New Jersey Adoption Laws and Policies

You have many adoption options, and this is the perfect place to begin exploring them. Below, you’ll find New Jersey adoption laws and policies and find adoption agencies and attorneys who work with families in New Jersey.

A bridge in Trenton, a city governed by New Jersey adoption laws

Each state maintains its own adoption policies, so the process can vary considerably for families in different states. As a New Jersey resident, you’ll want to work with an adoption agency or adoption attorney who is very familiar with New Jersey adoption laws and policies. Below, you’ll find adoption agencies and adoption lawyers offering services to New Jersey families. Scroll past the listings to learn all about the legal guidelines for families adopting in New Jersey whether you’re adopting a newborn through domestic adoption, an infant or older child from U.S. foster care adoption, or a child through international adoption.



Who Can Adopt in New Jersey?

An individual 18 years or older who is at least 10 years older than the child, a married couple, a married individual without his or her spouse if living separately, or the child’s brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, birth father, or stepparent.

Can LGBT families adopt? Yes, same-sex couples can petition for joint adoption.

New Jersey Domestic Adoption Laws

Can adoptive parents advertise for birth parents? Yes.

Can out-of-state residents finalize an adoption? Yes, if in-state agency used or if baby is less than three months old. In the latter, papers must be filed in the county where the baby was born.

Can adopting parents use an adoption facilitator or another paid intermediary? Yes, but adopting parents can’t pay an intermediary unless the intermediary is an approved agency.

What birth parent expenses may be paid, and in what time period? Medical (including transportation), legal, counseling (religious, psychological, vocational), living (food, clothing, shelter). During pregnancy and 4 weeks postpartum.

Is there a putative father registry? No.

When can consent to adoption be granted? 72 hours after birth unless the birth parents signed private consent forms in which case consent to adoption can be granted anytime after the child’s birth (although the court still recommends waiting at least 72 hours after the child’s birth).

 When does consent become irrevocable? If consent is revoked, is return to birth parent automatic? Agency adoption: upon signing surrender before judge; Private adoption: when judge terminates birth parents’ rights, usually 2-5 weeks after birth if voluntary judicial surrender or 2-4 months after birth if no judicial surrender hearing. Return to birth mother dependent on when she revoked consent; return is not automatic to birth father.

Are post-adoption contact agreements legally enforceable? Not addressed in state statutes.

New Jersey International Adoption Laws

Is a foreign adoption decree automatically recognized by the state? Yes, a foreign adoption decree by a foreign judicial, administrative, or executive body is automatically recognized in this state as long as the parent adopting is a New Jersey resident and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has granted an IR-3 immigrant visa or successor immigrant visa to the child.

Can parents readopt in this state? Is it mandatory? Yes, but it is not necessary for a child with a foreign adoption decree issued under due process of law who is issued an IR-3 immigrant visa by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is generally recommended that parents readopt, as there are certain protections that a New Jersey Judgment of Adoption offers that a foreign adoption decree might not.

When will a U.S. birth certificate be issued? The State Registrar will issue a birth certificate for a child (with an IR-3 immigrant visa or successor immigrant visa) born outside of the U.S. who is adopted by a state resident upon receipt of the following: a request from the court, the adopting parent, or the adopted person (if 18 years and older) for the birth certificate; proof that the adopting parent is a New Jersey state resident; the foreign adoption decree with a certified translation; proof of the DOB and place of birth of the child; and proof of IR-3 immigrant visa or successor immigrant visa status.

Adoption from Foster Care in New Jersey

Are adoption subsidies available? When do they start and how long do they last? Yes, adoption subsidies are available for a special needs child as defined by one of the following: 10 years or older, 2 years or older if member of a hard-to-place ethnic group, 5 years or older if the adopting parent is a resource parent and the child has lived with him/her for at least 1 year, 5 years and younger and member of a hard-to-place ethnic group if the adopting parent is a resource parent and the child has lived with him/her for at least 1 year, is a member of a sibling group of 3 or more being placed together (including half-siblings) if one sibling is special needs or the child is the additional sibling being placed in the same home even when other siblings don’t receive subsidies, is a member of a sibling group of 2 or more being placed together (including half-siblings) if one sibling is special needs or is the child is the additional being placed in the same home with another sibling receiving subsidy, has a diagnosed emotional, behavioral, mental, or developmental disability, has a physical handicap that affects chances of holding employment, has a medical/dental condition that requires ongoing treatment, has major disfigurement, or has any other condition that is approved by the Director of the Division of Youth and Family Services. Subsidies begin after the Judgment of Adoption for a resource home adoption, upon child placement for a selected home adoption, and upon child placement for a private agency adoption (or when the Division of Youth and Family Services receives the subsidy application, whichever is later).

Where can I learn more about the process of adopting a child from foster care in New Jersey?

New Jersey Adoption Unit

Program Manager: Betty Berzin

50 East State Street
5th Floor, Room 5134
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
Phone: (609) 888-7460
Fax: (609) 984-5449
[email protected]


DISCLAIMER: The state laws and policies outlined above are offered to readers only for general information and do not constitute legal advice. Furthermore, the state laws were accurate at the time of compilation, but Adoptive Families cannot guarantee that there have been no subsequent changes or revisions to the laws. Please do not rely on the information above without first consulting an adoption attorney licensed in your state. Updated in November 2014.


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