If you voluntarily surrender your parental rights or the court decides to terminate them, you may ask your lawyer to request a final visit, which may be very important for both you and your child. The final visit is a time to say good-bye.
At the final visit, you can take pictures of your child and give your child pictures of you and other members of your family. Even if you do not have a final visit, you may request permission to write a final letter to your child, including pictures, if you wish.
Asking for continued contact
In some cases, the people who adopt your child may allow you to keep in touch through visits, telephone calls, or letters. If you want continued contact with and information about your child, ask the adoptive parents whether they will agree to it. If you do not know your child’s adoptive parents well enough to speak directly with them, you can ask your DYFS worker to discuss the matter with them. If you are considering surrendering your parental rights by doing an identified surrender, ask for a meeting or mediation with the adoptive parents so that you can make your request for continued contact before you decide whether to do the surrender. Be specific about the type of contact you would like to maintain with your child: telephone calls, in-person visitation, e-mails, letters or cards exchanged (maybe by using a post office box), and/or periodic pictures of the child or updates sent to you.
Current New Jersey law does not permit courts to enforce open adoption agreements. This means that if the adoptive parents break any promises they make to you or the court about continued contact with your child after the adoption, you will not be able to ask the court for assistance.
Some courts have relied upon future adoptive parents’ promises to continue visitation or other contact with the parents in deciding to terminate parental rights. In open adoptions, biological parents keep the right to have some ongoing contact with their children, even after parental rights have been terminated and the children have been legally adopted.
The decision to allow you any contact with or information about your child after your parental rights are terminated is completely up to the adoptive parents. They can also refuse to meet with you or consider your requests. Many adoptive parents do not want to allow the children they adopt to have continued contact with their birth parents.
DYFS Adoption Registry
DYFS keeps an Adoption Registry that your child can use to try to find you when he or she turns 18, or earlier if the adoptive parents allow it. In addition, without identifying you, the Registry can provide your child and your child’s adoptive family with important information, including health histories of you and your family. Such information may become very important to your child as he or she grows up.
You can place information about yourself and your family in the Registry by filling out a DYFS Adoption Registry application form. When your child becomes old enough or has permission to use the Registry and contacts the Registry, the Registry staff will try to find you by using the information you have provided. If it locates you and you provide identification and written permission, the Registry will release the information it has about you to your child or arrange contact between you and the child.
For more information about the Registry and to obtain a Registry application form, speak to your DYFS worker or call or write the DYFS Adoption Registry office in Trenton:
DYFS Adoption Registry
P.O. Box 717
Trenton, NJ 08625-0717
609-292-8816 or 609-984-6800
Remember that the Registry staff may not be able to find you in the future if you do not report changes in your name, address, and telephone number.
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Copyright © 2011 Legal Services of New Jersey
This information last reviewed 10/28/11