4 Facts About Adoption in New Jersey
Adoption is an amazing journey that can result in a beautiful, lifelong relationship between a parent and child. If you are considering adoption, it’s important to understand the process and what to expect. Here are four facts about adoption in New Jersey that may be helpful for you as you embark on the road ahead.
1. New Jersey’s Adoption Requirements Are Surprisingly Simple
A common misconception among people considering adoption is that it is difficult to meet the requirements. However, it is actually quite simple to qualify for adoption in New Jersey.
Adoptive parents in New Jersey who meet the basic criteria come from a wide range of backgrounds and have diverse lifestyles. Whether you are married or single, work from home or have a daily commute, rent an apartment or own a home, you may qualify to adopt a child in New Jersey.
If you are interested in adopting or fostering a child in New Jersey, you must meet the following basic requirements:
- At least 18 years old
- At least 10 years older than any of the children being placed with you
- Able to support yourself
- In good emotional and physical health
There are a few caveats to these criteria. For one, state adoption laws allow the court to waive any of the basic adoption requirements if good cause is available. Additionally, if you are married, your spouse must consent to the adoption or you may jointly apply for adoption.
2. Prospective Parents Must Complete a Home Study
Another fundamental requirement of adoptive parents in New Jersey is the ability to provide a safe home environment for the child. Because this is quite subjective compared to the above-mentioned criteria, the state’s Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) agency has established a home study process.
The primary purpose of the home study process is to allow CP&P to observe and learn about the hopeful parents. However, this process also allows parents to learn more about adoption.
Here are a few things prospective adoptive parents can expect from New Jersey’s home study process:
- Prospective parents must attend 27 hours of training provided by CP&P.
- Prospective parents must provide references.
- CP&P will interview family members individually.
- Household members age 18 and older will be subject to a criminal background check and a child abuse record check.
- Adoptive families must have a license from the Office of Licensing.
For help preparing for this process, you may benefit from working with a New Jersey adoption attorney.
3. Adoptive Parents Are Entitled to Pre-Adoption Disclosures
Before a child is placed with a new family, CP&P will provide as much information about the child as is available to the prospective parents.
Pre-adoption disclosures typically include the following information:
- Medical history of the child
- Medical histories of the birth parents
- Types of drugs and medications that the birth mother took during her pregnancy with the child
- The child’s personality
This information focuses on the child’s characteristics and development to allow prospective parents to determine if they will be a good fit.
4. Subsidies and Tax Credits May Be Available
It is no secret that parenting is expensive. Thankfully, hopeful adoptive parents in New Jersey have a few options available to help ease the financial burden of adopting a child.
The state’s Adoption Subsidy Program is the primary financial assistance option for hopeful adoptive parents in New Jersey. About 98% of children adopted through CP&P receive this subsidy, which provides a recurring monthly payment to assist parents in meeting the child’s day-to-day needs. This program also offers a one-time payment for the various legal fees incurred in the adoption process.
To qualify for the New Jersey Adoption Subsidy, the child must have at least one characteristic that places them under the umbrella of “special needs.” New Jersey includes a variety of circumstances and traits under this label, including but not limited to the following:
- Physical disabilities
- Emotional or behavioral problems
- The child’s age
- Number of siblings being placed together
Another financial assistance option available to certain adoptive families is the federal adoption tax credit. This tax credit allows parents who are adopting a child with special needs from foster care to receive reimbursement up to a specific amount on their federal taxes for qualified adoption expenses. It is available for each adopted child and can be used for a range of adoption types, including foster care adoption, international adoption, and private adoption.
These four facts showcase the many benefits and challenges of adoption in New Jersey. Because each child and family is different, it is a good idea to consult with a New Jersey adoption attorney when exploring your options. If your family is considering adopting a child in New Jersey, contact Cofsky & Zeidman by calling (856) 429-5005 today.