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Can biological parents have contact after adoption in New Jersey?

Adopting a child or putting a child up or adoption is a serious decision that has important legal and life impacts for everyone involved. The defining feature of adoption that separates it from other kinds of care, such as foster care, is the complete, permanent and irreversible transfer of all parental rights from the biological parents to the adoptive parents. By definition, this means that the biological parents lose all rights regarding the child. This includes any right to contact with the child.

New Jersey family law does not legally recognize so-called open adoptions, or adoptions where biological parents are allowed some contact with the child after the adoption is finalized. Open adoptions are commonly legal agreements that allow the biological parents to retain some rights to contact the child such as birthday cards or occasional letters. No such agreement is enforceable in New Jersey. This gives the adoptive parents complete control over contact.

This means that when a biological parent offers a child for adoption, they must be prepared for the finality of that decision. They are legally releasing any claim of contact with that child permanently. Unless the adoption is a private placement, then the adoptive parents and biological parents may never meet. Most adoption agencies will consider all adoptions closed and will not disclose the identities of adoptive parents unless the parents allow it.

Because of the complications associated with the adoption process and familial relations, those who are seeking an adoption might benefit from discussing the issue with an attorney. That attorney may be able to help a parent understand their rights and responsibilities regarding adoption.

Source: New Jersey State Bar Foundation , "What you need to know about adoption", December 29, 2014

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