North Carolina Adoption Laws

Since adoption laws can be complex, understanding all the different adoption laws in North Carolina can be difficult. Whether you’re a North Carolina family or you’re hoping to adopt a child from birth parents in North Carolina, it’s important that you know your adoption is being completed legally. With this in mind, we’ve gathered a few of North Carolina’s most prevalent adoption laws for you to brush up on.

Keep in mind, though, that this article does not serve as legal advice. To learn more about North Carolina adoption laws or to speak with a social worker about a specific situation, call 1-800-ADOPTION or contact your adoption attorney.

Who can adopt a child in North Carolina?

As we wrote in our “North Carolina Adoption Requirements” article, North Carolina adoption laws outline the following requirements for adopting a child:

  • Any adult can adopt, although spouses are not allowed to adopt each other.

  • A stepparent can petition to adopt their spouse’s minor child if:

    • The spouse has legal and physical custody of the child, and the child has lived mostly with this parent and the stepparent in the 6 months prior to the stepparent filing the petition.

    • The spouse is deceased or incompetent but had custody of the child prior to dying or becoming incompetent. If this is the case, the child must have lived mainly with the stepparent in the 6 months prior to the filing of the petition. It’s important to note that there are some cases in which a stepparent can adopt a spouse’s child even when these requirements are not met.

What are the requirements to adopt from North Carolina’s foster care system?

If you are interested in adopting from the foster care system, you must:

  • Be 18 years age of age or older

  • Undergo training

  • Complete criminal background checks

If you are interested instead in foster parenting, you need to:

  • Be 21 years of age or older

  • Complete criminal background checks

  • Complete 30 hours of required training

Can birth parents have their adoption expenses covered in North Carolina?

Yes. Adoptive parents can pay for:

  • Pregnancy-related medical, hospital and travel expenses

  • Counseling services

  • Living expenses during pregnancy and up to six weeks after the child is born

  • Adoption-related legal services

  • Adoption agency expenses

Keep in mind, though, that it illegal to give or receive money or anything of value in exchange for custody of a child. North Carolina adoption laws allow adoptive parents to pay birth parent expenses as a way to help the birth parents, not as a means of convincing them to choose adoption.

What are North Carolina’s laws about adoption consent?

In North Carolina, consent for a child’s adoption must be given by:

  • The child’s mother

  • Any man (whether he is the biological father or not) who:

    • Is or was married to the child’s mother

    • Attempted to marry the mother before the child was born

    • Has legitimated the child under any state law

    • Has acknowledged paternity of the child

    • Has openly received the child as his

    • Is the adoptive father of the child

  • The child’s guardian

If the child is 12 years of age or older, he or she must consent to adoption as well, unless the court determines this is not in the child’s best interests.

The mother of a child can consent to adoption at any point after the child’s birth. Any man whose consent is required can do so either before or after the child’s birth.

Who must have an adoption home study in North Carolina?

Anyone who wishes to adopt a child must first complete an adoption home study.

For more information about adoption laws in North Carolina or to start the adoption process, call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time. 





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