The Hunterdon County Surrogate’s Court acts as the Clerk of the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, for all adoptions. The Surrogate’s Court reviews and files all Complaints, supporting documents, Orders Fixing Hearing Date, and Final Judgments of Adoption. See New Jersey Court Rule 5:10 for statutory requirements of filing documents and submissions.
The Hunterdon County Surrogate can assist pro se applicants with stepparent, adult, and same sex confirmatory adoptions. An attorney should be consulted for assistance with other adoption filings.
TYPES OF ADOPTION
Agency Adoption: The child to be adopted is in the custody and control of a licensed adoption agency. Hearing is scheduled within 10-30 days.
Stepparent Adoption: The child to be adopted is the natural child of the plaintiff’s spouse. Biological parents have the right to object. Hearing is scheduled within 60-90 days.
Same-Sex Confirmatory Adoption: The child’s birth certificate lists two same-sex parents and the adoption confirms legal parentage. No court appearance is necessary.
Relative Adoption: The child to be adopted was not received from an agency, but the adoptive parent(s) are the birth father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, or uncle of the child. Biological parents have the right to object. Hearing is scheduled within 60-90 days.
Adult Adoption: The adult to be adopted has requested the adoption and, if desired, a name change. The adopting parent(s) must be at least 10 years older than the adult being adopted. Hearing is scheduled as soon as possible.
Private Adoption: The child to be adopted has not been received from an approved agency but directly from a birth mother. Biological parents have the right to object. Preliminary hearing scheduled within 60-90 days; finalization requires a waiting period of 6 months thereafter.
Foreign Adoption: The foreign child to be adopted is in the custody and control of an approved agency.
Foreign Re-Adoption: The foreign child has already been adopted in a foreign country and will be re-adopted in this country, thereby creating a paper trail and obtaining a New Jersey Birth Certificate.
Adoption papers may be filed with the Surrogate in one of the following:
REQUESTS TO UNSEAL ADOPTION FILES
All adoption files are sealed, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:3-52. An adoption file cannot be unsealed by the Surrogate’s Court with a Court Order signed by a Superior Court Judge. The Surrogate’s Court can only advise you of the procedure and cost of petitioning the Court to break the seal on the adoption file.
REQUESTS FOR ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES
The New Jersey Adoptees Birthright Act gives adult adopted persons who were born and/or adopted in New Jersey the right to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate (OBC) upon request to the New Jersey Registrar of Vital Statistics.
See https://www.nj.gov/health/vital/adoption/ for instructions