New Jersey State Agency Adoption
The New Jersey Office of Adoptions Operations, located within the Department of Children and Families, Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P), completes hundreds of adoptions per year. The majority are adoptions by individuals or couples who are already acting as approved foster parents. Whenever it is appropriate, DCP&P works diligently with the birth parents of children in foster care to reunite the original family. In many cases, however, the family cannot be reunited and the foster parents eventually adopt the child.
There are also children available through the state for immediate placement with a permanent adoptive family. Waiting children tend to be those that are harder to place, such as special needs children, older children, and sibling groups that must be placed together. Parents who adopt such children may be eligible for financial assistance in the form of an adoption subsidy, which includes a monthly maintenance payment, medical coverage, and assistance with legal adoption fees. Approximately 98% of children adopted through DCP&P receive a subsidy.
If you are interested in learning more about foster care and adoption through the State of New Jersey, contact Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS).The staff will provide you with information and answer your questions about eligibility criteria and types of children needing foster or adoptive homes. DCP&P does not discriminate against prospective foster or adoptive parents on the basis of culture, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, affectional orientation, or marital/civil union/domestic partnership status. A DCP&P Local Office Resource Family Recruiter will invite those who are interested in further exploring options to a group engagement session. DCP&P will review applications and complete preliminary background checks before prospective foster or adoptive parents can move on to the next step in the process.
The Home Study
A Resource Family Worker will contact applicants who pass the initial review to assist them with beginning a home study. The home study assesses the parents’ readiness and ability to provide a child with a safe and nurturing environment. The home study process for families seeking to adopt through the state is more comprehensive than a private adoption home study. DCP&P provides parents with 27 hours of training designed to prepare them for the adoption experience, including education regarding the unique needs and experiences of adopted children.
The home study also includes interviews of the parents and of any other adults residing in the home, as well as health assessments of the parents, a review of their personal and employment references, and verification of their reported income. Anyone living in the household who is over 18 must complete a criminal history background check and a child abuse record information check. All Resource Families, whether they are serving as foster families or are seeking to adopt, must also be licensed. A licensing inspector will examine the home to ensure that all of the applicable safety requirements have been met.
Once a home study is approved, it goes into the state’s “match system,” which allows for the preliminary matching of adoptive children with prospective parents.
Caseworkers supervise adoptive placements for six months before finalization. After that time, unless there are additional issues still to be addressed DCP&P will issue a consent to the adoption. This consent is forwarded to the adoptive parent’s attorney, who then files a legal petition to adopt and secures a date for the final hearing. The attorney obtains an amended birth certificate for the child and the original birth certificate is sealed by the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Adoption Registry Services
The DCP&P Adoption Registry maintains medical and social information on birth family members, as well as information regarding circumstances related to adoption and summaries of case records, for children whose adoptions were processed by the state. The registry also provides information, referral and limited search services facilitating contact between birth family members and such adoptees. Identifying information about the adoptee or the adoptive family cannot be released; however, upon request of adult adoptees and minor adoptees who have written permission from their adoptive parents, registry staff will conduct limited searches based on information in the case record in an effort to locate birth relatives. If a birth relative is located, the registry will request identification and written permission before releasing any identifying information or initiating contact with the adoptee. There is no charge for these services.
Original Birth Certificates
Beginning in 2017, all adult adoptees who were born and adopted in New Jersey as children will be able to receive uncertified copies of their original long-form birth certificates from the state registrar. Their adoptive parents; legal guardians or other legal representatives; adult direct descendants, siblings, and spouses; and state and federal agencies with official reasons, can also gain access to the certificates. For more information, see Open Versus Closed Adoption in New Jersey.
The family law attorneys at Weinberger Law Group are available to assist at any stage of your adoption journey. If you are adopting through the state, you can hire an attorney of your choice to finalize the adoption. If you are interested in adoption but are not yet certain whether you will pursue private adoption or state adoption, our attorneys can help you compare different options. Contact us today to request an initial consultation. Call (888) 888-0919 today.