New Jersey Allows Access for Adoptees to Original Birth Records

On May 27, 2014 New Jersey became one of approximately 10 states to allow adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

Bills had been proposed for well over 15 years in New Jersey, each failing to pass, but recently the Legislature approved one. The Governor conditionally vetoed it in order to provide additional protections for birth parents who placed children prior to its enactment. The Bill was then modified and now provides that for any adoption which has taken or will take place before August 1, 2015, the birth parents may request that their names not be released as part of the original birth certificate. For adoptions thereafter, these records will be available, but only to certain individuals. This would include the adoptee after reaching the age of 18 as well as other specifically named family members.

Along with this is a Contact Preference form. This will allow the birth parent to indicate whether he or she wishes to be contacted once the information is released. It also provides for the method of contact, either through an agency, specifically named intermediary, or by direct contact. It also provides an option for no contact at all.

One of the other important features of this Bill is the request and in some circumstances requirement that updated medical and social background information be supplied to the Office of Vital Statistics so that the adoptee or those permitted to obtain the information will be able to access this which could be very important. There is no requirement, however, that identifying information be included.

For more information about this and its applicability contact an adoption professional, either a local licensed adoption agency in New Jersey or an experienced adoption attorney such as a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Adopting a Child Who Has Been Abused

In today’s fast-moving culture, it’s challenging enough just to raise a biological child or an adopted child who hasn’t been abused. Adopting a child who has been abused requires parents to have extra stores of emotional intelligence and availability — and a large and strong support network, as well as significant amounts of resilience and flexibility.

Adoption of an abused baby or child is often a tough ride, maybe the toughest of your life. It will test you, and it will test your relationship with your partner or spouse. And, if you can maintain your steadfast love, you will find that it’s probably the most rewarding, life-enhancing experience you could give your adoptive child, yourself, and your family. Just ask the vast majority of parents who have stepped in with big hearts and raised kids who were abused as their own, and you’ll see how profound, and life-deepening an experience it can be.

However, you need to be committed to this experience down to your bones, because you will be tried in ways that you hadn’t even thought possible. For example, a child who was abused will have to fight hard to work through that abuse and heal. This will not be pretty. In fact, kids who have been abused have all sorts of behaviors that they use to keep themselves “safe.” They may hoard their food. They may never be willing to hug. They may have huge control issues that drive you crazy. They may not even be willing to speak to you except in flat monosyllables. They may act out by destroying absolutely everything in their room or threatening to hurt you — and then they’ll expect you to abandon them. This is a common theme in fact.

Just when you think you’re making headway, when a child seems to be adjusting well, something else will happen and their behavior will go off track again. But really all they are doing is working off the old hurts so they can truly receive the love you have to give. They need to release those old hurts from their systems to be able to think well and to heal. And over time, they will heal all the way and have a wonderful life full of possibilities.

But they need parents who are up to the task. Parents who won’t blame themselves. Parents who can set firm boundaries in a loving way. Parents who won’t feel guilty when they experience the opposite of love for a child who has just destroyed something. Parents who will see beyond the destruction to the heart and potential of the young life they have taken into their family.

An abused adopted child’s sometimes awful behaviors are in fact smart ways they have figured out to cope at a very, very young age when their world was out of control and life was very threatening. It takes a big heart to see your child from this perspective, all while the other “bad” behaviors are going on.

You can pretty much assume that your adopted child will need to fight hard to work through the abuse to heal. They may also have attachment issues, which simply means that they were not able to develop a healthy connection with a primary parent or caregiver at critical windows in their early years. They may have allergies, sensory issues, or other concerns. These can be addressed, too, through a strong network of support specialists. You can visit the Handinhand.org parenting website, which has forums that address many issues involving adopted children who have been abused.

Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Adopting a Stepchild in New Jersey

Blended families are increasingly common in second marriages. In fact, some 65 percent of second marriages include children from a prior marriage.

While you cannot simply fill in the blank on a form to adopt your stepchild with the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney, adopting a stepchild is easier than you think, and the path to adoption of a stepchild can be streamlined in most cases. However, the other non-custodial biological parent must give up all legal rights and responsibilities to the child in question, or at least not object to the adoption. If that parent is unwilling to give legal consent, and objects to the adoption you can go forward with an adoption but it will be contested.

If the court finds the parent unfit to parent, possibly because of addiction, criminal history, neglect, mental illness, or abandonment issues, the court may terminate the parental rights and you can adopt the stepchild.

Or if the biological parent has not been in the picture for many years, the court may find that the other parent has willfully abandoned the child, thus paving the way for you to adopt. In any event an experienced adoption attorney can guide you through this.

Benefits to You and Your Stepchild When You Adopt

When you adopt, you are committing to the stepchild, saying, “I am your parent and will be so forever.” This can be a profound experience for the child in question. It sends a powerful message to the child that you are going to be there for him or her, no matter what.

When you adopt a stepchild, you assume all rights and responsibilities as a parent. The child can be given your last name if you and your spouse or partner choose to go that route. Your stepchild will be protected in case of the sudden death of your spouse or partner, and you will have the right to legally parent your stepchild. Your stepchild will have the same legal standing to inherit your estate as any of your other children.

Stepchild Adoption Questions? Contact an Adoption Attorney

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984.

Please contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. In addition to family law matters, we represent clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Welcome to Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring over 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky* has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ or in Philadelphia, PA at (856) 429-5005. We provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.