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‘Can I Adopt a Child in New Jersey if I’m Single?’
Today, the shape and definition of the American family are shifting to be more inclusive of different family types. One of those that’s becoming more popular is single individuals who choose to have children on their own. For many, they’re perfectly happy being single or they just haven’t found their lifelong partner, but they don’t want to keep waiting to have children. One option, then, is to look at adopting as a single parent.
New Jersey Is Adoption-Friendly
Most experts will tell you that New Jersey is very open to different types of families when it comes to adoption. Some states will look at circumstances such as whether the adopter is married. They’ll then use this as a factor to determine if a parent is “fit” to be an adoptive parent. However, New Jersey doesn’t look at marital status when determining if a parent can adopt.
The Process for Adopting When Single
Let’s be honest: You may encounter roadblocks in the process if you’re planning to adopt as a single parent. For example, some adoption agencies may give married couples priority over single individuals. Additionally, if a birth parent is making the choice as to who to give their child to, they might not choose a single parent.
Since the adoption process is a long and costly one, these situations may prolong your chances of adopting a child for years. However, the opposite may also be true in your unique situation. Our best suggestion, if you are going into this on your own, is to seek out adoption agencies that specifically have experience with single-parent adoptions. Additionally, find a family law attorney who’s experienced in adoptions like yours.
The Criteria for Adopting When Single In New Jersey
Being single isn’t a liability for adoption in the state of New Jersey. There are criteria, however, that must be met for adoption to be approved in New Jersey courts.
Here’s what the New Jersey courts are looking for in a person who wants to adopt:
Marital Status: As we’ve already discussed, you won’t be judged solely on your legal relationship status. New Jersey allows for married couples to adopt, along with single individuals and those who are couples but aren’t married.
Age: When it comes to age, there are only two major points. First, you have to be 18 before an adoption is finalized. Second, you must be at least 10 years older than the adopted child. (In other words, if you’re 18, you can adopt someone 8 years or younger only.) Other than that, there are no age restrictions.
Home Ownership: You don’t have to own your own home in order to adopt. You must have a place to stay however—either a home or an apartment. The child will need his or her own bed and place for their stuff, but they don’t necessarily need their own bedroom.
Financial Status: You must show that you’re financially stable enough to support yourself and the adopted child.
Citizenship: While you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to adopt, you must meet two qualifications. First, you must have entered the country legally. Second, you must plan to stay in the United States long enough for the adoption placement to finalize.
The Home Study: The Next Hurdle You Must Cross as a Single Adoptive Parent
If you’ve met all the qualifications and have begun the adoption process, then you come to the main hurdle for most adopters—the home study. This is when it’ll be determined if you have a stable, nurturing home for an adopted child.
In a home study, you will have three in-person interviews, at least one visit to your home, and a review of all your references, both personal and professional. If you’re applying alone, then the interviews will obviously be with you, but they may also ask to interview anyone else who lives in the home.
As part of the home study, you’ll also be fingerprinted to check for any criminal background or abuse allegations. They’ll also look at other general issues including your emotional stability, your interests and hobbies, your family background, financial and medical background, and a review of your childcare skills. Finally, you must agree that hitting and shaking a child as well as abusive or ridiculing language aren’t to be used as discipline.
The home study must be finished within 18 months of the placement of the child. If the 18 months has elapsed, then an updated interview and reports must be completed.
Grounds the Home Study Won’t Be Approved in New Jersey
One of the biggest reasons for denying a placement rests on the criminal background check. However, the agency will look at the nature of all criminal convictions to decide if the applicant has been rehabilitated and changed their ways.
Obviously, past convictions of abuse will be a huge problem and will probably negate any chances of adoption. This also goes for any adult living in the household who has a record of child abuse.
Adopting as a Single Parent In New Jersey Is Possible
The choice to adopt a child is a huge one for any prospective parent. If you’re choosing to do this on your own without a spouse or partner, then you need all the legal help you can to navigate the process. That’s why it is vital to work with an adoption agency and a family lawyer who has experience handling single-parent adoptions.
Contact the Compassionate Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about adopting a child, whether as a married or single individual in New Jersey, you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney who has experience in adoption. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.