feel invasive, it is important to remember that your willingness to participate is helping you accomplish your goal to adopt a child. Most importantly, just try to be yourself and show your interviewer that you are able and willing to provide a good home for a child in need. You might also want to keep a journal that includes photos or videos about your home study as part of your adoption journey that you may one day want to share with your child.

If you have questions about state laws or a specific legal problem arises, don’t hesitate to contact a New Jersey adoption lawyer by calling Cofsky & Zeidman at our Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005 or our Woodbury office at (856) 845-2555.

How to Adopt Your Stepchild

What to Expect When You Want to Adopt a Stepchild

Did you know that there are hundreds of thousands of adopted stepchildren in the United States? Adopting a stepchild is fairly common, and there is a specific legal process in place for it. If you are ready to adopt your stepchild, all you need to do is follow these steps.

Make Sure You Meet the Requirements

First of all, it is a good idea to meet with a Pennsylvania or New Jersey adoption attorney to ensure you meet all requirements to be an adoptive parent. For example, if the adoption is to take place in New Jersey, you must:

• Be at least 18 years of age
• Be at least 10 years older than the child

Most importantly, the adoption must be in the best interest of the child. This can mean that the child might have to consent to the adoption or that you have to show you can support the child.

Get the Consent Of the Custodial Parent

In most cases, this step is fairly simple. The custodial parent will need to give their consent for you to adopt their child. This typically just means they will need to sign a form. However, if you have divorced the custodial parent but still want to adopt your former stepchild, things can be more complex. In this case, you would need to get the custodial parent’s rights terminated along with the noncustodial parent’s rights.

Terminate the Noncustodial Parent’s Rights

Most states will not allow you to adopt your stepchild if they have another legal parent that is still in the picture. The only way to adopt the child is if you can terminate the rights of the noncustodial parent. In cases where you have contact with the parent and they agree to sign over their rights, you will just need to fill out some standard documents.

When the parent will not voluntarily surrender their rights, your New Jersey adoption attorney will need to show the court that the noncustodial parent meets one of these criteria:

• Does not fulfill parental responsibilities like paying child support and contacting the child
• Has neglected the child’s needs
• Has physically, mentally, or sexually abused the child or other children in their household
• Is not actually the biological father of the child
• Has abandoned the child
• Cannot be found
• Has a long-term substance use problem or other mental illness that will hinder their ability to care for the child

File a Petition for Adoption

Once you have gathered all your documentation that you meet adoption requirements, your attorney just needs to formally inform the court that you want to adopt the child by filing a petition. This tells the court about your situation and shows proof that the custodial parent consents to the adoption. After the court reviews your case, it will schedule a date for a hearing. In many cases, this hearing is a mere formality. However, you will still need to be fully prepared.

Finalize the Adoption at the Adoption Hearing

At your hearing, your lawyer will need to provide all relevant legal documents, and you will need to explain why it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted. Once the court approves the adoption, you are formally your stepchild’s parent. You will have full parental rights, and you will get a birth certificate that lists you as one of their parents.

Ultimately, the stepchild adoption process does not have to be too confusing or stressful. There are all sorts of legal steps you need to follow, though, so it is a good idea to have an adoption attorney on your side. As an experienced family law firm in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Cofsky & Zeidman provides representation you can count on. Call our team at 856-429-5005 or email us to schedule a consultation.

About the Adoption Tax Credit for the 2020 Tax Year

Breaking Down the Adoption Tax Credit for 2020 Tax Returns

Although you can’t legally get out of paying taxes, you can qualify for tax credits that reduce your total tax load. For the 2020 tax year, the IRS allows adoptive parents to deduct qualified adoption expenses of up to $14,300 per child. Rather than passing up free money, you should learn how to qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit for the 2020 tax year.

What Does the Adoption Tax Credit Cover?

Although the IRS wants to help adoptive parents, the federal agency doesn’t allow you to deduct any parenting expenses. Rather, the Adoption Tax Credit only covers two types of tax dollars:

-Adoption assistance income provided by your employer.

-Expenses used to initially adopt an eligible child.

Eligible children include people who are unable to care for themselves and those who are under 18 years of age.

Some of the most common types of qualified adoption expenses include:

-Adoption-related court costs and adoption fees.

-Meals, lodging, and other travel expenses qualify assuming that you travel to adopt your child.

-Fees paid to New Jersey adoption lawyers.

Are There Any Expenses That Aren’t Covered by the Adoption Tax Credit?

Many spouses enter marriages with children from previous marriages or relationships. Oftentimes, the other spouse petitions the court to become an adoptive parent. In addition to offering sentimental value, this measure may offer tax benefits — but not under the Adoption Tax Credit. The IRS prohibits taxpayers from claiming the Adoption Tax Credit for adoptions involving their spouses’ children.

Funding that comes from any government programs, including those at the local, state, and federal levels, can’t be claimed as qualified adoption expenses under the Adoption Tax Credit.

Some employers and organizations reimburse adoption expenses. Although not nearly as common, loved ones or other individuals may also provide reimbursements for adoption costs. Neither of these can be included under the Adoption Tax Credit in 2020.

Lastly, qualified adoption expenses don’t cover adoptions related to surrogate parenting agreements. Of course, you also can’t take deductions for expenses that are covered by other tax credits or that violate any laws.

Can You Get Money Back on Your Tax Refund for the Adoption Tax Credit?

Tax credits can generally be split into two categories: refundable and nonrefundable. Assuming you have no additional tax liability, which means you won’t have to pay any additional money out of pocket when you file your tax return, qualifying for refundable tax credits means that you’ll get additional refund money. Refundable tax credits, for example, include the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Nonrefundable credits, on the other hand, can only reduce your tax liability. Even if you don’t have a tax liability, you won’t receive a payment from the IRS for these nonrefundable credits.

Unfortunately for you, the Adoption Tax Credit is totally nonrefundable. Although not as attractive as refundable tax credits, you can still take advantage of the Adoption Tax Credit.

Do You Exceed This Income Level? You Might Not Qualify.

Many tax credits have phaseouts that prevent well-paid taxpayers from qualifying for them. This is true for the Adoption Tax Credit as well.

In 2020, this phaseout begins at a modified adjusted gross income of $214,520. If you’ve earned more than $254,520, you won’t qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit at all.

Don’t Risk Losing This Opportunity — Get Professional Help With Qualifying

Although tax-preparing software has grown to replace the roles formerly filled by many accountants, these websites and computer programs can’t replace insight from a skilled New Jersey adoption lawyer such as Donald Cofsky of Cofsky & Zeidman — we’re waiting to hear from you. Headquartered in Haddonfield, New Jersey, Cofsky & Zeidman can help you plan out adoption expenses ahead of time to minimize your tax load. Call our Haddonfield location at (856) 429-5005, or if you’re located a little farther south, give our Woodbury office a ring at (856) 845-2555.

Common Hurdles Unmarried Adoptive Parents Often Face

The Struggles of Adopting as a Hopeful Single Parent

Prospective adoptive parents who are single often worry that they’ll be overlooked in favor of married couples. Despite this common concern, unmarried people were responsible for roughly one-third of all U.S. foster care adoptions in 2011. Even with positive facts like these, it’s easy for a hopeful adoptive parent to get discouraged.

Challenge: Not Having a Support System

As social creatures, having a solid support system is directly related to general life success. Outside of helping us through tough times, support systems give us more friends and greater satisfaction in life.

Adoptive agencies usually perform home studies to see how you might fare as an adoptive parent. One thing they’re going to inspect is your support system.

Solution: Building Rock-Solid Relationships

Building relationships with friends, co-workers and peers isn’t an overnight process. Fortunately, however, consistently showing support to others over the long run will undoubtedly result in strong relationships. If you’re not sure where to start, joining clubs, churches and other organizations is always a good first step.

If you’ve already got enough relationships, make sure to communicate your concerns about adopting when single. True friends will show their support, giving you a sense of who you can count on.

Challenge: Financial Stressors

People get married for many reasons, including having children and financial stability.

One study from Ohio State University found that married couples tend to generate more wealth than their single counterparts. One 2005 study showed that, after a decade of marriage, single participants reported having a net worth of $11,000, which was nearly four times as small as married participants reported net worth of $43,000. Even after doubling the single participants’ net worth, $22,000 still pales in comparison to $43,000.

Although having two household income streams can improve financial stability, countless married couples still struggle with debt and overall financial management.

Solution: Cultivating Financial Stability

Every adoption agency is different. While yours might not, many agencies do consider hopeful parents’ personal finances.

Proving long-term financial stability is unarguably the best way to resolve your concerns about finances as a single parent. Even if it takes a few years, consider putting your adoption efforts on the back burner to improve your financial situation.

Before applying, make sure you have enough in savings to pay for living expenses for several months should you lose your job or get injured. Also known as an emergency fund, this account should contain enough cash to completely cover three to six months’ worth of household expenses.

Qualifying for adoption grants and loans could also help someone. In addition to making your parental prospects more attractive, financial aid could make your experience much easier. If you have already tried to apply and haven’t had much success, a New Jersey adoption attorney could help you by strengthening your existing application and helping you avoid common adoption application pitfalls.

Challenge: Workplace Woes

Parents, both adoptive and biological, often expend substantial financial resources paying for day care or babysitters. Although most working parents, especially single ones, will need to pay for child care services at least intermittently, careful planning can limit your reliance on third-party child care.

Solution: Finding a Flexible Employer That Values You

The more value you provide to employers, the better they’ll treat you in return. As long as you show your true worth in the workplace, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a flexible employer. Still, some managers or business owners won’t recognize value when they see it.

Before applying for adoption, try finding a job that offers plenty of flexibility. Holding down a job like this for several years before going through with a single parent adoption can pay off big time in the long run.

Need Help? Look No Further

Parenting isn’t supposed to be easy. As a hopeful adoptive parent, however, parenting can seem especially difficult. Whether you are just now thinking about adopting or have already had success as an adoptive parent, seeking help from a New Jersey adoption attorney can help.

If you are single and want to adopt a child, let our team at Cofsky & Zeidman help. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has spent much of his career advocating for adoptive parents in the Garden State and across the country. In fact, Mr. Cofsky is the former president of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, one of the country’s leading legal voices on adoption.

You can contact Cofsky & Zeidman’s main office in Haddonfield, New Jersey, by calling (856) 429-5005. If you’re closer to Woodbury, feel free to call our Woodbury office at (856) 845-2555.

6 Tips to Help Kids Adjust When Welcoming an Adopted Sibling

6 Tips for Parents to Help Kids Adjust to Adoption

Approximately 135,000 adoptions take place in the United States every year. Welcoming a child by adoption can be a rewarding yet challenging experience, especially when there are already children in the household. Adoptive parents will be glad to know there are several helpful tips to keep in mind that can help kids through this time of transition.

How to Help During the Adjustment Period

An adopted child and his or her new brothers and sisters may go through a period of adjustment that has its ups and downs. Learning to relate to each other as well as observing and acknowledging the relationship each child has with his or her parents, takes time and may present challenges. To not only encourage emotional support between siblings and a newly adopted child, but also to help you remind the kids who are already in your home that they are loved, you should:

 

• Involve children at home in the family law process.
• Help kids set realistic expectations.
• Join a family support group.
• Spend one-on-one time with each child.
• Have a plan in place so that kids know what to do if they feel troubled.
• Reach out for additional support as needed.

 

In a perfect world, every child by adoption and his or her new siblings would adapt to the changes in their lives without any problems arising. In reality, it’s natural for every person in a family to process a vast range of emotions when an adoption has taken place. Depending on each child’s age, level of maturity and past life experiences, welcoming a new sibling or adjusting to being the new sibling in a family can spark feelings of uncertainty, confusion, anxiety and worry.

Children Adapt More Easily When They Are Part of the Process

Before your adopted child joins your family at home, there will undoubtedly be months of preparation ahead of time. This may include meetings with a New Jersey adoption attorney as well as getting a bedroom ready at home or even shopping for a welcome gift for your new son or daughter. Involving your at-home children in the process can make the overall situation more personal to them, which can help them more easily adjust to the changes in their life.

Let Your Kids Know There May Be Bumps in the Road

Adapting to a new family and lifestyle may not be all smooth sailing, especially if your adopted child has experienced trauma in his or her past. It’s helpful to talk about expectations with your new son or daughter and your children at home. If kids understand that there will naturally be some days that are better than others, they’ll be less likely to have adjustment problems.

Learn from Other Families’ Experiences

It’s not uncommon for kids at home to feel left out or worry that their parents don’t love them as much as their newly adopted sibling. Children who enter a family by adoption may experience similar anxiety. Joining a community support group for families who adopt can be quite helpful. When kids hear other people sharing experiences to which they can relate, it helps them to not feel alone. It’s also a good idea to verbally remind each child that he or she is loved.

Private Time With Parents Helps Kids Adjust

Life is busy, and you have many obligations to fulfill. If you can set aside a bit of time to spend one on one with each of your children, it provides a safe and confidential setting for them to share their thoughts. A child often feels comfortable sharing his or her heart while riding in a car, for instance, or taking a walk with a parent while no other family members are present. It is also an opportunity for you and each of your children to have fun together apart from the whole family.

Kids Need to Know They Can Come to You for Help

Welcoming an adopted child into a family is a joyful time. It helps kids to adjust if they know what to do if problems arise. Have a plan in place so that a child knows what to do if something is making him or her feel uncomfortable, upset or angry. This is particularly helpful if your children spend any amount of time at home without an adult present. Make sure each child has a way to get in touch with a parent immediately if a problem arises.

Tap Into Local Resources for Additional Support

Always reach out for assistance if things aren’t going well. For legal problems, you can schedule a meeting with a Haddonfield, New Jersey adoption attorney by calling Cofsky & Zeidman at (856) 429-5005 or contacting us online.

How to Know When You’re Ready to Adopt a Child

Are You Ready to Adopt a Child?

Adoption is a common procedure in America. One out of every 25 families in the US have adopted a child, and 7 million Americans are adopted. More than 140,000 American children are adopted each year.

Benefits of Adopting a Child

You’re not alone if you’re considering adopting a child right now. There can be many benefits to both you and an adopted child if you go through the procedure, some of which include:

• The joy of raising a child
• The fulfillment of giving a child a family
• A sibling for an existing child
• Knowing that you helped another person

Adoption is a huge change, however. You may not know if you’re ready to make a move just yet. These are seven questions you can ask yourself if you’re still on the fence about it.

1. Am I Financially Stable?

The first thing you’ll need to consider when thinking about adopting a child is whether you have the financial stability to do so. You’ll be responsible for clothing, food, school supplies, medical bills, recreational activities, sports equipment and the like. You may want to calculate your income and deduct your possible expenses to see where you stand financially. It’s best to adopt if you’re living comfortably enough to raise an additional child without financial stress.

2. Can I Dedicate My Time?

Another aspect of adoption you must consider is the time you’ll need to spend with your adopted child. The adopted child will need lots of nurturing and attention from you. Consider your work life and other obligations to ensure that you will have an adequate amount of time to spend with your adoptive child if you receive approval.

3. Will I Qualify for Adoption?

You’ll have to go through a qualification process and meet certain adoption requirements if you want to adopt a child in New Jersey. You must be at least 18 years of age and at least 10 years older than the child you’re considering adopting. You must also have adequate space in your home and all the essentials that a child would need to grow healthily. You will have to participate in a home study program with a licensed agency representative to ensure that your home arrangements are sufficient and your family functions well.

4. Do I Have Child Care?

Think about the support system you will have for a new child. You will need to have someone around who can pick your adopted child up from school or take him or her to important events when you can’t. It’s also good to have supportive people around your family who will be a part of your adopted son or daughter’s life.

5. Will I Be Happy Adopting?

Adoption is a lifelong commitment. Therefore, you have to be ready and willing to commit yourself to loving another human being for the duration. Make sure you’re ready to make that kind of commitment. Think about getting a pet or taking a family member’s child into your home for a month. If you can handle that situation, then it’s likely that you’re ready for adoption.

6. Will My Existing Children Adjust?

Talk to your existing children to gauge how they’d feel if you were to adopt another child. Will they feel slighted, or will they be happy to have another child in the home? You must address these issues before you make the adoption decision.

7. Can I Handle a Special Needs Child?

You may end up adopting a child who has special needs. The adoptive child may also have mental health issues that need attention. Ensure that you have the strength, resilience and resources to be a wonderful parent in those circumstances.

You can decide after you’ve considered all the factors above. The next step is to start the process.

Request Adoption Assistance From an Attorney

Now, you can decide whether you want to bring a new person into your family. Be sure to speak to an experienced New Jersey adoption lawyer about your wishes. Cofsky & Zeidman can help you with the entire process of adoption from the beginning to the end. Donald Cofsky has decades of experience in family law and is a former president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. The firm is conveniently located in Woodbury, NJ, and you can reach someone by calling (856) 845-2555. You can also complete a brief online inquiry and request the assistance of a New Jersey adoption lawyer.

What Expenses Can You Expect During Adoption?

Common Types of Expenses You May Encounter During Adoption

On average, the typical adoptive parent spends about $30,000 to adopt an infant. There are several different things that factor into the cost of adoption, so people can end up paying anywhere from $0 to $30,000. If you are planning on adopting, here is what you need to know about common expenses.

Cost of a Home Study

In any adoption, you will need a home study. This can involve multiple visits with social workers who carefully examine your home, your finances, and your background. The home study is an essential process that ensures any adoptive child will be taken care of properly. Usually a home study costs somewhere between $1,000 to $4,000. However, if you have to change your living situation and get multiple studies to pass, expenses may rise. Whether or not you pay a lot for your home study will depend on whether it is done through a private agent or a state official.

Legal Fees

Whether you choose to adopt privately, through the state, or through the insurance, expect to spend a lot of time completing paperwork. Depending on the course of your adoption, you may have several court dates where you need to speak to a judge as well. Though it is technically possible to do this yourself, almost no one does. Working with a New Jersey adoption lawyer is the only way to ensure everything is properly filled out and filed. Having an attorney on your side saves a lot of stress and helps everything go far more smoothly. Depending on your needs, these fees may range from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars.

Expenses for the Birth Mother

If you plan on adopting an infant who is not yet born, you may need to pay for the birth mother’s expenses. Legally, you cannot pay the birth mother directly for the infant. However, you are permitted to compensate her for expenses incurred during the pregnancy. These expenses can include a lot more than just the medical bills for the childbirth itself. You may end up paying for:

• Maternity clothes
• Rent
• Transportation to appointments
• Medical insurance
• Food
• Medical bills

Travel Costs

It is rare for expectant parents to match with a child who lives in their neighborhood. Typically, you will need to travel quite a few times through the adoption. You may make a few visits to meet the child and then travel to actually collect the child once the adoption is finalized. It is quite common for parents to end up traveling to other states or even countries during adoption. Therefore, these expenses can end up adding up.

Adoption Agency Fees

This is the main reason why adoption costs so much. When you choose to adopt through an adoption agency, you have to pay whatever facilitating fee the agency requires. Depending on agency, this can be somewhere from $10,000 to $60,000. This payment is usually a flat rate that gives you access to all of the agency’s services. Though it is pricey, it can be helpful to have someone who will guide you through every step of the adoption. Often, birth mothers choose to work with an agency instead of surrendering their child to a state. Therefore, an agency adoption may be the only way to adopt an infant within your time frame. There are all sorts of pros and cons to going with an agency versus adopting through the foster care system. You will just need to decide if the convenience is worth the higher price tag.

As you can see, there is quite a bit of variation in adoption expenses. If you want to stick to a tight budget, it is important to work with a New Jersey adoption lawyer who can streamline the whole process. At Cofsky & Zeidman, our team works hard to help Philadelphia families through the adoption process. Call 215-563-2150 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

What You Need to Know About Citizenship for International Adoptees

How to Handle Citizenship During an International Adoption

Each year, roughly 12,000 children are adopted from other nations into American families. International adoption has many excellent benefits, but it also comes with some pitfalls like complex naturalization rules. Understanding how citizenship works in international adoptions will help things go more smoothly for you and your family.

Adoption Does Not Always Guarantee Citizenship

Many people are under the impression that any child adopted by American parents will automatically become a citizen. Unfortunately, this is not true. There are many cases of adults who were adopted as children, obtained a Social Security number, and lived and worked in the U.S. for decades before learning they were not legally a citizen. Even if the U.S. government facilitated the adoption, it is possible that the adoptee was not granted citizenship due to an oversight.

For adopted children who were under the age of 18 before February 27, 2001, the Child Citizen Act of 2000 applies. This act allows all child adoptees to get citizenship as long as they meet certain requirements. However, the child or their family members still have to apply. Otherwise, citizenship is not granted to the child. Those who are too old to meet the cutoff also need to apply for citizenship, but things are a little trickier. The adoptees will need to go through the usual citizen application process instead of the streamlined version now available to younger adoptees.

Requirements to Get Citizenship for International Adoptees

For those young enough to qualify for the Child Citizen Act of 2000, obtaining citizenship in an international adoption is almost certain. The child simply needs to apply for citizenship and show that they satisfy these requirements before the age of 18:

• Have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen

• Have a complete and final adoption recognized by the child’s state of residence

• Have a parent or grandparent who has resided in the United States for at least five years, with two of these occurring after the age of 14

• Be legally admitted to the United States as an immigrant seeking lawful permanent residence

These requirements are often fulfilled as part of obtaining visas in the first place. For example, a child who gets an IR-4 or IH-4 visa will have met these requirements automatically. In these cases, your New Jersey adoption attorney will usually submit the citizenship application at the same time as the visa request. Often, the child’s citizenship is then finalized alongside their adoption.

If a person is not young enough to qualify for the Child Citizen Act of 2000, things are a little trickier. In some cases, an attorney may be able to argue that the adoptee qualifies for an exemption and fast-tracked citizenship. However, most adoptees will need to follow the standard U.S. naturalization process. This involves:

• Passing tests to prove knowledge in the English language, U.S. history, and U.S. government

• Establishing residency in their chosen state

• Holding a green card for a certain amount of time

• Proving an upstanding moral character

How to Get Citizenship When Adopting Internationally

The international adoption process can seem complicated, but fortunately, you get a lot of help. If you are working with an agency, they will typically guide you through visa and citizenship applications. It is often fairly simple to handle yourself. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is happy to answer your questions and tell you what you need to do to seek citizenship.

When handling international adoption citizenship, it is a good idea to have an experienced New Jersey adoption attorney on your side. They can explain all the paperwork and rules in simple, easy-to-understand language. Your adoption attorney will help ensure that you have all the right documentation, and they will assist you with filing everything at the appropriate time.

At Cofsky & Zeidman, we are happy to help families navigate the complexities of adopting internationally and applying for citizenship. Our firm assists with a variety of international, domestic, private, agency, and stepparent adoptions. Call (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield or (856) 845-2555 in Woodbury to schedule a consultation to learn more.

How to Inform Your Child That They Were Adopted

Talking to Your Child About Their Adoption

In the United States, 2.5% of all children are adopted. If you’ve welcomed an adopted child into your home, you probably spend time thinking about how to break the news. This conversation is not difficult, but it does need to be handled with compassion and respect.

Understand the Adoption Arrangement

When you tell your child that they were adopted, it will have a large impact on the way that they view your relationship. Because of this, you should have a clear understanding of your child’s adoption arrangement, so you can give them an accurate picture of what’s going on.

Some children are adopted by immediate relatives. In these situations, a child will probably want to know what their actual relationship is to their new caretakers. Some guardians take up the mantle of parents while others prefer to continue thinking of themselves as grandparents, aunts and uncles.

If the biological family is not related to the adopting family, make sure to double-check any privacy clauses on the adoption paperwork before starting this conversation. It’s not good for a child’s psyche to let them think that they can contact their birth parents if this is simply not the case. You can always ask your local New Jersey adoption attorney to review your paperwork before you take any further steps.

Choose the Right Moment for Your Child

The adoption conversation is too important and identity-forming to simply drop on a child during a casual moment. Instead, you should choose when to have this conversation based on the circumstances of the adoption and the child’s emotional and developmental needs.

In general, children should be told that they are adopted before they reach adolescence. Waiting to have this conversation with a teenager can greatly damage their self-identity. Waiting also runs the risk of your child finding out before you’re ready to tell them, which may damage their trust in you as a parent.

Children who are adopted at a younger age can usually wait to hear that they are adopted until they are around six to eight years old. Children who were adopted at the age of two or older will need to be told about the adoption at a much earlier age as this will prevent them from becoming confused about their conflicting sets of memories.

One of the best ways to prevent this conversation from becoming a point of tension is to tell your child early and make the adoption a normal part of your family narrative. Instead of treating adoption like a secret, help your child understand that this is a normal and healthy way to start a family.

Stick to the Important Points

When first talking to your child about their adoption, you may be tempted to tell them the entire story from your perspective. After all, the day your child entered your life was a big deal, and you probably want them to share in your joy and excitement. However, you need to remember that children aren’t able to properly process adult information. The more that you tell them, the more confused they will be.

The contents of this conversation should probably include the basic details of the arrangement, the date of their adoption day and any pertinent details that will add clarity without overcomplicating your explanation. As your child gets older, they will become more interested in getting the full details at a pace with which they are comfortable.

As you approach the situation, remember that your child may have traumatic memories centered around their adoption. You don’t need to pry about this kind of experience, but you should definitely be on the lookout for signs of shock or depression. Most children will be able to process the news easily if they have a supportive parental figure present to offer them emotional guidance.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

Even if they are still young, you should be ready to let your child take control of this important conversation. They will ask you questions and tell you how they feel about the news. If you pay attention, you should have no problem providing your child with the emotional support they need.

An adopted child is a beloved member of your family who should feel like they can be proud of their past. After you’ve laid down the facts, be prepared to comfort your child, and reassure them that they belong with you.

If you have any questions about your adoption arrangement or need help starting this conversation, don’t hesitate to contact a New Jersey adoption attorney at (856) 429-5005. At Cofsky & Zeidman, we are happy to answer your questions and get you started on the next step of building your family.

What Do Grandparents Have to Do to Adopt in NJ?

Understanding the Steps of Grandparent Adoption in NJ

In the U.S., over 2.4 million grandparents are currently raising their grandchildren. For many families, formally adopting grandchildren can be a smart move that gives grandparents all the legal rights of a parent. If you’re interested in adopting a grandchild, you need to be prepared to follow these steps.

Terminating Parental Rights

In New Jersey, a child can only have two legal parents at most. This means grandparents cannot adopt until the biological parents’ rights have been terminated. There are several ways to go about this. The simplest way is having the biological parent agree to relinquish their rights. If they agree to do this, they just need to fill out the appropriate forms and have a discussion with the Department of Children and Families. The biological parents have the option of naming someone as the prospective adoptive parent when they surrender their rights. If your children are willing to do this, things are quite simple.

It gets a bit more complicated if your child isn’t willing to sign over your grandchildren to you. In these cases, you will need to pursue an involuntary termination of parental rights. This typically involves proving in court that the biological parent has abandoned or abused the child. Some reasons the court may terminate parental rights include:

• Causing severe physical harm to the child
• Allowing others to harm the child
• Using excessive physical punishment
• Failing to provide basic care
• Emotionally harming the child
• Abandoning the child

Welcoming Your Grandchild to Your Home

In many cases of grandparent adoption in NJ, the grandchild is already living with the grandparent by the time they decide to seek adoption. However, if your grandchild isn’t already living with you, it’s a good idea to take steps toward moving them in. After the parent is deemed unfit and the child is removed from their custody, the Department of Children and Families typically prioritizes family members.

If you have never met your grandchild or have had former run-ins with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), you may need to get a home study done and register as a foster parent. However, in cases where the grandparents already know the child and are part of their life, they may be allowed to move in immediately. The important thing at this step is to talk with DCP&P and a New Jersey adoption lawyer to find out what you need to do. They can help you fill out relevant paperwork and formalize your intent to adopt. It’s extremely important that you go about the process the right and legal way.

Finalizing the Adoption

There are just a few steps left to take to finalize your grandparent adoption in New Jersey. DCP&P will need to supervise you and your grandchild for six months, and then they can give you formal consent for adoption. Once you achieve this consent, your New Jersey adoption lawyer can then file a petition with the court.

The court will receive your petition to adopt and set a hearing date. At this hearing, the caseworker will give the judge details about your case. Typically, the final adoption hearing is merely a formality. If you’ve met all the qualifications beforehand, the judge will approve your petition to adopt. From this point on, you are your grandchild’s legal parent with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities of parenthood.

We Can Help

If you or your loved ones are going through the grandparent adoption process, it’s important to have experienced legal representation who can help you figure out how to adopt grandkids. Though most grandparent adoptions are fairly straightforward, there are still quite a few legal documents and proceedings to handle. Cofsky & Zeidman can guide you through the legal process and assist with sensitive family matters. We’re happy to help people throughout Haddonfield or Woodbury in New Jersey. Call (856) 429-5005 or (856) 845-2555 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about grandparent adoption.