Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that gives adoptive parents stalking and restraining order protections from the individual(s) who gave up their parental rights to the adopted child today won approval from the Assembly Human Services Committee.
The bill, A-882, amends the state’s current stalking law making it applicable to adoptive children and their former parent(s). It permits an adoptive parent to obtain a temporary restraining order against the person whose parental rights to the child have been terminated if the former parent/guardian has contacted or attempts to contact the child against the adoptive parent’s directions. The order can be made permanent if the person is convicted of stalking.“When a biological parent attempts to contact a child they gave up for adoption, it can undermine the relationship between the child and his or her adoptive parents,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “These children have already been through very difficult times. Initiating unwanted contact often causes more stress for the children as well as their adoptive parents who risk being targets of harassment and stalking. Surprisingly, the law offers them little protection. Adoptive families need to have the same level of protection that’s available in domestic violence cases.”
Under the measure, unwarranted contact would be a third or fourth degree crime, depending on the circumstances associated with stalking. A third degree crime calls for a three to five year prison term, a fine of up to $15,000 or both; a fourth degree crime carries an 18-month prison term, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.