How to Prepare for Your Adoption During COVID-19

Getting Ready for a Domestic Adoption During the COVID Crisis

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a record number of families beginning the adoption process. More people are taking the time to think about what they want for the future and are taking steps towards achieving their adoption goals. However, COVID-19 has changed quite a few things about the domestic adoption process, so it is important to be fully prepared.

Decide Between Private and Foster Care Adoptions

If you are just getting started on the adoption journey, your first step needs to be talking with a New Jersey adoption attorney and examining your options for domestic adoption in New Jersey. You can adopt through the foster system. You can also go with a private adoption where an agency guides you through the process. Before making your choice, call several organizations to see how they are handling adoptions during COVID-19. Some agencies may be easier to work with right now since the government is overloaded.

Get Ready for Your Adoption Assessment and Home Study

In most regions, home studies have become a video call with your social worker. Preparing for an adoption home study often involves cleaning the home, creating a bedroom for the new child, and gathering all relevant documents. For COVID adoption studies, you need to make sure you have a scanner so that you can send important documents. Invest in a quality video camera so that you can show your home clearly. If you are using your child’s future bedroom as a home office, go ahead and clear it before the call so that there will not be concerns about the home’s suitability.

Have Childcare Plans Ready After COVID-19

Most adoption agencies want to confirm that you are prepared to handle a child both during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The biggest way this can affect adoption approval is with child care. Agencies may be wary of parents who just assume that they can continue to work remotely indefinitely. You need to make sure you have a way of giving a child appropriate care even if you have to go back to working on-site.

Address Changes to Your Employment Status

If you are currently unemployed because of COVID-19, it might be tempting to just ignore it and hope that the situation resolves itself. However, most organizations require prospective parents to alert them to any major changes in the parents’ situation. If you have a change in employment or living situation after you are approved for adoption, you need to be up front with the agency.

Make Sure You Have a Way of Travelling to Meet Your Child

If your prospective child is far away from your hometown, you need to think about how COVID-19 will affect travel plans. It is no longer as simple as just flying to pick them up. Instead, with adoption during COVID, you may need to prepare for long drives and find hotels that are still open. Some prospective parents have turned to RVs as a solution. This can help reduce coronavirus exposure because it limits the need for stopping at hotels and restaurants.

File Your Court Petition As Soon As Possible

In any type of domestic adoption, you have to file an official complaint for adoption with the court after about six months. Figuring out the timing for this during the pandemic can be tricky, so you may want to consult with a New Jersey adoption attorney. Right now, there is a big backlog of cases in family courts. Therefore, you should file as soon as you can so that you have less of a wait ahead of you.

With just a little extra planning and preparation, it is still possible to adopt even during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions, Cofsky & Zeidman is here to help. Our Haddonfield team is working from home and setting up remote consultations, so it is easy to get the assistance you need. To get more information, call 856-429-5005 or fill out our online contact form.

Is It More Difficult to Adopt Internationally During the Pandemic?

Pandemic Increases Anxiety for Families Adopting Internationally

Over 4,000 children come to America each year for international adoption. These are children brought over from a wide variety of countries and for many different reasons. For those families who have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of their new child, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new anxiety to the process.

Closed Borders and Travel Restrictions

One of the most frustrating aspects of the pandemic for adopting parents has been the various travel restrictions. Not being able to see their child has been heartbreaking, especially if they were at the end of the adoption process. While virtual visits can be an option for some families, there are parts of the world where even those are not possible.

Quarantines

If the parents have been allowed to travel, there have often been quarantining procedures they must follow. Depending on where they live and where they are traveling, they may have been required to quarantine both before and after their travels. This creates an extra level of stress and could prevent one of the parents from being able to travel because they need to work. Social workers have also not been able to perform home visits, further delaying the adoption process.

Closed Courtrooms

Even if traveling has been allowed and necessary paperwork has been filled out, there has been another major glitch in the process. Most courtrooms around the country were shut down for any type of filings that were not essential. Unfortunately, the courts often do not consider adoption proceedings essential. As many adoptive parents will attest, finalizing the adoption brings a great sense of relief to their family. There is always a fear that there will be an unforeseen glitch and the adoption will not go through.

There are different types of international adoptions. A child can be born and adopted in their home country, or they can be adopted in a different country. Sometimes, if an adoption has been completed in their home country, they must be readopted into the United States. There is a lot of paperwork required no matter the type of adoption proceeding. For instance, if you have adopted a child in another country, they may need to be readopted into the United States. In this case, you must mail the following forms to the New Jersey Office of Vital Statistics and Registry:

 

• Report of Adoption form (REG-44)
• Certified copy of the final judgment of adoption from a New Jersey court
• Certified copy of the original birth certificate, as well as a certified English translation
• $2 in the form of a check or money order made out to the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey
• Proof of residency in New Jersey
• A Certificate of Citizenship from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Services

 

An experienced New Jersey adoption lawyer can help you obtain any of these documents that you may not have. In addition, they can answer any questions you have about which documents to provide. If the child’s adoption was completed in another country, there is a different set of forms required.

An Uncertain Future

As our country and the world move through this pandemic, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. For parents adopting internationally, they have a host of questions and worries about how this will affect the future. Parents who are considering international adoption may turn to domestic adoptions because of all of these obstacles. International adoption rates have been decreasing anyway, so these problems may cause even fewer of those children to be brought into loving homes.

Choose an Experienced Adoption Lawyer

With all of the uncertainty regarding international adoptions, you need an experienced New Jersey adoption lawyer on your side. Donald C. Cofsky has helped over 1,500 families achieve their dreams of adoption. Whether you are working with an agency or not, our firm can guide you through the process. Cofsky & Zeidman has offices in Haddonfield, Woodbury, and Philadelphia. Give our firm a call today, toll-free, at (856) 429-5005 to set up an appointment.

Has COVID-19 Changed Foster Care?

4 Ways COVID-19 Is Affecting Foster Care

Currently, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care, and the pandemic is making it challenging to address the needs of these kids. Families in the foster system need to stay up to date on the ways COVID is affecting foster care. By learning about the changes to the system, you can overcome some of the challenges caused by the virus.

Court Hearings Are Being Delayed

Of course one of the biggest changes to the foster care system during the pandemic is the court process. Most foster families have to spend time in court while parents try to regain their rights or foster parents work to adopt children. Right now, most courts are heavily limiting the load of cases they take. In many locations, they are only working on emergency matters or ongoing cases. There is also a huge backlog of cases to get through from when courts were entirely shut down in spring. This means that many families who are waiting on court decisions will have to wait a while longer. A good New Jersey adoption attorney may be able to help you make an application for an emergency ruling, but in many cases, you should still expect lengthy delays.

More Children May Be Left in Bad Environments

An unfortunate foster care COVID-19 change has been the lack of home visits from social workers. In many areas, social workers are working remotely, so they do not see the environment a child is actually in. Some social workers also report that their local courts are too overwhelmed to proceed with removing children from a bad environment. Some social workers are turning to “hidden foster care,” where they threaten removal unless the parent informally places a child with a more stable relative. This can be a stopgap measure, but it does not provide families with the same protections as official foster care. This may lead to more children in need of homes as the virus calms down. Those already licensed as foster care parents may want to go ahead and start preparing for new additions to their families.

COVID-19 Disrupts the Stability of Some Foster Families

Another big COVID foster care change has been the general instability of the pandemic. Many families have lost jobs, and most schools are closed. For foster care families with several children, this can be overwhelming. Parents all over the nation report struggles with child care, schooling, and making ends meet. During normal times, the foster care system would step in to help, but right now, the system is already overtaxed. Struggling foster care parents should discuss these challenges honestly with their social worker, since there may be some forms of government assistance in place.

Foster Parents May Be Eligible for Extra Assistance

The good news is that the government has not forgotten foster care families altogether. Most regions have authorized at least some form of COVID-19 foster care payments. This can provide a few hundred extra dollars each month to ensure the needs of the family are met. There may also be other government stimulus programs designed to help struggling foster parents. However, you do not always get these funds automatically. It may be worthwhile to do some research and find out which grants are available to you. This can cover some of the associated costs of foster care as you work to recover from the pandemic.

Successfully managing all the challenges of foster care is hard at any time, so it is always important to have an experienced family lawyer on your side. Cofsky & Zeidman’s services are especially helpful during the COVID-19 crisis. Our firm can assist you with foster care hearings, adoption filings, and more. We are working remotely, so you can get legal assistance without compromising your safety. To schedule your consultation with a New Jersey adoption attorney, call us today. Reach our Haddonfield, NJ, office at (856) 429-5005, our Woodbury, NJ, office at (856) 845-2555, or our Philadelphia, PA, office at (215) 563-2150.

During the COVID-19 Shutdown, More Families Are Seeking to Adopt

With a Slower Process, Families Still Seek to Adopt

While more families are seeking to adopt during the COVID-19 shutdown, delays have made the process more frustrating for some. Your loving home is still desired, although the process may take longer. When issues are resolved, you can file papers in New Jersey with the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry.

The Process Has Been Slowed Down

Although some people have been wary of bringing new people into a home right now, those who have already been looking to adopt are facing delays. Typical adoptions used to take between six and nine months. That process is now taking longer during the pandemic.

Home studies, court hearings and the ability to maintain stable homes have all been affected by the shutdown. As far as international adoptions, the process has slowed because of:

  • Border closings
  • Curfews
  • Social distancing
  • Travel restrictions

Courage, dedication and collaboration are needed within the community as the new normal begins to take place. Those waiting for a child need to find the information they require and, in the meantime, be patient. As things begin to open up, the process of bringing a new child into the home will once more become easier to complete.

Whether you are bringing in a young one from China or nearby Pennsylvania, your love and care are still needed in providing a permanent home to a child. Right now, your patience is needed as well, and being steadfast will get you through uncertain times during which delays are the norm.

Even with the pandemic, you can begin your plans for adopting if you have not already done so. Online resources can help you and give you more information. Initial interviews may be done online, and foster care training can also be done virtually.

Children in Foster Care Have Been Impacted

While kids in foster care await permanent, loving homes, the current environment has had a negative impact. The isolation of social distancing along with a higher risk for contracting the virus has consequences. Many of these children have already been moved from one place to another and may get disheartened by the current situation. That’s why foster homes are an additional area of need.

Although caseworkers used to meet face to face with clients, technology has been used for foster care training and to provide information to people interested in foster care. Prospective parents are now turning to social media during the stay-at-home order. The pandemic itself has made the need to find more foster families stronger, and with online resources this can easily be a reality.

As the stay-at-home order is lifted, more children will need to be protected from abusive environments, where tensions and rising violence in the home were magnified by the close quarters during quarantine. The hope is that these children will find loving homes after the pandemic. This will be a period in which your love is greatly needed.

Families might know of local problems that have arisen during the shutdown right in their communities. There could be a variety of issues due to the virus including sick family members or limited resources. Trauma, stress and anxiety may have been triggered by the pandemic, and now, more than ever, children will need a stable and loving home in which to thrive when life gets back to normal or the “new normal.” If you are thinking about expanding your family during this time, consultations with a New Jersey adoption attorney may be a wise course to take.

Contact Cofsky & Zeidman to reach a New Jersey adoption attorney for help. We are located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and can be reached by phone at (856) 429-5005 or by email. Donald Cofsky can answer all your questions about the law and bringing a new family member into your loving home during the COVID-19 shutdown and as things begin to open up again.

Virtual Meetings Make Adoption Possible During Quarantine

Adoptions Are Still Happening During Quarantine Thanks to Virtual Meetings

Throughout the adoption process, would-be parents have to meet with several people, including lawyers, agency representatives and the child they hope to adopt. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to hold in-person meetings in New Jersey and other parts of the world. For the roughly 2 million American couples currently waiting to adopt, video chat services can help get things back on track and limit delays during this complicated time.

How Virtual Meetings Are Playing a Critical Role in Adoption

Even before the pandemic, adoptive parents were using video chat technology to help them navigate the adoption process. Many were joining online support groups that showed them how to overcome legal hurdles, deal with difficult youth histories, and manage any feelings of frustration. Also, adoptive parents who opted for an international adoption were using video chat technology to meet the child before having to board a plane and cross an ocean. During quarantine, however, virtual meetings have proven even more critical in every aspect of the adoption process.

When prospective parents decide to adopt a newborn child, they can use video chat services to meet with the birth parents. This can be very beneficial for all parties involved. For birth parents, it sets their mind at ease and lets them know their child is going to a good home. For adoptive parents, it lets them have a better idea of where their new family member is coming from. For the child being adopted, a healthy relationship between the birth parents and the adoptive parents means that they will always find love wherever they look. Using video chat is convenient and lets everyone see everyone else without having to go through the hassle of traveling. This could be very helpful if one of the parties has a complicated work or home schedule.

Video chat offers a good “soft” introduction between the parties that’s less intimidating than an in-person meeting. This can be particularly important for a first meeting if the child is older. Before the pandemic, adoptive parents usually met children through an event organized by the foster home or the agency facilitating the adoption. As effective as these events may have been, they might have been distracting to adoptive parents, especially if there was a lot going on. However, thanks to virtual meetings, aspiring parents are now having one-on-one interactions with the children without any distractions. This allows both the expecting parents and the child to get to know each other better.

Today, most court proceedings happen virtually, including hearings to finalize an adoption. For instance, one family watched a judge sign the adoption papers through teleconference. Even better, the happy couple invited their own parents and siblings to watch the hearing and celebrate with them as they welcomed a new member into the family.

However, it isn’t just parents who are benefiting from video chat technology; adoption agencies are using it, too. They have been holding virtual adoption panels to decide on the suitability of would-be parents. This is an important step because without it, the adoption process can be held up for a while.

Even before the adoption process starts, parents can use video chat technology to have virtual meetings with a New Jersey adoption lawyer. Accordingly, parents will know what is expected of them at the outset and be better prepared. So, even though COVID-19 may have temporarily slowed down the adoption process, it hasn’t stopped it altogether. Furthermore, virtual meetings are taking away from the process; they are providing new options.

Virtual Meetings With a New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

If you and your partner are planning to adopt but need help getting started, then don’t hesitate to contact us at Cofsky & Zeidman. You can call our New Jersey offices in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or Woodbury at (856) 845-2555. Reach out to us today so we can set up a virtual meeting with you.

Adapting to the Adoption Process in 2020

Adoption in the Age of COVID-19

There are presently 1.5 million adopted children in the United States. Prospective parents are now facing new challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic. Fertility treatments have been postponed while surrogacy, foster care and adoption have all been affected.

Don’t Give Up Hope

In May, an exciting event occurred in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. An American family, the Boyers, went back to the Congo to live with two boys they wanted to adopt. They became one of 69 adoptive families, which included 14 from the U.S., that were finally issued exit letters to leave the Congo. They are now all home but will probably have to be in quarantine for a while. Smiles were evident as masks were taken off.

International Adoptions Affected

Especially in China, which has been impacted since early February, international travel has been significantly impacted during the COVID-19 crisis. This has had a major impact on international adoptions as China is the leading origin country for adopted children. In an unprecedented situation, adoptive families are rethinking travel plans.

When considering travel, you should realize that quarantine time frames can change. You may want to also consider what can happen if you are quarantined while abroad.

Another consideration, if you do travel abroad for your new family, is that some Americans are being discriminated against after returning home from overseas. You obviously do not want this to impact your adopted child’s period of adjustment, so keep this point in mind.

Zoom Helps Out in the U.S.

With court hearings being done online due to the pandemic, a solution became available to one adoptive family in Arkansas in April. The parents were fostering a 2-year-old child they knew that they wanted to adopt. However, the date that the parents were terminating their rights was April 16, which was the date planned for the adoption. With courts closed, the adoption hearing took place through a video call on Zoom. It was still special, just celebrated in a different way.

Flexibility may be required when adopting right now. Delays are inevitable as courts and agencies adjust to the new normal. Remember that you need to notify the adoption agency if someone in your household is sick.

If you are feeling a lack of hope right now, counseling and conferences with other parents are still available online. Support is available 24/7. Aside from practicing safe distancing and regular hand washing, you want to take care of your mental health by not reading or listening to sensationalized stories and gossip from unreliable sources.

The Sun Will Come Out Again

You may feel disappointment when delays threaten your plans for adoption. With the urgency to share your love with a special child who is waiting for a permanent family, it has become a difficult time. Fear and sadness are being felt right now by many who are waiting.

Know that waiting may be in your and your soon-to-be child’s favor. The adjustment period in a new home will be better handled after quarantine when things return to a new version of normal. At that point, bringing a child into your home will be filled with the joy and excitement that you’re expecting.

Your adoption agency can help you if you need mental health services or have questions regarding creating a home for a child during the pandemic. When it comes to legal issues and adoption in 2020, you’ll want to partner with a trusted PA adoption attorney.

At the office of Cofsky & Zeidman, we understand that the pandemic has changed the timing and legal process for adoption. You can turn to us if you need a local PA adoption attorney who can assist you with a full range of legal issues, whether the adoption is foreign or domestic. Contact us at (856) 429-5005 for more information. You’ll have your questions answered by a professional legal firm with offices in Haddonfield, Woodbury, and Philadelphia.

COVID-19’s Effects on Adoptions

The Effects of COVID-19 on the Adoption Process

Every year, 135,000 children are adopted in the U.S. However, COVID-19 is changing the way that parents can adopt and presenting logistical hurdles for the time being. Here are some ways that coronavirus is putting obstacles in the way of the adoption process.

Parents May Not Have In-Person Visits

One of the most important parts of the adoption process is the in-person visit. If parents are adopting a child, they may not even be able to meet the child before the adoption. Usually, the parents will have at least one in-person meeting with the child after they are matched but before the adoption is official.

However, there are both stay-at-home orders as well as travel restrictions in place that can prevent an in-person meeting. If the adopted child lives far away, it may be difficult to get to see them. However, this does not mean that the process is frozen so long as we are dealing with COVID-19. Parents can still meet a child virtually. Even though it is not the same experience, it is something that the adoptive parents can do to begin to form a connection with the child.

Virtual Relationships With the Birth Mother

Adoptive parents now also face obstacles in forming a relationship with the birth parent of the child. During COVID-19, they must get to know each other virtually. Many adoptive parents had been able to go to the hospital for the baby’s birth if they were adopting a newborn. However, this is not always possible now that hospitals are restricting visitors who are allowed.

Many times, adoptive parents will attend a doctor’s appointment with the birth mother before the child is born. Now, most doctors have restrictions on guests attending appointments. It appears that there will be limitations for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, adoptive parents will need to use Zoom and phone calls in order to form a relationship with the birth mother. It does present some hurdles, but with some diligence, it is possible to achieve. It is very important to form this relationship if it is at all possible.

Domestic Adoptions Are Slowed

Since the courts are part of the adoption process, it follows that anything that involves the judicial branch may slow an adoption that is already underway. While courthouses are not completely closed, the lack of staff means that courts are simply not dealing with matters that are not an emergency right now.

In other words, even if the parents are able to reach the baby, the judicial approval that they need may take some time to receive at this point. Even if you are working with an adoption agency, at some point, there will need to be a court hearing to legally approve the adoption. You will have to file a petition with the court and hold a special adoption hearing.

An adoption hearing is not considered to be an essential or emergency hearing that requires the immediate attention of the court. As such, there may be delays in the process. In many cases, this is a hearing in which the judge will want to assess the prospective adoptive parents in person.

There are no assurances that you may even get a prompt hearing after the COVID-19 crisis recedes and the courthouses reopen. The judges expect to have a long backlog of cases that piled up when their courtrooms were closed. Where they end up placing adoption cases in their queue remains to be seen. Just because a courthouse is reopening does not mean that you and your PA adoption lawyer will be able to get the next available date on the judge’s calendar.

Of course, the hearing dates must also be squared with any travel arrangements that you must make to reach the child. Travel will also continue to remain difficult as a result of COVID-19.

If you have questions about your adoption process and how COVID-19 will impact it, contact a PA adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman by calling (215) 563-2150 today to set up a consultation in Philadelphia and learn more.

Deciding Whether Adopting Through Foster Care Is Right for You

Should You Adopt Through Foster Care?

Roughly 59% of all non-stepparent adoptions in the United States each year are adoptions that happen through the foster care system. Though this style of adoption is extremely common, many prospective parents are not aware of it. Understanding the pros and cons of adopting through the foster system can help you make the right choices for your family.

The Foster Care Adoption Timeline

Of course, one main difference between foster care adoption and private adoption is the timeline itself. When adopting privately, you meet with an adoption specialist, get approved by the agency, wait for a baby to become available, and then finalize the adoption. On average, this takes between eight to 15 months.

When adopting through foster care, you start by going through background checks and home studies to be approved as a foster parent. You can choose to be approved for adoption at the same time, or you can go ahead and start fostering while waiting on adoption approval. Once you are fostering a child you wish to adopt, you can file for adoption, wait six months, and then finalize the adoption. Things can move very quickly if you are properly licensed before starting the process.

Costs Associated With Foster Care Adoption

An unfortunate reality is that many people who would be excellent parents avoid adoption because of concerns about cost. It is true that private forms of adoption can be prohibitively expensive, costing somewhere between $25,000 to $50,000. However, adopting from foster care is actually very affordable.

The foster care adoption price in New Jersey is just somewhere between $0 to $1,500 for various classes and home studies. This makes foster care adoption an ideal choice for parents who can afford the day-to-day expenses of having a child but do not have tens of thousands of dollars saved up.

The Types of Children Available for Adoption in Foster Care

About 70% of the children waiting to be adopted from foster care are ages 11 or younger. Many people who adopt from foster care end up adopting infants right from the hospital. However, the median age of children in foster care who get adopted is 8 years old.

All children in the foster care system are there because they have had a difficult home life. Though most are not juvenile delinquents or children with a mental illness, prospective parents do need to be prepared for some challenges. Since you get to live with the child before adopting them, this gives you time to bond and gain experience parenting before you adopt.

Interacting With Biological Parents During Foster Care Adoption

A big difference in foster care adoption vs. private adoption is that biological parents may still wish to be involved on a regular basis. Unlike private adoption, not all biological parents have willingly given up their rights to the child. Instead, a child is made available for adoption through the foster care system after the state determines the child is no longer safe with their biological family.

This does not mean you have to go to court with your New Jersey adoption attorney and argue with the biological parents. Instead, the state will typically handle terminating the biological parents’ rights for you. If you want to adopt, the state will work to only place foster children with you from cases where parental rights are likely to be terminated.

Get Support From Experienced Professionals

As you can see, adopting from foster care can be an excellent way to reduce costs and give a home to a child who truly needs your love and care. However, there are a few additional steps, so it can be useful to have a New Jersey adoption attorney on your side who is familiar with the laws. At Cofsky & Zeidman, our team has years of experience handling adoption law cases. Give us a call at (856) 429-5005 to schedule your consultation at our office in Haddonfield. You can reach our office in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555.

What to Consider When Planning a Stepparent Adoption

What Are Some Considerations for Stepparent Adoptions?

It’s not uncommon for a child to be adopted by a stepparent. In fact, this occurs in roughly 5% of stepfamilies, and many more would like for this to happen. Since stepparent adoption is not always easy to accomplish, interested parties should fully understand the process.

Stepparent Adoptions May Be Quicker

In most cases, a stepparent is already heavily involved in the child’s life. Thus, there is less vetting that needs to occur before the court would approve the adoption. It’s not the same as a situation in which strangers are entering a child’s life for the first time. That means the family can skip several steps and get through the process much faster than with other types of adoptions. There may be some checks required, but the normal exhaustive background checks and home studies can either be truncated or skipped in many cases.

Parental Consent Is Generally a Requirement

Usually, the biological parent who would be replaced by the stepparent must consent to the adoption. This permission is often difficult to get if the parent is still around. Many biological parents are understandably not receptive to being replaced.

In most cases, when the biological parent is involved in the child’s life, stepparent adoption will be a rare occurrence. Parents do not like to give up their parental rights and will not freely consent to it. Thus, stepparent consent is not a common occurrence in the regular shared custody scenario. It is simply not possible to have stepparent adoption when the other parent is still in the picture because the law does not allow the child to have three legal parents.

There are some cases in which a biological parent would freely give up their parental rights. If there is stepparent adoption, then the biological parent is relieved of their legal obligation to pay child support. Some parents who no longer want to pay child support and have only a loose connection to the child might consent to an adoption. Of course, in certain limited circumstances, the biological parent may recognize that the stepparent is in a better position to be the legal parent.

Common Circumstances for Stepparent Adoption

The most common scenario that will support a stepparent adoption is when the biological parent is completely out of a child’s life. In these cases, the child has no contact whatsoever with their parent. This is considered abandonment. The combination of no contact with the child for an extended period plus not paying child support can lead to this finding. Note that the failure to pay child support alone is not reason enough for stepparent adoption. Financial issues and parental rights are two different considerations.

In addition, stepparent adoption is generally supported when the biological parent is found unfit. Neglect and abuse are two common behaviors that can persuade a court to take away parental rights. Furthermore, if a parent is incarcerated, this may be grounds for stepparent adoption. For the most part, an adoption is much more likely if the biological parent has been absent for a long period of time.

Courts will take a parent’s rights seriously. They will not disturb them under the usual circumstances. It will take an extraordinary showing to allow a stepparent to move into the role of a parent. Thus, there will likely be an uphill battle for a New Jersey adoption lawyer unless any of the circumstances mentioned above apply.

Notwithstanding the above considerations, the court will usually look at stepparent adoptions with its standard best interests of the child test. Even if the child prefers that their stepparent becomes their legal parent, it does not automatically mean that the court will respect this preference. Instead, the court will look at the totality of the factors to reach the decision.

Getting Legal Assistance During the Process

If you wish to explore the option of stepparent adoption, contact the New Jersey adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555 today to find out how we can help you.

Helping Your Adopted Child Adjust to Their New Home

How to Help Your Adopted Child Adjust

In New Jersey, the average stay in foster care is 2.9 years. A long-term stay in foster care makes it more difficult for a child to adjust when they’ve been adopted. A child may have fears of being sent back, so it’s important you know how to help your adopted child adjust to their new environment when you bring them home.

Make Sure Your Home Is Prepared for the Big Day

You’ll want to fully stock the refrigerator and prepare your child’s room for them before the big day. This will help them feel safe and reduce their stress in the transition when everything is already prepared for them. Also, buy all of the necessities your new child will need, such as shampoo, toothpaste, soap, and other personal items.

If you’re still going through the adoption process, consult with our NJ adoption lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. Some adoptive parents have experienced trouble with the birth parents. You want to make sure you’re legally secure to keep a calm, safe environment for the child. Even after the adoption, you can consult with an adoption lawyer to ensure legal issues go as smoothly as possible.

Big Celebrations Aren’t Recommended

It can be overwhelming for your child’s first day in his or her new home to include all of your relatives and friends. Adoption professionals recommend keeping this initial celebration between just you and any of the family members who live in the house. Once your adopted child is adjusted, you can allow others to participate in the celebration if you choose to celebrate their adoption day.

Focus on Your New Child the First Few Months


As some experts have explained, it’s important to treat adopting a child the same as bringing home a newborn for the first time. You must limit socialization with others during the initial transition period to focus on bonding with your new son or daughter. This helps the transition to go more smoothly.

Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment

Around two weeks after your child has had time to settle in, schedule a doctor’s appointment for them. This allows them to get to know the doctor and shows them that you’ll be a good parent who cares about their health.

Avoid Going Out When Possible

Young children will feel overwhelmed if they’re taken out in public often during transitioning into a new home. This is especially true if others touch them or interact with them. Stay at home with your new child as much as possible the first one to two months.

Stick to Routines

Routines are essential for raising children who feel safe and secure. Children need reassurance that their needs will be met in order to develop trust in their parents. By feeding them at the same time every day and giving them a bedtime, they have reassurance that you’re meeting their needs consistently. A bedtime is also important in helping them fall asleep easier. Establishing a time for bathing for young children should be another part of your routine.

Save Breaking Bad Habits for After the Transition Period

Don’t worry about addressing bad habits your child may have, such as thumb sucking, during the transition period. Wait until your child has adjusted to your home to avoid overwhelming them. You want to make sure your son or daughter knows they’re loved and safe with you. If your child is older and you feel concerned about them, you can ask them how they’re feeling and let them know you’re there if they need to talk. You can also ask your son or daughter if there’s anything that would help them feel safe.

Forgive Yourself When You Make Mistakes

Parents want to do everything right for their children, and there’s nothing wrong with that desire. However, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Acknowledge the mistake and ask yourself how you can avoid repeating it and how you can do better next time a similar situation arises. This is a productive way of responding to your missteps. It’s also OK to apologize to your child if you’ve made a mistake. They’ll respect you and learn that people apologize when they’ve made a mistake.

Helping your adopted child adjust is about showing them that they trust you to take care of them. It’s a private time between you and your child, so limit outside interactions for a month or two. Once your son or daughter has adjusted to their new environment, you can introduce them to other family members and take them out for fun activities.

Contact our NJ adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman today. You can reach us in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555 to go over the legal aspects of your adoption.