To assist you with the process of adoption through this office, I am pleased to supply you with the following information. First, we strongly recommend you retain legal counsel to address all issues concerning the adoption and to prepare and file the required court pleadings. Papers are filed with the Surrogate as the Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court.
We require original and 2 copies of pleadings, with the exception for the Judgment, we request original and 5 copies. The filing fee is $175 payable to the Surrogate of Cape May County. Complaint for Adoption, Order Setting Date for Hearing, Proof of Service, and Judgment, are just some of the required papers.
Generally, the adoption hearings are scheduled before the Family Part Judge, on Fridays, in the Family Courtroom. Adoption hearings are private and the courtroom is closed to everyone except those involved with the adoption, such as family and friends. With permission from the judge, photos may be taken.
- Adoptions through a DCPP agency are scheduled between 10 and 30 days from the filing of the Complaint
- Step-parent and close-relative adoptions are scheduled between 60 and 90 days
Private adoptions require 2 hearings:
- The preliminary hearing is scheduled between 60 and 90 days
- The final hearing is scheduled between 6 and 9 months
Whenever possible, medical history information on the birth parents whose rights will be terminated by the adoption, is filed as part of the permanent adoption file.
Upon entry of a Judgment of Adoption, the actual birth record is changed to reflect the adopting parents' names. If the child was born in New Jersey or in a foreign country, the Surrogate will forward the Report of Adoption and appropriate fee for a new birth certificate. We suggest you request several copies of the new birth certificate.
All completed adoption records are sealed and are only re-opened by court order. You may want to order several certified copies of the Judgment of Adoption for future use.
If you choose to prepare the adoption pleadings yourself and to represent yourself in court, review the following reference resources available at the library or the New Jersey Courts website:
- New Jersey Statutes, Volume 9
- New Jersey Practice Series, Volumes 7A, 8, 8A, and 9 (index)
- Rule Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey
Access to Original Birth Certificates for Adult Adoptees
To obtain your original birth certificate from the State of New Jersey, please contact the New Jersey Department of Health- Vital Statistics