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.

Paying the Birth Mother’s Medical Expenses During an Adoption

Your Guide to Pay the Mother’s Medical Expenses During Adoption

On average, most families pay around $40,000 for an infant adoption. Most of these payments go toward medical bills. Understanding what you are and are not required to pay for can help you create a mutually satisfactory adoption arrangement.

Are You Legally Required to Pay Medical Expenses?

Paying for medical expenses isn’t technically a legal requirement, but it is often necessary to finalize an adoption agreement. Since you cannot legally pay for a baby, paying for medical expenses is one of the few legal payments you can give a birth mother. Legally speaking, you do not have to pay medical expenses to adopt a baby. In some private adoptions, the birth mother may not require you to pay any expenses for her. However, a birth mother always has the right to request compensation before agreeing to let you adopt her child.

Essentially, it will all come down to the contract you create. If a birth mother agrees to let you adopt her baby without asking for medical expenses, you do not have to pay her anything. However, if paying the expenses was a condition of her agreeing to the adoption, then you will need to compensate her to finalize the arrangement.

Overall, most birth mothers will not choose you to adopt the baby unless you are willing to compensate them for medical arrangements. Though it is not a legal requirement, paying adoption medical fees is typically the fair thing to do. It provides essential care to the infant and ensures that the woman who helps you grow your family is not unduly burdened.

Types of Medical Expenses You Are Allowed to Pay

Keep in mind that birth mother expenses can be more than just the hospital bill for the delivery itself. Instead, medical expenses usually include a variety of health care costs throughout the entire pregnancy. You are also allowed to pay for expenses that occur following the birth. Some examples of common medical expenses that a birth mother might ask you to pay include:

  • All prenatal visits and checkups during the pregnancy
  • Costs associated with labor and delivery, potentially including ambulance costs
  • Imaging tests like ultrasounds
  • Prenatal vitamins or other medically recommended dietary supplements
  • Health care for any chronic conditions, like diabetes, that occur during the pregnancy
  • Counseling and mental care to address the challenges of being pregnant and giving up the child
  • Reconstructive surgery or therapy for medical issues following a difficult labor

How Should You Handle Payments for Medical Expenses?

When it comes to medical expenses, there is no specific rule for how you are supposed to pay them. When doing an agency adoption, medical expenses will often be bundled into a flat rate. This can be a simple way to pay for medical care, but be sure to closely question the agency about how their services are set up. If you want to make sure the birth mother is fully compensated, double-check the agency’s fee structure to make sure they are not charging the mother a fee to work with them.

If you are not paying through an agency, you have more options for payment. Some families may pay for an insurance policy for the birth mother, while others might give her a prepaid card to use for her medical bills. You also have the option of asking her for receipts and compensating her with a lump sum payment after the pregnancy is over. All of these options can work well for families as long as you make sure the arrangement is clear. It can be a good idea to have a New Jersey adoption attorney draft an official agreement with the birth mother that lays out all the terms for how she will be compensated. A concise legal contract helps to protect everyone’s finances.

If you are considering adoption, it is a good idea to consult with a New Jersey adoption attorney. The legal team at Cofsky & Zeidman can help you create an adoption arrangement that works for both you and the birth mother. We can assist you with everything from filing paperwork to sending payments. To learn more about our Haddonfield adoption services, call 856-429-5005 or send us a message today.

Is It Better to Adopt a Close Relative or Be the Legal Guardian?

How to Decide Between Adoption and Legal Guardianship

Roughly 8% of children in the U.S. live with family members who are not their biological parents. Though these familial arrangements can be a wonderful way of raising a child, they do come with some legal difficulties. If you are trying to decide between adoption or guardianship, here is what you need to know.

Adoption Is More Permanent

One of the big differences between adoption and guardianship is the length of commitment it entails. While many legal guardianships do continue until the child is 18, there is no guarantee the situation will last that long. Even if you are the legal guardian of a child, their legal parent still retains parental rights. They may be able to terminate the guardianship and regain custody of the child.

Meanwhile, if you become the adoptive parent of the child, all other parental rights are terminated. For all intents and purposes, you will be your young relative’s parent. No one can take the child without having to go through the lengthy process of proving you are an unfit parent in court. Furthermore, adoption lasts a lifetime. Unlike legal guardianship, you can still be the child’s next of kin, help them apply for financial aid, and perform other legal duties of a parent.

Legal Guardianships Are Often Simpler to Arrange

If you want to be the main caregiver for a young relative and act as a guardian, it is usually quite simple. All you have to do is fill out a few pieces of paperwork in court. Depending on the situation, the parent may be able to sign guardianship over to you, or you may just need to prove that the parent is unfit, and you can care for the child. In most cases, guardianship is something that can be set up in a day or two.

If you want to formally adopt a child, things get a little more complex. It is true that close relative adoptions, like grandparent adoptions, are simpler than traditional ones. However, it is still a multistep process. You’ll need to get the courts to terminate the parent’s rights and have your New Jersey adoption lawyer fill out paperwork to adopt the child. In many situations, the Department of Children and Families will also be involved. You may have to go through home studies and other steps to prove you are fit to adopt the child.

Legal Guardianship Has Different Custody and Child Support Rules

If you are a legal guardian, the child’s biological parent still has a lot of responsibility and rights. The court may order the parent to pay you child support while you care for the child. Furthermore, even if you have primary custody, the legal parent may have the right to visit the child regularly.

Depending on your family’s situation, this can be a good or bad thing. In some cases, you may want to avoid legal adoption because the child support you get helps pay for expenses. In other situations, you may be comfortable taking care of the child’s expenses and would prefer that no other parent has the right to seek partial custody or scheduled visitation.

Adoption Isn’t Affected by Changes to Your Marital Status

When you and your current spouse are caring for a child, it is important to consider how your relationship affects your legal arrangements. In the event of a divorce, legal adoption provides both parents with more rights. This happens because legal guardianship is usually only awarded to the biological family member. Even though a person’s spouse may act in a parental role, they will not automatically get guardianship alongside their partner.

This can lead to issues in a divorce because the nonbiological parental figure can end up without any access to the child. Adoptions give a little more security to both partners. Since each spouse would become the child’s adoptive parent, each spouse would have more rights if a divorce occurs.

As you can see, both legal arrangements have their own benefits. To find the right choice for your situation, it may be helpful to consult with a New Jersey adoption lawyer. At Cofsky & Zeidman, our team is happy to assist you, and we have offices conveniently located in Haddonfield and Woodbury.. We also have one in Philadelphia for our clients in that area. Schedule a consultation by filling out our contact form or by calling (856) 429-5005.

USCIS Makes It Easier to Transmit Citizenship to Children Born Abroad

What You Need to Know About the New USCIS Rules

There are roughly 9 million U.S. citizens currently living abroad. Typically, they are able to transfer their citizenship to any children they have, but things get a little more complicated when reproductive assistance is involved. Fortunately, a recent update from USCIS makes it much easier for parents to give their child U.S. citizenship.

USCIS Announces Changes to Citizenship Rules for Children Born Abroad

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is typically responsible for handling citizenship matters for children born in other countries. Previously, their rules allowed biological children of U.S. citizens or step-children of U.S. citizens to gain citizenship. However, the rules were a little vague, so it left some children in a legal gray area.

A few months ago, USCIS updated its rules to clarify that children born of assisted reproductive technology (ART) can also apply for citizenship. As long as the U.S. citizen is married to the child’s genetic or gestational parent, they can transfer citizenship to that child. This allows families to give their child citizenship even if the child was conceived through sperm donors, surrogate pregnancies, or other ART means.

What the New Rules Will Mean for International Families

This new rule will simplify the citizenship application process for international families. Before the update, parents of children conceived with ART could usually only get their child citizenship if they formally adopted the child. This added extra paperwork and visits with New Jersey adoption lawyers when parents were trying to visit the United States or ensure their child has all the rights of a U.S. citizen. Many struggled because their country of residency counted them as a legal parent, but the U.S. saw them as neither a step-parent, adoptive parent, or biological parent.

With this new rule, non-traditional parents will have the same rights as other biological parents. For example, if a woman used donor sperm because her husband was sterile, the husband could still transfer his American citizenship to his child. The new rule just requires that the U.S. citizen be married to the person who carried the child or contributed genetic material to the child. As long as they meet this requirement, they can apply for naturalization and transmit their citizenship to their child.

How to Confirm Your Child’s Citizenship

If your family was created through ART, now is a great time to start formalizing their citizenship. If you’re abroad, try to visit the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible to file a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. This doesn’t start the official immigration process, but it makes the rest of the process easier.

When your child is born abroad and lives abroad, they don’t automatically get to come and go from the United States as they please. Instead, you will still need to undergo a brief version of the immigration process. This doesn’t require extensive documentation, tests, or waiting periods. Instead, it’s just a simple formality to legally recognize that your child is a U.S. citizen.

You’ll need to submit some documentation to show that your child is eligible for naturalization. Here are some of the things you will need to do:

  • Show that the child is your legal child in your current jurisdiction.
  • Provide the child’s birth certificate or other proof of identification.
  • Confirm you are married to the child’s genetic or gestational parent.
  • Give evidence of your own U.S. citizenship.
  • Show that at least one parent has proof of residency or continual presence in the U.S.

If you think the new USCIS rules will affect your family, consult with a New Jersey adoption lawyer. Cofsky & Zeidman is happy to examine your situation and help you figure out how to get your child citizenship. We have offices in Haddonfield and Woodbury, and our team assists with a variety of adoptions and assisted reproduction situations. Schedule a free consultation by calling 856-429-5005 or filling out our contact form.

Tips to Help Your Adopted Child Connect With His or Her Ethnic Culture

How to Honor Your Adopted Child’s Ethnic Culture

Eighty-four percent of international adoptions and 28% of domestic adoptions involve children joining families of another race or ethnic group. In any cross-cultural adoption, it’s important to find ways to honor a child’s heritage. These tips can help your child stay connected to his or her past and avoid a traumatic loss of identity.

Stay Educated on Cultural Topics

As soon as you start considering transracial adoption, you also need to start doing your research. As an adoptive parent, it’s your duty to learn about your child’s culture. Read books about the area, learn about its history online and try to meet people with a similar background. Strive to learn about the child’s holidays, foods, clothing, language, traditions and cultural attitudes. If possible, ask the child, or his or her biological family, about his or her culture.

Even though you can never know what it’s like to grow up in that culture, you can still obtain valuable information that can help your child later. As your child grows up, he or she will most likely have questions about his or her culture. Being educated ensures that your child can trust you to give him or her the right answers.

Encourage the Whole Family to Participate

If your adopted child is taking Chinese lessons while his or her other siblings are at soccer, he or she can end up feeling isolated. To keep your child from feeling singled out, try to get the whole family to participate. Doing things like making time to celebrate holidays, adding traditional foods to everyday dinners or watching foreign television shows can help your child feel a sense of pride and security in his or her heritage.

Try to include cultural traditions in day-to-day life instead of making them into occasional events. Incorporating these customs into your life can be very enriching for you as well. Embracing more traditions in your family can add variety and educational opportunities to your daily life.

Provide Opportunities to Socialize With People From Similar Backgrounds

All the fun celebrations with family at home cannot entirely make up for the sense of community your child may have lost. Making sure he or she can take part in activities with people who look like him or her and have similar memories can help your child feel more connected.

Try to look for cultural festivals, after-school programs or community events in your area. You may want to see if you can arrange playdates with children of a similar background as well. If your New Jersey adoption attorney helped you arrange an open adoption, it can be helpful to schedule meetings with the child’s biological parents or relatives. Having more representation of his or her culture helps your child stay connected to his or her heritage.

Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Cultural Experiences

Though many cross-cultural adoptees report feeling like their parents prevented them from connecting with their culture, there are also plenty of other people who report resentment at being forced to take part in cultural activities. Especially if a child was adopted young or removed from a traumatic situation, he or she may not want to spend a lot of time thinking about his or her cultural heritage.

Celebrating an unusual holiday or eating exotic food can make a child feel further isolated or differentiated. If your child expresses these feelings, it’s important to acknowledge and accept them. Always allow your child’s unique preferences guide interactions, and let him or her know you are willing to help him or her connect with his or her culture if a different decision is made later.

For more ways to help the adoption process go smoothly, turn to Cofsky & Zeidman. Our New Jersey adoption attorney team is here to assist you with things like creating an open adoption agreement or filling out the right documents for an international adoption. We’ve helped families throughout the Haddonfield and Woodbury areas through the process of adoption. Learn more about our services by calling (856) 429-5005 or filling out our contact form.

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