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Advocate: New Jersey making progress getting kids adopted

Experts are seeing some stabilization in New Jersey’s child adoption picture, but an expert says we still have a way to go.

Adoption request (alexskopje, ThinkStock)
Adoption request (alexskopje, ThinkStock)

Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of the Advocates for Children of New Jersey, said she believes overall, progress is being made in the state, from kids going from foster care into legal, permanent families through adoption.

“This year dropped a bit, but if you look at prior years, it has always been around 1,100 or 1,200 children a year,” Zalkind said.

There were 927 children adopted in New Jersey in 2013, a 9 percent decrease from the 1,023 adopted in 2012. There are many other adoptions that take place through private adoptions and private agencies.

“I think the state has made a lot of progress in moving children from foster care into legal, permanent family through adoption.”

Adoptions from foster care can present some issues, according to Zalkind.

“I think the foster care system comes with risks. If a family is truly looking to adopt a child, there is no guarantee because children enter foster care with the first goal of being reunited them with their family, whenever possible.”

Some foster kids never return to their families or get adopted, but the number of cases has dwindled, according to Zalkind.

“I think that is not as frequent as it was in the past. There are kids who enter foster care when they are older, and adoption becomes a plan when they are older, and that is more difficult. Not impossible, but more difficult,” Zalkind said.

New Jersey, according to Zalkind, has been a big part in improving adoption numbers for those in foster care.

“The system is making decisions earlier in the lives of the children to better steer them toward adoption. I think that the state is doing a much better job at reducing the time that children live in the limbo of foster care, before moving on to a permanent family through adoption.”

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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