If you and your spouse are considering adoption in North Carolina, you will need the help of an experienced lawyer to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
The team of legal professionals at King Law is prepared to represent adoptive parents or birth parents in cases of surrogacy and adoption in North Carolina. We can assist with the application process, work with you to finalize the necessary legal paperwork, and answer any relevant questions that you or your partner may have along the way.
Adoption Laws and Requirements in North Carolina
For those looking to move forward with the adoption process, there are certain guidelines in place to ensure that the individual being adopted is going to a safe home. Adults hoping to adopt must be over 18 years old, but they must also qualify to be adoptive parents based on whether they will be able to provide a safe environment for the adoptee.
North Carolina allows both single adults and partnered families to adopt, but it does not allow for unmarried partners to adopt a child together. There are no limitations on adoption for those who lack prior experience with children, but many adoption agencies in North Carolina will provide training for anyone that hopes to become a foster parent.
Those who wish to foster a child must be 21 years old and, much like those looking to adopt, submit to a background check. This precaution is to ensure the safety of the adoptee. All applicants who apply for foster parenting or adoption are required to have their fingerprints taken, and any individual who hopes to pursue foster parenting must participate in thirty hours of training called “Trauma-Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence/Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting” (TIPS-MAPP).
The steps involved in completing an adoption can be complicated, but a family lawyer in North Carolina can provide you with important legal counsel when you need it most. Working with an experienced lawyer can also help to reduce any potential delays in the process and ensure that you can begin your journey as an adoptive or foster parent as soon as possible.
The Differences Between Open and Closed Adoption in North Carolina
When looking into adopting in North Carolina, it is important to remember that there are differences between open and closed adoptions. Both biological and adoptive parents can opt for specific contact with the adoptee and one another. The differences are:
In a closed adoption, both the adoptive parents and the biological parents choose not to have any contact or learn any information about the other. Adoptive parents only receive non-identifying information about the adoptee’s family, and adoption records are sealed after the adoption. The adoptee will not know anything about their biological parents; however, once they turn 18, they can request for the court to provide non-identifying information about their birth parents.
In an open adoption, communication is allowed between birth parents and adoptive parents. Depending on the circumstances, both parents can send letters, pictures, progress reports, and even come together for events such as birthdays and holidays. Adoptees are allowed to know why they were placed for adoption, which may allow them to come to terms with their adoption. This avenue may also increase the chances of the adoptee being confused about their background.
Types of Adoption in North Carolina
Reports from 2012 showed that 1,221 children were adopted out of the foster care system in North Carolina. Although this is the most commonly understood method of adoption, many other varieties exist that depend on the circumstances of the adoptee and the potential parent. The main types of adoption include:
- Agency adoptions: Working with a local adoption agency specializing in fostering or adoption and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is one of the most common methods of adoption.
- Independent adoptions: This occurs when a child’s parent consents to adoption and places them under the care of another individual. This is sometimes referred to as a “private adoption.”
- Stepparent adoptions: Another one of the most commonly reported forms of adoption involves a stepparent petitioning for their stepchild.
- Relative adoptions: These adoptions take place when a parent consents to the adoption of their child by placing them in the care of a family member. For instances of relative adoption, the family member must be either a grandparent, full or half-sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, or great-grandparent of the child.
- Adult adoptions: Some circumstances of adoption involve an adult petitioning to adopt another adult. This can sometimes occur when a child reaches 18 years old before the adoption process begins.
Adoption can be a confusing process for many families, especially for families who are working with an agency. One of the best ways to ensure that the adoption process is not drawn out is to contact a reliable family lawyer. You need a trusted legal professional who will work with you step-by-step to ensure that you have everything you need to move forward with your adoption.
How Long Does an Adoption Take in North Carolina?
Many families go into the process of adoption and wonder how long the process can be expected to take. For those in North Carolina, there is no established time frame for how long adoption can take. The process takes an approach that centers around children and their needs. Depending on the type of adoption and when the petition is filed, the timeline for finalizing the process ranges from six to eighteen months.
Some cases of adoption require “pre-placement assessments,” or “home studies,” which place the child in the home of the parent(s) looking to adopt them to ensure that the environment is well-suited for their needs. However, this assessment does not occur in adult adoptions and is used primarily to determine how comfortable the young adoptee would be in their new home. This may cause the adoption process to take longer as the child’s comfort is evaluated. Regardless of how long the North Carolina adoption process takes, it is a wonderful and rewarding experience for any adults or families looking to open up their hearts and their homes.
The Adoption Process in North Carolina
Before beginning the adoption process, you may need to familiarize yourself with the expectations and procedures of how to smoothly navigate what’s to come. The following is an overview of the main steps in the adoption process:
To begin the adoption process, you first need to collect all of the materials required for adopting in North Carolina. After completing the pre-placement assessment, you will need to collect a Consent to Adoption from the biological adoptee’s parents, as well as an Affidavit from the adoptee’s biological mother. This affidavit will contain information like their names, address, and marital status.
Then, you would need to collect the Certified Copy of Background Information on the adoptee from their biological parents or the adoption agency. Once you have collected this, you need to ensure all court orders and pleadings related to your adoptee are resolved. Finally, you must file a financial affidavit that shows you have paid all costs associated with adoption fees and disclose any person who has not given you consent.
After you have obtained all of your required materials, you need to file a Petition for Adoption. Any individual who was unable to consent will be notified when you file.
The Adoption Hearing
Lastly, the adoption hearing is the last step of the adoption process in North Carolina. Within 90 days of petition filing, the court hearing date will be set. The actual date will occur six months after the petition filing. If there is no opposition to the adoption, a formal hearing may not be required to approve the adoption.
If a formal hearing does occur, the court will decide whether you are suitable for adoption, if the adoption is in the child’s best interest, and you have met all of the requirements for adoption in North Carolina.
Experienced and Reliable Adoption Lawyers in North Carolina
When you are ready to begin the life-changing process of adoption or fostering, you need a lawyer at your side that you can trust to help you every step of the way. The North Carolina adoption lawyers at King Law are honored to help our clients make such an important decision. We proudly provide various services for those hoping to pursue fostering or adoption.
At King Law, we help you with the application process, work to finalize the necessary adoption paperwork, and answer any questions that you or your partner may have while we work together to finalize the adoption. To get started on your adoption process today, call King Law at (888) 748-5464 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation with one of our trusted family lawyers in North Carolina.