Tuesday, November 3, 2015
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF A CHILD BY J.E.V. AND D.G.V. A-3238-13T3
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF A CHILD BY J.E.V. AND D.G.V.
The order terminating parental rights is reversed because the indigent mother, who placed her special-needs two-year-old daughter in foster care with a State-licensed private adoption agency, had a constitutional and statutory right to court-appointed counsel, beginning when the agency first determined to
proceed with an adoption over the mother's objection. The agency decided on its own that the mother was an unfit parent and had abandoned her child. In the future, in similar circumstances, a private adoption agency must notify the court when advising an indigent parent of its intention to proceed with an adoption. The court must devise a procedure for assigning pro bono counsel to represent an indigent parent in this situation, prior to the filing of the adoption complaint.