Adoption in Wake County, NC, benefits children, parents, and entire families. Any number of circumstances lead to the decision to pursue adoption. But regardless of your reason, you should work with a Raleigh adoption attorney to guide you through the complex process and make sure you achieve a result that completes your family.
Attorney Jonathan Breeden has over two decades of experience representing clients across Wake County in all types of adoption scenarios. He will make you feel at ease and ensure the process unfolds as it should as you build your family. Call our Raleigh family attorney today at (919) 480-8005 or use our online contact form to reach out.
Adoption is the legal process that creates a parent and child relationship between the adoptee (person being adopted) and petitioner (person asking to adopt the other). Once an adoption is complete, the petitioner has the same legal status as the adoptee’s biological parent.
While children are usually being adopted, there is no age requirement. Anyone is eligible to be adopted, even adults. The age of both parties is irrelevant.
Anyone over the age of 18 may adopt another person. One prohibition is that spouses may not adopt one another. Also, in North Carolina, two unmarried people cannot both adopt the same individual. However, a single unmarried person may adopt an individual.
Common adoption situations include:
In certain situations, consent from someone involved in the adoption or a third party is required for an adoption to be approved.
When adopting a child, the biological mother must consent. A man who may or may not be the biological father may also need to agree under certain circumstances. The father must approve when the man:
When an adoption involves married couples, one spouse can only adopt if the other consents to the arrangement.
If the adoption involves a child over the age of 12, the adoptee must consent to the adoption.
There are various characteristics of adoptions that may be selected to create the right situation for your family.
Adoption and birth parents may have concerns about the child’s contact with biological parents after adoption. If parties do not want the child to contact the biological parents, they may opt for a closed adoption.
However, if the parties want the child to find the birth parents, open adoption may be best. Open adoptions allow the child to access biological, medical information, and other historical data about their birth families.
Adoptions may be completed through either an adoption agency or parties who act independently. When an agency is used, you may use a public or private agency. When parties desire to work independently of an agency, it’s best to involve a Raleigh adoption lawyer from the beginning. The adoption process can be complex, and your attorney can ensure no step is left out.
Whether you elect to use a public or private adoption agency, they can benefit because they keep organized records and ensure you have all of the information needed to complete the process.
Some adoption agencies you may work within Raleigh, NC include:
Wake County Human Services also handles foster care (now called permanency planning) and adoption services in Raleigh. They offer education classes as well as support services for adoptive parents.
The specific steps you will need to follow to complete an adoption will vary based on whether you are using an agency or seeking an independent adoption, as well as your relationship with the adoptee.
However, for child adoption, some of the initial steps are similar throughout the process. You will need to collect the following documents for your Raleigh adoption lawyer:
To begin an adoption, you must first file a Petition for Adoption with the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court. The court is located at 316 Fayetteville St. Mall, Raleigh, NC 27601 and can be called at (919) 792-4875. You will need to file previously mentioned documents along with your Petition.
Once the court has accepted the Petition, it will need to be served on (or delivered to) other relevant parties. Those parties may include biological parents or anyone whose consent is required by law.
The court will set a hearing date within 90 days after you file the Petition. All proceedings on your case must occur within six months of your initial filing, but due to a severe backlog of adoptions in Wake County, it can take up to a year.
If you meet all of the legal requirements and no one contests the adoption, you may not have to attend an official hearing. If anyone challenges the adoption, the court must conduct a hearing. The hearing will proceed like a trial or child custody hearing, where you must show that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
North Carolina state law seems straightforward, and adoption agencies can help, but there is no substitute for having an experienced Raleigh adoption lawyer. The situation can become complex quickly, and you have a limited amount of time to make everything happen. You should feel confident that all of the legal aspects of your case are covered.