Today, Your Legal Corner will discuss “Adoption.”
Families are extremely important in our society. They are the foundation for instilling values to our children, our next generation. Families also provide structure that is critical for the development of our youth. Without structure, it is very difficult for children to thrive and realize their true potential.
Many times, children will enter the foster care system when their birth parents are unable or unwilling to provide the necessary structure in their child’s lives. Despite the turmoil that can sometimes occur in a child’s life, they can receive a second chance by being adopted into a new family.
Adoption is a legal action that terminates all rights, duties and relationships between a child and a birth mother and/or birth father. Further, adoption establishes the same relationship between the child and the adoptive parent that would exist if the child had been born to them. Birth parents give up all legal rights to their child.
Identifying the Birth Parents
The first step in the adoption process is identifying the birth parents. There are several different ways to accomplish this. One can go through an adoption agency; through private placement resulting from networking with friends, family and clergy as well as through the foster care system of the Department of Children and Families.
Once the adoptive parents have been identified, medical records of the birth parents will be provided to the adoptive parents through the adoption agency or through their attorney.
Filing the Complaint
Once the infant is in the home of the adoptive parents, a complaint for adoption must be filed within 45 days. Within 90 to 120 days of the child entering the home, the court will schedule a preliminary hearing.
Notice of the adoption must be served upon the birth parents if they have not legally surrendered their parental rights, or their rights have not yet been terminated by the court.
Preliminary and Final Hearing
At the time of preliminary hearing, the birth parents’ parental rights will be terminated if they have not notified the court of their objection to the adoption after being given proper notice. A final hearing will take place six months later, and most courts in New Jersey do not require an appearance at that time.
Can the adoptive parents change their minds after an adoption has been finalized? No. Once finalized, a change of mind is of no legal consequence unless there was fraud in the application process. The adoptive parents have the same rights as any parent to their child.
If the adoptive child is 10 years old or older, he or she will be required to appear at the final adoption hearing. The child’s wishes concerning the adoption will be considered if he or she is intellectually capable of expressing a preference regarding the adoption.
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Adoption is an important tool in helping families and especially our children reach their God given potential.
Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner, will discuss “Discovering hidden assets in a divorce.”
Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law offices of Hoffman DiMuzio.
Send questions, or comments to Victoria at [email protected]. Or call 856-845-8243.
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.