Adopting a Grandchild or Other Relative

Should You Adopt Your Grandchild or a Relative?

“Adoption” can be an intimidating word, and it may not be something that you foresaw in your future. However, your child or your child’s partner may not be in a position to care for your grandchild, forcing you to step in as a responsible caregiver.

Adopting a Grandchild or Relative

Adopting a grandchild can be a long and difficult road, but if your grandchild or relative’s future is at stake, it is a road worth taking. You may have temporary custody, or you may be a legal guardian. However, these roles may not be enough to protect the child’s well-being.

If your child is going through a difficult time and is unable to raise their child, the grandchild may be turned over to you temporarily for a number of reasons including substance abuse, economic hardship, mental issues, or incarceration. Sometimes, though, temporary care can turn into long-term care, especially if your child’s issues are never resolved.

When issues don’t resolve themselves or they become worse and you start to become concerned about your grandchild’s welfare, you may start taking on more parental responsibilities. Sometimes, returning children to their parental home may subject those children to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. There may be drugs involved, or there may be neglect that is ongoing. Other factors may have popped up.

For example, when things like education and health care enter the picture, you may need to make things more permanent and become a legal guardian or go a step further and consider adoption. If you aren’t sure what your options are, it may be a good idea to consult a professional who has deep knowledge of New Jersey family law statutes.

When you are a legal guardian, you will be able to make educational and health decisions for your grandchild. However, the parents still have legal rights. This may be a comfortable middle ground to stay in until your grandchild is an adult. If not, you may want to terminate the legal parental rights, especially if you feel that these rights are endangering the child.

A Relative Entering Foster Care

There may be relatives who have to give up their children to foster care because of difficult circumstances. In cases like this, the Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) in New Jersey will prefer to place the child with a relative — one who preferably knows the child and can minimize the trauma of leaving home. Being adopted by a relative may be in children’s best interest as it lets children keep ties with their birth parents. Plus, children who are adopted by relatives may not feel as cut off from the world that they knew. New Jersey law differs from other states when it comes to adopting a relative. A law firm in New Jersey may be able to help with your questions.

Factors to Consider

Making the decision to adopt a grandchild will alter the rest of your life until they turn 18 years old. There are other factors to consider, and a New Jersey adoption attorney may be able to discuss these factors in more detail. Providing love and comfort to a child in need is one of the most rewarding things that you can do, and it can be a rewarding way to spend a portion of your retirement.

However, if you have retired, you may be living on a fixed income and may not have the financial capability of raising a child. Children and their needs are expensive, and you will need to write out a rough budget of what you think you’ll need over the years. Another detail to consider is your age. You should be able to raise your adopted child until they reach the age of 18, so honestly considering your current and future health prognosis is crucial.

When you need a New Jersey adoption attorney who is familiar with family court and adoptions, contact Cofsky & Zeidman. You can call our main Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005, or you can call our Woodbury office at (856) 845-2555.

What You Need to Know About Adoptions in New Jersey

How Does Adoption Work in New Jersey?

At the end of 2020, more than 117,000 children in the United States were waiting to be adopted. Many people express interest in adopting a child, but finding a New Jersey adoption lawyer, understanding the process and paying for the costs may overwhelm them to the point where they change their minds. If you’re considering growing your New Jersey family through this method, here’s what you need to know.

Choosing a Birth Mother

When a birth mother realizes that raising a child is not her best option, she may decide to work with an adoption agency in order to make sure that everything is set up for her child to go to the home of her choice after birth. The mother can start participating in counseling services related to adoption as soon as she has a confirmed pregnancy. Legal consent for the adoption can’t be signed by the birth mother until 72 hours after the child’s birth. The mother can choose to help select the adoptive parents, but New Jersey law doesn’t require her to do this.

Paying for the Birth Mother’s Expenses

Prenatal care and giving birth are major expenses for the birth mother. New Jersey Title 9:3-39.1 e stipulates which expenses the adoptive parents can pay. These expenses include hospital bills, prenatal and postnatal care, adoption services, legal services, and placement costs. The postnatal period extends to four weeks after the child’s birth.

Choosing Adoptive Parents

New Jersey laws state that only approved individuals or agencies can assist with adoption. The process can’t be contingent on payments. Any payments made aren’t refundable. If the adoption doesn’t go through an agency, the costs are the responsibility of the adoptive parent.

Consenting to Adoption

A birth mother can change her mind at any time before signing the consent for the adoption. She doesn’t have to provide a reason. However, no consent is needed if the birth mother’s parental rights were terminated, if she surrendered her child through a valid method, such as a safe haven post at a police station. Birth fathers have up to 20 days after the child’s birth to object to the adoption process. If the birth father’s whereabouts are unknown or his parental rights were terminated, the process can proceed without his consent.

Sharing Information

Once an adoption is finalized through the court, it’s up to all parties involved as to whether or not there is one-way or two-way communication. A birth mother may request that her information not be provided to the child or adoptive parents. Adoptive parents aren’t required to have any communication at all with the birth mother or father. At the signing of consent, the birth mother loses all of her parental rights permanently, and those rights are transferred to the adoptive parents. Many birth mothers choose to share essential medical information that adoptive parents would need in order to ensure that the child receives optimal health care. This includes details about drug or alcohol use during her pregnancy, familial or genetic disorders, and her medical history.

Who Can Adopt a Child in New Jersey?

Adults at least 18 years of age and at least 10 years older than the child being adopted can legally adopt a child in New Jersey. The fitness of the prospective adoptive parents is determined by the local child welfare agency. This process includes an inspection and survey of the home, a criminal background check of the prospective adoptive parent, and an investigation as to whether or not the adoptive parent has any history of sexual misconduct.

For more information about the adoption process, contact our Haddonfield law office at (856) 429-5005 to make an appointment with our New Jersey adoption lawyer. You may also complete our online contact form, and one of our associates will get in touch with you to schedule a consultation.

What Is an Open Adoption & What Are Its Pros and Cons?

What Is an Open Adoption?

Whether a couple is experiencing fertility issues, is unable to conceive for any reason, or simply wants to enlarge their family, adopting a child can be a joyful decision. There are two ways to adopt: a closed or open adoption. In an open adoption, the biological parents, or just the mother, are known, and the family maintains contact with them.

How Does Open Adoption Work?

With open adoption, the birth mother decides to give up her child so that another family can adopt him or her. It can take a lot for a parent to reach this conclusion, but in some cases, open adoption is a more attractive option because it allows the biological mother to remain in the child’s life.

The biological mother gets to choose the adoptive parents. However, until she signs final relinquishment papers that give the adoptive parents all legal rights to the child, she is free to change her mind. While this is very rare, it does occasionally happen.

Open adoption can mean that the birth family remains in contact in different ways. Some families choose to allow regular visits while others may let the birth mother and her child stay in contact through email. A New Jersey adoption attorney can help the parents decide the best option for their family.

What Are the Benefits of Open Adoption?

Open adoption is often the right course of action for families looking to adopt. It allows for more opportunities to avoid uncomfortable situations once the child grows older and starts to ask questions. If a child knows that they are adopted, they will naturally ask their parents questions once they reach a certain age. Open adoption often allows many of those questions to already be answered or answered sooner.

The child’s genetic information is easier to access with open adoption. Asking the birth mother about any medical conditions that run in her family can give a better idea of what to possibly expect in the future. It allows you to take certain precautions and gives you awareness of how to better protect your child’s health. This also includes heritage information, which helps the child know his or her religious or ethnic background.

With open adoption, the child doesn’t have to go searching for their biological mother in the future. All the information is readily available, and the birth mother is already in their life. Even if a child and their birth mother have never met, having steady contact makes it easier to eventually meet in person.

What Are the Disadvantages of Open Adoption?

One of the most common disadvantages is that there may be certain problems that arise regarding the boundaries expected from the birth mother or family. They may wish to have a closer relationship with the child that steps over the line of what was stated in the adoption papers. The birth mother may feel overly attached and have difficulty moving on.

As previously mentioned, the birth mother can change her mind before she signs the final adoption papers. This is every adoptive parent’s worst nightmare. However, even if the birth mother decides she wants the child back after the final papers are signed, it can cause serious problems. It could end up with litigation that can cause a rift even though the birth mother doesn’t have legal rights to the child.

Sometimes, open adoption isn’t always the best arrangement for the child. Things can happen, and personalities may clash. If there are issues with drug or alcohol abuse or different values, it could create problems for the child. Some people who were adopted end up regretting ever reaching out to their biological family due to various reasons. In some cases, the child may feel as though they are caught in the middle of their family and their birth mother while a power struggle is occurring. This is never a healthy situation.

If you’re considering adoption, get in touch with a New Jersey adoption attorney at Cofsky & Zeidman LLC by calling (856) 429-5005 or by submitting our contact form.

Everything You Need to Know About Stepparent Adoptions

Your Guide to Adopting Your Stepchild

If you’re one of the 30 million Americans who are a stepparent, you probably have a very strong relationship with your stepchild. In some cases, stepparents may want to formalize this relationship by adopting their stepchild. Understanding how stepchild adoption works can help you decide whether it is right for your family.

Benefits of Adopting Your Stepchild

There are many advantages to adopting your stepchild. First of all, it makes you one of their legal guardians. You can do things like picking them up from school or accessing their medical records without requiring authorization from your spouse.

Even more importantly, stepparent adoption ensures you can stay in the child’s life if something goes wrong. You’ll still have custodial rights if you divorce your spouse. In the unfortunate event of your spouse dying, adoption ensures your child can stay with you instead of ending up with biological family members or foster parents.

Finally, stepchild adoption has a lot of emotional benefits for you and the child. It’s a great way to reassure an anxious child and show you’re not going anywhere. Being legally adopted helps to confirm that you see your stepchild as one of your children.

Can You Adopt if the Biological Parent Is Still Alive?

A common misconception is that stepparent adoption is only allowed when the other biological parent has passed away. This isn’t necessarily true. New Jersey adoption laws simply require you to terminate the other parent’s rights before proceeding with the adoption.

There are a few ways to go about this. The easiest option is simply having the biological parent sign away their rights. If the biological parent doesn’t consent, you can move to have their rights terminated. Typically, you will need to show the court that the biological parent isn’t fulfilling basic parental responsibilities. You can get a termination if the biological parent has abandoned the child or if they have been abusive or neglectful.

Is Stepparent Adoption Easier or Harder Than Regular Adoption?

Other than the hassle of having to deal with a nonconsenting biological parent, stepparent adoption is fairly straightforward. Unlike other forms of adoption, you are usually already caring for the child, and the child will also typically be living with one of their other legal parents. Therefore, the state has fewer tests you have to pass.

You do not have to undergo a lot of parental training courses or have your house pass a rigorous inspection. You also don’t have to meet financial requirements or pay agency fees. This makes the whole adoption process a lot easier. Instead of having to deal with months of waiting and tests, adoption mostly just consists of filling out some standard paperwork with a New Jersey adoption lawyer and submitting it in court.

Understanding the Steps of Stepparent Adoption

When you’re adopting a stepchild in New Jersey, the whole process is fairly quick. In most cases, adoptions are finalized within a couple of months. The first step in the process is terminating parental rights. Depending on your situation, this might just require signing a few documents, or it might involve getting a New Jersey adoption lawyer to arrange a court hearing.

The next step is passing a background check. The stepparent will need to submit themselves to an official check from the state’s Division of Child Protection. Having a criminal past won’t necessarily disqualify you. You’ll only fail the check if it reveals you have a history of harming children or otherwise behaving in a way that shows you’re unfit to be a parent.

Finally, your adoption attorney will help you schedule an adoption hearing with the court. You’ll visit the court to formally petition to adopt the child. If the child is over 10, they’ll need to be present and verbally consent. Once the court approves your case, the adoption will be finalized.

If you’re considering a stepchild adoption, Cofsky & Zeidman can help. We provide family law services to people throughout Haddonfield, Woodbury, and surrounding areas. Call 856-429-5005 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.

Special Needs Adoption Assistance Essentials

What to Know About Adoption Assistance for Special Needs Children

Federal adoption assistance is officially referred to as Title IV-E. State adoption subsidies are generally called non-IV-E. The type of assistance that a child is eligible for depends on that child’s history of care. The details of the special needs eligibility categories are subject to change based on how available adoptive families are, so it’s important to check in regularly to see the most up-to-date version of these regulations.

Adopting a child with special needs is expensive and often takes extra care. It requires a special kind of person, the finances to back it up and a New Jersey adoption attorney. Parenting special needs children encompasses a wide variety of responsibilities that must be learned and taken on all at once. These subsidy programs are designed specifically to serve the needs of the adoptive parents of children with special needs.

The type and amount of assistance that adoptive parents receive depends on which state the child was receiving foster care in prior to being adopted. It is helpful to know that the New Jersey assistance program for state-only funded adoption works identically to the Title-IV-E program, so you don’t have to learn two sets of guidelines.

Defining Special Needs

Categorizing and defining the various reasons why a child needs extra assistance necessary to determine who is eligible for adoption subsidies. As defined legally in the state of New Jersey, a child who has special needs must have at least one care requirement, or “special need,” in the following categories.

  • Dental or medical issues that would have to be treated regularly and require frequent visits to the hospital
  • A physical deformity or defect from being injured, a disease, or an accident, making it impossible or at least partially impossible for the child to work or go to school
  • Disfigurement to a substantial degree, when parts of the face, torso and extremities are lost or have become deformed
  • Children in foster care who have reached at least 10 years of age

Additionally, adoption assistance is available when a professional has diagnosed a child with problems relating to mental, behavior, emotion, or a psychiatric disorder or intellectual incapacity that significantly limits the child’s relationship with both those in their age group as well as their teacher, parents and other adults in authoritative roles. Developmental disabilities are the most common but not the only issue in this category.

Keeping the Children Together

Adoptive kids are also eligible when there are at least three siblings grouped together if it has been deemed that the children cannot be separated. This also applies to half-siblings.

Another situation addressed in this category is when a child is the third in a group of siblings that goes to live in one home or the additional child. They are eligible regardless of whether or not any of the siblings are the recipients of adoption assistance.

Children are eligible for an adoption subsidy when they are in a group of two siblings and one of them falls into any of the mentioned criteria for special needs once it has been decided that the best thing for both children is that they are kept together. This rule also applies to children who are the additional sibling who goes to live in a home where a sibling is receiving assistance.

Assisting Minority Groups

Adoptive homes are unfortunately not as available to all minority and ethnic groups equally. That’s why adoption assistance is there for children at least two years old who are part of one of these demographics.

Assistance is also available if the child is part of one of these groups, is already five years old and has been under the care of the resource parents who will be adopting as long as the best plan for this child is to have the resource parent adopt them.

You should learn what adoption assistance encompasses and the guidelines for eligibility to better prepare for your adoptive child’s future. Call Cofsky & Zeidman at (856) 429-5005 for all your adoption questions. Donald Cofsky is an experienced New Jersey adoption attorney who is prepared to help you through every step of this challenging but rewarding process.

The Adoption Process for Same-sex Couples

How to Adopt for Same-sex Couples

Upon the birth of a child, parental rights automatically default to the baby’s biological parents, also known as the natural parents. An LGBTQ parent will likely turn to adoption when one person in the couple has given birth to a child from someone else outside of the relationship.

When a child comes from a parent’s former relationship, it is common for the new person in the picture to want to show how much they love and care for the child by legally adopting them. It’s a way of moving the relationship forward. If it has become obvious to the couple that they’re staying together for the long haul, it makes sense to move ahead with the legal step of adoption.

This tends to be true whether marriage is part of the plan or not. It’s a matter of commitment and a show of affection and devotion. Through adoption, permanence is brought into the new parent’s relationship with the child.

In some cases, neither of the parents in the same-sex relationship are biologically related to the child. Fortunately for LGBTQ parents living in New Jersey, same-sex couples are just as eligible to go through with adoption as heterosexual couples are.

Although it wouldn’t be necessary for a parent to adopt their own kids in an ideal world, it’s still the best thing to do if you’re a nonbiological parent in a same-sex relationship if you want to secure your parental rights.

Adoption is a way of protecting these rights regardless of where you live or visit on vacation. It’s an option for hopeful parents in a same-sex marriage, civil union, or registered domestic partnership. The possible routes that LGBTQ parents have are broken down into two categories: second-parent adoption and stepparent adoption.

Second-parent Adoption

With second-parent adoption, it doesn’t matter if the relationship between the parents is recognized by law. The parent is allowed through this procedure to adopt their partner’s biological or adoptive child without ending the legal parental status of the original parent. In most states, this is the most common way that LGBTQ parents successfully adopt children. For those living in New Jersey filing for second-parent adoption, the court action is brought in your home county.

Stepparent Adoption

The other course of action is called stepparent adoption. In New Jersey, same-sex parents who are married to their partner are able to adopt a child using the process that a heterosexual stepparent goes through to adopt. The most essential part of this process is gaining legal permission for the adoption from the child’s other natural parent.

A stepparent adoption can also be accomplished by ending the rights that the other parent has to the child. When terminating someone’s parental rights, a hearing is typically necessary to prove the validity of the reasoning for taking the parent away from the child. There must be a serious case brought against the parent’s behavior, such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

It is not as common to move for termination of the other parent’s child rights as it is to simply ask for consent, but it’s still something that happens regularly. The process is much more challenging, and it may be a good idea to contact a New Jersey adoption lawyer for guidance.

Starting the Process

The first thing that a same-sex couple needs to do to start the adoption process is to file an official complaint. This must include all relevant demographic data on you, your child, and the other parent. Details regarding any other kids in the mix and the length of time that this child has been living with which parent should also be noted. This is also when the name that the child will go by after the adoption is decided.

A consent affidavit must be signed by the biological parent for their approval of the adoption to be legally recognized. In these cases, although a hearing is still required, it is simply a formality to go through before the process is completed with a judgment for adoption. Since everyone has agreed to the adoption, there shouldn’t be any hang-ups at this step.

Call a New Jersey adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman today at (856) 429-5005 to find out more about how we can assist you in these types of matters.

New Jersey Adoption Facts

4 Facts About Adoption in New Jersey

Adoption is an amazing journey that can result in a beautiful, lifelong relationship between a parent and child. If you are considering adoption, it’s important to understand the process and what to expect. Here are four facts about adoption in New Jersey that may be helpful for you as you embark on the road ahead.

1. New Jersey’s Adoption Requirements Are Surprisingly Simple

A common misconception among people considering adoption is that it is difficult to meet the requirements. However, it is actually quite simple to qualify for adoption in New Jersey.

Adoptive parents in New Jersey who meet the basic criteria come from a wide range of backgrounds and have diverse lifestyles. Whether you are married or single, work from home or have a daily commute, rent an apartment or own a home, you may qualify to adopt a child in New Jersey.

If you are interested in adopting or fostering a child in New Jersey, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • At least 10 years older than any of the children being placed with you
  • Able to support yourself
  • In good emotional and physical health

There are a few caveats to these criteria. For one, state adoption laws allow the court to waive any of the basic adoption requirements if good cause is available. Additionally, if you are married, your spouse must consent to the adoption or you may jointly apply for adoption.

2. Prospective Parents Must Complete a Home Study

Another fundamental requirement of adoptive parents in New Jersey is the ability to provide a safe home environment for the child. Because this is quite subjective compared to the above-mentioned criteria, the state’s Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) agency has established a home study process.

The primary purpose of the home study process is to allow CP&P to observe and learn about the hopeful parents. However, this process also allows parents to learn more about adoption.

Here are a few things prospective adoptive parents can expect from New Jersey’s home study process:

  • Prospective parents must attend 27 hours of training provided by CP&P.
  • Prospective parents must provide references.
  • CP&P will interview family members individually.
  • Household members age 18 and older will be subject to a criminal background check and a child abuse record check.
  • Adoptive families must have a license from the Office of Licensing.

For help preparing for this process, you may benefit from working with a New Jersey adoption attorney.

3. Adoptive Parents Are Entitled to Pre-Adoption Disclosures

Before a child is placed with a new family, CP&P will provide as much information about the child as is available to the prospective parents.

Pre-adoption disclosures typically include the following information:

  • Medical history of the child
  • Medical histories of the birth parents
  • Types of drugs and medications that the birth mother took during her pregnancy with the child
  • The child’s personality

This information focuses on the child’s characteristics and development to allow prospective parents to determine if they will be a good fit.

4. Subsidies and Tax Credits May Be Available

It is no secret that parenting is expensive. Thankfully, hopeful adoptive parents in New Jersey have a few options available to help ease the financial burden of adopting a child.

The state’s Adoption Subsidy Program is the primary financial assistance option for hopeful adoptive parents in New Jersey. About 98% of children adopted through CP&P receive this subsidy, which provides a recurring monthly payment to assist parents in meeting the child’s day-to-day needs. This program also offers a one-time payment for the various legal fees incurred in the adoption process.

To qualify for the New Jersey Adoption Subsidy, the child must have at least one characteristic that places them under the umbrella of “special needs.” New Jersey includes a variety of circumstances and traits under this label, including but not limited to the following:

  • Physical disabilities
  • Emotional or behavioral problems
  • The child’s age
  • Number of siblings being placed together

Another financial assistance option available to certain adoptive families is the federal adoption tax credit. This tax credit allows parents who are adopting a child with special needs from foster care to receive reimbursement up to a specific amount on their federal taxes for qualified adoption expenses. It is available for each adopted child and can be used for a range of adoption types, including foster care adoption, international adoption, and private adoption.

These four facts showcase the many benefits and challenges of adoption in New Jersey. Because each child and family is different, it is a good idea to consult with a New Jersey adoption attorney when exploring your options. If your family is considering adopting a child in New Jersey, contact Cofsky & Zeidman by calling (856) 429-5005 today.

New Jersey Adoption Assistance Overview

Overview of State Assistance for Adoption in New Jersey

If you are thinking about adoption in New Jersey, you’ll want to learn about the state’s adoption assistance program. This program offers financial assistance and other benefits to adoptive parents who are considering adopting a child with special needs from foster care. Eligible families may be able to receive up to $2,000 for nonrecurring expenses and up to $877 per month for the routine costs associated with raising a child.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for New Jersey’s Adoption Subsidy?

To be eligible for the adoption subsidy, prospective parents must consider adopting a child with special needs. New Jersey defines the following circumstances and characteristics as special needs for adoption purposes.

  • A medical condition requiring frequent treatment or hospitalization
  • A physical disability
  • A substantial disfigurement
  • A diagnosed mental health condition, including an emotional or behavioral problem, psychiatric disorder, or serious intellectual disability
  • Part of a group of three or more siblings who are placed together
  • Part of a group of two siblings in which one sibling meets other special needs criteria, and the siblings are placed together
  • 10 years of age or older
  • Member of an ethnic or minority demographic that does not have adoptive homes available
  • Suffered abuse or neglect resulting in out-of-home placement by Child Protection & Permanency (CP&P)

Certain other circumstances or conditions may be approved for assistance based on approval by the CP&P director or designee. These include:

  • Substantial risk of problems resulting from prenatal drug exposure
  • Elevated probability of developing mental illness due to genetic predisposition
  • Placement with a relative who cannot adopt the child without financial assistance

Other criteria may apply, so it’s wise to speak with a New Jersey adoption lawyer before deciding whether the adoption subsidy is right for your family.

What Type of Financial Assistance Is Available Through the Adoption Assistance Program in New Jersey?

The New Jersey adoption subsidy program offers financial assistance of varying amounts depending on the child’s needs. New Jersey adoption assistance typically falls under one of two categories: nonrecurring expenses and recurring expenses.

The program covers some or all the costs for nonrecurring adoption expenses, such as attorney fees and court costs. The reimbursement amount is a maximum of $2,000 per child, including up to $500 for legal fees per child.

These one-time expenses may be reimbursed up to two years after the adoption is finalized. If the adoption is not finalized, reimbursement may occur up to two years after it was disrupted.

Other payments are available to cover a portion of the day-to-day costs of raising an adoptive child. These are known as maintenance payments, and the exact amount a family can receive will depend on the age of the child as follows.

  • Age 0-5: $738 per month
  • Age 6-9: $818 per month
  • Age 10-12: $845 per month
  • Age 13+ $877 per month

Maintenance payments may begin at the time of adoption placement. This means that families can typically receive these adoption assistance payments in New Jersey before the adoption is finalized.

How Long Do Payments Last Under the Adoption Assistance Program in New Jersey?

Adoption assistance payments in New Jersey may continue until one of the following occurs.

  • The child turns 18 years of age.
  • The child completes high school.

The event that occurs last will determine when assistance payments will be discontinued. For instance, if a child turns 18 years of age before graduating high school, his or her parents will continue to receive adoption assistance payments until graduation occurs. If a child finishes high school before turning 18, the payments will continue until his or her 18th birthday.

Adoption assistance in New Jersey is complex, and this brief overview covers only the basics of this program. If you are thinking about adopting in New Jersey, it’s important that you fully understand what state assistance is available to help support your family.

To learn more about New Jersey’s adoption subsidy program and eligibility requirements, speak with an experienced New Jersey adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman. You can get in touch with us today by calling our Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005 or our Woodbury office at (856) 845-2555.

What Is the Difference Between Adoption and Surrogacy?

What to Know When Choosing Between Adoption and Surrogacy

Each year in the United States, about 135,000 children are adopted. Excluding step-parent adoptions, about 59% of adoptions are from the foster care system. Surrogacy is another way to add to your family, and each year, about 18,000 babies are born through this method.

Genetics

Some families choose surrogacy because of genetics. If one or both parents have a strong desire for their genetics to be passed on through a biological child, surrogacy provides this option. Prospective parents can have their eggs and sperm tested in order to find out whether or not their child will be affected by a genetic condition, such as Down syndrome. Eggs and sperm can be selected based on these criteria, and then, the fertilized egg can be implanted into the surrogate. With adoption, a mother may not be sure of who fathered her child. Even when the father is certain, natural pregnancy means that a child could have a genetic disorder through chance.

Types of Surrogacy and Adoption

With surrogacy, a woman can donate her eggs, and a man can donate his sperm. In a heterosexual couple, both of them can be the biological parents, and the surrogate is a gestational carrier. There’s also an option for the surrogate to be artificially inseminated by the male’s sperm. Alternatively, a sperm donor can be used for fertilizing the woman’s egg before it’s implanted into the surrogate mother. With adoption, the process can be open or closed, so you may or may not know the child’s parentage.

Costs

Both adoption and surrogacy can be expensive. Surrogacy tends to be the costlier of the two choices. In most cases, the biological parents will enter into a legal agreement to pay for the surrogate’s prenatal care, labor and delivery costs, postpartum costs and pregnancy-related expenses, such as the purchase of maternity clothing. Surrogates also typically receive a base payment in addition to the pregnancy, labor and delivery-related expenses.

In many cases, adoption agencies or agents will charge a fee for their services, as will an attorney. Prospective parents may also need to pay fees for social workers, home inspectors and psychological evaluations of their fitness to become adoptive parents. A New Jersey adoption attorney can help you understand the costs of both surrogacy and adoption.

Control

Surrogacy provides prospective parents with more control over the growth of their family. Although there is no guarantee that implantation of the fertilized egg will lead to a full-term pregnancy and birth of a child, the prospective parents can choose the hospital where the baby will be born, and they know they will be taking the baby home once the child is discharged by the doctor.

With adoption, prospective parents have less control. An adoptive mother can change her mind at any time. She may not go to prenatal care appointments. If she’s not invested in the pregnancy, she may not follow medical guidelines for taking care of herself or her growing child.

Wait Time

The adoption process may take years. Prospective parents may find a biological mother or be matched to a mother only to have her change her mind once the baby is born, and the whole process must start over again. Prospective parents may not be selected by the biological mother for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the biological father may initiate court proceedings to obtain custody of the child, and the hopeful adoptive parents have no recourse.

With surrogacy, once the surrogate signs the legal paperwork, the process of implanting a fertilized egg may start. Once the surrogate is determined to be pregnant, the prospective parents will have a clear timeline as to when the baby will be born.

For more information, contact our Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005. You may also fill out our online contact form, and one of our office associates will reach out to you to schedule a consultation with our New Jersey adoption attorney.

Is It Better to Adopt a Child Older or Younger Than Your Current Ones?

Do Children Prefer Older or Younger Adoptive Siblings?

One common reason that people adopt is because they want their current child to have another sibling. While this is certainly admirable, it can be tough to ensure that all your children get along with each other. Carefully considering the adoptive child’s age can help, but there are a few things to know before you decide.

Adopting an Infant Is Not Always the Easiest Choice

Many parents think that an infant adoption will be the most convenient choice because it mimics normal birth order. It is true that adopting a baby allows older siblings to have the typical experience of parents bringing home a new baby brother or sister. However, an infant takes up a lot of your time. You will need to provide round-the-clock care and sacrifice sleep time to ensure that the baby’s needs are met. In any family, this can be a tough time where older siblings feel like they’re being neglected. If your current children are already feeling sensitive about the subject of adoption, a new sibling who will be attached to their parents 24/7 can worsen insecurities.

Adopting Older Children May Come With Potential Issues

There can be many benefits to adopting a child older than your other children. However, parents also need to be realistic when adopting an older child. The unfortunate reality is that many children who are adopted at an older age have experienced a lot of trauma. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll struggle to fit into the family and bond with their other siblings. However, it can impact their ability to relate to other children. You always need to approach the experience thoughtfully and closely consider how any past trauma may impact children’s interactions.

Age Doesn’t Tell You Everything About a Child’s Behavior

Keep in mind that there is no specific guarantee that a child of a certain age will act a certain way. Every child grows at a different rate and has different strengths. Even one who seems very mature in certain areas can have other areas where they struggle. It’s important to be flexible when adopting. Instead of telling your New Jersey adoption lawyer that you only want to adopt a specific age, try to take the time to get to know children of multiple ages. This can help you find the individual who’s right for your family instead of just picking someone who meets strict criteria about ages.

It’s Important to Take Your Children’s Personalities Into Account

Of course, not all children will have the same reaction to other children. Some kids might want a little sibling who they can care for and teach new things while others might want someone their own age to be a playmate. If you are considering adoption, it’s worthwhile to sit down and talk with your children about what age to adopt. You should also pay attention to the things that you’ve noticed about your current children. For example, a child who wants a lot of attention might prefer an older sibling. Taking everyone’s personalities into account can often have the best outcome for everyone.

Remember That It Takes Time to Adjust

In any family, the time immediately following the adoption can be difficult. Parents might be baffled to learn that their child who begged for a little sister is suddenly resentful of their new sibling’s childish behavior. In these cases, it’s easy to assume that you might’ve selected the wrong age. However, the reality is that there’s no foolproof combination of ages. It will always take time for everyone to get used to their new role in the family. Try not to get disappointed or frustrated if any of your children act out a little. It’s perfectly normal for everyone to need time to adjust. As each child matures and everyone bonds, things are likely to settle down.

Contact Us

For more help with adoption, turn to Cofsky & Zeidman. We provide compassionate adoption assistance in Haddonfield and the surrounding areas. Call 856-429-5005 or fill out our contact form to learn more about our New Jersey adoption lawyer services.

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