Foster care, for most kids, is a temporary setting as they wait to be reunited with their birth families. Some foster children, for a myriad of reasons, are never able to be returned to their birth homes. When this happens, foster parents may decide to seek to adopt the children in their care.
What are the steps in New Jersey for foster child adoption? Here’s an overview of what you need to know.
Resource Families: Foster parent and adoptive placements made by the Department of Children and Families, are made with licensed New Jersey “Resource Families.” Here in the Garden State, families hold dual licenses to provide both foster and adoptive care, and thus the study and licensing process is the same for all families, whether they are seeking to be approved for foster care or for adoption. What this means is that if you have already completed the requirements and followed all the guidelines instituted by the Division in order to become a foster family, you are already a licensed “resource family” in New Jersey…and the adoption process can be expedited.
First Consideration: If reunification with your child’s birth family is not appropriate, then you as the child’s foster family are given first consideration for adoption of your foster child. In fact, many children adopted in New Jersey from foster care are indeed adopted by their foster family. Currently, foster families adopt approximately 90 percent of children who are in their care.
Training: Remember, in order to become a licensed family in consideration for fostering or adopting, you must have completed your 27 hours of PRIDE training which trains all prospective families and provides them with the knowledge and skills needed both in theory and in practice.
Expenses: As far as the costs to adopt, if you are going through the Division the only out-of-pocket cost to you is for the medical examinations of all members of your family who reside in your household.
Speak with a Family Law Attorney: You should consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney in your area, one who is experienced in foster parent adoption laws and procedures here in New Jersey. Unless there are specific issues which must be addressed prior to the finalization of the adoption of your foster child, the consent to adoption by a foster parent is usually issued by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, six months after your request to adopt. The consent is forwarded to your attorney, who files a legal petition to adopt and secures a date for the final hearing. The CP&P caseworker completes the court report and, in most cases, attends the final hearing, during which the judge makes the adoptive parents the legal parents of the child.
Birth Certificate: After your hearing, your attorney obtains an amended birth certificate for your child, with the name as given by you, the adoptive parents. The original birth certificate is placed under seal by the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Are you ready to get started building your new family? More information on the state’s procedures and policies can be found on the Department of Children and Families’ foster-adoption page.
If you would like more information on the legal process, we can help. Please give us a call at 888-888-0919 or contact via email to schedule your initial consultation with one of our qualified and compassionate adoption and family law attorneys.