7 Steps to Morris County NJ Adoption
Assuring a Legitimate and Safe Adoption Across Morristown, Chester, Chatham, Mendham, Harding, Morris Township and across Bergen County
Birth and adoptive parents:
Consult with an experienced Morristown adoption attorney early in the process.
An experienced lawyer will facilitate and assure a legitimate adoption. Your lawyer is an astute guide who will be the trustworthy coordinator between the birth parents, adoptive parents and participating adoption agency or facilitator.
The experienced family law adoption lawyers at Townsend, Tomaio and Newmark, with offices in Morristown and Hackensack, will guide you through the practical and legal issues involved in an adoption. Our objective is help your child be united with his/her new family in the quickest and most secure manner possible. Regardless of whether you are birth parents or adoptive parents, we can provide appropriate and experienced representation and counseling services.
At Townsend, Tomaio and Newmark we are proud of the many happy adoption stories we’ve been a part of and we look forward to being part of yours. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free consultation at 973-840-8970. We will gladly explain the adoption process in New Jersey.
In New Jersey adoption is a 7 step process.
1. Determine your eligibility to adopt a child.
There are a number of personal qualifying factors, along with legal aspects, that must be properly met to assure an adoption. Typical requirements in New Jersey are age and residency.
- Any person who is18, and is at least 10 years older than the child to be adopted, can adopt.
- A six-month home residency is required. This can be met with a driver’s license, mortgage receipts, tax records, utility receipts, or car registration information. Exceptions may be allowed for members of the military. Consult with a local family law attorney to clarify.
2. Find a lawyer to guide the legal side of the adoption in Morris and Bergen Counties.
- Retaining an accomplished attorney is highly encouraged. We do not recommend attempting an adoption without legal guidance; too much is at stake.
- Choose an experienced family law adoption attorney. An adoption is a significant emotional and financial investment. Be sure to select an attorney who is familiar with federal and state laws, as well as local laws and judges.
3. Choose an adoption facilitator or agency.
Facilitators are (unlicensed) individuals or organizations who bring birth mothers and prospective adoptive parents together. They are not required to meet the same licensing and competency standards of professional adoption agencies. Before deciding, research them carefully; ask about fees and get terms in writing. Be sure to ask for references and check them carefully! Be selective. Adoption statues change; consult your attorney about New Jersey laws.
- Work with an approved private agency and an experienced attorney. Adoption agencies must meet legal standards, such as securing the proper surrender of parental rights and making the Home Study. An agency can legally provide the birth mother with certain financial assistance related to prenatal care, birth and adoption.
- Additionally, approved adoption agencies have a core responsibility to counsel the birth mother (and participating biological father) about financial assistance and counseling services. New Jersey recognizes the importance of counseling. All birth parents must be offered counseling in their state of residence without cost to them. This ensures that the biological parents understand that they may have other options besides placing the child for adoption. To further assure an uncontested adoption, it must be demonstrated that birth parents were counseled appropriately and able to properly evaluate whether adoption is the right choice for them. This should be documented and part of the case record.
If you are unsure or have any questions, consult with the family law and adoption attorneys at Townsend, Tomaio and Newmark early in the process. We will give you the clear facts and keep you on the road towards a safe and forever adoption. Contact us online or call our offices in Morristown and Hackensack to schedule an appointment for a free consultation: 973-840-8970.
4. Prepare for the Home Study.
- All states require that prospective adoptive parents pass a Home Study. Your attorney can explain what to expect and how evaluations are made. Adoptive parents may feel anxious about the Home Study, but just understand that it is intended to educate you about the adoption process and is an opportunity to show your home life and capability to be an adoptive parent. It can be arranged in advance of being matched with a birth mother.
- How a Home Study is conducted can vary. Prospective parents may be required to attend an orientation and training class. One or more visits to your home may be scheduled. Your attorney can familiarize you about New Jersey procedures.
5. What to expect in the Home Study.
The interviews and inspections may be long and feel extreme or invasive. Participate openly and enthusiastically. Remember: this is just the beginning of a lifetime of things that you will do for your child. Questions will vary, but expect questions about…
- Family background of everyone living in the home, including your childhood, how you were parented and your attitudes about discipline. Be prepared to submit to a criminal background check.
- Your education and employment, including future plans. Be ready to produce income and expense information.
- Your daily routines, especially if you have other children, including the regular schedules and routines in your family. If you and your partner work, the interviewer will ask how you intend to incorporate the child’s needs in your existing schedule and family. Plan to discuss how you will handle child care.
- Expect a thorough home inspection to assure safety and suitability. It is not necessary to own your own home or have a separate bedroom for each child. If you have concerns about where you live, talk to your adoption attorney. (Hint! Be sure that your smoke alarms are working!)
- The personal relationship between parents and the extent of their extended support system. Prospective single parents will be asked about dating and romantic relationships. Married parents will be encouraged to share how a child might affect their relationship.
6. File and serve the adoption petition.
Once a child has been identified and the Home Study completed, your attorney will prepare and file the adoption petition with the court according to adoption laws.
Consent to the adoption is binding only after a child is born. By following the law, your attorney will ensure that no one can undo the adoption. A sudden refusal to give consent or a revocation can be emotionally devastating to the adoptive family. Nonetheless, you must be prepared for this possibility and have a support system in place to deal with any situation. Facts to know:
- If the birth parents refuse to sign, or if they withdraw consent, the adoption cannot proceed.
- If the birth parents refuse to consent and are unfit, the child will be taken into state custody.
7. Attend the final hearing.
The adoption hearing can be part of the regular court schedule or on a special adoption docket. Either way, the judge will review the file, approve the adoption and order it to be that finalized. Under normal circumstances, the adoption is final when signed by the judge.
- If it is held in a courtroom, do not bring balloons, cameras, or large groups. Remember that a courtroom is a very formal place; your adoption might be scheduled in between a divorce and a child support modification. Save the party for after the hearing.
Regardless of your specific situation, our experienced and knowledgeable family adoption lawyers at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark are prepared to study your case, address your concerns, and understand your priorities along every step of the way as we provide informed guidance directly aligned with your desired outcome.
Mendham Family Lawyers here to help guide you every step of the way
The family law lawyers at Townsend, Tomaio and Newmark, with offices in Morristown and Hackensack, will be happy to schedule after-hours appointments at your convenience. We serve clients in north New Jersey, including the counties of Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union, Hunterdon, Bergen, Passaic, Sussex, Warren, Mercer, Middlesex, and Monmouth. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a free consultation: 973-840-8970.