Adopting a Child in New Jersey Foster Care
When a foster child cannot be returned to his or her birth parents, it is the responsibility of New Jersey and its local agencies to find a permanent home for the child. One solution is for the child to be adopted by his or her foster parents. If you are a foster parent who is considering adoption, or a prospective parent considering the adoption of a child in foster care, here are some legal issues to evaluate.
There are Differences Between NJ Foster Care Adoption and Traditional Adoptions
Several key factors differentiate foster-child adoptions from traditional adoptions. First, foster-care adoptions are usually handled by the state of NJ, though the state may outsource responsibilities to a private agency. Also, foster-care adoptions cost significantly less than traditional adoptions, or may even be free. If the child is considered a “special needs” child, subsidies may be available. (Special needs children include those who are: minorities; have siblings who also need adopting; were exposed to drugs or alcohol before they were born; are older than 5; or have mental, physical or emotional problems.) In addition, you may qualify for a federal adoption-tax credit.
Types of Foster-Child Adoptions in New Jersey
There are several ways in which prospective parents can adopt foster children. Prospective parents can:
- Adopt a child or group of siblings whose parents have already relinquished their parental rights or had those rights terminated.
- Take in a foster child whose biological parents still have rights. The foster parents agree, in advance, to adopt the child if he or she isn’t reunited with the parents or placed with another biological family member. This type of adoption is called “concurrent planning” because multiple avenues of resolution are being pursued simultaneously.
Differences Between Being a Foster Care Parent and a NJ Adoption Parent
Prospective adoptive parents who have experience as foster parents should understand that there are several differences in the legal rights and responsibilities of a foster parent and the rights and responsibilities of an adoptive parent. Specifically:
- Adoptive parents have full legal responsibility for the adopted child. As a foster child, the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Service, a child-welfare agency has legal authority over the child.
- Adoptive parents have full financial responsibility for the adoptive child. However, prospective adoptive parents should remember that state subsidies and an adoption tax credit may be available.
- Adoptive parents have full responsibility for decision-making. As foster parents, that responsibility is shared with the State of New Jersey through its child welfare agency, the Division of Youth and Family Services.
Do you have questions about foster parent adoption in New Jersey? If so, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq.
toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or firstname.lastname@example.org
to schedule a consultation about your particular needs. He welcomes your calls and inquiries and you’ll find him easy to talk to and very approachable.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, New Jersey, Monmouth County Adoption Attorney