The Biggest Hurdles to Adopting a Child

Problems to Consider When Choosing to Adopt

There are close to 135,000 adoptions each year in the U.S. Many of these cases go through a lengthy process that involves numerous steps. By understanding all of the potential hurdles, a parent can make sure that every stage of a legal adoption goes according to plan.

Adoption Basics

An adoption occurs when a biological parent passes his or her legal rights and obligations to a new adoptive guardian or guardians. Of course, there’s a lot that goes into obtaining parental rights. There are many different ways to go about adopting a child in New Jersey. Some of the most common options include the following:

  • Adopting through an agency
  • Adopting as a step parent
  • Adopting directly through the birth parents
  • Adopting as a relative

Potential Legal and Financial Issues

No matter which type of adoption a family goes through, the legal challenges can be numerous and difficult. For instance, it’s possible that one of the birth parents may not be aware of the adoption. This can bring about an array of legal hassles if the biological parent has yet to relinquish their rights to the child in question.

There are also a variety of legal problems that can occur with an inter-country adoption. These typically relate to specific adoption laws of the child’s home country. In order to better avoid these issues, you might want to call a New Jersey adoption lawyer that can identify potential problems before they occur. There are also a variety of visa requirements that may be necessary when trying to adopt from certain countries.

The potential financial problems depend on the type of adoption you’re thinking about going through. For instance, private adoptions and foreign adoptions usually come with more expenses than adopting through foster care. The same is true if you’re undergoing an open adoption wherein you’re going to be having some contact with the birth parents. It’s possible for the initial financial expenses of the adoption to include the medical bills related to the birth if the adoption is set to occur immediately after the child is born.

Health Problems and Emotional Issues

Obtaining pertinent information about a child’s health issues and health history is another common issue with many adoptions. Not having this information at the time of the adoption may cause problems later on if the child gets sick. Medical problems can make it difficult for the adoptive family to properly care for the child if they don’t have the funds to do so and didn’t anticipate the issues. Inherited diseases and possible drug use during pregnancy can bring about long-lasting health issues and developmental problems in a child. These are just a few reasons why medical history is so important.

Among the most common challenges of any adoption is dealing with the emotional issues that can occur with the child, adoptive family or birth parents. There are times when adoptive parents rush into the adoption without fully understanding all of the parenting challenges that occur after adopting a child. It’s also possible that the adopted child won’t be able to properly adjust to their new family. Furthermore, open adoptions can cause issues if the birth parents continue to maintain a high amount of contact with the child. The birth parents may even come to regret their choice to place the child up for adoption.

How Our New Jersey Adoption Lawyers Can Help You

Here at Cofsky & Zeidman, our attorneys have extensive experience in handling adoption cases in Southwest New Jersey. This experience has given us the knowledge necessary to comprehend and address any challenges that might occur throughout the adoption process. Since we handle many different types of adoption proceedings, our lawyers can provide you with assistance in anything from international adoptions to foster adoptions. If you ever have any questions about the adoption process, our firm offers confidential consultations that should prove useful.

If you’re interested in adopting a child and would like some legal assistance, call our Haddonfield,New Jersey adoption lawyer today at (856) 429-5005.

Are You Considering a Transracial Adoption?

Deciding if a Transracial Adoption Is Right for You

If you’ve decided that adoption is right for you, perhaps you are now narrowing down the specifics of the child you would like to welcome into your family. In addition to deciding on age, gender, and whether the adoption will be domestic or international, you’ll want to think of the issue of race. Prospective adoptive parents are increasingly considering adopting a child of a race different from their own; in fact, in the last 20 years, transracial adoption has increased by 50 percent and is now much more common than it once was.

Think Carefully About These Issues When Considering a Transracial Adoption

You’ve likely already examined many of the facets of adoption, including how you’re going to make an adopted child feel like she or he belongs. However, transracial adoptions bring up additional concerns you should explore. You know you want to give a child you adopt a stable, nurturing environment, but you should also ask yourself the following questions:

  • How inclined are you to ensure your child has contact with members of their own ethnicity and culture? If you live in a community where your child will not see her skin color or appearance mirrored, are you willing to change schools or even move to a place that’s more diverse?
  • How willing are you to confront people who may make inappropriate remarks, over and above those many adopted children already hear about not looking like the rest of their family?
  • Are you willing to stand up to racist people, including friends, family, and co-workers, who may display anything from subtly negative attitudes to out-and-out aggression?
  • Do you have friends of the same ethnicity as the child you’re thinking of adopting? If the answer is no, are you willing to at least start attending cultural events, familiarize yourself with a new language, or eat and cook the foods of your adopted child’s culture?

Are Transracial Adoptions Handled Differently?

The fact that the adoption will be transracial doesn’t affect most parts of the adoption process. You will still need to choose a type of adoption, select a PA adoption attorney to assist you, consider how you will pay for adoption expenses, and go through a home study.

However, if it’s a domestic adoption, there is one respect in which it may be affected by the fact that it is transracial. A federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act specifies that certain requirements be met if a child who is eligible for membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe is going to be adopted by a non-Native family. The child’s tribe must give consent. The law was enacted in 1978 when many Indian children were being removed from Indian homes and placed in foster care or with parents who weren’t Indian. You would have to be sure you are complying with any conditions specified by the ICWA in order to adopt a child of Native American heritage. Your PA adoption attorney can advise you in more depth about adoption and the ICWA.

It’s fairly common for international adoptions to be transracial. You will, of course, have to comply with the requirements of the country in question, and those do vary quite a bit from one nation to another.

What to Look for in an Adoption Agency

In addition to checking to see if an adoption agency is duly licensed and approved by the state, parents should inquire to see what experience the agency may have with transracial adoptions. If they’ve handled this type of adoption before, they will often be able to guide parents to counselors or resources oriented toward raising multiracial families, including support groups or references to grown transracial adoptees.

Giving a child a home is enormously rewarding, and a transracial adoption is one way to create or add to a family. If you’re interested in an appointment with attorney Donald C. Cofsky to explore your adoption options, call our law office in Philadelphia at (215) 563-2150.

Do You Need a Family Adoption Lawyer?

Why Hiring a New Jersey Adoption Attorney Is a Good Idea

One of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life is expanding your family. If you’re considering expanding yours through adoption, there are a variety of intricate details that must not be overlooked. It’s estimated between 10-16% of adoptions of children under age 3 are disrupted. Considering the process can sometimes take years, this can be devastating.

Although you can go through the process without the guidance of an experienced lawyer, going at it alone can slow down the process and increase the risk of mistakes along the way. An experienced New Jersey adoption attorney can help pave the path to happiness.

What is the Role of a Family Adoption Lawyer?

When a child isn’t biologically yours, you have to go through a process to achieve legal guardianship. Whether you already have a child in mind or are ready to explore options, your attorney can help you every step of the way. Just a few things with which they can offer reliable assistance include:

  • Filing paperwork
  • Finding a reliable adoption agency to work with
  • Representing you in court if that becomes necessary

Your child adoption attorney is there to listen to your primary personal family goals and get the ball rolling to help you achieve them.

How Do I Know If I Need a Child Adoption Lawyer?

Chances are you don’t have an extensive background on adoption. While it would seem to be a pretty straightforward process, there are various issues that can arise. Just a few unethical practices adoption agencies are known to engage in include:

  • Representing themselves as credentialed when they, in fact, are not
  • Claiming they can place children from countries that are either permanently or temporarily banned
  • Charging fees that are higher than normal
  • Taking action to conceal negative reviews to mislead potential customers

Although it’s unfortunate, there are bad apples in every barrel. When you work with an experienced adoption attorney, you can reduce your risk of running into unnecessary problems and more quickly achieve your goal of expanding your family.

Types of Adoptions We Can Handle

We understand our clients each have a very unique set of circumstances that require our close attention to detail. We are knowledgeable in state and country-specific adoption law, and we’re confident in our ability to provide you with reliable representation. Just a few types of adoptions we can help with include:

  • Private adoptions working directly with birth parent(s) without an intermediary
  • Agency adoption
  • Stepparent adoption

Assisted Reproductive Technology

Technology is constantly innovating, and there are a variety of exciting new ways you can expand your family despite trouble conceiving. Our team can help you examine your options and ensure the highest caliber of legal support throughout the process. Just some of the options out there include:

  • Embryo donation
  • Sperm donation
  • Surrogacy
  • Egg donation

Affordable Adoption Lawyer at Your Service

Life is too short to put off the prospects of having a family to call your own. We all need a strong support base and people we can count on for love, joy and lasting memories.

Whether you are having trouble getting pregnant, have a stepchild whom you’d like to legally call your own, or are a same-sex couple ready to introduce a new member to the family, our team is here to offer our services at a price you can afford. When you work with us, we work to:

  • Help you understand pricing to ensure you get the help you need without breaking the bank.
  • Explore every option to arrive at an ideal solution for your unique circumstances.
  • Provide peace of mind through the entire process to keep stress low and increase your chances of a successful adoption the first time around.

We’re never too far away to provide the help you need. Call (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield today to schedule your initial consultation.

What Are the Necessary Requirements for Adopting a Child?

Primary Requirements for Adopting a Child

When you want to build a family, adopting a child is a great way to do so. Over the past 10 years, there have been more than 50,000 adoptions every year through foster care, which goes to show that it’s not going to be nearly impossible to adopt if you wish to. When you’re looking at all of your options for adopting, our PA adoption lawyers can help guide you through these options and what they could mean for you.

Possible Requirements for Adopting in Pennsylvania

Each state can have different requirements for adoption. The main three types of requirements typically center around age requirements, residence requirements, and LGBT restrictions. When it comes to these three elements, Pennsylvania has no such requirements or restrictions, which means that you will likely be eligible to adopt regardless of your circumstances. If a person is eligible to adopt a child based on Pennsylvania adoption laws and requirements, it’s likely that they will also be eligible to adopt through private agencies.

A felony conviction also doesn’t necessarily stop someone from being able to adopt. Only the nature of the felony can make it unlikely that a person will be eligible for adoption. When going through a private adoption, the birth mother or parents may have their own preferences for who can adopt their child, which means that they may have their own requirements. Get in touch with our lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman today if you have concerns that you would like to be addressed about your eligibility for adoption.

What Is an Adoption Home Study?

The main factor that can determine whether or not you’re suitable for adopting a child is a home study, which occurs within the adoption process. Specific aspects of the home study process can differ from agency to agency. However, there are some general steps that you can expect throughout the home study. The primary goals of any adoption home study are to provide the adoptive family or individual with helpful education and preparation for the adoption process, to evaluate how capable the family is to adopt, and to gather an extensive amount of information about the adoptive individual or family. The information that’s gathered by a social worker will allow them to match a child with the adoptive family in a manner that’s best for both parties.

 

The home study process can be a lengthy one that includes:

  • Orientation
  • Comprehensive training
  • Interviews with a social worker
  • A home visit to make sure that the environment is safe
  • Background checks
  • The provision of health statements
  • The collection of references of people who know you best

The social worker then uses all of this information to write a detailed report that highlights their assessment of the adoptive individual or family that can be sent out to adoption agencies. A home study usually takes around three to six months to complete, the duration of which largely depends on how quickly forms are filled out and medical appointments are scheduled.

How Our PA Adoption Lawyers Can Assist You

Here at Cofsky & Zeidman, Donald Cofsky aims to provide every client with the representation that they need. If you have any questions about the adoption process and all that’s included, all you have to do is ask. Our law firm will also provide you with detailed information on what to expect once you enter the adoption process. If you would like additional representation along the way, we can guide you along every facet of the adoption proceedings whether you’re obtaining a private or an agency adoption. Any documentation that’s required during the adoption will be fully prepared and filed by our attorneys to ensure that no mistakes are made and that your adoption can go forward without issue. If any investigations occur during the process, we will counsel you on what your next steps should be.

If you’re interested in starting the adoption process and you would like some advice on how to handle certain aspects of the adoption, call our PA adoption lawyers today at (215) 563-2150 at our office in Philadelphia.

New Jersey Guidelines for Fostering and Adopting

Qualifying to Adopt a Foster Child

Approximately 7 percent of American children are adopted. The face of adoption in the U.S. has changed dramatically in the past few years as more and more adoptive parents seek to welcome older children whom they’ve fostered into their families. If you’re interested in adopting a child from the Garden State foster care system, a New Jersey adoption attorney can prove to be an invaluable resource.

The New Jersey Foster Care Program

Foster care provides a temporary living situation for children who’ve been so neglected or abused that the state has stepped in to suspend parental rights. In 2015, more than 8,000 New Jersey children found themselves living in these types of out-of-home arrangements. Foster children range in age from infants to adolescents nearing legal majority, but the average age of a child in the New Jersey foster care system is 8 years old.

Abuse and neglect have an impact on a child’s behavior, and it can be frightening to be a new kid in a household with strangers and different rules. While three out of every five foster children return to live with their parents or biological parents, two of those five children will see their mother’s and father’s parental rights terminated. Furthermore, they will remain in the custody of New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families until they reach adulthood—unless they are adopted.

 

 

 

New Jersey Guidelines for Fostering and Adopting

In New Jersey, foster parents are identified as “resource families,” and they hold dual licenses that authorize them to provide both foster and adoptive care. What that means in practical terms is that the licensing process is the same whether that family is welcoming a child into its home on a temporary or permanent basis. If it’s appropriate to work toward the reunification of a child with his or her birth parents, foster parents are expected to facilitate that process in any way they can. If reunification is not possible, however, foster parents have the first consideration when it comes to adopting that child.

The Department of Children and Families typically imposes four conditions when they evaluate prospective foster and adoptive parents. They are as follows:

  • Basic safety and living standards: Foster parents must be able to provide a child with a safe and secure home. Each child must have a sleeping area of 50 square feet, and children who are more than 5 years old can only share sleeping spaces with children of the same gender. While there are no income requirements per se, applicants must have a monthly income that’s sufficient to meet the needs of their family members.
  • Criminal background checks: Prospective foster parents and all adults living in the home must be willing to submit to criminal background checks, including finger-print checks of the national crime databases. Depending upon how long ago they took place, minor transgressions may not disqualify a person from becoming a foster parent. However, evidence of violent crimes or crimes that targeted children will terminate the foster application.
  • Home study: A representative of the county or agency through whom you will be fostering will pay a visit to assess the safety of your home and to evaluate whether you and the people with whom you share your home will make suitable foster or adoptive parents. If any changes need to be made, a resource family support worker will advise you. Once your home study has been completed, you will be asked to attend a pre-service training through Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE).
  • Additional training: An additional 24 to 36 hours’ worth of classes, staggered over 4 to 10 weeks, may also be offered. These classes are intended to help you learn more about the needs of children in foster care.

For more information about the ways a New Jersey adoption attorney can help you determine whether adoption through foster care is the right choice for your family, contact Cofsky & Zeidman in Haddonfield, New Jersey, at (856) 429-5005.

Deciding Whether to Adopt Domestically or Internationally

How to Choose Where Your Adopted Child Will Be From

According to the U.S. Department of State, there were 4,714 children born in foreign countries who were then adopted by American parents in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Therefore, you certainly won’t be alone in your desire to adopt an international child. However, is that necessarily in your best interest?

LGBTQ Couples May Be Banned from Adoption in Some Areas

If you are a part of the LGBTQ community, you won’t be able to adopt a child from China, India or Ethiopia. However, it is legal to do so in all 50 American states. This is based on a series of rulings from the Supreme Court. It may just be easier for you to adopt an American child in such a scenario as opposed to attempting to do so internationally.

How Much Money Do You Make?

Let’s say that you wanted to adopt a child in South Korea. To do so, you would be required to have an income that is higher than the median average in the United States. For the most part, an adoption court in New Jersey would look at whether an individual can reasonably provide for a child. Therefore, you would only need to make a stable income that would be adequate enough to pay for food, shelter and other basic needs that a minor would likely have.

How Old Are You?

If you are between the ages of 30 and 50, you are likely able to adopt a child in most countries throughout the world. In some cases, you can adopt children as soon as you turn 18, assuming that there is a sufficient age gap between you and the child. As a general rule, you would need to be 10 to 15 years older than the child. New Jersey law says that you have to be 10 years older than the child you want to adopt. Our NJ adoption lawyer may be able to explain any other rules that may apply in your case.

Do You Have Time and Money to Visit the Child?

To adopt a child in Haiti, you must take two trips to the island totaling as many as 22 days altogether. The first trip lasts for 15 days while the second lasts for two to seven days. If you want to adopt a child in Uganda, you must first foster that child in the country for a year. If you are a New Jersey resident looking to adopt a child in New Jersey, the child will first be fostered in your home for six months, so there may not be a need to take time off from work or spend thousands of dollars on travel to adopt at home.

What Is Your Adoption Timeline?

In many foreign countries, it can take several months to receive a referral from an adoption agency. After the referral is made, it can take several more months or years before the adoption becomes official. For instance, it can take two months for a referral and another five months before the adoption of a Colombian child becomes official. If you are looking to adopt a child from Taiwan, it can be 16 months for a referral and another nine months for placement.

If you are looking to adopt a child in New Jersey, it may be possible to receive the child within days of a parent signing a surrender document. However, the birth parent may be able to revoke the surrender until parental rights are official terminated. This generally happens at a hearing that takes place three to four months after receiving the child. Regardless, a birth parent or adoption agency may place the child in your care within days or weeks of the adoption being agreed to.

Adopting a child can be a complex process, but our NJ adoption lawyer may be able to make it easier on you. If you are looking to adopt a child at home or internationally, contact Cofsky & Zeidman in Haddonfield by calling (856) 429-5005.

Adopting a Child From the State System in New Jersey

New Jersey Public Adoptions Through the State Agency

There are multiple ways people can adopt children in New Jersey, and these include working with a private agency, making a separate arrangement with the birth parents or adopting through the state’s Office of Adoptions Operations. In most cases, adoptions that take place through the Department of Children and Families, Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P) involve foster parents who have already developed a relationship with the children. The state has a mandate to reunite children in foster care with their birth families, but adoption can be an alternative when reunification is not possible for some reason.

Foster Care and Adoption in New Jersey

In some cases, years of foster care and attempted family reunification may not be prerequisites, and children may be available for permanent placement on a more immediate basis. However, the children who are available often face various challenges. They may be older, have special needs or require placement as part of a sibling group. In some cases, adoption subsidies are available to assist parents with the costs of supporting these children. Adoption subsidies can apply to medical coverage, legal fees or maintenance payments, and around 98 percent of children adopted in this way receive a subsidy. Our NJ adoption attorney can provide you with more information about the advantages and complications of working within the public system.

In order to become a foster parent and move through the state system, you must meet eligibility criteria. You may then specify the types of children you are willing to foster who need homes. The state does not discriminate against prospective parents on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity or marital or domestic status.

Home Studies for NJ Foster Care and Adoption

After you pass an initial review stage, a DCP&P resource family worker will contact you to begin a home study. While a home study is also required for private adoptions in New Jersey, the process associated with becoming a foster or an adoptive parent through the state is more intense.

During the process, the state provides 27 hours of training to parents, including background on the experiences and needs of adopted children. It is important to understand that many aspects of going through the state system can be challenging, and the emotional demands are not the least of these. Children can be reunited with their birth families after a long period of bonding with foster parents. In addition, many children in care face significant personal difficulties. Some have experienced trauma prior to the placement.

A home study involves:

  • Health checks
  • Income verification
  • Child abuse record checks
  • Criminal background checks
  • Personal and employment references
  • Interviews with those living in the home

Whether they plan to adopt or wish to remain as foster parents, all resource families must go through the home study process. In addition, the family and home must be licensed through an inspection.

Matching a Parent With a Potential Adoptive Child

Prospective parents approved after a home study are entered into the system for a preliminary match of available children. If a child is already eligible for adoption, the placement will be supervised for at least six months by a state caseworker. This supervision will include home visits and other kinds of support.

If no issues arise during that time, DCP&P will consent to the adoption. Note that this only applies to children who are already available for adoption; children in foster care normally remain in the system for a much longer time, and depending on their circumstances, they may never be deemed eligible. The state’s consent will be forwarded to the parents’ NJ adoption attorney who can then file a petition for adoption, secure a date for the final hearing and obtain an amended birth certificate for the child.

Parents considering working through the state system to adopt a child can work with our NJ adoption attorney at Cofsky & Zeidman. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has helped over 1,500 families grow over the years. To set up an appointment for a consultation with an experienced adoption lawyer, call our office in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or our office in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555.

 Jump to top

Adopting as a Single Parent in Pennsylvania

Considerations for Single-Parent Adoption in Pennsylvania

Is it possible to adopt a child as a single person in Pennsylvania, and does it make the process more complicated or difficult? What are the things you should consider before adopting as a single parent? Is the legal framework different for single people?

Adoption Requirements

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, nearly a third of the adoptions of children from foster care nationally during 2011 were completed by people who were not married. More than 13,000 single women and 1,400 hundred single adopted children in the United States that year. In Pennsylvania, there are no legal requirements that mandate that a person must be part of a couple in order to pursue an adoption. The only required first step is that you are at least 21 years of age.

Types of Adoption in Pennsylvania

Since there are no legal restrictions on adoption tied to relationship status, single people can pursue the same options that are available to couples, including foster care, international and domestic adoptions. The state of Pennsylvania offers resources to facilitate adoptions. The Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange maintains a database of children who need a family and people who’ve been approved to adopt.

Adoptions of children from other countries implicate the rules and regulations of the other country as well as those that apply to adopting a child in Pennsylvania. Some countries might have laws prohibiting adoption by single people. A PA adoption attorney might be able to explain the applicable rules and laws.

Considerations for Single-Parent Adoptions

Regardless of the specific adoption type, single parents should follow some advice as they approach the process. First, it’s important to have a support system in place that consists of family and friends. Raising a child is among the most stressful and potentially overwhelming tasks in which a person can undertake even with the presence of a partner. If you are interested in pursuing a single-parent adoption in PA, it’s best to think about upon whom you can rely and let friends and family know you might need their support when you get stressed out or have to be in a few places at once.

With regard to your support system, ask yourself:

  • Do you have people you would feel comfortable calling on for help and accepting help from?
  • What do your friends and family think about your decision to parent on your own?
  • Who will come to your home to help when you or your child gets sick?
  • Do you know people who live nearby who could provide help, if necessary, at a moment’s notice?
  • Is there someone upon whom you can rely and trust to give you a break overnight or for the weekend?

The second piece of advice regarding adoption for single parents is to not worry about the negative ideas of others if you encounter them. Some people may have long-standing prejudices that prevent them from seeing how important and positive single-parent adoption can be. When the child is old enough to understand, sit down with him or her and discuss the many different ways in which a happy family might be formed. Third, make an emergency plan. It is the primary job of a parent to be prepared for things like financial necessities, sickness or injury.

Choosing to Adopt

The decision to adopt a child is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Even in two-parent households, both individuals are scarcely able to find the time to protect, care for and raise their children while also working and managing their own mental, physical and emotional requirements. Single parents may have to work harder to prove stability and financial responsibility to birth parents and adoption agencies as well.

For single people who are interested in adopting, a PA adoption attorney might be able to help by communicating with officials on their behalf or drafting and filing necessary documents. Please contact our Philadelphia office at (215) 563-2150 for more information about adoption in Pennsylvania.

Adopting With an Agency in New Jersey

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:

  • Duress
  • Fraud
  • Misrepresentation

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

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.

Challenges Facing Those Who Want to Adopt

A New Jersey Adoption Attorney Can Help You

Many couples dream of adopting a child. There are many different types of adoptions in New Jersey. In 2012, 1,023 children were adopted from foster care. Some adoption cases are stepparent adoptions in which the adopting parent has already formed a relationship with the child. The legal process for an adoption is similar whether the adoption is for a stepchild or if the adoption involves an agency.

In many cases, the biological parent consents to the adoption. In a case that involves an agency, the parent may have been contemplating the prospect of adoption for a long time but may still change his or her mind after the birth of the child. In a stepparent adoption, a biological parent may revoke his or her consent or appeal the adoption decree if he or she does so within the time frame required by law.

How Does Consent to Adoption Work in New Jersey?

In some cases, a biological parent may sign a consent form allowing his or her parental rights to be terminated and for an adoption case to proceed without further notice to him or her. However, even after the consent forms are signed, the parent may be able to revoke his or her consent before the final decree is entered.

A parent may argue that the consent is invalid because the paperwork was signed on the basis of fraud, duress, or coercion. For example, if the parent was given the paperwork to sign but wasn’t allowed sufficient time to read it or was told that the purpose of his or her signature was different than consent to an adoption, he or she may be able to argue that they didn’t understand what they were signing and weren’t given a meaningful opportunity to consider it. If he or she was ordered to sign the paperwork pursuant to a threat of bodily injury to himself or herself or another person, then this is another reason that the consent could be declared invalid. For example, if a person threatened to harm the child if the parent didn’t sign a consent form, then the biological parent may be able to argue that he or she signed it due to duress, threats, or coercion.

What Can I Expect in a Contested Adoption Hearing?

In some cases, the natural parent of a child is unfit to care for the child but will not consent to an adoption. The petitioner who wants the adoption to go forward will need to present proof to the court that the parent is unfit and that his or her rights should be terminated. The petitioner will also need to prove that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. A court will consider factors related to the parent’s relationship with the child, such as how often the parent has had contact with the child, whether or not he or she has provided child support, and other factors related to the parent’s fitness to raise the child. If the child is old enough to testify about his or her wishes to be adopted, then a judge may wish to hear from the child.

What if an Adoption is Appealed?

If a biological parent opposes an adoption and thinks the court made the wrong decision, he or she may file an appeal. If a petition for adoption is denied, then a petitioner may also file an appeal to ask a court of appeals to reconsider the issues decided by the trial court. There’s only a limited amount of time to file an appeal after a final decree is entered, and only a party to the case may file an appeal. A court of appeals will generally only consider information that was presented at the trial court level and usually will not overturn a judge’s decision made below unless there was a clear error. To file an appeal, a notice of appeal must be filed at the trial court level and a transcript must be ordered from the court reporter.

Judges are often reluctant to terminate parental rights unless there’s clear evidence that it’s in the child’s best interests, such as abandonment, abuse, neglect, or severe and recurring substance abuse issues. A petitioner who’s going to court for a contested adoption case should expect to present as much testimony as possible through witnesses and other evidence that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.

What Should I Do if I Have Questions About Adoption in New Jersey?

If you have questions about adoption, then contact Cofsky & Zeidman and speak with a New Jersey adoption attorney. Our adoption attorney can help guide you through the process and explain what you can expect at each stage of the proceeding. Contact our office today by calling (856)429-5005 to schedule a consultation.