North Carolina Adoption Preplacement Assessment Process

Written by Jonathan Breeden

January 27, 2017

Making a decision to adopt a child, while exciting, is only the beginning of the arduous process. Before the North Carolina Division of Social Services can allow a child to be adopted, it has to get to know the potential adoptive parents so it can confirm the child will be raised in a safe, loving home. That’s why adoptive parents must apply for a preplacement assessment before they can be placed with a child.

If you are considering adoption or have questions about the adoption process, contact an experienced North Carolina adoption attorney at Breeden Law Office. We have helped make the process smoother for residents throughout Wake, Harnett, and Johnston counties.

Call attorney Jonathan Breeden today at (919) 661-4970 to find out how he can help you.

Who Must Apply for a Preplacement Assessment?

A prospective parent who is hoping to adopt a child must have a preplacement assessment completed sometime within the 18 months before the adoption is to take place. Parents are only eligible to adopt if the preplacement assessment affirms they will make acceptable parents. If, however, the adoptive parent is a relative, the assessment is not required. Examples of relatives who do not need to complete the assessment include:

  • Grandparents or great-grandparents
  • Full or half siblings
  • Aunts or uncles
  • Great-aunts or great-uncles

How to Arrange for a Preplacement Assessment

You don’t have to have an adoptee selected before you make a request. You can contact an authorized agency at any time to get your assessment started. The evaluation must be completed within 90 days of your initial request.

The agency will come to your home to interview you and anyone else who lives in the home with you. The assessment will review many factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Your marital status
  • Your income and finances
  • Your reason for wanting to adopt
  • Past criminal convictions or incidents of domestic violence, as well as those for any persons in your home that are 18 years old or older
  • Any other factors the agency deems important to the assessment. A complete list can be found here.

The agency will also want to know about your mental health history, your ability to deal with stressful or frustrating events, and how you plan to discipline the child. In addition, it will be important for you to relay how you will handle having an adopted child. Do you plan to tell the child they are adopted? Do you have an opinion on the child’s birth parents?

Once the agency evaluates all the information, it will make a determination of your suitability as an adoptive parent within 30 days of the interview. Assessments will include a list of specific reasons why you are considered suitable or unsuitable.

What You Can Do If You Receive an Unfavorable Assessment

You may file a response to your assessment with the Division of Social Services if the agency has deemed you an unsuitable adoptive parent and has gone through all of its internal review procedures. The Division will acknowledge your response but is not obligated to answer it. If you already have a potential adoptee living with you when you receive an unfavorable assessment, the Division will notify your county’s department of social services, who will take “appropriate action,” according to the statute. That may include removal of the child from your home.

Contact a North Carolina Adoption Attorney

A preplacement assessment is an intense interview, and you and all the members of your household will be placed under the microscope during your review. The evaluation can be nerve-wracking, but it’s important to remember that the agency, like you, is just looking out for the best interests of the potential adoptee.

In order to be fully prepared for everything in your assessment, you may want to talk to a veteran adoption attorney. Jonathan Breeden has lent his legal experience to many residents going through the adoption process. His attention to detail and compassion for families will help calm your nerves during this stressful and exciting time.

Call Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 today.


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