The New Jersey Department of Children and Families‘ website offers answers to commonly asked questions by individuals and couples hoping to adopt a child. State rules forbid discrimination against qualified people, 18 and older, who wish to adopt. You may not be barred from adopting solely due to relationship status, gender expression or identity, sexual orientation or other protected characteristics.
Every party has rights during an adoption proceeding, but family law courts are concerned predominantly with the welfare of children. Surrogate Court judges want to make sure adoptive parents have clean criminal backgrounds and provide a good living environment for a child. Adoptive parents don’t have to be rich or own their own homes to meet these requirements, but they must have sufficient financial resources to support the child.
Adoptions occur through private placement or through a state-approved adoption agency. The paperwork required is mountainous — somewhat less intensive for stepparent adoptions – but, nevertheless, highly detailed and involved for a good reason. An adoption signals a permanent legal change for the child, the biological parents and the adopting person or couple.
With a court’s approval, adoptive parents assume the privileges and rights that once belonged to a child’s birth parents. In some cases, biological parental rights are relinquished while, in others, the court terminates those rights. An adopted child has the same legal status as children raised by their biological parents.
An attorney’s assistance can be vital to the adoption process. Just satisfying documentation requirements, like birth parent consents and supplying affidavits and mandatory reports, can take an extraordinary effort by the prospective parents and their lawyer.
Every adoption is unique, which makes it difficult to estimate in advance how long the adoption process will take. However, the central theme of New Jersey adoptions is the same in every case. Surrogate Courts are expected to put a child’s best interests before any other consideration.
Source: New Jersey Courts, “Adoption,” accessed April. 22, 2015