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How to Adopt in North Carolina

From the Research Triangle to the Outer Banks, adoption has built hundreds of North Carolina families. Whether you are interested in adoption in the Tar Heel State as a prospective adoptive parent or an expectant mother, the following guide will provide the information you need to adopt or place a child for adoption in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and beyond.
North Carolina

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in North Carolina

If you are considering adopting a child in North Carolina, it is important to understand state adoption laws. This section includes information about basic foster care and adoption laws throughout the state.

What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in North Carolina?

Any adult may adopt.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in North Carolina?

Adoptive parents and those acting on their behalf may pay reasonable fees and expenses for the following:

  • Medical, hospital and travel expenses for the birth mother and the child incident to the pregnancy
  • Counseling services for the birth parent provided by a licensed professional
  • Living expenses for the birth mother during her pregnancy and up to six weeks after the child’s birth
  • Legal services connected with the adoption
  • Services of an agency in connection with an adoption, including legal services, court costs, travel or other administrative expenses and preparation of the pre-placement assessment and report

An agency may charge a reasonable fee to prospective adoptive parents and may use a sliding scale related to income to provide services to people of all incomes. No fee will be charged when the head of the household is an Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient, when the family’s income is below the State’s Established Income, or when the family is pursuing adoption of a child in the custody and placement responsibility of the Department of Social Services.
No one can give or receive compensation for the placement of a child for adoption, the consent of a parent to the adoption or the relinquishment of a child for adoption. No one can receive compensation for assisting a parent or guardian in locating, evaluating or transferring custody to adoptive parents.
At least 10 days before the date of the hearing, each petitioner must file an affidavit accounting for all payments of money or anything of value made by or on behalf of each petitioner in connection with the adoption, including the amount of each payment and the name and address of each recipient.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in North Carolina?

To become a foster parent in North Carolina, you must be at least 21 years old, complete finger print-based background checks and complete 30 hours of preparatory training called “Trauma-Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence/Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting” (TIPS-MAPP).
For more information about foster care and foster-to-adopt placements in North Carolina, visit N.C. Kids Adoption & Foster Care Network.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in North Carolina?

After adopting a child in a foreign country, adoptive parents may readopt the child under the laws of North Carolina. An adoption order entered in the foreign country may be accepted in lieu of the consent of the biological parents of the child to the readoption. If two parents adopted the child in the foreign country, they must readopt jointly regardless of whether they have since divorced.
The state registrar will prepare a certificate of identification for the child upon presentation of a certified copy of the original birth certificate from the country of birth and a certified copy of the final order of adoption. If the child has been readopted in North Carolina, the state registrar will prepare a certificate of identification upon receipt of a report of that adoption. The certificate will contain the same information as certificates for people adopted in the state, except the country of birth will be specified instead of the state of birth.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in North Carolina?

Only county departments of social services, adoption facilitators and licensed agencies may publicly advertise that any person or entity will place or accept a child for adoption.
Advertisements may be published in newspapers, on the radio, on television or on the internet, and must include a statement that indicates that the person has completed a pre-placement assessment, lists the name of the agency that completed the pre-placement assessment and the date it was completed and states whether the person is willing to provide lawful expenses.
No one other than a parent, guardian or agency may place a child for adoption. No one other than a parent, guardian, agency or adoption facilitator may solicit potential adoptive parents for children in need of adoption. Only an agency, adoption facilitator or individual with a favorable completed pre-placement assessment may solicit for adoption a potential adoptee.
An adoption facilitator is an individual or nonprofit entity that assists birth parents in locating and evaluating prospective adoptive parents without charge. In a direct placement, the parent or guardian must personally select the adoptive parent, but an adoption facilitator may assist them in locating or evaluating prospective adoptive parents.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in North Carolina

If you are pregnant and considering adoption for your baby in North Carolina, there are several laws in place to protect your rights throughout the adoption process. The following information provides an overview of the rules and regulations of placing a child for adoption in North Carolina.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

In North Carolina, the birth mother can consent to an adoption any time after the child is born. A man whose consent is required may execute consent either before or after birth. A guardian of the child may execute consent at any time. In an older child adoption, a child who is age 12 or older may execute consent to be adopted at any time.
Consent must be signed and acknowledged under oath. Consent to the adoption of an Indian child must meet the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act. In all cases, the consent must include:

  • The date and place of its execution
  • The name, date of birth and permanent address of the person executing consent
  • The date of birth or expected delivery date, sex and name of the child, if known
  • A statement that the person is voluntarily consenting to the adoption by the identified prospective adoptive parent
  • A statement that the consenting person understand that the signed consent is final and irrevocable
  • A statement that the consent is not affected by any separate agreement between the consenting person and the adoptive parent
  • A statement that the consenting person has not received or been promised any money or anything of value for the consent except for lawful payments
  • A statement that the consenting person understand that when the adoption is final, all rights and obligations will be extinguished and the legal relationship with the child terminated
  • The name and address of the court
  • A statement that the person executing consent waives notice of any adoption proceeding
  • A statement that the person executing consent has received or been offered an unsigned copy of the consent, has been advised that counseling services may be available through county departments of social services or licensed child-placing agencies and has been advised of the right to employ independent legal counsel

Who must consent to the adoption?

In North Carolina, consent must be given by:

  • The mother
  • Any man who:
    • Is or was married to the mother
    • Attempted to marry the mother before the child’s birth
    • Has legitimated the child under the law of any state
    • Has acknowledged his paternity of the child
    • Has received the child into his home and openly claimed the child as his biological child
    • Is the adoptive father of the child
  • A guardian of the child

In an agency placement, consent must be given by the agency that placed the child for adoption and each individual described above who has not relinquished the child. In an older child adoption, the child must consent to be adopted if he or she is 12 or older, unless the court finds that it is not in the best interests of the child for the court to require consent.

When is consent not needed?

Consent to the adoption is not required when:

  • The parent’s rights and duties have been terminated
  • The parent has been judicially determined not to be the father of the child
  • The parent has relinquished parental rights or guardianship powers, including the right to consent to adoption
  • The man is not married to the child’s birth mother and after the conception of the minor executed a notarized statement denying paternity or disclaiming interest in the child
  • The parent is deceased
  • The individual has not executed consent or relinquishment and fails to respond to a notice of the adoption proceeding within 30 days of the service of the notice
  • The individual does not respond to notice of the adoption proceedings in a timely manner or whose consent is deemed unnecessary by the court
  • The individual’s actions resulted in a conviction and the conception of the minor to be adopted.

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

Consent may be revoked within 7 days of execution. Upon revocation, the adoptive parent must immediately return the child to the person who revokes consent.
When consent is revoked, the adoption cannot proceed unless another consent is obtained or the person’s parental rights are terminated. A second consent to adoption by the same adoptive parents is irrevocable.
Consent is void if:

  • Before the entry of the adoption decree, it is determined that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress
  • The prospective adoptive parent and the individual who executed the consent mutually agree in writing to set it aside
  • The petition to adopt is voluntarily dismissed
  • The court dismisses the petition to adopt and no appeal has been taken, or the dismissal has been affirmed on appeal and all appeals have been exhausted

What rights does the father of the baby have in North Carolina adoptions?

In North Carolina, a birth certificate must be filed with the county registrar within 10 days of the child’s birth. If the mother was married at the time of conception or birth, or between conception and birth, the name of her husband will be entered on the birth certificate as the father of the child.
If paternity has been otherwise determined by a court, the name of the father as determined by the court will be entered on the birth certificate. If the child’s mother, her husband, and the child’s putative father complete an affidavit acknowledging paternity, the putative father’s name will be entered on the birth certificate as the child’s legal father.
If the mother was unmarried at all times from the date of conception through the baby’s birth, the name of the father will not be entered on the birth certificate unless the child’s mother and father complete an affidavit acknowledging paternity.
At any time past the sixth month of pregnancy, the birth mother, agency or adoptive parents can request that the court to determine whether consent of the birth father is required. The biological father will be served with notice of the intent of the biological mother to place the child for adoption, and he will have 15 days after service to assert a claim that his consent is required.
If the biological father fails to respond within 15 days, the court will enter an order that his consent is not required for the adoption. A father who fails to respond within the time required is not entitled to notice of an adoption petition filed within three months of the child’s birth or to participate in the adoption proceeding.

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in North Carolina

All prospective adoptive parents must complete a pre-placement and post-placement assessment to be approved to foster or adopt a child. These assessments determine whether the adoptive parents are able to provide a safe, nurturing home to a child. If you are interested in adopting a child, the following guidelines outline the process, requirements and other important North Carolina home study information.

What is included in the North Carolina home study process?

The pre-placement assessment in North Carolina will include at least one personal interview with each individual being assessed. The person conducting the home study will compile a report on the following:

  • Age, nationality, race, ethnicity and religion
  • Marital and family status and history
  • Physical and mental health, including any drug or alcohol addiction
  • Education and employment history
  • Property, income and current financial information
  • Reasons for wanting to adopt
  • Any information about previous domestic violence proceedings or proceedings concerning a minor who was allegedly abused, dependent, neglected, abandoned or delinquent
  • Information about any convictions of crimes other than minor traffic violations
  • The quality of the environment in the home and the functioning of any children in the household

The department will also collect fingerprint-based criminal histories of all prospective adoptive parents and individuals age 18 or older who reside in the home.

Who is included in the home study process?

In North Carolina, the adoptive applicant and all individuals age 18 or older residing in the home must be included in the home study.

Who will conduct the home study?

The home study must be completed by a county department of social services or an agency licensed by the department.

On what grounds will the home study not be approved in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, a home study may not be approved if any person residing in the home has a prior conviction or pending indictment of spousal abuse, child abuse or neglect, a crime against a child including child pornography, or a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault or homicide. The home study may not be approved if any individual residing in the home has been convicted of a felony or has a pending felony indictment for physical assault, battery or a drug-related offense committed in the past five years.
An unfavorable assessment will be issued when the county department of social services determines that, based on prior criminal convictions, the prospective parent is unfit to have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children. Refusal to consent to a criminal history check is grounds for the issuance of an unfavorable assessment.

When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?

The home study must be completed or updated within the 18 months preceding placement.

What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for North Carolina?

When an adoption petition is filed, the court will order a post-placement report to be made to determine if the proposed adoption is in the child’s best interests. The agency will conduct post-placement interviews with each petitioner in their residence, as well as one additional interview with each petitioner and the adopted child to observe the relationship between the child and the petitioners.
The post-placement study must include:

  • An assessment of the petitioner’s marital or family status, physical and mental health, home environment, property, income and financial information
  • Non-identifying information concerning the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the child
  • Copies of any court order, judgment, decree or pending legal proceeding affecting the child, the petitioners or any child of the petitioner relevant to the welfare of the adopted child
  • A list of all expenses incurred or paid in connection with the adoption
  • Any fact or circumstance that raises a specific concern about whether the adoption is contrary to the best interests of the adoptive child
  • A finding by the agency of the suitability of the petitioner and their home for the adopted child
  • A recommendation concerning the granting of the adoption petition

What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in North Carolina?

A pre-placement study is not required when a child is placed directly with their grandparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle or great-grandparent.
In any stepparent or grandparent adoption in which the child has lived with the stepparent or grandparent for at least two consecutive years immediately preceding the filing of the adoption petition, the court may order a post-placement report. The report is not required unless the child’s consent is to be waived, the child has revoked consent or both of the child’s parents are dead. In a grandparent adoption, the report is required if the child is eligible for adoption assistance.

What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?

Any interstate placement of a child is subject to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). A pre-placement assessment prepared in another state may be used in North Carolina only if the prospective adoptive parent resided in the state where it was prepared and the person or entity that prepared it was authorized by the law of that state to gather the necessary information.

What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?

This issue is not addressed in North Carolina statutes. For more information about foster care and adoption in North Carolina, visit N.C. Kids Adoption & Foster Care Network.
To start the home study process, contact one of these trusted North Carolina home study providers:

  • NC Homestudies, LLC
    NC Homestudies, LLC is a licensed child-placing agency serving families throughout North Carolina. The agency provides domestic and international home studies as well as post-placement adoption reports.
  • Triangle Adoption Services
    Triangle Adoption Services specializes in adoption home study services and prides itself on exceptional customer service to adoptive families across North Carolina.
  • Adoption Matters, Inc. (NC)
    Adoption Matters, Inc., is a nonprofit child-placing agency licensed by North Carolina and South Carolina. The agency provides home studies and post-placement supervision, among other services.

Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about North Carolina home study providers.

North Carolina Adoption Professionals

For more information about adoption in North Carolina or to begin the adoption process, contact one of these local adoption professionals:

For more information about foster care in North Carolina, visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Things to do in North Carolina

If your adoption journey takes you to the Tar Heel State for visits with prospective birth parents or while you’re waiting for ICPC approval, take some time to see some of the fun things North Carolina has to offer:

Find more information about traveling to North Carolina at www.visitnc.com.

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