New Jersey Adoption Guide

Everything you need to know about adoption in New Jersey!

Kenneth Knudson November 01, 2016

What do you know about New Jersey Adoption?

Welcome, New Jerseyans! This guide was written to provide you with a single place to find information about adoption in New Jersey. It will walk you through everything from laws that will impact your adoption to reviews of adoption service providers in New Jersey.

We’ve divided this guide into five parts: first, general information about adopting in NJ, then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (starting in Slide 6), foster adoption (Slide 19),  international adoption (Slide 29), and stepparent adoption (Slide 33). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful adoption resources (Slide 36)

Please Note
1. Please Note

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions. Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption. The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Adoption.com is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall Adoption.com be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

IMAGE: ESB Professional

Did You Know?
2. Did You Know?

-At 1,030 people per square mile, New Jersey has the highest population density in the United States

-New Jersey has the most dense system of highways and railroads in the U.S.

-Cape May holds the honor of being the oldest seashore resort in the United States

-New Jersey has the most shopping malls in one area in the entire world, with 7 malls in a 25 sq. mile radius

-Passaic River was the site of the first submarine ride in the U.S.

SOURCE: 50states.com

IMAGE: Sean Pavone

Adoption in New Jersey at a Glance
3. Adoption in New Jersey at a Glance

Kids in foster care waiting to be adopted in 2014: 2,593

Foster adoptions completed in 2014: 1,024

International adoptions completed in 2013: 128

SOURCE: acf.hhs.gov
acf.hhs.gov/chidren_adopted2014.pdf
travel.state.gov

Can I Adopt in New Jersey?
4. Can I Adopt in New Jersey?

Age: 18

Marital Status: Single or married

Work: Stable income to provide for a family, enough room to house a child

Personality: Warm, trustworthy, willing to adapt to new situations

Experience: None required

Other Requirements: In order to be a foster parent, the state requires hopeful adoptive parents to complete special training

DISQUALIFYING CRIMES: Spousal or child abuse/neglect, crimes against children, and violent crimes including homicide, sexual assault, or rape

Developing a Support System
5. Developing a Support System

It’s essential to have a good network of family, friends, and neighbors to support you through your adoption process.

It’s also important to connect with other adoptive parents. You can begin making these connections in our forums. You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

Domestic Infant Adoption in New Jersey
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in New Jersey

Before you get started, check out our Baby Adoption Guide to learn more about the overall process of adopting an infant in the United States. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back to get the details about adoption in New Jersey.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help
7. Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help

In New Jersey, you are able to work with local and private agencies or attorneys to complete an adoption.

You can browse and read reviews about adoption service providers in New Jersey.

For more information about picking an adoption agency, learn about the Top Fifteen Things to Look for In An Adoption Agency.

Some people pursuing a private adoption find it beneficial to work with a professional adoption facilitator, an individual or organization that matches birth parents with adoptive parents in exchange for a fee.

Paid adoption facilitators are banned or restricted in many states. In New Jersey adoption facilitators cannot receive any monetary compensation but are allowed under the following conditions:

-The birth parents have been approved for placement by a home study from an approved adoption agency
-The birth parents have been offered counseling
-Written notice is given to the birth parents
-The adoptive parents are not promised to be reimbursed of all expenses if birth parents choose not to place the child for adoption

SOURCE: NJ Rev Stat § 9:3-39.1 (2013)


Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study
9. Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study

Regardless of whether you choose to adopt through an agency or adoption attorney, hopeful adoptive parents need to complete a home study to qualify for adoption.

This is different than a single home visit. The process includes completing paperwork, writing essays, obtaining letters of recommendation, completing a physical, and undergoing a criminal history background check. In a home study, a caseworker may visit multiple times in order to write a report culminating in approval for adoption.

Your home study social worker will help educate you about adoption and ensure that you (and your adoptive partner, if applicable) meet the requirements outlined on Slide Three.

Click here to learn more about the Home Study process.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word

One of the most important things you can do while waiting for an adoption match is to let everyone know about your hope to adopt. Many adoption connections are made through word-of-mouth referrals.

Another great way to spread the word is through social media. Creating a profile on Adoption.com Parent Profiles allows you to easily share your story with those considering placing their child for adoption. Features like videos and photos, posts, Pinterest-like favorites, and recommendations and endorsements make it easy to create a profile as unique as you are, increasing the likelihood that you will stand out and connect with that right person. Rich communication options like video chat and instant messaging make connecting easy. A mobile-responsive design means that you will never be out of reach.

What’s more, Adoption.com receives over 650,000 monthly visits, which means your profile will receive unparalleled exposure. You can even view and monitor your progress through a detailed statistics page.

Ready to get started? Visit Parent Profiles.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment
11. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

Without relinquishment of parental rights or consent, no adoption in New Jersey is final.

Who is required to give consent?
-The parent or guardian
-An agency that has the authority to place a child for adoption
-A putative or alleged biological father or mother of a child
-Children ages 10 or older if the court has not waived the child’s appearance in court for good cause

When is consent not needed?
-When biological parents surrender rights to an approved adoption agency
-When parents’ rights have been terminated in a separate judicial proceeding
-When a parent received notice to adoption proceedings and fails to respond or denies claim to paternity
-When parents give their child to adoptive parents, and the court finds the surrender voluntary and proper
-When a presumed father fails within 120 days of birth or the preliminary hearing, whichever comes first, to acknowledge paternity or respond in any way to the notice for adoption

When can consent be executed?
Biological parents must wait 72 hours after the birth of their child to relinquish their parental rights. The denial of paternity before or after birth by the presumed father is considered a surrender of parental rights. Consent is irrevocable unless the court finds the consent came by fraud or under duress.

How consent must be executed:
When biological parents surrender their parental rights to an approved adoption agency for the purposes of adoption, the surrender shall be signed in writing in front of an officer authorized to take acknowledgements. The person executing surrender of parental rights needs to be informed that the surrender means a permanent end to the relationship and contact with the child.

SOURCE: § 9:3-41; 9:3-45; 9:3-49; 9:3-45; 9:3-46; 9:3-41(e); 9:3-41(a)

Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights

In many states a paternity registry allows unmarried fathers to register their information and receive notice of adoption proceedings.

New Jersey currently does not have a paternity registry. Instead, unmarried fathers may establish a parent and child relationship by:
-Proof that his paternity has been adjudicated by a prior law
-Giving full credit to a paternity claim established in a different state
-A certificate of parentage executed by the father before or after birth of the child
-An order of the court based on a genetic test

SOURCE: § 9:17-41

Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses
13. Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents and/or an adoption agency may provide certain expenses for expectant mothers. There are, however, laws governing such support.

Approved Expenses
-Medical, hospital, counseling services in connection with the birth of the child
-Reasonable living expenses during pregnancy, including food, clothing, shelter, psychological, and religious fees
-In the case of a child from overseas, reasonable fees of a foreign adoption agency
-Reasonable attorney fees and legal costs

Banned Expenses
Payments extending beyond 4 weeks after the termination of the pregnancy, by birth or otherwise

SOURCE: § 9:3-39.1; 9:3-39.1(e)

Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
14. Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that determines the amount of contact birth and adoptive families have after the adoption becomes final.

In New Jersey, post-adoption contact agreements are not currently legally enforceable.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization
15. Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization

For children under the age of five in agency adoptions, the child must live with adoptive parents for at least 6 months before the adoption becomes final.

SOURCE: § 10:121A-5.8

Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in New Jersey from Out-of-State
16. Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in New Jersey from Out-of-State

With private (usually domestic infant) adoptions, it is always possible to adopt a child within New Jersey, even if you live in a different state.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC.

IMAGE: mandritoiu

Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to New Jersey from Out-of-State
17. Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to New Jersey from Out-of-State

The health of the adopted child and the length of court procedures will determine the length of your stay in New Jersey. Hotels in New Jersey average around $120 a night.

Places to visit in New Jersey:
-Absecon Lighthouse
-Turtle Back Zoo
-Jersey Shore
-George Washington Bridge
-MetLife Stadium

IMAGE: Jon Bilous

Foster Adoption in New Jersey
18. Foster Adoption in New Jersey

Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of adopting children through foster care. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about foster adoption in New Jersey.

Foster Adoption: Children Available fro Adoption in New Jersey
19. Foster Adoption: Children Available fro Adoption in New Jersey

There are currently 2,593 children in the New Jersey foster care system waiting to be adopted.

Click here to view a current photolisting of children available in New Jersey.

Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help
20. Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help

In the state of New Jersey, you can complete a foster adoption either through a private agency that is licensed to provide foster care services or directly through the Department of Children and Families.

To find adoption agencies in New Jersey and to read reviews check out Adoption.com’s New Jersey Page.

Becoming Part of the Foster Care System
21. Becoming Part of the Foster Care System

In New Jersey, a child may be placed with hopeful adoptive parents before their biological parents’ rights have been terminated.

This is called a "legal risk" placement, meaning that is is possible that the child may return to live his/her birth family. However, these placements are not made unless the agency responsible for the child is actively pursuing the termination of his/her birth parents’ rights.

During a placement like this, you will be considered a foster parent and will need to meet all the requirements for foster parents in the state of New Jersey.

Other children are legally free and clear for adoption and would not be considered a “legal risk” placement.

Foster Adoption: Post Adoption Contact Agreements
22. Foster Adoption: Post Adoption Contact Agreements

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that determines the amount of contact birth and adoptive families have after the adoption becomes final.

In New Jersey, post-adoption contact agreements are not currently legally enforceable.

Foster Adoption: Finalization
23. Foster Adoption: Finalization

For children under the age of five in agency adoptions, the child must live with adoptive parents for at least 6 months before the adoption becomes final.

SOURCE: § 10:121A-5.8

Adoption Assitance
24. Adoption Assitance

Financial aid is available for hopeful adoptive parents wishing to adopt a child with special needs. Federal (Title IV-E) and state (often called non-IV-E) adoption assistance programs are designed to help parents meet their adopted children’s varied, and often costly, needs.

The amount you receive varies greatly depending upon your child’s specific needs and circumstances. In order to be eligible, your child must meet one of the following criteria considered to be a barrier for adoption:

-Medical or dental condition that requires frequent hospitalization
-Physical disability that limits child’s educational opportunities
-Substantial disfigurement, such as loss of facial features, torso, extremities
-Professionally diagnosed mental disorder
-Child is one of a group of 3 or more siblings to be placed together in adoptive home
-Child is one of a group of 2 siblings where one is receiving an adoption subsidy
-Child is 10 years old or older

The maximum monthly payment depends upon the age and severity of the disability and can range from $700 to $880 a month.

For more information on adoption assistance programs please visit NACAC.org.

Foster Adoption: Adopting in New Jersey from Out-of-State
25. Foster Adoption: Adopting in New Jersey from Out-of-State

In adopting a child from foster care, there are opportunities to adopt a child from a different state. If this is the case, you will need to comply with the requirements of The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC.

IMAGE: mandritoiu

Foster Adoption: Traveling to New Jersey from Out-of-State
26. Foster Adoption: Traveling to New Jersey from Out-of-State

The health of the adopted child and the length of court procedures will determine the length of your stay in New Jersey. Hotels in New Jersey average around $120 a night.

Places to visit in New Jersey:
-Absecon Lighthouse
-Turtle Back Zoo
-Jersey Shore
-George Washington Bridge
-MetLife Stadium

IMAGE: Venturelli Luca

International Adoption in New Jersey
27. International Adoption in New Jersey

Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of international adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about international adoption in New Jersey.

International Adoption: Photolisting
28. International Adoption: Photolisting

There are millions of beautiful children across the world who are hoping to find a forever family.

Meet some of them through our Photolisting.

International Adoption: Get Professional Help
29. International Adoption: Get Professional Help

With international adoptions, your only choice is to complete your adoption through an agency. Because of the Universal Accreditation Act, all adoption agencies completing international adoptions are required to be credentialed according to federal standards.

Make sure to check with any agency before working with them to ensure they have this accreditation in place!

In selecting an international adoption agency, there are Four Essential Criteria you should probably consider. Check out this directory to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in New Jersey.

In order to be approved to adopt internationally, you will need to complete an international adoption-specific home study.

International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements
30. International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements

In order for a child adopted from a different country to enter the United States, adoptive parents must meet all requirements set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the country in which the child resides, and occasionally the adoptive parents’ State of residence.

As part of this process you will need to request a U.S. visa and birth certificate. A final judgment of adoption entered into by another country outside of the United States is recognized in New Jersey if:

-The adoptive parent is a resident of New jersey
-The validity of a foreign adoption is verified by the giving of an IR-3 visa issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Readoption in the state of New Jersey is an option but not a requirement.

Process for obtaining a U.S. birth certificate
The State Registrar files for a U.S. birth certificate on behalf of the adopted child, who was not a citizen of the U.S. at the time of birth, and who is adopted:
-Through a competent New Jersey court
-Under the laws of another country and has been granted a IR-3 immigrant visa

The request is filed upon receipt of:
-The request for the certificate from court, the adopting parent, or the adoptee age 18 or older
-Proof the adopting parent is a resident of New Jersey
-An official copy of the adoption order from the child’s native country
-Proof of date and place of child’s birth
-Proof of IR-3 immigrant visa

Read more about New Jersey’s post-adoption requirements specific to international adoption here.

SOURCE: childwelfare.gov

Stepparent Adoption in New Jersey
31. Stepparent Adoption in New Jersey

efore you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of stepparent adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about stepparent adoption in New Jersey.

Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights
32. Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights

In order for you to adopt the child of your spouse, the corresponding parental rights will first need to be terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

You will need to consult with an adoption attorney about your desire to adopt. He/she can help you decide if it’s likely that the biological parent would be willing to relinquish rights OR if it would be feasible to pursue involuntary termination of his/her parental rights.

Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt
33. Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt

Once parental rights have been terminated, you can file a petition to adopt with the courts. You and your spouse will both testify in court regarding the stability of your marital relationship, the bond you’ve developed with your stepchild, and your desire to become the legal parent of your stepchild.

You will generally not be required to complete a background check or home study as part of the stepparent adoption process.

Works Cited
35. Works Cited

https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/about-us/statistics.html

http://www.cwla.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-State-Fact-Sheet-New-Jersey.pdf

NJ Rev Stat § 9:3-39.1 (2013)

§ 9:3-41; 9:3-45; 9:3-49; 9:3-45; 9:3-46; 9:3-41(e); 9:3-41(a)

http://law.onecle.com/new-jersey/9-children-juvenile-and-domestic-relations-courts/17-41.html

http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/policy_manuals/NJAC-10-121A-5.8_issuance.shtml





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Kenneth Knudson


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