Court Issues Heartbreaking Ruling in Union County “Baby J” Case
Few things inspire as much emotion in the family law courts as child custody issues. Whether it be because of divorce, or in the case of “Baby J”(as referred to by the courts), adoption, this issue is always one that can leave one side or the other heartbroken. Extending love to a child and having them in your life is one of the greatest joys a person can experience. Losing that love or precious parenting time with your child or children is one of the greatest fears that most parents have.
At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our family law attorneys have a thorough understanding of the adoption process in New Jersey, and have aided many loving parents adopt children in communities across Bergen County, including Hackensack, Paramus, Ridgewood, Teaneck, and Fort Lee. Our firm is well equipped to help you with the many legal ins and outs of securing your adoptive rights in a compassionate, knowledgeable, effective, and manner.
Birth Parents vs Adoptive Parents Rights in NJ
The “Baby J” case, as it has come to be called, placed the birth mother against the adoptive parents in heart-wrenching adoption battle. The court ruled that the child will be raised by his adoptive parents who have had custody of the 13-month old baby since shortly after his birth.
20-year old Union County receptionist, Gloria Roman, petitioned the court for the return of her newborn son last year after she claimed that the adoption agency failed to inform her about alternatives to adoption as required by New Jersey State law; in effect misleading her into the adoption process.
Last year a family court judge ordered the adoptive parents, who had raised the child since birth, to return the child to his birth mother. The adoptive family appealed the ruling and won the right to maintain custody of Baby J during the appeals process. However, last week an appellate panel unanimously decided to overturn the lower court’s ruling and allow the now 13-month baby to remain with his adoptive parents.
Understanding that whatever decision was reached would be devastating to the other side the judge wrote, “Few cases have so much potential for calamity. The adopting parents could lose their only child, the child they have nurtured since birth, and in consequence suffer a lifetime of emotional pain and heartbreak. The child could be abruptly removed from the only parents and only home he has ever known, placed in the hands of a virtual stranger, and in consequence suffer permanent emotional damage.” However, he went on to acknowledge an understanding that this decision would be “crushing” to the child’s birth mother.
Gloria Roman says she believes the adoption agency convinced her to sign away the parental rights to her newborn when she was just a scared teenager who had been recently evicted from her house and felt conflicted about whether she could provide a decent life for her newborn. Roman said, in an interview earlier this year, that she has no ill-will toward her son’s adoptive parents and feels that they are doing a good job of raising her son.
Our Paul Townsend, the Founding Partner at TTN and a leader of our very own Family Law Team, is representing Ms. Roman in the case. Paul expressed the following with regard to the appeal, “The appellate court’s decision is a travesty of justice.” He went on to state, “In failing to affirm the lower court’s ruling the appellate division has focused not on whether the child should be with his natural mother, but on the feelings and emotions of the adoptive couple.” Ms. Roman and her legal team have plans to file an appeal with the State Supreme Court and hope that it will be considered.
Steps for Adopting a Child in Bergen County NJ
Having a birth parent change their mind is probably one of the greatest fear of any adoptive parents. Extending love and affection to a child only to risk have them taken away can be emotionally devastating. Though it does not occur often, the fear of this type of struggle can cause some couples to shy away from adoption. This can be very bad for the many children in the foster care system waiting to be placed with loving parents.
In order to avoid these types of situations New Jersey has several strict steps potential adoptive parents will need to adhere to in order to complete an adoption. They are:
- Submit an application to become adoptive parents
- Go through the CP&P and gaining state approval as listed above
- Be matched with a child
- Gain consent from all involved parties. This may include the biological parent(s), the foster home, or other agencies
- Complete the adoption process in court
- Have a child placed with you
- Pass a supervision period
Contact our experienced Hackensack Adoption Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you know are considering adopting a child, it is important not to let the daunting process of adoption prevent you from opening your heart and home to a child in need. This paperwork and the adoption process is in place in order to protect your family, the adopted child, and in some situations the adopted child’s parents both legally and financially, and this is where having our experienced Bergen County adoption attorneys at your side can be of enormous benefit.
With more than 75 years of combined legal experience representing clients in all types of family law issues, including adoption, Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark has built a reputation for success and effective and attentive legal service with families across New Jersey and Bergen County, including Ridgewood, Hackensack, Paramus, Teaneck, and Fort Lee.
Speak with our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your unique needs and concerns when it comes to adopting a child in a safe, legal, and informed manner. Please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 285-5985.