Adoption in North Carolina

Adoption is a wonderful and special way to add to your family with its very own chapter in the North Carolina General Statutes (Chapter 48). There are multiple types of adoption available in North Carolina if you feel this is how you wish to add to your family. It can be very hard to navigate your way through the process though without help.

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Foster Care Adoption

Adopting through the foster care system involves going through the state agency, here in New Hanover County that is the department of social services. You have to go through a class prior to getting licensed as a foster parent as well as extensive home studies and back ground check. During this process you can be designated a foster to adopt home. Once you go through the process the agency will try to place children in the best placement possible. Typically state agencies prefer family placement but when that is not an option then turn to licensed foster parents. If you are designated a foster to adopt that means children will be placed in your care who are or will very shortly be available for adoption. Children in this situation tend to be older but there is a much more extensive process to make sure it is a good fit for all involved so that is a major positive to this type of adoption.

Agency Adoption

If you chose to go this route you have chosen to go through a licensed agency. The agency could be the state or it could be a separate licensed agency. Either type will be a longer process due to the procedures that are required. These agencies either have children through parents relinquishing their rights or the parents have had their rights terminated through the court system. In these situations the agency has the authority to consent to the adoption. Again, the length and requirements of this process help to ensure that this is a good fit for both the child/ren and the prospective parents.

Independent Adoption

This is an adoption where the parties are not brought together by a licensed agency. The people can be brought together by some third party. This is typically a much quicker process if the biological parents are both in agreement with their child/ren being adopted as both biological parents must give consent for the adoption. This process is typically faster than the previously mentioned options but this is by nature an open adoption. All parties will know the other. This type of adoption requires certain paperwork be completed by the biological parents as well as a properly executed consent. The birth family will have a role in the selecting of the adoptive family and this tends to help all parties with the process. (Think Juno)

Relative and Step-parent Adoptions

These types of adoptions can actually go very smoothly and certain requirements are waived depending on the relationship the child has with the relative or the step parent. Still the prospective adoptive parent has to have either the consent of the non-custodial parent or the rights of that parent has to be terminated by the court system.

Surrogacy

This has its own unique pitfalls and positives. You have to make sure you get consent from all the parties that are required. For example, if the surrogate is married you have to get consent from her husband as he will be the presumptive father simply by being married to the woman giving birth. Fathers can give consent prior to the child being born but the surrogate or birth mother cannot give consent until after the child is born. Given the time frame you always need to be concerned with consent being withheld. Another issue is what the adoptive parents can pay for during the pregnancy. You have to be very careful because the state is very specific what can and cannot be paid for otherwise it could be considered coercion or a bribe and the adoption will not go through.

Foreign Adoption

This can take the longest time. A lot will depend on which country you are adopting from if they are part of The Hague. This type typically has considerable expenses. Once you have met the requirements of the child’s country of origin now you have to bring the child home and file the proper paperwork to make sure your child is a United State citizen and adopted as per the state of North Carolina.

Whichever path you choose to grow your family we would be happy to help and let you focus on the joy your new family member brings to your life instead of being bogged down in the process.

Client Questions

My spouse consumes alcohol to excess daily, but still works and does not have any driving infractions. Will the court care and grant me custody?

Answer:

Yes, the court cares about all the details of your children’s lives. The court looks at each custody case separately and gives due deference to the parties and the specific children. The court sometimes has the difficult time in picking between two good parents, but often the court has to make a wise decision between a good parent and one that only appears good. Giving the court all the information you believe is relevant to the raising of your children is imperative and helps the court determine the best interests of the minor children.

Do “the guidelines” apply to me even when I lost my job and have no income.

Answer:

Maybe. If the court finds that you are voluntarily underemployed and depressing your income and could/should be working, then the court can impute your income number (or basically create and imagine a false number and use that to fill in the guideline information). However, you may need to immediately file for a modification of child support. Child support payments vest. What that means is when you have a court order, on the date the payments become due they will always be due and cannot be retroactively modified or changed. So you need to file a motion to modify child support the moment you lose your job or have a significant reduction in income, regardless of the circumstances around said reduction.

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You may have come to the website today searching for something specific that is not listed here. Please call as we cannot list everything here and combined we have extensive knowledge of every area of law that may affect your family in district court or we can refer you as necessary.

Cape Fear Family Law gave me a new life when I was hopeless. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I had so many problems and they helped me work through each and every one of them.
-Rick P.

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