There are many different ways New Jersey couples can adopt children and expand their families. Some couples choose to adopt children from overseas while others opt to adopt children who live in the United States. For some couples, the best route is through a private adoption whereas others choose to work with an adoption agency to bring their child home. Each type of adoption has unique benefits and challenges for the child and parents alike.
For families who choose to adopt through an adoption agency, there are certain steps that they must follow. If you are considering adopting a child through an adoption agency, talk with an attorney at The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC, about this process before you begin. Our attorneys can answer any questions you have about the adoption process and clarify any misconceptions you or your partner might have.
This is the first part of the home study process. Child Protection & Permanency Services (CP&P) requires all prospective adoptive parents to undergo at least 27 hours of training to determine whether adoption is truly the right choice for them. This training examines their attitudes and beliefs about adoption and family and prepares them for the realities that come with adopting a child, such as working through the child’s possible anxieties about separation and identity.
Once the family completes the mandatory training, a caseworker visits them in their home to determine if the household is safe for a child. This includes checking the house for possible health and safety hazards as well as interviewing each family member.
The home study process also requires prospective parents to provide the caseworker with references about their ability to raise a child. It also requires a criminal background check on every member of the household age eighteen and over.
If the family is approved, a licensing inspector comes to their home to again check that the house meets all the requirements CP&P has for adopted children. These requirements include running water, a telephone, and adequate space for the child. If the family is approved, they are licensed and able to adopt.
The family’s file is then entered into the CP&P statewide database. Once the family is matched with a child, they meet with their caseworker to discuss the child. This discussion includes his or her personality, any medical or behavioral problems, his or her family background, and if he or she is eligible for an adoption subsidy. If the family is comfortable with the child, the caseworker discusses them with the child individually, determining his or her thoughts and possible concerns regarding them if he or she is old enough to express these. If the child agrees, CP&P schedules a series of preliminary visits between the child and the family. During these visits, the child and family get to know each other better and determine if they are a fit for each other.
If all parties are comfortable with the arrangement, CP&P arranges for the child to join the family in their home. The caseworker continues to visit on a monthly basis for the next six months, then issues legal consent for the adoption if there are no problems and all parties want to proceed. The parents’ attorney then files a petition for them to adopt the child and secures a date for the final court hearing, at which the judge formally approves the adoption and the couple officially becomes the child’s parents.
If you are considering adoption, work with an experienced family attorney to fully understand the legal process of becoming a parent. At The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC., we can help. Call us today at (732) 365-3299 to begin working with our firm.