Some Challenges That Adopted Children Face

Adopting Older Children

Research by the Arizona Department of Child Safety found that very few children who age out of foster care earn a college degree, and one in five become homeless after turning 18. While some may argue that older children have the greatest need for adoption, they often face the greatest challenges afterwards. They may struggle to form connections with their new family and experience serious grief over missing their biological family.

To help older adopted children adjust to their new family and environment, it is important to be mindful of their needs. Give them time and space to process the changes in their lives, and don’t try to force relationships. Including things that might remind them of the positive aspects of their former life could also be helpful. For example, cooking food they might have regularly had before or taking them to familiar places may help them feel as though they haven’t lost every part of their past. Try to keep an open mind and communicate your expectations clearly. Once they realize you are trustworthy and have their best interests at heart, they will likely come to love their new home and your family.

Establishing Identity

No matter what age a child is adopted, they may have feelings of not belonging at some point in their lives. Once they become aware they are adopted, they may feel as though they are not the same as your other children because they are not your biological child. They also might have a sense of displacement because they don’t know their biological parents or their family history.

One important step in preparing to tell your child they are adopted is being ready to talk about their biological family. It is a good idea to compile as much information as the biological parents are comfortable providing so you can help your child form a more solid sense of identity. Being able to tell your adopted child why their biological parents decided to give them up for adoption could help them adjust more positively. Also, being able to describe their biological parents’ mannerisms and appearance can help the child feel as though they have some insight into where they came from.

If possible, it might be a good idea to foster a relationship between the biological parents and the child, if the adopted parents believe it would be beneficial. If all parties agree, a New Jersey adoption attorney could help create an agreement between the parents that establishes healthy boundaries for communication and interaction with the child.

Addressing Traumatic Experiences

Your child could have been exposed to unhealthy and traumatic circumstances before they came to live with you. It is a good idea to attempt to identify those negative issues before adoption and make a plan to address them. Your New Jersey adoption attorney could help compile information about the biological parents to identify any potential problems associated with their background. If not dealt with, trauma can cause difficulty in developing relationships, managing school requirements and adjusting to their new environment. Additionally, the discovery that they are adopted could be a traumatic experience that could have a lasting impact on their mental health.

Providing counseling services for your adopted child may help them learn to work through their negative experiences from biological families or foster care placements. They will also learn skills to help them cope with any negative emotions they may have related to adoption.

If you are considering adoption, you need a New Jersey advocate who will look out for the best interest of your family and your new addition. At Cofsky & Zeidman, we are ready to do everything we can to help you have the best adoption experience possible. Call our Haddonfield location today at 856-429-5005, and let us help you create the family you’ve always wanted.

New Jersey Enacts Legislation Expanding Insurance Coverage for Infertility Care

On January 12, 2024, a significant milestone was achieved in the realm of reproductive healthcare and reproductive freedom in the state of New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy signed a groundbreaking bill into law, marking a momentous step towards making fertility services more accessible and affordable for all residents. This crucial legislation not only addresses the financial burdens faced by individuals and families struggling with infertility but also serves as a beacon of hope for same-sex couples seeking to expand their families. In this article, we will delve into the details of this remarkable development and its implications, highlighting how it reinforces the commitment of New Jersey to supporting those on the journey towards parenthood.

Infertility Care

Expanding Insurance Coverage for Infertility Treatment

The new legislation represents a pivotal moment in the fight for reproductive rights, as it extends insurance coverage for infertility treatment to all individuals in the state of New Jersey. For many couples and individuals, the costs associated with infertility treatments can be exorbitant, often acting as a formidable barrier to pursuing their dreams of parenthood. With this bill, these financial obstacles are significantly reduced, if not entirely eliminated, ensuring that those who desire to start or expand their families have access to the necessary medical assistance.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this legislation is that it does not discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation. It recognizes the diverse range of families in New Jersey and ensures that same-sex couples, as well as LGBTQ+ individuals, are equally entitled to fertility services and insurance coverage. This is a testament to the state’s commitment to inclusivity and support for all individuals on their path to parenthood.

A Dream Come True for Many

Infertility can be a heartbreaking and emotionally taxing journey for those who experience it. The prospect of starting a family may seem unattainable due to the immense financial burden associated with fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or assisted reproductive technologies (ART). However, with the enactment of this legislation, the dream of parenthood is now within reach for countless New Jersey residents.

By expanding insurance coverage for infertility treatments, the bill alleviates the financial stress that often accompanies infertility. This means that individuals and couples will no longer have to make difficult choices between their desire to have children and their financial well-being. This newfound accessibility to fertility services empowers families to make choices based on their aspirations and needs, rather than being constrained by financial limitations.

An Inclusive Approach to Reproductive Rights

One of the most laudable aspects of New Jersey’s new legislation is its commitment to inclusivity and equal access to fertility services. The bill’s recognition of diverse family structures ensures that all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have the same rights and opportunities to seek fertility treatment. This marks a significant stride toward equal representation and acceptance in the realm of reproductive healthcare, reinforcing New Jersey’s commitment to inclusivity and equality.

A Resounding Victory for Reproductive Freedom

The signing of this legislation sends a powerful message about New Jersey’s unwavering support for reproductive freedom. It is a testament to the state’s dedication to providing comprehensive healthcare options for its residents and ensuring that the pursuit of parenthood remains a viable and attainable goal.

By expanding insurance coverage for infertility care, New Jersey joins a select group of states leading the way in reproductive rights. This victory has been welcomed with open arms by advocates for infertility awareness and reproductive health, as it demonstrates a clear commitment to addressing the unique challenges faced by those struggling with infertility.

A Step Towards a Brighter Future

The impact of this legislation extends far beyond the immediate benefits of expanded insurance coverage for infertility treatments. It signifies a societal shift towards greater compassion, understanding, and support for individuals and couples facing infertility. It acknowledges the profound emotional and psychological toll that infertility can take and offers a lifeline to those in need.

For many, the journey to parenthood has been an arduous one, marked by uncertainty and frustration. The signing of this bill is not only a legislative achievement but also a symbol of hope and perseverance. It reaffirms that the state of New Jersey is committed to standing with its residents in their pursuit of happiness, family, and fulfillment.

Conclusion

The enactment of legislation expanding insurance coverage for infertility care in New Jersey is a momentous occasion in the fight for reproductive rights. This comprehensive approach to strengthening reproductive healthcare and reproductive freedom is a resounding victory for all individuals and families struggling with infertility, including same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ individuals. It signifies a significant step towards making the dream of parenthood a reality for countless residents.

We applaud the state’s commitment to inclusivity, equal access, and affordable healthcare. We understand the legal complexities that may arise in this context and are here to support and advocate for individuals and couples seeking fertility treatments. The expansion of insurance coverage for infertility care is not only a legislative achievement but also a symbol of hope and progress for New Jersey and its residents.

Attorney Donald Cofsky is a Fellow and a Past President of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. He has assisted over 2,000 couples and individuals in completing their adoptions and forming their families. Call to schedule a consultation with Mr. Cofsky at 856- 429-5005

The Mediterranean diet and in vitro fertilization

The Mediterranean Diet and In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization is a medical process that helps women with fertility issues to conceive. During an IVF cycle, eggs are fertilized in a laboratory and then placed in the patient’s uterus. Each IVF cycle is expensive, and many women go through several cycles before they become pregnant. To improve their chances of conceiving through IVF, women often alter their diets or take nutritional supplements.

It is known that diets high in saturated fats and processed sugars can reduce fertility, but does eating healthier food improve the chances of becoming pregnant? To answer that question, a team of researchers reviewed 27 studies that examined the impact nutritional interventions have on IVF success.

Diet, Supplements and IVF Success Rates

The studies reviewed were published between 2015 and 2023. The research team, which was led by an obstetrics and gynecology professor from the University of Western Australia, found that taking some nutritional supplements appears to lead to better IVF outcomes, but the evidence was far from compelling. Nutritional supplements that could help women to conceive through IVF include:

  • DHEA and COQ-10: Some of the studies reviewed suggest that a combination of dehydroepiandrosterone and COQ-10 can boost ovarian stimulation. These supplements could be especially beneficial for older IVF patients as egg production peaks in the late teens and early 20s.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids and melatonin: The researchers found some evidence linking omega-3 fatty acid and melatonin supplements with increased fertility and better IVF outcomes.
  • Myoinositol: Taking myoinositol supplements could help women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome to conceive. However, the researchers say that more studies are needed to better understand the link between myoinositol and fertility.

Other nutritional supplements like antioxidants seem to have little or no effect on fertility or IVF outcomes. The researchers also reviewed studies that explored the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet while undergoing IVF treatment. The evidence linking dietary interventions with improved IVF outcomes was much stronger in these studies.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is recommended by many doctors and health groups because it is high in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Based on the foods typically consumed in southern Europe, the Mediterranean diet is rich in:

  • Fruits, vegetables and legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fish and poultry
  • Plant-based fats like olive oil

People who follow the Mediterranean diet eat less of the processed foods that have been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and the foods they do eat are low in sodium and good sources of health promoting B-complex vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that these nutrients can also improve fertility. The researchers concluded that following the Mediterranean diet is the most effective step that women who are receiving IVF treatments can take.

The Mediterranean diet promotes health and wellness, and studies suggest that following it can improve fertility in just six weeks. Researchers who produced a study published in the medical journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology in 2019 reached similar conclusions. They found that following the Mediterranean diet can increase the number of embryos available for IVF treatment.

IVF Legal Issues

IVF gives women who have had difficulty becoming pregnant the opportunity to have children, but undergoing this type of medical treatment raises some thorny legal issues. If you are thinking about exploring IVF, a New Jersey adoption lawyer could help you by reviewing all of the agreements and documents you will be asked to sign to make sure that your rights are protected. An attorney may also help you to decide how your embryos will be stored and who will have access to them if you decide to divorce or separate.

If you would like to schedule a consultation with a New Jersey adoption lawyer to discuss legal issues relating to IVF, you can call us at (856) 429-5005 or complete our online form. Our New Jersey offices are located in Haddonfield and Woodbury, and our Pennsylvania office is in Philadelphia.

International Adoptions and the IR-4 Visa

Completing International Adoptions with IR-4 Visas

Almost 140 million children around the world have lost at least one parent, and Unicef reports an estimated 15.1 million children around the world have lost both parents. If you are considering adoption as a way to add to your family, you might consider adopting internationally. International adoption could allow you to expand your family and provide hope, love and new opportunities to a child from abroad with an Immediate Relative (IR-4) visa.

What is the IR-4 Visa?

An IR-4 visa is an immigrant visa for children from non-Hague Convention countries that allows their adoptive parents to complete the adoption process in the U.S. With this type of visa, you can bring your new child to the U.S. and finish the adoption process instead of waiting for it to conclude in the child’s home country.

The U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate issues an IR-4 visa after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves Form I-600. Once the embassy or consulate issues the IR-4 visa, you can bring your child to the U.S. to finish the process.

IR-4 Visa Eligibility Requirements

Before you can get an IR-4 visa, both you and the child must meet certain criteria. If unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old. If married, both you and your spouse must sign all the forms and agree to adopt your child. You’ll also need to pass the eligibility test from the USCIS and meet the following requirements:

  • Be willing to obtain guardianship of the child in their home country and then finalize their adoption in the U.S.
  • Secure permission from the child’s home country to bring them to the U.S. to adopt.
  • Have a valid address in the U.S.
  • Plan to live with the child in the U.S.
  • Prove you will be able to properly care for the child as a parent.

The child you plan to adopt must meet the following criteria:

  • Be younger than 16 (or younger than 18 if you have adopted their sibling).
  • Be from a non-Hague Convention country.
  • Be classified as an orphan.
  • Meet other adoption criteria outlined in the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

You also do not have to meet the child in person before you can get an IR-4 visa.

How To Apply for an IR-4 Visa

To get an IR-4 visa, you will first need to submit Form I-600A for advance processing of an orphan adoption petition and Form I-600 to apply to have your child classified as your immediate relative. You can file the two forms together or separately. Once the USCIS approves your Form I-600 petition, the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in the child’s home country will issue the IR-4 visa.

Form I-600A allows the government to determine whether you are eligible to adopt internationally as a parent. You can file this form separately if you have not yet identified a child to adopt but want to expedite the process once you find a child. Once you file this form, the USCIS will complete criminal background checks on you and everyone else in your home who is 18 or older.

Once the USCIS has approved your petition, and you have found a child you want to adopt, you can file Form I-600. This form allows the government to verify the child qualifies as an orphan under the INA. A child qualifies as an orphan if they do not have a living parent or if they only have one parent who is not capable of caring for the child and has relinquished their rights.

After the USCIS has approved both forms, you can apply for the IR-4 visa by filing Form DS-260. Finally, you will need to complete an interview at a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate.

Contact a New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

If you are thinking about adopting internationally and would like to learn more about the IR-4 visa, you should talk to a New Jersey adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman. Our experienced attorneys have years of experience helping people complete all types of adoptions, including international adoptions. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us in Haddonfield, New Jersey, by calling 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury, New Jersey, at 856-845-2555.

Addressing Infertility

Everything You Should Know About Infertility

From heavy alcohol consumption to severe uterine disorders, many factors cause someone to become infertile. In the U.S. today, nearly 20% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 who haven’t given birth are infertile. Addressing the challenges of infertility with effective technologies make it possible for infertile individuals to have children.

What Is Infertility?

Infertility is a condition that occurs when someone is unable to conceive after at least one year of unprotected sex. Fertility invariably declines with age among women, which is why women who are at least 35 years old will be treated for infertility after six months. For a pregnancy to occur, four steps must take place.

Infertility can develop during any step in this process: First, a woman’s body will need to release an egg from an ovary. A man’s sperm must then join the egg through fertilization. This egg then travels through the Fallopian tube before reaching the uterus. A woman can only become pregnant once the embryo attaches to the interior of the uterus.

Causes of Infertility

A wide range of unique factors can cause infertility in the reproductive system. However, the specific cause of this issue isn’t always clear. A common cause of infertility in a woman’s reproductive system involves inflammatory uterine disorders, which can be either benign or congenital. Disorders in the ovaries or endocrine system can also cause infertility problems. The presence of an untreated sexually transmitted infection might result in a tubal disorder that blocks fallopian tubes and makes it impossible to become pregnant.

As for the male reproductive system, infertility can be caused by a hormonal disorder that leads to abnormalities among hormones made by the testicles and pituitary gland. Testicular and pituitary cancers can lead to hormonal disorders. Abnormal sperm quality or function can cause infertility as well. For example, anabolic steroid use can change sperm shape and count.

Some lifestyle factors increase your risk of becoming infertile, which include obesity, high alcohol intake and smoking. People who are regularly exposed to environmental toxins or pollutants could become infertile.

Importance of Addressing Infertility

Everyone should have the means to decide when and how many children they want. Infertility can make it challenging for some people to access this human right, however. Over the past few decades, numerous technologies have been developed and improved to solve infertility problems and allow more people to start families. These services can be accessed by anyone from older individuals to same-sex partners. Contact our New Jersey adoption attorney if you have questions about your options for having a child.

Challenges to Overcome

In the U.S., it’s possible for individuals or couples who are infertile to benefit from modern infertility solutions. However, the availability of these treatments is relatively scarce in many countries that might not have the same resources. In some countries, treating infertility isn’t considered a top priority. Certain countries that are working to address infertility are running into roadblocks that include everything from a lack of the right equipment and personnel to the high costs associated with medications needed for treatment.

In recent years, millions of children have been born via assisted reproduction technologies (ART). The main technologies available to you include the following:

  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
  • Frozen embryo transfer (FET)
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

Many of these technologies are unavailable in low-income countries. There are, however, potential solutions to the inequities that result in fewer people having easy access to effective fertility treatments. One solution involves the government creating health policies that treat infertility as a disease that can be prevented. In this scenario, more people could avoid needing these treatments in the first place.

Some additional solutions include teaching healthy lifestyles, promoting STI prevention and treatment, developing fertility awareness programs, addressing environmental toxins and preventing many of the complications that occur from abdominal surgery and unsafe abortions.

Also, governments need to create laws that effectively regulate assisted reproduction technologies to provide universal access. At the moment, these technologies are too expensive for many people. By putting these fertility policies in place, lasting change may be possible. However, the policies must be overseen once they’re introduced to ensure they work as intended.

If you or your partner is having difficulty getting pregnant, there are many potential solutions you can consider, which include everything from assisted reproduction to adoption. When you are considering one of these arrangements and would like to have legal representation, call our New Jersey adoption attorney at 856-429-5005 to schedule an appointment.

How Will Artificial Intelligence Improve the Adoption Process?

The answer to whether AI can help the adoption process is almost certainly yes, but many New Jersey adoption lawyers are measured in their optimism. Trial runs in various states have largely been unsuccessful as of 2023 with perhaps the exception of Family-Match in Florida. AI cannot predict human behavior, and while AI-powered predictive analysis most certainly can be a powerful tool for adoption agencies and social workers, there are implementation challenges and ethical concerns that must be overcome.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

AI is a computer field with a primary goal of solving cognitive problems that are often linked to human intelligence. While the term AI can evoke heady sci-fi concepts, it is generally much more mundane in practice. Consider a social worker who must evaluate potential foster families for a hard-to-place child. It can be an enormous task, and if AI could effectively pare down the decisions to be made, the social worker could be much more effective and efficient in finding matches that work. Adoption professionals have long used software tools to match preferences. AI is ideally more than that. In this context, it is, according to one expert, the usage of science to predict long-term success.

The Adoption-Share Example

Thea Ramirez is currently at the forefront of this discussion. She is the CEO of the non-profit Adoption-Share, which developed an algorithm — one of the few adoption algorithms on the market as of 2023 — based on research conducted for online dating. The name of the algorithm is Family-Match, and, while there was a great deal of optimism for it initially, that appears to have been short-lived.

Tennessee canceled its trial run prior to launching it due to incompatibilities with its own system. Georgia, which is where Adoption-Share is based and, as far as what is known, provided it the greatest access to state-controlled data, ended the trial within a year. Virginia made the largest financial commitment to the nonprofit, ran a two-year trial and then opted not to continue with it.

Florida is the one state that continues to use it beyond the trial run by funding it with taxpayer money. But Florida is an interesting case. The child welfare system there is privatized. Neither the agencies that use the algorithm nor Adoption-Share itself are forthcoming with data, and an AP investigation revealed widespread dissatisfaction among the social workers using the system.

What Are the Ethical Concerns?

One of the core ethical concerns is access to private information and how algorithms use that data. The AP investigation revealed that Georgia allows Adoption-Share to track gender, sexual abuse and whether a child identifies as LGBTQIA+. Such information is generally tightly controlled and restricted in how it can be used. The AP also found that in Tennessee, the algorithm asked potential families if they were “unconventional” or “uncreative” and whether they “seek God’s help.” Social welfare advocates have expressed concerns that, as a society, we are using children as guinea pigs and that these tools may worsen racial disparities in the adoption process and discriminate against families.

A More Positive Outlook

The concerns and failures associated with Adoption-Share reinforce the need to methodically implement AI into the adoption process, with checks and balances in place. That said, there are already tremendous successes with AI within the business world that should provide us hope. One of the great challenges of the adoption system is the mountain of information that there is to climb, and AI, when used in a calculated and ethical manner, can allow people to focus on the human decisions that really matter.

Legal Help for Adoption in New Jersey

If you need legal assistance with adoption and are located in New Jersey, Cofsky & Zeidman is here to help. Our law firm has extensive experience navigating both private and agency adoptions. To schedule a consultation with one of our New Jersey adoption lawyers, contact us online, or call our Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005 or our Woodbury office at (856) 845-2555.

What To Know About Adoption Costs

Today, there are five million adopted children in the country. While the emotional rewards of adoption are priceless, the financial expenses can be a huge obstacle for prospective parents. However, managing these adoption costs is possible and can be more affordable than you may think.

What Are the Costs of an Adoption?

If you are considering adopting a child, you will want to know the expected costs. The type of adoption can make a big difference. For example, private agency adoptions in the U.S. can range from $30,000 to $60,000. Along with that, if you decide to seek an independent adoption, you can expect a cost between $25,000 and $40,000. International adoptions can be more expensive, reaching beyond $50,000. And, adopting a family member can reduce costs to $3,000.

Before bringing a child into your home, you will undergo a home study. This process evaluates your suitability as an adoptive parent. The required background checks, childcare training and administrative expenses can range from $1,000 to $3,000. Sometimes, the adoption agency will cover those fees. If they do not, you will be responsible for the total costs.

There may be additional expenses. For example, you may have to cover services for birth parents, including counseling and medical expenses. If you select an open adoption, you could also be responsible for travel expenses for the birth parents. When you are aware of these potential expenses, you can plan better for the adoption.

How To Reduce Adoption Costs

Adopting through foster care can significantly reduce adoption costs. With over 400,000 children in foster care who are searching for permanent homes, there is a need for adoptive parents. Incentives and subsidies are often available, especially for those willing to adopt older children or those with special needs. Even with subsidies, prospective foster parents will need to cover some costs.

You may want to explore all potential tax breaks and employer benefits. Some employers offer reimbursement for adoption expenses. In 2023, adoptive parents can exclude up to $15,950 in employer-provided adoption expense reimbursement from their taxable income. Additionally, qualified adoptive parents with a modified adjusted gross income below $239,230 can receive a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses.

Along with that, there are other ways to manage your adoption costs. They include:

Research Grant Opportunities

If you’re considering adoption, it’s worth looking into the various grants and financial assistance programs available to support adoptive families. Both governmental and nonprofit organizations offer grants to help cover adoption expenses. When you apply for these grants, you can get additional financial support for adoption costs.

Create a Budget

You will want to create a budget. These details can give you all the potential expenses related to the adoption process. You will want to add the agency fees, legal costs, travel expenses, home study fees and any other expected costs to your budget. You can avoid any unexpected strain with a clear picture of your financial obligations.

Adoption Loans

Loans from financial institutions could be a viable option if you are considering adoption and need financial assistance. Some credit unions and banks offer specialized loans with favorable terms specifically designed for adoptive families. However, you always want to carefully review the terms and interest rates before committing to any loan.

Why You Need an Adoption Lawyer

A New Jersey adoption attorney will make sure you have a fair and legally sound adoption process. With their understanding of state laws, they can help you with the costs of adoption. If you plan to pursue a private adoption, an attorney will act on your behalf to protect your interests. Along with that, they will provide solid legal advice regarding agreements or other binding contracts, which can protect you against exploitation.

Reach Out To a New Jersey Adoption Attorney

If you want to know the costs of an adoption, you may want to talk to an experienced attorney. At Cofsky & Zeidman, we can help you understand what to expect regarding the costs of adoption in New Jersey. Schedule a consultation by calling 856-429-5005 today.

Everything You Should Know About Gestational Surrogacy

When someone carries a fetus during pregnancy for another person or couple, this is considered gestational surrogacy. In 2019, more than 9,000 gestational surrogacy pregnancies took place, which marked a significant increase from the 2,800 that occurred in 2011. Since the surrogacy laws changed in 2018 throughout New Jersey, there have been some important updates made to how this type of pregnancy should be handled.

Changes from New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act

Once the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act passed in 2018, gestational surrogacy became a legally viable option for people who are exploring alternatives for having a child. Before this act, all paid arrangements were illegal and considered unenforceable.

While traditional surrogacy is currently legal in New Jersey, it’s possible only if the surrogate doesn’t receive compensation. It’s also important that there isn’t a pre-birth surrogacy agreement in place. Because of these stipulations, traditional surrogacy is relatively rare throughout the state.

Once this act went through, the gestational carrier gained the ability to waive all rights to the child. The intended parents must also assume parentage and all responsibilities once the child is born. A legal framework was created to provide guidelines for Gestational Carrier Agreements. If this type of agreement is made properly, it’s legally binding. There are, however, some requirements that all parties must abide by.

Difference Between Traditional Surrogacy and Compensated Surrogacy

When you’re considering your options, keep in mind that there are some differences between traditional and compensated surrogacy. As touched upon previously, traditional surrogacy is allowed if it’s not compensated. Any traditional surrogacy contracts that are signed are unenforceable.

For intended parents to claim their legal rights, they’ll need to wait until after the birth. At this time, they’ll only be able to seek adoption. Traditional surrogacy involves the biological mother and egg donor carrying the baby. The embryos are made with a donor’s or the father’s sperm.

Compensated surrogacy arrangements are currently legal. However, there are limits on the amount of compensation that can be paid. These payments must also be provided solely to cover legal fees and standard living expenses. The types of living expenses that can be paid for with this compensation include:

  • Clothing
  • Medical costs
  • Counseling services
  • Food
  • Shelter

Gestational Surrogacy Requirements

There is a set of guidelines that people must adhere to when it comes to gestational surrogacy. Every intended parent and surrogate needs to have legal representation until the contract has been successfully fulfilled. Each party must have their own representation.

When considering this arrangement, the surrogate needs to be at least 21 years old. They’ll also need to have given birth to one or more children before the current arrangement. The agreement can’t move forward until the surrogate goes through a comprehensive psychological and medical exam. As for the intended parent(s), a psychological examination must be taken.

When a surrogacy contract is made, it must include in-depth details of the arrangement. These details should include statements that the intended parents will accept custody following the birth, the surrogate has a right to make medical care decisions after they notify the parents, and the surrogate is willing to go through an embryo transfer while also providing the intended parents with custody after the birth.

The surrogacy process can officially start once both parties sign the contract. If you’re about to seek gestational surrogacy, schedule an appointment with our New Jersey adoption attorney to discuss your case.

Same-Sex Surrogacy Laws

Same-sex surrogacy is currently legal throughout New Jersey. LGBT+ intended parents and same-sex couples have the same rights that opposite-sex couples have. The only exception to this rule is requiring a sperm or egg donor to finalize the IVF procedure.

Use of Embryo, Donor Egg or Sperm

In New Jersey, using a donor embryo, sperm or egg doesn’t change the ability a non-biological parent has to request a pre-birth order during a gestational surrogacy. State laws indicate that a donor doesn’t have rights to the child and isn’t the legal parent.

If donor sperm is used with traditional surrogacy, a co-parent or stepparent adoption may need to be completed. In most situations, donor rights will be terminated. However, an extra contract might need to be written up for anyone who uses a donor.

If you’re thinking about forming a family through surrogacy, you may need legal assistance if a contract is being created and signed. Call our New Jersey adoption attorney today at (856) 429-5005 to speak with a representative or schedule your first consultation.

Everything You Need to Know About In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most common infertility treatments. If you’re considering IVF, it’s very important to understand how it works and what the legal implications are.

What Is In Vitro Fertilization?

IVF is a type of infertility treatment that involves creating a fertilized embryo in a lab environment. During IVF, doctors will collect eggs and sperm and then combine them to create an embryo. Once there’s a viable embryo, the doctors can then implant it in a person’s uterus to result in a successful pregnancy. The uses of IVF include:
Ovulation disorders where the body fails to release eggs on time.
Sperm disorders, such as low sperm count, that make it harder for sperm to reach an egg.
Fallopian tube blockages that prevent eggs from reaching the uterus.
Any situation where a donor egg, donor sperm or surrogate is being used.
Genetic disorders where some embryos might not be viable.
Uterine conditions that make it harder for eggs to implant.

Understanding the Process of In Vitro Fertilization

Once you develop a treatment plan with your doctor, IVF usually takes around two to three weeks. Your experience with in vitro fertilization may vary a little depending on why you are receiving the treatment.

Typically, the most complicated part of the IVF process is collecting the eggs. To get suitable eggs for IVF, the person providing the eggs goes through a regimen of hormone medications that encourage their ovaries to produce more eggs. After a couple of weeks, your medical team will collect the eggs by guiding a thin needle up through the vagina and into the ovarian follicles. The sperm collection part is usually more straightforward. It’s usually done through masturbation but can be done by inserting a needle into the testicles if necessary.

Once your medical team has eggs and sperm, it will combine them in a controlled lab environment. About two to six days after egg collection, your doctors will use a thin tube to insert the embryo through the vagina and into the uterus. If everything goes well, a positive pregnancy test will appear in 12 days.

Exploring the Pros and Cons of In Vitro Fertilization

IVF is one of the safest and most successful forms of assisted reproductive technology. It makes it straightforward to treat several fertility issues, and it also allows you to easily work with a surrogate or use a donor for your pregnancy. IVF is so effective that 55% of people who try it get pregnant on their first try.

However, keep in mind that in vitro fertilization is not entirely risk-free. The embryo doesn’t always implant, and the collection and implantation procedures can lead to soreness, cramping, bleeding and ovarian swelling. The other potential downsides of IVF are that IVF costs are quite high, and implanting multiple embryos at once can lead to an unwanted pregnancy of twins, triplets or more.

The Legal Implications of In Vitro Fertilization

Due to the way it works, IVF can result in many situations where you might need a New Jersey adoption lawyer. If you use donor sperm or a donor egg, you may need to fill out paperwork to ensure you and your partner are both listed as the infant’s legal parents. There can also be some additional legal agreements you need to work out if you are using IVF with a surrogate. You will need to define how you want to compensate the surrogate for her medical bills and discuss how involved you want to be in the pregnancy. If you skip these arrangements and rely on a verbal donor agreement, you can end up with unexpected parties having parental rights over your child.

Cofsky & Zeidman are happy to help people planning on using in vitro fertilization, and we also assist with a variety of other family planning and adoption matters as well. We help people throughout the Haddonfield and Woodbury regions find ways to expand their families. To learn more about our New Jersey adoption lawyer services, call 856-429-5005 or fill out and submit our contact form.

The Effect of the Dobbs Decision on Adoptions

Did the Supreme Court Decision Affect Adoptions in the U.S.?

Many proponents of tighter abortion control argued that an increase in unwanted pregnancies would lead to more adoptions. More than a year after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, it remains unclear whether that is true and whether there have been negative impacts. New Jersey adoption lawyers note that there are many difficulties not only in assessing the data but also collecting it.

What the Case Was About

The Dobbs decision is a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. The decision overruled two notable other decisions: Roe v. Wade in 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. With this ruling, control over abortion returned to the states. Many states immediately enacted new laws restricting or prohibiting abortion, and some dormant laws once again became active.

New Jersey’s Response

Anticipating the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act into law in January 2021. This law provides women in the state a legal right to abortion.

No Requirement for Domestic Adoption Data

One of the great challenges in assessing how the Dobbs decision affected adoptions in the U.S.—including something as seemingly simple as determining whether the adoption rate is rising or falling—is that there is no requirement for states to report infant abortion data publicly or even aggregate it. That means that we need to rely on adoption agencies and other sources that choose to share their data. Another component that makes this difficult is estimating the number of women who choose to parent their children rather than give them up for adoption.

Depends Upon Who You Ask

The reality is that we may be years out from being able to look back on the available data and have a clear picture. Even in the states that have recently enacted stringent abortion laws, there has been great variance according to the National Council for Adoption. In Texas, for instance, where the laws are among the strictest, some agencies have reported an increase in adoptions as high as 30% while others in the area have reported little to no change. The Gladney Center for Adoption in Texas, which is one of the agencies to report a 30% increase, also stated that inquires by women about putting children up for adoption have increased by 55%.

The COVID Effect

New Jersey adoption lawyers and other observers warn that we must consider these numbers within the context of the pandemic. In 2019 and 2020, domestic adoptions fell 24% nationwide, so some increase in rates is expected regardless of the Dobbs decision.

Other Effects of the Decision

Twelve states now ban abortions as early as six weeks. That has resulted in a very small window in which women can make the choice between abortion and adoption. According to ACF Adoptions in Florida, the typical call to learn about adoption happened in the second trimester, but the agency is now receiving many more calls from women four and five weeks pregnant.

Another concern is whether more babies with medical challenges will be put up for adoption. Adoption experts fear that if the number increases by 25% or more, then there will not be enough families for these babies. Many are also concerned that predatory baby brokers will become more problematic as there will be more vulnerable women available for them to exploit.

Legal Assistance for Both Birth and Adoptive Parents

If you need legal assistance because you want to adopt or are considering putting a child up for adoption, the law firm of Cofsky & Zeidman would like to help. Donald C. Cofsky is a New Jersey adoption lawyer who has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings. To set up a consultation, contact us online or call us in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005, in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555, or in Philadelphia at (215) 563-2150.