Where are you in your journey to adopt a child? There are several ways to adopt a child in North Carolina, and there are both general requirements and others that are specific to particular types of adoption.
At Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, we form a strong bond with our clients. Your family’s interests are our interests, and adopting a child is among the greatest decisions you can make to positively impact a young person’s future. We invite you to contact us at (910) 769-7339 to schedule a consultation with our experienced North Carolina family lawyer team regarding your next steps toward adopting a child.
General Requirements Before You Can Adopt From an Adoption Agency in North Carolina
The path to adoption can be a long one, and there are some steps you should understand in the beginning before you begin the process. To be approved for an adoption agency’s waiting list, you must:
- Submit a completed application consisting of personal background information: An adoption attorney can assist you in completing this information.
- Participate in a Pre-Placement Assessment (also known as a Home Study): The potential home for the child will be reviewed to ensure it will be a satisfactory environment. Stepparent adoptions typically do not require this step, as the child will usually already be living in the home.
- Be deemed a satisfactory parent for a child: Barring a criminal background or other personal issues that may lead to disqualification, this is usually not a problem for the majority of applicants. Your Wilmington, NC adoption attorney can help you assess your situation before you apply.
Adoption agencies will seek to match children with suitable adoptive families as they become available. You may be competing with several applicants, which can cause long delays before you are interviewed for consideration to adopt a particular child.
If you are selected to become the adoptive parent, there are many legal documents that will need to be completed and processed. Your attorney should review all of the documents before you sign to finalize the adoption.
Additional Factors When Seeking to Adopt in North Carolina
Consent to Adopt
While any minor or adult can be adopted by an adult over eighteen years of age, a child who is twelve years of age or older in North Carolina must consent to the adoption.
Adoption causes a noncustodial parent to have their rights and responsibilities regarding their child removed. Child support owed up to that point will still need to be paid. In some cases, the noncustodial parent will be difficult to locate, complicating and delaying the adoption effort.
Many times, when possible, the courts prefer to keep the child living with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings instead of relocating them into other families. This is thought to create less disturbance in the child’s life than transplanting them into a completely different family.
Adoption by Stepparents
In North Carolina, a stepparent will need to have been married to the biological parent for at least six months before seeking to adopt the stepchild. Both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent of the stepchild have rights and must consent to the adoption.
Residency in Your Current House in North Carolina
North Carolina requires residency in the current home for at least 90 days before an adoption can be finalized. This is in addition to the requirement to reside in North Carolina for six months before filing a petition to adopt. Residency requirements may be waived in some situations.
Closed vs. Open Adoption
Sometimes birth parents do not want the child to find them, and adopting parents also may wish to prevent their adopted child from locating their birth parents. These would be examples of a closed adoption. In contrast, an open adoption is when both the birth parents and the adopting parents wish for the child to be able to locate the biological parents. Understand there may be legitimate medical reasons for accessibility to birth parent information.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
If a child you are seeking to adopt is of (Native American) Indian heritage as defined by the Indian Child Welfare Act, the terms of this act will affect how and whether you will be able to adopt the child. Statistics continue to show that children among American Indian and Native Alaskan demographics are placed with adopting families outside of their own families’ cultures at much higher rates than are adopted children from other groups.
Special Requirements for Adoption from Foster Care in North Carolina
Foster parenting and adopting from foster care are two different processes with their own requirements. Be sure to understand this if you are considering adopting from foster care.
In North Carolina, these are the requirements to adopt from foster care:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must complete a criminal record check, along with fingerprinting
- You must complete training for becoming a foster parent, which includes extensive training in trauma issues, modeling, and permanence; the extent of this training also varies by agency
Your North Carolina adoption attorney can provide you with additional guidance regarding this process if this is a path you are considering for adoption.
An Experienced North Carolina Adoption Attorney from Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, Can Help You Adopt a Child in Wilmington, NC
Our experienced North Carolina adoption attorneys are here to help you accept an adopted child into your growing family, and the requirements for adoption are in place to protect and prepare both the adoptive family and the child for a healthy relationship in an encouraging home environment.
Contact our team of adoption lawyers at Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division in Wilmington, NC, by calling (910) 769-7339 today to schedule a consultation so we can address your adoption goals and guide you onto the right path for you to adopt a child in North Carolina.
Who speaks for you? We do.
Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division
300 N. 3rd St. Suite 310
Wilmington, NC 28401