Choosing to adopt a child is a major decision that can be both beneficial and extremely rewarding for all involved. In New Jersey, adoptions are governed by statute (N.J.S.A. 9:3-38 et seq.). As individuals and couples begin to research their adoption options under the law, they may come across the concept of “open” and “closed” adoptions.
There is a fair amount of information available to those interested in adoption; however, individuals are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable Cherry Hill adoption lawyer to ensure they receive the most up-to-date information with respect to the laws pertaining to New Jersey adoptions.
Open Adoptions: What are They?
Some states throughout the U.S. allow what is commonly referred to as “open adoptions.” But what exactly is an open adoption? Simply put, open adoptions typically allow for the birth parents to maintain some level of contact with the child after he or she has been adopted. Sometimes, the contact is only a simple card or note on the child’s birthday; however, there may be times when the birth parents are allowed to visit the child.
You should be aware, though, that open adoptions are not legally enforceable in New Jersey, which means that even if birth parents and adoptive parents come to some type of an agreement with respect to allowing contact between the birth parents and the child, none of the parties are legally bound by that agreement -- even if it is put in writing.
In essence, having a closed adoption means that no identifying information will be shared between the potential adoptive parents and the birth parents. Everyone remains anonymous with respect to last names, addresses, etc.; however, birth parents and prospective adopting parents may decide to meet, share photos of the child or updates with respect to the child. This level of contact is typically done through an agency.
At one point in time, practically all adoptions were closed throughout the U.S. But today, some parents wish to learn more about the adoption process as a whole to determine what is right for their family and the child involved.
As noted above, open adoptions are not legally enforceable in the state, but there still may be times when parents see fit to have all parties maintain some form of contact from the time of birth up through the period when the child reaches adulthood.
The Upside and the Downside
It is important for parents to consider the pros and cons of allowing for an open arrangement. Undoubtedly, an open adoption arrangement lends itself to a greater level of control with respect to making decisions. It also gives adoptive parents a better ability to respond to a child’s inquiry when he or she asks about the birth parents (if and when that time comes).
On the other hand, there can be a downside to such an open arrangement. There may be concerns that the child can become confused as to who his or her actual parents are. Additionally, there may be a time when the birth parents decide they want the child back, which could lead to a whole host of issues, both legally and on a personal level.
If you have questions or concerns about how your adoption should be handled, contact Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP at (856) 795-3300 or use our online contact form to discuss your situation.