While it is often a difficult decision to place a child in someone else’s care, it is usually one of the happiest days in an adoptive parent’s life. At Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, our North Carolina family lawyers find great joy in helping support loving families as they grow.
If you are considering pursuing a North Carolina adoption, contact our legal team to discuss your options with one of our experienced NC adoption attorneys.
What Are the Adoption Requirements in North Carolina?
There are no formal requirements to adopt in North Carolina, as long as the prospective parents complete all of the necessary steps of the process. The process can be somewhat challenging because the adoption agent must go to great lengths to ensure the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
Additionally, while there is no formal waiting period under NC adoption law, the process can generally range from several months to well over a year. If the adoptive parents choose to pay expenses associated with the medical care and legal aspects of the adoption, it can become fairly expensive.
Consider speaking with a family lawyer to ensure you understand all of the adoption requirements in North Carolina and ensure your legal rights remain protected.
Who Can Adopt?
Under § 48-1-103, any person over 18 years old in North Carolina is eligible to adopt, provided they meet all other requirements under the law.
There is sometimes a misconception that a person must be married or make a certain amount of income to be eligible to adopt a child. This is not the case in North Carolina.
As long as a person passes a background check and home study, they are eligible to adopt. However, this does not mean that every eligible person is chosen. Other circumstances may prevent the state from selecting someone to adopt.
Types of Adoption in NC
There are various types of adoptions recognized in the state of North Carolina, including:
A private adoption, or independent adoption, is typically handled without the involvement of an adoption agency. Sometimes, adoptive parents have already identified birth parents with whom they have made an arrangement to adopt.
An attorney may help process a private adoption. The prospective adoptive parents generally handle the screening of the birth parents and all other services an adoption agency would have been responsible for. Despite the term “private,” private adoptions must still follow the adoption process in North Carolina, including the home study and obtaining legal consent from the birth parents.
Closed and Open Adoptions
The terms “closed” and “open” adoptions refer to the degree to which the adoptive parents know the identity of the birth parents. A closed adoption is a more anonymous process than an open adoption. In this process, the adoptive parents work through an agency, which arranges the adoption without the adoptive parents ever meeting the birth parents. Conversely, open adoption allows the adoptive parents to meet with the biological parents, and in some cases, stay in touch.
Relative or Step-Parent Adoption
A relative, such as a grandparent or step-parent, wants to officially adopt a child from another relative in some situations. Sometimes these are referred to as “kinship” adoptions. Many circumstances may lead to this type of arrangement. In some cases, a parent simply believes their child would be better off in the care of a loved one with the financial means to care for them. Regardless of the reason for the adoption, a kinship adoption can be preferable because the biological parent usually knows and trusts the person who is adopting their child.
The purpose of a kinship adoption is to formalize the parent-child relationship. Though there are countless instances where someone unofficially raises the child of a family member, it is often legally beneficial to make the relationship official. After a kinship adoption is approved, the child then acquires inheritance rights from the adopted parent, as well as insurance benefits. The adoptive parent can also make important legal decisions on behalf of the child, such as healthcare and education decisions.
How to Adopt a Child in NC
The adoption process varies slightly depending on whether the adoptive parents will be working through an adoption agency or adopting the child independently. Adoptive parents may also choose to adopt a child from foster care.
In every case, the prospective parents must undergo a home study. The prospective parents must also obtain the legal consent of the biological parents to terminate their parental rights.
After these requirements have been met, the adoptive parents must file an adoption petition in court, and the parents must reach a placement agreement and communication agreement.
The adoptive parents will then be subject to a post-placement assessment, which is intended to ensure that the child is adapting to their new home and family. The agent may want to interview family members and visit the home. After this step is complete, a court issues the final adoption decree, and the adoption is complete.
A somewhat burdensome amount of paperwork and legal filings accompany an adoption. That is why most families retain an attorney for the adoption process. The compassionate lawyers at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert have years of experience representing families in all types of family law matters.
What Is a Home Study?
A home study is a critical step in the adoption process. At this stage, the applicant must show an adoption agent their home life and family situation so the agent can properly assess whether the household is suitable to adopt a child.
During a home study, the prospective parents must provide birth certificates, marriage certificates, background checks, and other references to the adoption agent. The home study typically consists of a series of interviews with family members and a tour of the home.
The primary purposes of the home study are to help the adoption agent understand the family dynamic, observe the parents’ parenting styles, ensuring a child will fit into the family structure, and ultimately prepare the parents to accommodate the child in the household – especially children whose backgrounds and experiences are likely to be different from the family’s. The home study is intended to be an evaluation process for the adoption agency and an educational opportunity for the families.
The home study is not unique to North Carolina. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the home study is recognized by all states under the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children.
Ready to Adopt? Choose Our Experienced Adoption Lawyers
Mr. Talbert focuses his practice on trial litigation (both criminal defense and family law). His service to the legal community has been once again his service to the community reflects his dedication to helping others and a desire to make the profession the noble and honorable one it was designed to be.