The adoption process is rewarding but can seem daunting to a hopeful, prospective parent. At Szaferman Lakind, our adoption lawyers take the time to get to know your family so that we can approach the matter in a way that is both personalized and practical. It is important that we provide information on the requirements for adopting a child so that you can make informed decisions about family planning, taking into consideration your short term and long-term goals.
If you wish to provide a loving, forever family for a child (or an adult) and you are living in New Jersey, then you must be at least 18 years old and at least 10 years older than the child to be adopted. Adoptions provide children (and adults) safety, stability and love. If you are considering expanding your family by initiating the adoption process, we will guide you through this very special and rewarding process.
There are several types of adoption which may include International Adoptions and Re-Adoptions, Step-Parent Adoptions, Private Placement Adoptions and Private Agency Adoptions. Regardless of whether the prospective parents are using a private agency or a private placement, finalizing the adoption will require a home study, federal and state criminal background checks and child abuse registry checks, and a Judgment of Adoption entered by the Court.
Our adoption lawyers can carefully walk you through the process so you have all the details you need to move forward with adopting a child.
Private Agency Adoption
In a private agency adoption, the adoption agency will handle the issues relating to placement of the child. The agency will then need to obtain a relinquishment of rights from the birth parents. In cases when the father of the child is unknown, an adoption lawyer must seek to terminate his rights before proceeding with the finalization of adoption.
The agency will ensure that the home study and background checks are completed and the Court will require publication of the intended adoption prior to the hearing date. In most New Jersey agency adoptions, there is one court hearing, which occurs at least six months after the placement of your child.
Private Placement Adoption
A private placement adoption is when the child to be adopted is placed with the adopting parents by the biological parents without the assistance of an agency. The prospective adoptive parents must still retain an approved adoption agency and meet with a caseworker from the agency to have a home study performed. The adoptive parents must provide social history, medical history, financial status, and other information in order to commence the adoption process.
Step-Parent Adoptions, a specific type of private placement adoption, have become much more common. They typically involve a spouse seeking to adopt his/her spouse’s child from a previous relationship. The step-parent will be required to undergo a home study by an approved adoption agency, a criminal background check, fingerprinting and a domestic violence registry check even if they are already residing with the child. If the adoption is approved, the step-parent will assume the responsibilities of the natural parent, having full, legal recognition as the child’s parent, including the right for the child to inherit upon death.
Furthermore, in the event the biological parent predeceases the step-parent, the adoptive step-parent will be able to assert his or her parental rights. A Step-Parent Adoption provides a sense of security. It is significant to note that an adult seeking to adopt his/her partner’s child does not have to be formally married to the biological parent to be approved for the adoption. We have been successful in Step-Parent Adoptions despite the fact that the adoptive adult was not yet legally married to the biological parent.
An International Adoption/Re-Adoption occurs when parents who adopt a child outside of the United States want to formalize the process by adopting or re-adopting the child in the United States. The process allows an adoptive parent to obtain a United States birth certificate and a United States Judgment of Adoption.
Beginning the Adoption Process
If you are considering adoption, and you’re looking for legal assistance, you can always rely on an adoption lawyer at Szaferman Lakind to guide you through the process, the laws on adoption, and provide you with the steps you need to take in order to have your adoption approved and finalized.
Contact us today!