Adoption in North Carolina

Adoption, like all parenting, comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. It also has unique challenges. Let us help you overcome them and find a way to complete your family.

The road to finalizing an adoption can be curvy, with more than a few obstacles. The process may be costly, time-consuming, and feel intrusive. Without a clear roadmap, many prospective parents feel like they’re forced to jump through hoops to be paired with a child or to legalize the situation they’re already in, such as if they care for a young family member. However, it isn’t always this way and in most cases, there’s no need for complexities or a drawn-out process.

By building the right adoption team, which may include a licensed adoption agency, your county’s Department of Social Services, and a North Carolina adoption lawyer, you’re more likely to start off on the right foot and stay on the best track. There are dozens of licensed adoption agencies in North Carolina, but the true first step to getting through the process as smoothly as possible is working with an experienced family lawyer in your area.

Jonathan Breeden is a North Carolina adoption attorney with more than 15 years of experience representing parents in Johnston, Wake, and Harnett Counties, including Angier, Garner, Raleigh, and Smithfield. Adoption can be equally scary as it is exciting, and Jonathan does his best to put your fears to rest while you build your family.

Call Breeden Law Office today at (919) 661-4970 to find out how we can help you.

Frequent Questions about Adoption

If it’s your first adoption, you should make sure you are fully informed before beginning the process. We’ll answer your most common questions.

Adoption in North Carolina

Your adoption process will vary depending on whether you go through an agency or want an independent adoption, whether you’re related to the child, and where the child is from.

Open and Closed Adoptions

Adoptions may be “open” or “closed,” or some variation in between. Both biological and adoptive parents have options in determining exactly how much contact they want to have with one another.

  • Closed Adoptions – In a closed adoption, neither the birth parents nor the adoptive parents learn any information about each other. Adoptive parents only receive non-identifying information about the adoptee’s family, and adoption records are sealed after they are finalized. The adoptee will not know anything about their parents. However, once the adoptee turns 18, they can request that the court provide non-identifying information about the birth parents. The only time the court will release identifying information is in response to an order to show cause.
  • Open Adoptions – Open adoptions, on the other hand, allow communication and information to be shared between birth parents and adoptive parents. Depending on the comfort levels of everyone involved, both sets of parents may send letters, pictures, progress reports, or even get together for dinners or birthday parties. Adoptees have the opportunity to talk to their birth parents about why they were placed for adoption, which may allow them to better come to terms with their adoption. However, open adoptions can also create confusion for children who are unsure about their biological backgrounds.

Agency and Independent Adoption

Adoptions may take place through public or private agencies, or they may be independent of any agency. Determining whether to use an agency may depend on your finances and the adoption process you hope to use.

  • Public Agencies – These state-licensed institutions often manage the care of many children of varying ages who are waiting for adoption. Because these agencies are responsible for many children, they are often short on resources and may offer adoptions at a less expensive rate than a private agency.
  • Private Agencies – Though typically more expensive, these agencies usually offer more resources, like counseling services, to everyone involved in the adoption. Private agencies can be more selective and may be more likely to deny applicants based on factors such as age or marital status. Private agencies have less demand but are more likely to manage younger children or infants who need adoption.
  • Independent Adoption – An adoption may take place outside of an agency when adoptions occur within a family or when potential adoptive parents find someone with a child who is in need of adoption. These adoptions are typically less expensive initially, but they can be legally complex because the wants and needs of both biological and adoptive parents must be considered.

Related reading: Preplacement Assessment Process

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Child?

There are various costs associated with adoption. These costs vary between states. Depending on the type of adoption, these costs will also vary. An experienced family law attorney can help finalize any required court filings or immigration applications.

For more information, this article has outlined the costs associated with the four primary methods of adoption.

There are also avenues for adoption financial aid.

Adoption Requirements

In North Carolina, any person over the age of 18 can file a petition to adopt a minor child or an adult. You do not have to be married to seek an adoption; single people may file a petition as well. If a single person is in a long-term relationship, their partners may not be included as a petitioner. Married persons must both be included as petitioners. Spouses are not allowed to adopt each other.

North Carolina Adoption Process

Prior to adopting a child, you should familiarize yourself with the North Carolina adoption process so that you know what to expect and can properly prepare yourself for what’s to come. Here is a brief overview of the main steps in the process:

The Collection of Materials

The adoption process in North Carolina begins with collecting the materials that are required to adopt a child. After you take a pre-placement assessment, you will need to obtain a Consent to Adoption from the child’s biological parents as well as an affidavit from the biological mother. The affidavit should contain the biological parents’ names, addresses, and marital statuses.

Next, you will need a Certified Copy of Background Information on the child from the child’s biological parents or an adoption agency. Once you have the Certified Copy of Background Information, you must make sure that all pleadings or court orders that are related to the child are resolved. Lastly, you will need to file a financial affidavit that shows you have paid all of the adoption costs and disclose any individual who was unable to give you consent.

The Filing of the Petition

After you have collected and prepared all of your materials, you can file a Petition for Adoption. When you do so, anyone whom you were unable to obtain consent from must be notified.

The Adoption Hearing

The last step in the North Carolina adoption process is the adoption hearing. Within 90 days of the day you file a Petition for Adoption, the court will set a hearing date. The actual hearing is required to occur within six months of when you filed. If there are no oppositions or concerns, a formal hearing may not be necessary for your adoption to be approved.

In the event that a formal hearing does take place, the court must determine whether you are suitable for adopting a child, the adoption is in the best interests of the child, and you have met all of the statutory procedural requirements for adoption in North Carolina.

How an Adoption Lawyer Can Help

It’s common for adoptive parents to experience anxiety throughout the adoption process. With a North Carolina adoption lawyer by your side to anticipate and prevent potential complications, you can count on a smoother, faster adoption process.

An adoption lawyer can serve as an invaluable resource because he or she understands the complex laws associated with adoption and how they apply to your specific case. He or she can develop a plan that is legally secure and right for your particular needs. In the event that any issues arise during the adoption process, a North Carolina adoption lawyer can negotiate with the birth parent’s attorney.

Seeking legal support with the adoption process is a worthwhile investment if you’d like a thorough explanation of the adoption laws in North Carolina, assistance in preparing all required documentation, and representation at adoption hearings.

How Can I Get Custody of a Child in Another State?

Gaining custody of a child in another state is possible, but you must follow specific laws to do so.

Benefits of Hiring a North Carolina Adoption Attorney

When you hire a North Carolina adoption attorney, you can expect him or her to collaborate with the child’s birth parents and their attorney to plan and execute the adoption. Here are just several of the many reasons hiring an experienced attorney to assist you through every step of the adoption process is a smart choice:

Adoptive Parents Will Enjoy Greater Flexibility

One of the most significant advantages of an adoption attorney-assisted or independent adoption is the flexibility it offers. While adoption agencies give preference to certain types of couples or individuals, independent adoptions give adoptive parents and birth parents the opportunity to create the type of adoption and relationship they desire. They do not have to take the opinions of a third party into consideration.

Adoptive Parents & Birth Parents Can Form a Relationship

Adoptive parents and birth parents will get the chance to share partial or full identities so that they can become acquainted prior to the birth of the child. Since independent adoptions allow for adoptive parents and birth parents to form a relationship, birth mothers can develop confidence and trust in the adoptive parents.

Adoptive Parents Receive Custody Following Birth

If you opt for an adoption agency rather than an independent adoption, your child may be placed in a foster home immediately after he or she is born. With an independent adoption, you can expect to receive custody of the child right after he or she is discharged from the hospital.

Adoptive Parents Play an Active Role in the Adoption Process

Adopting a child independently can make it easier for you as an adoptive parent to play an active role in the entire adoption process. You will be able to review the birth parent’s pre-natal records and background information and select a birth mother on your own instead of depending on an agency to do it for you.

Additional Adoption Information

If you’re genuinely interested in adoption, it’s important to learn about North Carolina law, including:

  • Stepparent Adoptions – Finalizing the adoption of your spouse’s child – a son or daughter you love – can be a happy, yet stressful experience. To learn more about stepparent adoption in North Carolina, call Breeden Law Office today.
  • Adoption Proceedings — Learn more about the specific legal steps you must take to adopt a child.
  • Termination of Parental Rights – Sometimes a parent can no longer perform their duties as mother or father, and a termination of parental rights occurs. For more information on how such an action occurs, contact a North Carolina adoption lawyer today.
  • Relative Adoption– Sometimes parents are unable to care for their children and relatives step in and care for the child during this tumultuous time. Relative adoption can be a complicated legal process, so it’s best to stay informed of all issues pertaining to your case so you can provide the best care possible for your relatives.
  • LGBTQ Adoption – Learn more about the legal issues same-sex partners face when adopting through traditional adoption or stepparent adoption.

Related reading: Adoption FAQ


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