Foster Care

NJ Foster Care Adoption: Your Complete Guide

Change a life by adopting a child in New Jersey! Here’s everything you need to know about NJ foster care adoption, from the process to support options.

The purpose of foster care is to provide a temporary home for children who cannot live with their parents for whatever reason. In most cases, the care plan for a child will include the end goal of reuniting them with their biological parents.

However, things don’t always work out this way. 

For example, New Jersey has just over 3,000 children in foster care — while many will return to their parents, some will need a new forever home when reunification is not an option.

At this time, a child in care may become eligible for adoption — allowing loving foster parents to cement that family bond permanently. There’s also the alternative, where a child in foster care is waiting to be adopted by the right person directly — without that person having been their foster parent.

Let’s look at the process for NJ foster care adoption works.

Why Foster Care Adoption Is a Great Choice In New Jersey

Why is adopting from foster care the best option for potential adoptive parents?

Here are a few reasons.

Lower Costs

For some families, the toughest part of adopting a child is the cost. There are always costs associated with raising a child, but these are upfront — and, in some cases, are almost as high as the average yearly salary in New Jersey.

  • In New Jersey, a typical adoption can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000.
  • On the other hand, adopting a child in care either as a foster parent or directly comes with very little cost — in some cases, it’s completely free.

It's reassuring to learn that expanding your family through adoption doesn't necessarily require dipping into savings reserved for future college tuition, extracurricular activities, sports, and creating cherished family memories.

This is one reason why many families looking to grow consider adoption from foster care. Your immediate resources shouldn’t be a barrier when you have so much love and time to give.

The Chance to Make a Difference

Many children in foster care have gone through tough times and have often felt unsure and unstable in their lives — adopting from foster care is a powerful opportunity to make a difference.

  • Choosing to adopt a child from foster care means you're giving them a forever family where they are loved, which every kid deserves. 
  • Adopting is a wonderful and caring choice that can make a huge difference in a child's life. It offers them a safe and loving place to grow up and do well. 
  • Foster parents who decide to adopt usually already feel a special bond with the child, making their new family even stronger!

Building a Stronger Community

Adopting a child from foster care doesn't just change the child's life — it also makes your community a better place.

  • Children who grow up in loving, stable homes are more likely to become happy, successful adults. 
  • Choosing to adopt older kids can really help shape their futures for the better.
  • When kids age out of foster care without finding a forever family, they're more likely to face tough times, like not having a safe place to live or struggling to go to college.

There’s a mountain of research that shows that children in care who end up “aging out” with no place to call home or connections to family face some of the hardest challenges any of us will ever be asked to face.

When you choose to adopt from foster care, you are helping to end that cycle by helping a child — and your community — to thrive.

Finding Legal and Emotional Security

When you adopt a child from foster care in NJ, the final step is to officially and legally recognize your family. 

  • This important step offers both legal protection and emotional peace of mind.
  • It means adoptive parents gain all parental rights, and children receive the enduring love of a forever family. 
  • Legal confirmation also provides comfort to both the child and you as the adoptive parent, making your connection even stronger!

How NJ Foster Care Adoption Works 

If you’re considering adoption from foster care in New Jersey, there are a few different routes to consider:

  • Fostering to adopt - This means that you begin fostering a child in care with the intention of reuniting them with their biological parents. If they cannot return to their family, then they will become eligible for adoption.
  • Adopting directly from foster care - You don’t need to already be a foster parent to adopt in New Jersey. You can choose to be matched with a child who is already eligible for adoption. In New Jersey, kinship care is a priority, so placements within families will be given consideration first.

Picking an Agency and Setting Up a Meeting

The first step in adopting a child from foster care in New Jersey is to find an agency that focuses on adoption within the state. You'll then have a meeting to learn all about the adoption process, what you need to do, and get advice on what to do next. 

  • You can begin this journey with the help of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families website, which will guide you in choosing the right agency to get licensed with. 
  • For quicker progress, Mentor Foster Care, a part of the Sevita family , offers assistance in helping you figure out your next steps — at no cost to you.

Filling Out the Application and Conducting a Home Study

Hopeful adoptive parents in New Jersey have to complete an application with their chosen agency. This form will ask about the family's background, lifestyle, and reasons for wanting to adopt.

Home Study Process

Once the application is in, the next phase is a home study to ensure the family's living environment is safe and appropriate for a child. This is a standard requirement for all prospective adoptive families, including current foster parents.

The home study consists of several key elements:

  • Interviews and background checks - These are conducted to gather more information about you and your family members.
  • Home visits - Social workers will visit your home to check that it is a secure environment for a child from foster care.
  • Writing a report - A caseworker compiles a report detailing your employment, education, family background, social life, any previous parenting experiences, specifics of your home and neighborhood, and the findings from the background checks.

Although this process may seem extensive, each step is vital to ensure that children are placed into caring and compatible homes.

For those already serving as foster parents, this process may be somewhat familiar, potentially giving you a head start since you understand what to expect!

Completing Preservice Sessions

In the US, each state offers unique programs called preservice sessions that both foster and adoptive parents are required to complete. Additional hours may be required depending on the type of foster care.

  • New Jersey’s preservice sessions include 27 hours of sessions conducted by The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P).
  • During these sessions, parents will learn about various topics, including:
    • The experiences of children waiting to be adopted
    • How to meet their needs
    • Identity issues that children face
    • Understanding loss and separation

Preservice sessions in New Jersey are technically a part of the home study process.

The Matching Process

Once you pass the home study, then congratulations — you’re approved to be an adoptive parent!

The process outlined below is only relevant if you’re not already fostering a child that you’ll be adopting.

  • Approved families for adoption are listed in a special system that helps find good matches between children who need homes and people wanting to adopt.
  • When a family is picked for a child, the team in charge meets with them to share everything about the child, like where they come from, what they like to do, and any challenges they've faced.
    • They also talk legality and if there's help available to cover some costs.
  • Next, if everyone agrees it's a good match, the child learns about the family and can share how they feel.
    • If the child and the team think it's the right move, the family visits with the child. These visits are planned to ensure the child and the family are as comfortable as possible.
  • The child might need to meet the family a few times in places they know well to help them feel safe. The person looking after the child helps them understand what's happening.
  • When everyone is ready, the child moves in with their new family.

Legal Process

The final phase of the adoption journey in New Jersey involves legalizing the adoption.

  • This step requires a court process that grants adoptive parents full legal parental rights.
  • This crucial legal step solidifies the child's forever home with their new family, providing both stability and a lifelong connection. 
  • For a detailed explanation of how this process unfolds in New Jersey, consulting with a local lawyer who is an expert in adoption law is highly recommended.

Learn More About Foster Care In Our Upcoming Webinar

Looking for more information about foster care in New Jersey? If so, our upcoming webinar can give you the answers. 

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for our webinar today, or get in touch with a Mentor Foster Care location near you for more information:

Sign Up For The Webinar

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