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New Jersey

Adoption Laws

Notice: The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed and qualified professional. While the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-41; 9:3-45

The child may be surrendered for adoption by:

  • The parent or guardian of the child
  • Any agency that has obtained the authority to place the child for adoption

For purposes of this section, ‘parent’ means:

  • The husband of the mother of a child born or conceived during the marriage
  • A putative or alleged biological mother or father of a child

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-49

If the child sought to be adopted is age 10 or older, the appearance of the child shall be required at the final adoption hearing unless waived by the court for good cause shown, and the child’s wishes concerning the adoption shall be solicited by the court and given consideration if the child is of sufficient capacity to form an intelligent preference regarding the adoption.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-45; 9:3-46

Notice of an adoption proceeding shall not be served on a parent:

  • Who has executed a valid surrender to an approved agency
  • Whose parental rights have been terminated in a separate judicial proceeding
  • Who has, prior to the placement of the child for adoption, received notice of the intention to place the child and who has either failed to file written objections or denied paternity or maternity of the child
  • Who has given the child for adoption to the adopting parent, and the court has determined that the surrender was voluntary and proper
  • Whose child has been made available for adoption in a foreign state or country if the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has determined that the child has been approved for adoptive placement
  • Who is presumed to be the biological father of the child but who, within 120 days of the birth of the child or prior to the date of the preliminary hearing, whichever occurs first, has not acknowledged paternity

A judgment of adoption shall be entered over an objection of a person who is entitled to notice if the court finds, during the 6-month period prior to the placement of the child for adoption or within 120 days after the birth of a child or prior to the date of the preliminary hearing, whichever occurs first, in the case of a child placed for adoption as a newborn infant:

  • That the parent has substantially failed to perform the regular and expected parental functions of care and support of the child, although able to do so
  • That the parent is unable to perform the regular and expected parental functions of care and support of the child and that the parent’s inability to perform those functions is unlikely to change in the immediate future

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-41(e)

A surrender by the birth parent of a child shall not be valid if taken within 72 hours of the birth of the child. The denial of paternity by an alleged father, at any time including prior to the birth of the child, shall be deemed a surrender for purposes of allowing the child to be adopted.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-41(a); 9:3-45(b)(4)

Surrender of a child to an approved agency for the purpose of adoption shall be by a signed instrument acknowledged by the person executing the instrument before an officer authorized to take acknowledgments or proofs in the State in which the instrument is executed. Prior to the execution of the surrender, the approved agency shall, directly or through its agent, inform the person executing the surrender that the instrument is a surrender of parental rights by the signatory and means the permanent end of the relationship and all contact between the parent and child.

Any approved agency may accept custody of a child by a duly executed instrument of surrender from a parent or guardian of the child or from another approved agency or any agency for the care and protection of children approved by any other State, the United States, or any foreign country that has duly obtained the authority to place the child for adoption. A surrender executed in another State or foreign country by a resident of that State or country and valid where executed shall be deemed a valid surrender in this State if taken more than 72 hours after the birth of the child.

At the request of a parent of the child, an approved agency may receive that parent’s surrender of his or her child for purposes of having the child adopted by a person specified by the surrendering parent. A hearing may be held to determine whether the surrender was voluntary and proper.

Revocation of Consent Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-41(a)

The surrender shall be valid and binding without regard to the age of the person executing the surrender and shall be irrevocable except at the discretion of the approved agency taking such surrender or upon order or judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction setting aside such surrender upon proof of fraud, duress, or misrepresentation by the approved agency.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-26.8; Admin. Code §§ 10:122C-5.4; 10:122C-5.5

As a condition of securing and maintaining a license, the foster care applicant shall ensure that a fingerprint-based State and Federal criminal history background check, current within 1 year, and a child abuse record check are completed for each applicant and each household member at least age 18.

A person shall be disqualified from being a foster parent if that person or any adult residing in that person’s household ever committed a crime that resulted in a conviction for:

  • A crime against a child, including endangering the welfare of a child, child pornography, child abuse, neglect, or abandonment
  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Aggravated assault in the second or third degree
  • Stalking
  • Kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, interference with custody, criminal coercion, or enticing a child into a motor vehicle, structure, or isolated area
  • Sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, or lewdness
  • Robbery in the first degree
  • Burglary in the second degree
  • Domestic violence
  • Endangering the welfare of an incompetent person or an elderly or disabled person
  • Terrorist threats
  • Arson

A person shall be disqualified from being a foster parent if that person or any adult residing in that person’s household was convicted of one of the following crimes during the preceding 5 years:

  • Simple assault
  • Aggravated assault in the fourth degree
  • A drug-related crime
  • Robbery in the second degree
  • Burglary in the third degree

If the division determines that an incident of child abuse or neglect by any household member has been substantiated, the application for licensure or renewal shall be denied. An exception may be made when it is determined that a foster child will not be endangered by remaining in the current foster home.

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-54.2; 30:4C-26.8; Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The home study shall include fingerprint-based State and Federal criminal history record checks for each prospective adoptive parent and each adult residing in the home. When the results reveal a criminal conviction, the agency shall examine the nature and seriousness of the crime and the date it occurred. Special attention shall be given to crimes of violence, crimes that involve the use or threat of a weapon, rape/sexual assault, crimes that result in the loss of life, and crimes against children. The circumstances of the crime, social conditions, and any evidence of rehabilitation will be considered.

The background checks shall be valid for 36 months. The cost of all criminal history record checks shall be paid by the prospective adoptive parent.

The records of the division regarding reports of child abuse or neglect shall be checked for the proposed adoptive parent and any household member age 18 or older for information that would raise a question of the suitability of the proposed adoptive parent or household member. The child abuse registry check shall be valid for 18 months.

A person shall not be eligible to adopt a child if that person or any adult residing in the household ever committed a crime that resulted in a conviction for:

  • A crime against a child, including endangering the welfare of a child, child pornography, child abuse, neglect, or abandonment
  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Aggravated assault in the second or third degree
  • Stalking
  • Kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, interference with custody, criminal coercion, or enticing a child into a motor vehicle, structure, or isolated area
  • Sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, or lewdness
  • Robbery in the first degree
  • Burglary in the second degree
  • Domestic violence
  • Endangering the welfare of an incompetent person or an elderly or disabled person
  • Terrorist threats
  • Arson

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Stat. §§ 30:4C-11.2; 30:4C-15

A petition to terminate parental rights shall be filed when there is evidence of one or more of the following:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances of abuse, neglect, cruelty, or abandonment.
  • Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have been provided for 1 year, and the parent has failed to remedy the conditions that led to the child’s out-of-home placement.
  • The parent has been convicted of:
    • Murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of another child of the parent
    • Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit the above murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of the child or another child of the parent
    • Committing or attempting to commit an assault or similarly serious criminal act that resulted, or could have resulted, in the death or significant bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent
  • Parental rights to another child of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Stat. §§ 30:4C-15; 30:4C-15.3

A petition shall be filed as soon as any one of the circumstances listed above is established, but no later than when the child has been in placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months unless the division establishes an exception to the requirement to seek termination of parental rights.

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency shall not be required to file a petition seeking the termination of parental rights if:

  • The child is being cared for by a relative, and a permanent plan for the child can be achieved without termination of parental rights.
  • The division has documented in the case plan, which shall be available for court review, a compelling reason for determining that filing the petition would not be in the best interests of the child.
  • The division is required to provide reasonable efforts to reunify the family but has not provided to the family of the child, consistent with the time period in the case plan, such services as the division deems necessary for the safe return of the child to his or her home.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The applicants and household members age 18 and older must be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Admin. Code §§ 10:121A-5.6; 10:121C-3.1

A licensed child-placing agency shall conduct the home study. The division shall accept an application from and provide home study services only when the applicant is interested in adopting a special needs child.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The agency shall ensure that the adoptive applicants:

  • Are at least age 18 and at least 10 years older than the child being adopted
  • Have the capacity to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs

The agency also shall ask applicants to disclose any history of child abuse or neglect or any criminal record, excluding minor traffic violations.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The home study process shall include the following:

  • At least three in-person joint and individual interviews with married applicants
  • At least one in-person joint and one individual interview with each member of the applicant’s household
  • At least one visit to the residence of the applicants
  • A review of the applicants’ current job references
  • A review of three personal references from persons unrelated to the applicants

The agency shall obtain information on the applicants, including, but not limited to:

  • The applicants’ interests, hobbies, child caring skills, strengths, and weaknesses, and how they see themselves and each other
  • Philosophies on child rearing, discipline, parental roles, and experience with children
  • Emotional stability and maturity
  • The state of their marital relationship
  • The attitudes of other members of the family
  • Each parent’s family life history
  • Each parent’s agreement that corporal punishment, including hitting and shaking, as well as abusive language and ridicule, are unacceptable means of discipline
  • Written medical reports on each applicant and all other persons living in the home
  • Verifications of present or previous marriage(s) and divorce(s) of each adoptive applicant, including deaths of former spouses when there was no divorce
  • Location and description of physical environment of the residence and neighborhood
  • A statement of income and financial resources, and a description of the applicant’s capacity to manage finances

The agency shall obtain fingerprint-based criminal history background checks and child abuse records checks on each adoptive applicant and all persons age 18 and older residing in the adoptive applicant’s home.

Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

When the criminal records check reveals a record of criminal convictions, the agency shall examine the nature and seriousness of the crime and the date it occurred. Special attention shall be given to crimes of violence, crimes that involve the use or threat of a weapon, rape/sexual assault, crimes that result in the loss of life and crimes against children. The agency shall determine whether the convicted individual completed a rehabilitation program, including a prison sentence, stays in a halfway house, treatment received in a drug treatment facility, treatment received in a psychiatric hospital, or counseling received in the community. If such evidence exists, the agency shall assess whether the convicted individual has been rehabilitated and shall consider such rehabilitation in deciding whether to approve the adoption application.

When the child abuse record background check reveals that the adoptive applicant or an adult residing in the home has a record of a substantiated incident of child abuse and/or neglect, the agency shall examine the nature and seriousness of the abuse and/or neglect incidents and determine if the perpetrator has completed a rehabilitation program or counseling program. If such evidence exists, the agency shall assess whether the perpetrator can provide an appropriate home for the child.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The agency shall not place a child in the adoptive applicant’s home for the purpose of adoption without a completed home study.

For applicants who have been studied, approved, and placed on a waiting list for longer than 18 months from the time their home study was approved, the agency shall ensure that the home study is current within 18 months of the child’s being placed into the home. The updated home study shall include:

  • One or more interviews with all members of the applicants’ household
  • Medical reports within the past year for all members of the applicants’ household
  • A visit to the residence of the applicants
  • Updated financial information

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.8

The agency shall visit the home within 14 calendar days of the adoptive placement and document that:

  • The child’s background information was reviewed with the adoptive parents.
  • The adoptive parent(s) and child were given reassurance that their feelings, worries, and joys are natural and understandable.
  • School-age children have an educational plan.
  • Working parents have made child care arrangements.

For children younger than age 5, the agency shall:

  • Conduct bimonthly home visits for at least 6 months
  • Document that all members of the household were interviewed
  • Document that the following issues were discussed:
    • How the presence of the child changed family relationships
    • What role each family member has assumed regarding child care and discipline
    • How parents cope with the demands of a crying infant and/or a child who ‘tests’ the placement and how the family reacts to these episodes, including any feelings of insecurity about doing the ‘right’ thing

For children age 5 or older, the agency shall:

  • Conduct monthly home visits during the minimum supervisory 6-month period, and then bimonthly home or office visits until the adoption is finalized
  • Document that the child was interviewed privately about his or her feelings about the adoption at each supervisory visit
  • Document that the following issues were discussed:
    • How the presence of the child changed family relationships
    • What role each family member has assumed regarding child care and discipline
    • How the child ‘tests’ the placement and how the family reacts to these episodes, including any feelings of insecurity about doing the ‘right’ thing
    • How the family perceives the child’s sense of identity and the need to fill in gaps in the child’s history
    • How the child has adjusted to the school environment

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

For a stepparent adoption, a criminal history record check shall not be required for household members age 18 and older who are related to the birth parent.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:23-5

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7

A child who is or appears to be no more than 30 days old may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7

A parent, or a person designated by the parent, may relinquish the child.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7

The child may be delivered to:

  • A State, county, or municipal police station
  • The emergency department of a licensed hospital

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7

If a person leaves the child at a police station and does not express an intent to return for the child, a police officer shall take the child to the emergency department of a hospital.

If a person leaves the child at an emergency department of a hospital and does not express an intent to return for the child, or if a police officer brings a relinquished child to the hospital, the hospital shall:

  • Take possession of the child without a court order
  • Take any action or provide any treatment necessary to protect the child’s physical health and safety
  • No later than the first business day after taking possession of the child, notify the Division of Child Protection and Permanency that the hospital has taken possession of the child

The division shall assume the care, custody, and control of the child immediately upon receipt of notice from the hospital. The division shall commence a thorough search of all listings of missing children to ensure that the relinquished child has not been reported missing.

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7

A State, county, or municipal police officer and the governmental jurisdiction employing that officer or an employee of an emergency department of a licensed general hospital in this State and the hospital employing that person shall incur no civil or criminal liability for any good-faith acts or omissions performed pursuant to this section.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7

It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution for abandonment of a child that the parent voluntarily delivered the child to a safe haven provider. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to create a defense to any prosecution arising from any conduct other than the act of delivering the child, and this subsection specifically shall not constitute a defense to any prosecution arising from an act of abuse or neglect committed prior to the delivery of the child.

Any person who voluntarily delivers a child who is or appears to be no more than 30 days old to a licensed general hospital or a police station in accordance with this section shall not be required to disclose that person’s name or other identifying information or that of the child or the child’s parent, if different from the person who delivers the child, or provide background or medical information about the child, but may do so voluntarily.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-15.8

The division, after assuming the care, custody, and control of a child, shall not be required to attempt to reunify the child with the child’s parents. Additionally, the division shall not be required to search for relatives of the child as a placement or permanency option, or to implement other placement requirements that give preference to relatives if the division does not have information as to the identity of the child, the child’s mother, or the child’s father. The division shall place the child with potential adoptive parents as soon as possible.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-39.1

The adoptive parent is permitted to provide payment for the following expenses:

  • Medical, hospital, counseling, or other similar expenses incurred in connection with the birth or any illness of the child
  • The reasonable living expenses of the mother of the child during her pregnancy, including payments for reasonable food, clothing, medical expenses, shelter, and religious, psychological, vocational, or similar counseling services
  • If the child is from a foreign country, reasonable and customary fees and expenses of a foreign agency or attorney for the care or representation of the child during any period of foster or institutional care in the child’s country of origin
  • Reasonable attorney fees and costs for legal services

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-39.1(e)

Payments for expenses cannot extend beyond 4 weeks after the termination of the pregnancy, by birth or otherwise.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-39.1(a)

Only an approved agency or authorized person may offer to place or materially assist in the placement of a child for adoption.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-39.1(c), (d)

Written notice shall be given to the birth parent and the adoptive parent that the decision not to place the child for adoption or the return of the child to the birth parent cannot be conditioned upon reimbursement of expenses by the birth parent to the adoptive parent, and that payments by the adoptive parent are nonrefundable.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-48; 9:3-53; Admin. Code § 10:121-2.1

In a nonagency adoption, all expenses and fees for the investigation and any counseling provided shall be the responsibility of the adopting parent.

The costs of all proceedings pursuant to § 9:3-37 et seq. shall be borne by the plaintiff, including the costs incurred by an approved agency acting pursuant to an order of the court, except that the approved agency may waive part or all of the costs.

In regulation:The Division of Youth and Family Services, as an approved adoption agency in New Jersey, is authorized to conduct adoption complaint investigations and required to charge to the plaintiffs in such cases the costs of conducting such investigations. The Division of Youth and Family Services charges fees to conduct adoption complaint investigations based on a person’s or family’s ability to pay.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-55

A prospective parent shall file a detailed report that shall be signed and verified by each prospective parent. The report shall disclose all sums of money or other valuable consideration paid, given, or agreed to be given to any person, firm, partnership, corporation, association, or agency in connection with the adoption and the names and addresses of each person, firm, partnership, corporation, association, or agency to whom the consideration was given or promised. The report shall include, but not be limited, to expenses incurred or to be incurred by or on behalf of a prospective parent in connection with:

  • The birth of the child
  • The placement for adoption of the child with the prospective parent
  • Medical or hospital care received by the mother or the child during the mother’s prenatal and postnatal period
  • Services relating to the adoption or to the placement for adoption, including legal services

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-38; 9:17-39; 9-17-43

The term ‘parent and child relationship’ means the legal relationship existing between a child and the child’s natural or adoptive parents, on which the law confers or imposes rights, privileges, duties, and obligations. It includes the mother and child relationship and the father and child relationship.

The term ‘parent’ means a birth parent or parents, including the birth father of a child born out of wedlock who has acknowledged the child or to whom the court has ordered notice to be given.

A man is presumed to be the biological father of a child if:

  • He and the child’s mother are or have been married to each other and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated.
  • Before the child’s birth, he and the child’s mother have attempted to marry each other, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and:
  • If the attempted marriage could be declared invalid only by a court, the child is born during the attempted marriage or within 300 days after its termination.
    • If the attempted marriage is invalid without a court order, the child is born within 300 days after the termination of cohabitation.
  • After the child’s birth, he and the child’s mother have married or attempted to marry each other, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and:
    • He has acknowledged his paternity of the child in writing filed with the local Registrar of Vital Statistics.
    • He has sought to have his name placed on the child’s birth certificate as the child’s father.
    • He is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary agreement or court order.
  • While the child is a minor, he receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child.
  • While the child is a minor, he provides support for the child and openly holds out the child as his natural child.

Paternity Registry

No

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Ann. Stat. § 9:17-41

The parent and child relationship between a child and the natural father may be established by:

  • Proof that his paternity has been adjudicated under prior law or under the laws governing probate
  • Giving full faith and credit to a determination of paternity made by any other State or jurisdiction, whether established through voluntary acknowledgment or through judicial or administrative processes
  • A Certificate of Parentage as provided by § 26:8-28.1 that is executed by the father, including an unemancipated minor, prior to or after the birth of a child
  • A default judgment or order of the court
  • An order of the court based on a blood test or genetic test

Required Information Ann. Stat. § 26:8-28.1

The Certificate of Parentage shall contain, at a minimum, the following information:

  • A sworn statement by the father that he is the natural father of the child
  • The Social Security numbers, except in those cases in which a person is ineligible to apply for one, and addresses of the father and mother
  • The signature of the mother and father authenticated by a witness or notary
  • Instructions for filing the Certificate of Parentage with the agency designated by the State IV-D agency

Revocation of Claim to Paternity Ann. Stat. § 9:17-41

A signed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity shall be considered a legal finding of paternity subject to the right of the signatory to rescind the acknowledgment within 60 days of the date of signing, or by the date of establishment of a support order to which the signatory is a party, whichever is earlier.

The adjudication of paternity shall only be voided upon a finding that there exists clear and convincing evidence of fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof upon the challenger.

Access to Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-38(l); 9:3-39.1(a)(4)

An intermediary is any person or entity, which is not an approved agency, that acts for or between any birth parent and any prospective adoptive parent, on behalf of either in connection with the placement of a child for adoption.

An intermediary shall not receive money or other valuable consideration in connection with such placement. When placement is through an intermediary:

  • The person with whom the child is placed shall have been approved for placement by an approved agency home study.
  • The birth parent shall have been offered counseling.
  • Written notice shall be given to the birth parent.
  • A decision by the birth parent not to place the child cannot be conditioned upon reimbursement of expenses paid by the adoptive parent.

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Who May Adopt Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-39.1; 9:3-43

Any of the following persons may adopt:

  • Any person who is at least age 18 and 10 years older than the child to be adopted
  • Married persons jointly
  • A married person living separately and apart from his or her spouse
  • The child’s brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, birth father, or stepparent

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-39.1

Any child may be adopted.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-39.1

A child may be placed by any of the following:

  • The parent or guardian of the child
  • An approved agency
  • An intermediary, if the adoptive parent has been qualified for placement by an approved agency home study

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-41.1

The adoptive parent may have access to nonidentifying information.

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-41.1

Prior to placement, the adoptive parent will be provided with all available information relevant to the child’s development, including:

  • The child’s developmental and medical history
  • The child’s personality and temperament
  • The birth parents’ complete medical histories, including conditions or diseases that are believed to be hereditary
  • Any drugs or medications taken during pregnancy
  • Any other health conditions of the birth parents that may influence the child’s present or future health

Information that would identify or permit the identification of the birth parents of the child shall be excluded.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-52

All records of proceedings related to the adoption shall be filed under seal by the clerk of the court and shall at no time be open to inspection or copying unless the court, upon good cause shown, shall otherwise order.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Ann. Stat. § 26:8-40.1

The original birth certificate is available only upon order of the court.

Where the Information Can Be Located

New Jersey Department of Human Services, Adoption Registry Coordinator

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-50; 2A:22-3

The entry of a judgment of adoption shall:

  • Terminate all parental rights and responsibilities of the parent towards the adoptive child except for a parent who is the spouse of the petitioner and except those rights that have vested prior to entry of the judgment of adoption
  • Terminate all rights of inheritance under intestacy from or through the birth parent unless that parent is the spouse of the petitioner or that parent or other relative had died prior to the judgment of adoption
  • Terminate all rights of inheritance under intestacy from or through the child that existed prior to the adoption

The right of the adult adopted person, and of such persons as legally represent him or her on his or her death, to inherit intestate personal and real property from his or her birth parents and their kindred shall not be altered by the adoption.

In all other respects, all rights, privileges, and obligations due from the birth parents to the adult adopted person and from the adopted person to them and all relations existing between such person and them shall be at an end, including the right of the birth parents and their kindred to inherit intestate personal and real property from and through the adopted person.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-50; 2A:22-3

The entry of a judgment of adoption shall establish the same relationships, rights, and responsibilities between the child and the adopting parent as if the child were born to the adopting parent in lawful wedlock. For purposes of intestacy, an adopted child shall have the same rights of inheritance as if born to the adopting parent in lawful wedlock.

All rights, privileges, and obligations due from the parents by adoption to the adult adopted person and vice versa shall be the same as if the adult adopted person had been born to them in lawful wedlock, including the right to inherit intestate personal and real property from and through each other. If the parents by adoption shall have another child or other children entitled to inherit from them on intestacy, such children and the adult adopted person shall, respectively, inherit intestate personal and real property from and through each other as if all had been children of the same parents born in lawful wedlock.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 3B:3-48; 3B:5-9; 3B:5-16

Adopted persons and their descendants, if appropriate to the class, are included in class gifts and other terms of relationship in accordance with the rules for intestate succession.

If a testator fails to provide in his or her will for any child who was adopted after the execution of his or her will, the omitted after-adopted child receives a share in the estate as follows:

  • If the testator had no child living when he or she executed the will, an omitted after-adopted child receives a share in the estate equal in value to what the child would have received had the testator died intestate unless the will gave all or substantially all of the estate to the other parent of the omitted child or to a trust primarily for the benefit of that other parent, and that other parent survives the testator and is entitled to inherit under the will.
  • If the testator had one or more children living when he or she executed the will, and the will gave property or an interest in property to one or more of the then-living children, an omitted after-adopted child is entitled to share in the estate as follows:
    • The portion of the estate that the omitted after-adopted child is entitled to share is limited to bequests made to the testator’s then-living children under the will.
    • The omitted after-adopted child is entitled to receive the share of the estate that the child would have received had the testator included all omitted after-born and after-adopted children with the children to whom bequests were made under the will and had given an equal share of the estate to each child.

The above does not apply if:

  • It appears from the will that the omission was intentional.
  • The testator provided for the omitted after-adopted child by transfer outside the will with the intent that the transfer be in lieu of a testamentary provision.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

These issues are not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

Ann. Stat. § 9:3-43.2

A final judgment of adoption granted by a judicial, administrative, or executive body of a jurisdiction or country other than the United States shall have the same force and effect in this State as that given to a judgment of adoption entered by another State, without additional proceedings or documentation, if:

  • The adopting parent is a resident of this State.
  • The validity of the foreign adoption has been verified by the granting of an IR-3 immigrant visa, or a successor immigrant visa, for the child by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

Ann. Stat. § 9:3-43.1

Notwithstanding the provisions § 9:3-37, et seq., or any other law to the contrary, an adopting parent shall not be required to petition a court in this State for adoption of a child if:

  • The child was adopted under the laws of a jurisdiction or country other than the United States.
  • The validity of the foreign adoption has been verified by the granting of an IR-3 immigrant visa, or a successor immigrant visa, for the child by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If an adopting parent chooses to file a petition for adoption in this State, a court may grant a judgment of adoption without requiring the consent of a parent otherwise required pursuant to § 9:3-41 if the petitioner files with the petition a judgment of adoption, guardianship, or termination of parental rights granted by a judicial, administrative, or executive body of a jurisdiction or country other than the United States that is in compliance with the laws of that country.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Ann. Stat. § 26:8-40.1

The State Registrar may file a new birth certificate for any child born in a foreign country who was not a citizen of the United States at the time of the child’s birth, whose adopting parent is a resident of this State, and who is adopted:

  • Through a court of competent jurisdiction in this State
  • Under the laws of a jurisdiction or country other than the United States and has been granted an IR-3 immigrant visa, or a successor immigrant visa, by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

The new certificate shall be filed upon receipt of:

  • A request for the certificate from the court, the adopting parent, or the adoptee if he or she is age 18 or older
  • Proof that the adopting parent is a resident of this State
  • An official copy of the judgment from the jurisdiction or country in which the child was adopted
  • A certified translation of the foreign adoption
  • Proof of the date and place of the child's birth
  • Proof of IR-3 immigrant visa status or a successor immigrant visa status

When applicable, the State Registrar may file a new certificate for any child who is not a citizen of the United States and who is adopted by a resident of this State. The certificate shall bear the notation ‘by adoption.’ The notation may be removed at any subsequent date upon submission of acceptable proof that the child has become a citizen of the United States.

Source

Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. [1]

References

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