Thinking about adoption in NJ? Here’s what you need to know
If you’re looking to start a family but having trouble getting pregnant, adoption can be a wonderful option, but it may turn out to be more difficult and expensive than you might imagine.
According to New Jersey adoption attorney Douglas Pine, there are many ways to adopt, in your own state, domestically or internationally.
He says if a couple wants to adopt, they should let people know about their intentions.
“They can let everybody in their life know they’re looking to adopt a child, put it out on Facebook, just put it out everywhere, let co-workers know, let relatives know, and more often than not you’d be surprised that somebody knows somebody else who has a cousin who’s pregnant," Pine said.
The other option, is to find a group of agency.
“The other way is to either advertise or go through an adoption agency, and you can adopt throughout the whole country, actually you can adopt almost throughout the world,” he said.
Pine explained adoptive parents will prepare portfolios that can be shared with biological parents, and when the biological parents feel it’s appropriate, they will meet with the adoptive family to see if there’s some kind of chemistry, but he stressed the entire adoption process is not usually quick.
“It can take anywhere from a year to say, three years,” he said. “After the baby is born, for the first three or four days after the baby is born that is the most nerve-racking time because in New Jersey you cannot force a person to place their child for adoption. Even if during the pregnancy, for six months now they’ve been telling you they want to place this child for adoption they have no second thoughts, they’re 100 percent sure of this, the baby is born, they hold the baby they see the baby and all of a sudden they start getting second thoughts.”
He also stressed it’s important for the adoptive parents and the biological parents to feel some kind of connection and also for the adoptive parents to feel “as if they’re being honest with you, they’re not trying to scam you because there are scams out there you have to be careful for.”
So what’s an adoption scam?
“People that you haven’t met yet will tell you that they’re pregnant and will ask you for money. In New Jersey you’re allowed to ask for certain expenses that are pregnancy related,” he said. “You’re allowed to pay for prenatal vitamins, medical expenses, clothing for the pregnant mother and other things - there’s not a black and white list."
He explained many times, a woman will say she’s pregnant, ask for money, and the adoptive parents-to-be are so desperate to have a child that they'll become vulnerable to such scams.
"And so they’ll pay before they have confirmation that this person is actually pregnant, and that’s one of the reason why you want to get a lawyer because the lawyer will confirm, they’ll get information from the doctor that this person is actually pregnant,” Pine said.
Oine also said adoption costs can vary widely. If you adopt a foster child from the state through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency there is no charge and they will actually pay for your attorney. Also, they’ll provide a subsidy until the child is 18 and they will provide medical insurance as well as daycare, whereas if you go into an international adoption “it could range up to $40,000, adoption agency fees are very large, there’s fees to different entities in the foreign country.”
A typical domestic adoption will range from $10,000 to $25,000, according to Pine, but he stressed “a biological parent can change their mind at any time until their rights are terminated."
"If they promise you that everything is going to be fine and you’ve met with them and you’ve talked with them and you’ve gone to the doctor with them and you have a great relationship with them and then they change their mind, yeah there’s nothing you can do,” he said.
Pine also said many times a deal is agreed upon but suddenly the birth mother wants an additional sum of money.
“You can’t, as the attorney, you can’t let your client give them money, it’s not legal,” he said.
He explained the court is going to want to know how much money you’ve given and what it’s for.
"You can’t just hand over money, where it’s a black market baby situation - items legitimately needed by the mother can be covered, but you can’t just write a check as a fee for the child," Pine said.