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North Carolina Adoption Requirements

What do I need to adopt a child in North Carolina?

We frequently hear questions like, “How old do you have to be to adopt in North Carolina?” or “Do you have to be married to adopt?”

Here’s what North Carolina laws have to say about the requirements for adopting a child in NC:

  • 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.

North Carolina state laws says that any individual may be adopted, although if the individual is of Indian heritage (as defined by the Indian Child Welfare Act), then that act will dictate the child’s adoption.

An adoption agency, a guardian, or a parent with legal custody of the child can place a child for adoption. Adoption agencies may have their own requirements to adopt in North Carolina, so be sure to contact the professional of your choice to learn if you qualify. To speak with an adoption specialist about American Adoptions’ requirements, call 1-800-ADOPTION or contact us online for free.

Can a felon adopt a child in North Carolina?

Every once in a while, we receive questions about whether a criminal record bars someone from adopting. The honest answer is that it depends on a few things. If the crime committed was violent in nature or involved a child, it is highly unlikely that you would meet the requirements for adopting a child in North Carolina. If the crime was not violent and did not involve a child, you may be able to discuss the circumstances with your social worker. If you explain what you’ve learned and how you’ve changed since committing the crime, you may still be eligible to adopt.

What are North Carolina’s requirements for adoption from foster care?

If you came to this article because you’re interested in foster parenting or adopting from foster care, know that these are two different practices with two different sets of requirements. To become a foster parent in North Carolina, you must:

To adopt from foster care, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Have finger prints and a criminal record check completed

  • Depending on the agency, undergo training to become a foster parent

To learn about county-specific information, contact a North Carolina foster care state consultant.

What are the necessary emotional qualifications to adopt a child in North Carolina?

Just as important as the legal requirements for adoption in North Carolina are the emotional ones. Before you begin to actively pursue adoption with American Adoptions, your adoption specialist will speak with you to make sure you have:

  • Moved on from infertility, if applicable

  • Embraced the idea that your family will grow through adoption and become just as enthusiastic as you would have been to have a child biologically

  • Accepted that there will be both highs and lows in the adoption process and that, while worth it in the end, it may be difficult at times

  • Told everyone closest to you about your plan to adopt

If you feel that you meet our agency's North Carolina adoption requirements and wish to speak further with an adoption specialist, please don’t hesitate to call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION or reach out to us online for free

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