Adoption in the state of New Jersey may take place either
- Privately or
- Through adopting agency.
- Private Adoptions are arranged either on a "Face to Face-basis with no intermediary, or with the use of a private intermediary.
- Once a child is located who is available for adoption, a complaint in adoption must be filed promptly, within 45 days of receipt of the child. Upon the filing of a complaint, the child becomes a ward of the state, the adopting parent or parents are awarded custody, and an approved agency is appointed to do an adoption investigation.
- A preliminary hearing is scheduled within 2-3 months of the filing of the complaint, at which time the parental rights of the birth parents are terminated, and the court determines if the child is fit for adoption and that the adoptive parents are fit.
- The final hearing is 6 months after the preliminary hearing after the supervisory visits are completed by the approved agency.
- For the purpose of adoption by an Adopting agency the surrender of a child to that agency shall be made by a signed instrument acknowledged by the person executing the instrument before an officer authorized to take acknowledgments or proofs in the State in which the instrument is executed.
- The instrument is a surrender of parental rights by the signatory and means the permanent end of the relationship and all contact between the parent and child.
- The approved agency shall offer counseling to the parent, prior to the execution of the surrender.
- The surrender is valid and binding irrespective of the age of the person executing the surrender.
- The surrender may be revoked at the discretion of the approved agency taking such surrender or upon order or judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction setting aside such surrender upon proof of fraud, duress or misrepresentation by the approved agency.
- Any approved agency may accept custody of a child by a duly executed instrument of surrender from
- a parent or guardian of the child or
- from another approved agency or
- any agency for the care and protection of children approved by any other state, by the United States or by any foreign country.
- The agency makes the placement of a child either from a birth mother that the agency has located, or from a birth mother that the adoptive parents have located as part of an identified adoption.
- A surrender executed in another state or foreign country by a domiciliary of that state or country and is a valid surrender in this State if taken more than 72 hours after the birth of the child.
- The birth parents rights may be terminated by a New Jersey agency on adoption after 72 hours the child is born.
- There is one court hearing. It cannot take place until after 6 months form the date of the placement.
DOCUMENTS ISSUED AFTER ADOPTION
- In both a private and agency adoption, the judge will sign a judgment of adoption which will then be sent 1-2 weeks after the final hearing.
- A new birth certificate may also be issued showing the adoptive person or couple as the parent or parents of the child.
- It usually takes 1-2 months to obtain a new birth certificate after the adoption is finalized.
ACTION FOR ADOPTION
- An action for adoption shall be instituted in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part of the county in which
- the prospective parent resides, or
- in the county where the child resided immediately prior to placement for adoption, or
- if the child is less than three months of age, the county in which the child was born;
- incase the child to be adopted has been received into the home of a prospective parent from an approved agency, the action may be instituted in which the approved agency has an office.
- The Superior Court shall allow the following person to adopt an adult person
- an unmarried person of full age,
- a husband with his wife's consent,
- a wife with her husband's consent or
- a husband and wife jointly
- the adopting parent shall satisfy the court that
- they are of good moral character and of reputable standing in their community, and
- the adoption will be to the advantage and benefit of the person to be adopted.
- As the law of the state requires that the age of the adopting parent or parents are at least 10 years older than the person to be adopted.
ADOPTION AND INHERITANCE
The adoption, when granted by the court, shall have the following effect:
- The right of the person adopted, and of such persons as legally represent him on his death, to take and inherit intestate personal and real property from his natural parents and their kindred shall not be altered by the adoption.
- In all other respects, all rights, privileges and obligations due from the natural parents to the person adopted and from the person adopted to them and all relations existing between such person and them shall be at an end, including the right of the natural parents and their kindred to take and inherit intestate personal and real property from and through the person adopted.
- All rights, privileges and obligations due from the parents by adoption to the person adopted and from the person adopted to them and all relations between such person and them shall be the same as if the person adopted had been born to them in lawful wedlock, including the right to take and inherit intestate personal and real property from and through each other.
Except however, that:
- The person adopted shall not be capable of taking property expressly limited by a will or any other instrument to the heirs of the body of the adopting parent or parents, nor property coming on intestacy from the collateral kindred of the adopting parent or parents by right of representation; and
- On the death of the parent or parents by adoption and the subsequent death of the person adopted, without issue or a spouse, the property of the deceased parent or parents by adoption shall descend to and be distributed among the heirs and next of kin of the parent or parents by adoption and not to the heirs and next of kin of the person adopted; and
- If the parent or parents by adoption shall have another child or other children entitled to take and inherit from them on intestacy, such children and the person adopted shall, respectively, take and inherit intestate personal and real property from and through each other as if all had been children of the same parents born in lawful wedlock; and
- Where a parent who has procured a divorce, or a surviving parent, having lawful custody of a child, lawfully marries again, or where an adult unmarried person who has become a resource family parent and has lawful custody of a child, marries, and such parent or resource family parent consents that the person who thus becomes the stepfather or the stepmother of the person so adopted may adopt the person so adopted, the rights, privileges and obligations due from the parent or resource family parent, so consenting, to the person adopted and from the person adopted to such parent and the relations existing between them shall not be altered by the adoption.