How to Plan for Visitation With Your Child’s Birth Parent

How Do I Create a Visitation Plan With My Child’s Birth Parent?

In 2019, more than 64,000 children were adopted in the United States. According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, 52% of those children were adopted by their foster parents, and 36% were adopted by a relative. When planning an open adoption, no matter what the child’s age, creating a visitation agreement with the birth parent and a New Jersey adoption attorney may help your family have a smoother transition and better communication.

Consider the Type of Adoption

The only type of adoption that allows the birth parent to visit with their biological child is an open adoption. The open adoption process requires careful navigation and planning, which is why it’s best to work with a New Jersey adoption attorney. In an open adoption, the adoptive parent or parents may choose to allow the birth mother or biological father of the child to occasionally or regularly communicate with their child through specific types of interactions at a specific frequency and through certain methods.

Determine the Timing of Communications

A very young child may not understand the difference between biological and adoptive parents. They may become confused or develop attachment disorders or other mental health issues if they don’t understand who their parents are. Some adoptive families choose to limit the child’s in-person interactions with the birth parents until the child is old enough to understand that they were adopted and their biological parents are different from the people who adopted them.

 

VeryWell Family suggests telling a child they are adopted by the age of 3. Use words the child can understand. Working with a child psychologist may help with this process.

Plan Which Types of Communication Are Allowed

Thanks to technology, there are many ways a birth parent can interact with their biological child and the child’s adoptive family. Consider how you want these interactions to take place. You might think about sending digital photos, setting up video calls, sending text messages or emailing. Phone calls and snail mail also facilitate regular communication between a birth parent and their biological child.

Decide on Visitation Times

For in-person visitation, consider which times and how frequently you want them to occur. Special events in a child’s life, such as their first birthday, first day of school or first school play may be of interest to their birth parent. The birth parent might want to see the child on their birthday or on religious holidays. Decide what you feel comfortable with, such as a two-hour visit on the child’s birthday.

Include Visitation Locations

The location of visits with your child and their birth parent matters. Your child may feel more comfortable at a neutral place, such as a children’s museum, counselor’s office or similar setting. If you’re comfortable, you could have the birth parent visit your child in your home.

Consider the Child’s Preferences

As the child gets older, you may want to reconsider the visitation agreement. Your child might wish to see their birth parent more or less frequently as they get older. They may have an idea of how they want to spend their birthdays, school breaks and other special events and days. Including your child in the process could help reduce confusion, resentment and negative feelings toward you or their birth parent.

 

If you’re considering an open adoption, speaking with a New Jersey adoption attorney will help you understand your rights and the rights of the birth parents. Knowing how to set up a visitation agreement with the birth parent also give you information about what to expect in the future for your family. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with the law firm of Cofsky & Zeidman, call our Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005 or our Woodbury office at (856) 845-2555. You can also complete our online contact form, and our associate will reach out to you to schedule a consultation.

Do International Surrogacies Give Children Dual Citizenship?

Does an International Surrogacy Mean Dual Citizenship for Your Child?

The U.S. State Department has long upheld a policy that denied citizenship to those who were born via surrogacy or IVF (in vitro fertilization), preventing children who were born in this way from obtaining dual citizenship. But now, thanks to the recent update in the department’s policy regarding how they handle these types of cases, it’s now more possible than ever for children who were born with a surrogate parent or in vitro fertilization to become U.S. citizens.

A Highly Restrictive Previous Policy

Previously, State Department policy prevented children born abroad by assisted means — e.g., international surrogacies — to obtain citizenship. The only circumstance that would then allow for the child to become a U.S. citizen is if one of the parents is already a legal citizen and the child is directly related to them. This applied to children who were born outside of the U.S. by way of assisted reproductive methods, most commonly a surrogate or in vitro fertilization, to both heterosexual and same-sex parents.

New Rules More in Touch With Reality

This new policy was announced on May 18, 2021, and it does set some stipulations. In order for your situation to be applicable to this new policy, your child has to have been born outside of the United States, and the parents must be married. Additionally, one or both of the child’s parents must already be a citizen of the U.S., and the child has to be biologically related to one of their parents.

 

A statement put out by the State Department praised the update to the way that the Immigration and Nationality Act is applied. The department says it’s now considering realistically what the families of today are truly going through. There have also been numerous advancements that have come in technology for assisted reproductive means, changing the way these policies must be thought of and implemented.

 

These newly-adopted guidelines are effectively a reversal of a long-standing rule that had obvious issues. The previous policy classified any child born through surrogacy outside of the United States as being born out of wedlock, even though the child’s parents were actually married. It was also a requirement of the State Department for children born outside the U.S. to be genetically or gestationally related to the parent who was a U.S. citizen.

A Well-Disputed Old Policy

This has led to a handful of same-sex couples filing lawsuits due to the former policy, fighting for their children’s rights to legal citizenship in the United States. Over the course of two years, two cases were brought and won by parents in this situation against the Trump administration.

 

In June 2020, a federal judge’s ruling required the State Department to recognize a same-sex couple’s daughter as a legal citizen. She was a year old at the time, born in via surrogacy in Canada.

 

Another instance of a successful case challenging the old rule, taking the fight to court, involved twin boys. The Canadian-born twins were the children of a same-sex couple, where one of the children was genetically tied to his father, who was a citizen of the United States. This child was granted his citizenship. His twin brother, on the other hand, relationally tied to the father who was born in Israel, was not allowed to become a citizen.

 

In 2019, the judge presiding over that case made the ruling that this child was, in fact, a U.S. citizen due to the fact that he had married parents. In this case, the ruling was that the State Department hadn’t applied its own law correctly.

A Big Moment for the LGBTQ Community

With the new law, LGBTQ parents are all feeling a momentous breakthrough. It’s a huge win for everyone who’d been fighting back against the State Department’s previous policy, which was dehumanizing, out of touch, and above all, unconstitutional.

 

Immigration Equality is one of the outstanding LGBTQ immigration rights groups that has brought a number of federal lawsuits that challenge the old rules of the State Department. They work with New Jersey lawyers to help provide what’s best for these children.

 

This new policy sends a clear message to the public, especially those in LGBTQ communities, that unity and determination are both powerful tools against systemic discrimination. It underlines the idea that families are formed from love, not from genetics.

 

If you or a loved one are in this type of a situation, call the firm of Cofsky & Zeidman, L.L.C., at (856) 429-5005. Donald Cofsky is a friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced New Jersey lawyer who will guide you through every step of the process to help your child become a dual citizen.

What Should You Include in a Surrogacy Contract?

How to Write a Good Surrogacy Contract

In the past 20 years, the number of parents who use surrogates to expand their family has drastically increased. Though surrogacy is certainly becoming more popular, it’s still not a hassle-free process. If you want to avoid any problems later on, it is a good idea to include these items in your surrogacy contract.

A Clear Definition of What Type of Surrogacy You Are Using

Start your contract by making sure you know what type of surrogacy your family plans on using. Legally speaking, there is a difference between traditional surrogacy, where a woman donates an egg and carries the child to term, and gestational carrying, which involves a woman carrying to term a fetus that does not have her genetic material. Keep in mind that New Jersey surrogacy law does not acknowledge pre-birth surrogacy contracts in cases of traditional surrogacy. You can write a document to clarify things and express every party’s intentions, but it won’t be valid in court.

The Carrier’s Consent to Carry a Child and Surrender It After Birth

The surrogate contract is a way for your chosen gestational carrier to formally acknowledge the situation. They will need to sign clauses that state that they agree to attempt to carry and give birth to the child. To be a valid surrogacy contract, the carrier also needs to acknowledge that they will surrender custody of the child after birth. This is one of the most important provisions for your New Jersey adoption attorney to include in the whole document.

The Intended Parents’ Accepting of Responsibility for the Child

Another essential provision in any surrogate agreement is both intended parents stating that they will accept legal custody of the child after birth. Even intended parents who contributed genetic material to the child will need to be listed in this part of the document. Furthermore, the contract needs to say that you accept sole responsibility for the child. This allows your names to be put on the child’s birth certificate, and it absolves the gestational carrier of any duty to the child.

Descriptions of How Both Parties Will Handle Medical Care

The contract should acknowledge that the gestational carrier has the right to make their own medical decisions during the pregnancy. It’s a good idea for the contract to include a requirement for the surrogate to notify intended parents of her plans in writing. The contract should also discuss how the parents plan on paying the surrogate for her medical care. Things like insurance policies, doctor’s bills, or cash compensation should be discussed.

Whether the Intended Parents Will Pay for Living Expenses

Technically speaking, the only compensation that the intended parents have to make is for the surrogate’s lawyer and medical care. However, they are also allowed to pay for the surrogate’s living expenses during the surrogacy process. In most cases, gestational carriers will only agree to the process if they do get appropriate compensation. Make sure that your contract clearly lays out what expenses you will pay for and how often you will pay them. Some families provide a monthly allowance while others may want to reimburse the surrogate after the pregnancy.

The Timeline for the Surrogacy Process

In any surrogacy contract, more clarity is always a good thing. You should spell out all expectations and consider all potential problems. This can avoid conflicts or confusion later on. Start by discussing where and how the implantation process will occur. Clearly state how many times you will attempt the implantation process and what you will do if the process fails. You can also use the contract to describe whether or not you want to try again if the pregnancy results in a miscarriage or stillbirth. The contract can also help you discuss how long the surrogate has access after birth and whether she can contact the child later on.

A well-drafted surrogacy contract protects both the surrogate and the intended parents. At Cofsky & Zeidman, our New Jersey adoption attorney can help you write and file all necessary surrogate paperwork. To schedule a consultation at one of our Pennsylvania or New Jersey offices, call 856-429-5005. You can also talk to our team by filling out our contact form.

What It Takes to Adopt a Grandchild

Everything You Should Understand About Grandparent Adoption

While it’s common for grandparents to act as temporary caregivers for their grandchildren during a time when one or both parents may be unable to provide the necessary level of care, it may be better to formalize an adoption in certain situations. In 2015 alone, around 1,063 adoptions were finalized, many of which were grandparent adoptions. Before the adoption process begins, it’s important to know what your legal rights are in New Jersey.

When to Consider a Kinship Legal Guardianship

When you want to become a permanent caregiver of your grandchild, one option available to you is to become a kinship legal guardian, which is possible in the event that adoption is unlikely to be granted. Temporary caregivers have the ability to petition the court to obtain status as a kinship legal guardian, which makes it possible for birth parents to continue having certain legal rights. These legal rights include the responsibility to offer financial support and the right to occasionally visit the child.

Someone who obtains this form of guardianship will be the main person responsible for the child but will not be overseen by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), which is a requirement for foster placements. Even though the DCP&P doesn’t oversee these guardianships, you could still be eligible for caregiver subsidies as well as similar types of assistance.

Look Into Temporary Foster Placement

One option to consider in accordance with the DCP&P is a temporary foster placement, which can either lead to a parent-child reunification or you being a permanent caregiver through adoption or guardianship. DCP&P will consider this option for grandparents who are able to provide the same level of care as standard foster parents while also providing the child with a safe environment.

The DCP&P believes that placing a child with someone they know and are close to can lessen the amount of trauma that typically occurs when being separated from a parent. It’s important to understand that the main goal for all of these options is to ensure that the child is able to adjust well to the situation on a long-term basis.

The process for temporary placement is similar to the adoption process but with a few less requirements. Along with a comprehensive home inspection, background checks will also be performed on any household member who’s at least 18 years old. You will need to obtain a license that allows you to act as a “resource parent” in New Jersey. While foster parents have certain legal rights, DCP&P supervision is still necessary.

Parental Rights to Consider During Grandparent Adoptions

When it comes to New Jersey adoption requirements, the law states that a child is only able to have two legal parents, which can make it difficult for a grandparent to adopt their grandchild. However, it’s possible for a third individual to gain rights as a legal guardian or foster parent in the event that they are taking care of the child in question.

Legal adoption of a child is only possible if the biological parents voluntarily relinquish the parental rights they have. The courts may also terminate these rights in certain situations. Parental rights can be terminated in New Jersey if a parent abuses or abandons their child. Child neglect or abuse can occur by abandoning a child, causing emotional or physical harm, not providing a proper level of care, sexually abusing a child, or using excessive amounts of physical punishment.

Once rights have been terminated, it’s possible for a grandparent to go through the adoption process. When the adoption has been properly finalized, the grandparent will gain all parental responsibilities and rights. As for the birth parents, they no longer have parental rights and can only visit the child if the adoptive parents agree.

How Our New Jersey Adoption Lawyer Can Help

During our many years in practice, our New Jersey adoption lawyer has represented over 1,500 families throughout the adoption process. The experience we have allows us to provide our clients with the representation they deserve. We can help you by streamlining the entire adoption process, which should reduce your stress levels and allow you to better understand what the process entails.

Our lawyer will assist you in gaining a more in-depth knowledge of your legal rights in regard to the adoption case you’re involved in. Keep in mind that we handle every type of adoption, which includes everything from international adoptions to grandparent adoptions.

If you would like to begin the adoption process and want to make sure that your interests are protected during the process, call our New Jersey adoption lawyer today at (856) 429-5005 or fill out our online form to get started.

Is Adoption or Surrogacy Right for You?

Adoption vs. Surrogacy: Weighing the Options

About 2,000 children are typically in New Jersey’s foster care system waiting to be adopted, and the number of surrogacy cases is also skyrocketing. In fact, demand for surrogates is currently outstripping the supply in some areas. However, deciding which alternative family expansion route is right for you can be challenging.

Genetic Connections

Biological connections are sacred to some people. If you’ve always dreamed of having kids with your smile or your partner’s eyes or a laugh like your great aunt Shirley, surrogacy is likely the best choice. This can be tough to admit, but it’s important to be as honest with yourself as possible. After all, if you cannot fully accept a child that doesn’t share a biological link, adoption isn’t a fair or wise choice. Your disappointment may manifest in implicit ways and have a negative psychological impact on the adopted child.

Many couples deciding between adoption and surrogacy often worry that it will be more difficult to “bond” with newborns that don’t share their DNA. This is not the case. Love is love, and the moment adoptive parents clap eyes on their new bundles of joy, the same affectionate feelings and protective instincts kick in, just like biological parents.

Budget Considerations

No matter how it happens, having a baby is expensive. Adopting through a public service can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $15,000, depending on the program and whether or not you choose to use a New Jersey adoption attorney. Private adoptions may cost between $40,000 and $50,000.

Surrogacy is the most expensive option. It usually sets donors back between $75,000 and $150,000 because they’re expected to pay for surrogates’ related medical expenses in addition to compensation for carrying the children. In some situations, couples also pay surrogate living expenses.

When considering your budget, don’t forget to factor in the expense of having a newborn baby and the related equipment. The average middle-class family spends between $20,000 and $50,000 on newborns in their first year of life.

Navigating Relationships

Another dynamic to consider when choosing between surrogacy and adoption is the type of relationship that you want to have with the birth partner. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want to know the birthing parent or partner?
  • Would you be comfortable maintaining a relationship with the birthing parent after the baby is born?
  • Would you be comfortable with your child having a relationship with a biological parent down the road?
  • Do you want a relationship with the birth partner during pregnancy?
  • How are you planning to discuss your decision with your family, friends, and, eventually, the child?

If you choose to go the adoption route, you may or may not be given information about the biological parents. In days of old, most adoptions were closed, meaning that the birth parents’ identities were never revealed. These days, however, the overwhelming majority of adoptions are open, and birth parents maintain some level of contact with the adoptive parents. Sometimes, the biological parents simply get pictures and updates once a year but never meet the children. Other agreements give the birth parents visitation rights after an adjustment period, which usually lasts several years, so the family has time to bond.

With surrogacy, the relationship typically ends with the gestational carrier after the child is born. Moreover, donor parents usually have a say in certain aspects of the pregnancy. Typical agreements include prohibitions against smoking, drugs, and drinking. Some even include healthy eating guidelines.

Some surrogates, however, are people who are close to the adopting couple, like a sister or close friend. In this case, the surrogate is almost always in the baby’s life as a type of aunt figure who becomes a close part of the baby’s life.

Couples deciding between adoption and surrogacy may benefit from a consultation with New Jersey adoption attorney Donald Cofsky of Cofsky & Zeidman. If you have questions about surrogacy or adoption, contact our Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005 or our office in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555.

Does the Biological Parent Have to Consent to a Stepparent Adoption?

Can a Biological Parent Block a Stepparent Adoption?

About 5% of all children with a stepparent end up getting adopted by their stepparent. This sort of adoption can be challenging to navigate since it brings up sensitive topics like former relationships and child custody. Whether or not the biological parent consents to the adoption plays a big role in the eventual outcome.

Stepparent Adoption Requires One Parent to Give Up Parental Rights

To understand why consent is such a big issue, it’s necessary to understand New Jersey adoption law. Legally speaking, a child can only have two parents. Therefore, if a stepparent wants to adopt the child, they need more than the consent of the parent they are married to. They also need to be stepping into a role that was vacated by the other parent.

In the simplest cases, this happens due to death. Once one biological parent has died, the spouse of the remaining parent can adopt the children. They could do this even if the deceased parent stated that they did not give consent to an adoption in the past.

If the biological parent is still alive, their consent matters. Without them voluntarily giving up parental rights, it can be very difficult for a stepparent to adopt your child. Even if the biological parent does not have custody, they may still be able to block an adoption.

How to Get Consent for Stepparent Adoption

Most cases of stepparent adoption start with a simple conversation between the child’s current legal parents. If the stepparent and their spouse can convince the other person to give up their rights, the process just involves paperwork. The parent will need to fill out a voluntary surrender of parental rights form and submit it to the court.

To simplify the process, a New Jersey adoption lawyer will usually submit these forms alongside the other adoption forms. Once the surrender of rights form is accepted by the court, it entirely removes any responsibility from the biological parent. They do not have to pay for child support or care for the child. They will also be giving up their rights to see the child or have a say in the child’s upbringing.

How to Finalize an Adoption Without Consent

If a biological parent does not agree to consent, the other parent and their spouse have the option of trying to forcibly remove the parent’s rights. This tends to be a very challenging process. Instead of just filing paperwork, the parents have to go to court and argue their case in front of a judge.

To remove parental rights and clear the way for adoption, they will need to prove the biological parent is an unfit parent. This is very challenging because the burden of proof is on the parents who want to adopt. Most family courts want to preserve parental rights whenever possible, so they are not likely to side with the stepparent unless there is clear proof. Some potential reasons to remove parental rights include:

  • The parent has been convicted of a major crime
  • There is reasonable proof the parent has been abusive
  • The parent has neglected the child when the child was in their care
  • The parent has extensive substance abuse problems and won’t seek treatment
  • The parent has abandoned their child and cannot be found
  • The parent has not made an effort to see or financially support the child

Stepparent adoptions are often portrayed as a simpler type of adoption, but as you can see, there are still a lot of technicalities to consider. If you are involved in a stepparent adoption situation, it’s a good idea to seek legal counsel. As a leading New Jersey adoption lawyer, Donald Cofsky is here to help. The team at Cofsky & Zeidman can assist you with everything from filing legal paperwork to arguing your case in court. We have offices in Haddonfield, Woodbury, and Philadelphia. If you would like to schedule a consultation with us, dial 856-429-5005 or fill out our contact form.

Is an Open Adoption Right for You?

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Open Adoption

In general, 60% to 70% of adoptions are open. This style of adoption involves the adoptive family and birth family continuing to stay in contact as the child grows up. To see if it will work for your situation, it can be helpful to learn a little about the pros and cons of this adoption type.

Pro: Children Don’t Feel Like They’re Missing Anything

No matter how much love and care you provide your child, the reality is that they did lose an important connection to their past. When a child never gets to see or hear about their birth family, they end up with a lot of questions. An open adoption can help reduce this feeling of having a “missing piece.”

It is fairly common for adoptive children to build up a fantasy when they are not in contact with their birth family. They may romanticize their birth family, obsess over what their life would have been like, or feel like they are missing out on something. Keeping contact with the birth family can help reassure the child that they are in the right place.

Con: Conflicts Between the Two Families

Adoption can be an intensely emotional journey, so there is always some possibility of drama. Adding a second family to the mix may result in some disagreements. Often, the main struggle is just navigating poverty, mental health issues, drug use, or other problems that led to the adoption in the first place.

There can also be conflict due to mismatched expectations. The birth family may be unhappy about the way you choose to raise your child, or you may be unhappy with how much impact the birth family has. Some parents may feel anxious or worried about the idea of their child preferring the birth family, so they might lash out and cause more conflict.

Pro: Children Stay More Connected With Their Background

Contact with the birth family can be especially helpful in cross-cultural adoptions. If the child is of a different race than the adoptive parents, their birth family can provide some perspective on challenges the child might face. Open adoptions also help children to connect more closely with their roots and learn about their genetic background.

This information on your child’s heritage can give them a very valuable sense of stability. It can also help you to better equip your child for a future where they may face discrimination or judgement.

Con: Birth Parents May Struggle to Maintain Appropriate Boundaries

This is often the biggest fear adoptive parents have with an open adoption. Parents worry that open adoptions may make it easier for a birth parent to try to diminish their parental role. The reality is a little more nuanced. Most birth parents are not interested in trying to outright take over your parental responsibilities.

However, there can be awkward instances, like a birth parent showing up unannounced or contacting your child without your knowledge. To prevent this from happening, it can be helpful to have a New Jersey adoption attorney create a clear agreement that schedules visits, calls, and other contact.

Pro: Children Have a Wider Support Circle

Having more people around who love your child is always a good thing. For some families, an open adoption just means a visit every couple of years. However, for some families, open adoption can create some truly special relationships.

Many birth parents are happy to take on the role of a distant relative or family friend. It can mean more people at birthday parties, more holiday presents, and more special memories. This can provide a valuable sense of love and support for your child.

Ultimately, this type of a procedure can help to mitigate some of the stress associated with adoption, but it is important to establish very clear boundaries. This is where Cofsky & Zeidman of Haddonfield can help. Our New Jersey adoption attorney firm can assist you with navigating all the legal agreements of open adoptions. We provide legal support for all types of adoptions, assisted reproductions, and more. Call us at 856-429-5005 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment.

The Right Attorney for Your New Jersey Foster Care Adoption

New Jersey Foster Care Adoptions

A child is placed in foster care when their biological parents are no longer able to provide them with the care they require. In these cases, it is not safe to return the child to their home. The ultimate goal of the foster care system is to reunite the foster child with their families and return them to their homes. When one of these children cannot go home, the biological parents have their parental rights terminated, and that child becomes available for adoption.

Why You Need An Attorney for This Process

When you are beginning the journey of adopting a foster child, there are a lot of requirements that you need to meet. The legal requirements alone can be daunting. Going into this process without representation can make the process longer than it needs to be. The process can be smooth if you have the right New Jersey adoption lawyer guiding you through it.

Adopting a Foster Child

Most foster care adoptions go to the foster parents who have already developed a relationship with the child. Although the biological parents are given a number of chances to meet the requirements to get their children back, it is not always in the best interest of the child. The adoption process cannot begin until the parental rights of the biological parents have been terminated by the state.

The path to a foster child adoption can be long and frustrating as the child welfare division is responsible for safeguarding all parties: the prospective foster parents, the child and the biological parents. When a child’s status changes from foster child to eligible for adoption, it can take a while for the adoption process to be complete. This is why having a New Jersey adoption lawyer by your side is important to minimize the risk of an adoption not being completed or being overturned.

What Do They Look for in Adoptive Parents?

When screening adoptive parents, the state wants to make sure that the adoptive parents are emotionally ready to take on the responsibilities. Many children in the foster care system are high risk due to physical or mental handicaps. Their disabilities can be taxing on the best parents.

The prospective parents will have to go through an extensive background check. This is to avoid any potential for domestic violence or child abuse. A history of drug abuse can be a problem; however, if the parents can prove a dedication to their sobriety, it does not automatically rule them out.

The prospective parents will need to be prepared for the home visit. A social worker will want to come into the home to determine if it is appropriate to bring a child into. They will look into your employment, financial statements, and background. It can be a grueling process. Showing stability is key to passing the home visit.

Financial Benefits of Adopting From Foster Care

Many of the costs of adoption from foster care can be subsidized by various financial assistance options offered by the state of New Jersey. These include:

  • Monthly payments to help meet daily needs, including a clothing allowance
  • One time payment for legal fees related to the adoption
  • Medicaid coverage to supplement coverage for the child to assist with conditions not covered by the family’s insurance
  • Specialized care for kids with handicaps to provide specific medical, health or equipment they may need

Are You Ready for Foster Care Adoption?

When preparing for a foster care adoption, you need to remember that foster kids have been through a lot. They are looking for a life of stability. Most of them have mental health or developmental challenges and require extra attention and care. It is common for them to have abandonment issues. Many will act out. It takes a great deal of patience and understanding. If you believe you are ready for the challenge, contact a New Jersey adoption lawyer to help you get started.

Why Daniel Cofsky Is Your Best Choice

Daniel Cofsky has been an adoption lawyer for many years. He has provided legal counsel in more than 1500 adoptions. He knows New Jersey adoption law backward and forwards and has strong relationships with the adoption courts. Contact us today to request a consultation and to get started on your foster care adoption journey.

Know the Differences Between Legal Guardianship and Adoption?

Legal Guardianship and Adoption Are Different

Did you know that about 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year? Legal guardianship and adoption are very different, one being temporary and the other being permanent. Many people confuse these two arrangements since they do have some similarities. As a New Jersey adoption attorney, we would like to explain the difference.

Legal Guardianship

This is a temporary care living arrangement for the child. It may be that a parent chooses to have a legal guardian for their child because they cannot provide the necessities at the time. However, they may be able to do so in the future. Parents retain all legal rights to that child.

 

Legal guardianship can take place until children are 18 years old. The parents may terminate the agreement at any time before that and reclaim custody. Parents can pass along an inheritance to that child, while a guardian must make a special provision when they write their will.

 

The parents’ legal rights have not been terminated. They may still play a role in the lives of their children. They may also be responsible for providing child support. In some cases, this temporary arrangement may be with a close friend or family member who knows the parents and the child.

Adoption

Parents choose to adopt a child, knowing that the legal rights of the biological parents are terminated as the child is placed into the adoptive home. In this case, an adult becomes the permanent, legal parent of a child. It is not a temporary arrangement such as legal guardianship; it is permanent. Biological parents cannot reclaim the rights to their children. Adoption also terminates the financial responsibilities of the biological parents as well as visitation rights. However, visits may be possible with an open adoption agreement, and, in some cases, the child may maintain contact with their birth family.

 

The age of the child may have a bearing on the process of adoption. For example, an infant adoption may be different than the adoption of an older child. In an infant adoption, the prospective birth mother and the adoptive parents may all be involved, necessitating a different time frame.

How Legal Guardianship and Adoption Are Similar

Although the legal ramifications are different, both forms provide a stable relationship for a child. Although the child is not biologically theirs, they will have the responsibility for emotional support and the basic necessities. Responsible for a proper education, adoptive parents and guardians also have rights to consent to medical treatment for the child.

 

Both forms of parenting, legal guardianship, and adoption, are legal arrangements to ensure that the basic needs of a child are met. Also included in this are love and support as well as their care and feeding and more.

Which Situation May Be Right for You As the Parent?

The biological parent of the child will ultimately make the decision. They might ask themselves if they can provide the proper support in the near future as well as the following questions:

 

  • Do you want future communication with your child?
  • Can you provide financial support while they are with a legal guardian?
  • Are you ready to have your child with someone they know is not their parent?

 

Reaching out to a New Jersey adoption attorney may help clarify which is the best situation. Although the decision is always up to the parent, each situation is unique, and the roles of legal guardianship and adoption are different. There may be subtle differences in each of the adoption and legal guardianship processes.

 

We are your local New Jersey adoption attorney. Donald C. Cofsky’s practice is here for your adoption needs. With experience in both adoption and assisted reproduction, we are here to serve you. Whether you live in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you’ll find Cofsy & Zeidman offices in both states. You can contact us online or (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, New Jersey, at (856) 845-2555 in Woodbury, New Jersey, or in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at (215) 563-2150.

The Birth Mother Changed Her Mind About Adoption: Now What?

What if the Birth Mother Wants to Keep the Baby?

Only about 6% of birth mothers change their minds about adoption. However, if the birth mother does suddenly decide she wants to keep the child and there is a contested adoption, the adoptive parents should immediately retain a New Jersey adoption lawyer. It is fair to wonder what might happen after the birth mother changes her mind once the adoption is complete.

How Can the Birth Mother’s Rights End?

If a birth mother chooses to give up her child for adoption, the easiest way to do it is to surrender the child to an adoption agency. Once this happens, within three days, barring any exceptions, her parental rights to the child will end.

 

Adoption agencies are required to do certain things for the birth mother or birth parents if both are involved in the surrender. Before the child is given up to subsequently be adopted by adoptive parents, the agency is required to ensure that the birth mother undergoes at least three counseling sessions with a qualified social worker. The goal is to make sure that the birth mother is both mentally and emotionally prepared to give up custody of the child to the adoptive parents.

 

The agency must also make sure both natural parents sign a statement that says they attended counseling sessions and that they understand what was said in the statement. In some cases, they might refuse counseling but must still sign a statement.

 

Additionally, the agency is required to have the biological parents sign a statement that says that it went over all of the provisions of the adoption and advise them on how to get more information from the Department of Health.

What Happens if a Birth Mother Changes Her Mind?

If the birth mother changes her mind, the court must review the matter and make a decision based on certain factors. If the adoption agency committed fraud, misrepresentation, or put the birth mother under duress, the surrender of the child could be legally reversed, giving her the child back. However, if the adoption was done legally and the agency did everything in the legal, proper way, then the adoptive parents would keep the child.

 

Regardless of the laws being on the side of the adoptive parents in that regard, it is still wise to retain an experienced New Jersey adoption lawyer if the adoption is being contested.

 

The court will also always take into consideration what’s in the best interest of the child. If the birth mother suddenly decides months after the adoption was finalized that she wants the child back, the court will consider the psychological effects on the child if they were suddenly taken away from the only family they have ever known. A legal adoption will typically not be nullified in this situation.

Exceptions to the Rule

Of course, there may be exceptions to the rule when it comes to reversing an adoption decision. In addition to fraud on the part of the adoption agency, this might happen when there’s a problem with the adoptive parents such as serious health issues or disabilities that prevent them from raising the child and properly providing for them. However, if the child has certain unexpected needs that are impossible for the parents to meet, the adoption might be nullified.

 

These are extreme situations, as in most cases, the adoptive parents will get to keep the child. It is important to know what your rights and options are as the adoptive parents when the birth mother suddenly changes her mind. Knowing the facts will help you to see whether the law is on your side in such a scenario.

 

If you are looking to adopt in New Jersey and need an attorney to help you, contact Donald Cofsky at Cofsky & Zeidman today by calling (856) 429-5005. We will be glad to answer any questions you may have and walk you through your options.

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