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Adoption Law in North Carolina
Adoption is the method provided by law to establish the legal relationship of parent and child between persons who are not so related by birth, with the same mutual rights and obligations that exist between children and their birth parent.
The primary purpose of adoption is to help children whose parents are incapable of assuming or continuing parental responsibilities to legally become part of a new permanent family.
Chapter 48 of North Carolina General Statutes was written to establish a clear judicial process for adoption, to promote the integrity and finality of adoptions, to encourage prompt, conclusive disposition of adoption proceedings, and to structure services to adoptive children, biological parents, and adoptive parents that will provide for the needs and protect the interest of all parties to an adoption, particularly adopted minors.
In addition, pursuant to N.C.G.S. §108A-14(6) and N.C.G.S. § 131D-10.1 et. seq. North Carolina county departments of social services, or their agents, are authorized to investigate cases for adoption and to supervise adoptive placements.
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In North Carolina any minor child may be adopted in accordance with the provision of Chapter 48. The child does not need to be a citizen or legal resident of the United States or here legally to be adopted.
Who May Petition?
1. The petitioners must be 18 years of age when the Petition for Adoption is filed.
An individual may adopt even if not a citizen of the United States or not here legally, if such adoption would be in the best interest of the child and sufficient information exists to complete an approved pre-placement assessment.
However, the services of an immigration attorney may also be needed to deal with federal immigration and naturalization issues arising from the state adoption.
2. The petitioners shall have lived in or been domiciled in North Carolina for at least the six consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the petition or the child being adopted shall have lived in North Carolina for at least the six consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the petition or from birth and the petitioner is domiciled in North Carolina. N.C.G.S.§48-2-100.
If the petitioners live here when the petition is filed and then move to another state, the adoption can still be finalized in North Carolina after receipt of the post-placement Report on Proposed Adoption (DSS-1808) from the state where they now reside using ICPC procedures. N.C.G.S.§48-1-109 (c).
3. A prospective adoptive parent may file a petition for adoption of a child only if the child has been placed with the prospective adoptive parent unless the requirement of placement is waived by the court for cause. N.C.G.S.§48-2-301(a)
4. The spouse of a petitioner must join in the petition unless the spouse has been declared incompetent or unless this requirement is otherwise waived by the court for cause. Exceptions to this requirement are adoptions by stepparents or former parents under Articles 4 and 6 of Chapter 48. N.C.G.S.§48-2-301(b). That spouse must then be given notice of the waiver request, unless that notice is waived by the clerk for cause for petitions filed on or after 10/01/2005. 5. If the petitioner is unmarried, no other individual may join in the petition. N.C.G.S.§48-2 301(c) 6. Nonresidents are able to adopt in North Carolina if the adoptee is in the legal custody of a North Carolina child placing agency; the adoptee has resided in the State for six consecutive month immediately preceding the filing of the petition or from birth; or the prospective adoptive parent has lived in or been domiciled in North Carolina for rat least six consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the petition. N.C.G.S.§48-2-100.
When Petition May Be Filed?
- A petition for adoption must be filed no later than 30 days after a child is placed with the petitioner or this state acquires jurisdiction to hear the petition, whichever is later, except for stepparent petitions and adoptions by former parents, unless the court extends the time for filing.
- If a petition is not filed in accordance with (1) above, any person may notify the county department of social services for appropriate action.
- A petition for adoption may be filed concurrently with a petition to terminate parental rights.
Where a Petition may be Filed?
A petition for adoption may be filed with the clerk of the superior court in the county in which:
- A petitioner lives, or is domiciled, at the time of the filing, or
- The adoptee lives, or
- An office of the agency that placed the adoptee is located.
Content of Petition
Content of petition:
- Each petitioner's full name, current address, place of domicile if different from current address, and whether each petitioner has resided or been domiciled in this State for the six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition;
- The marital status and gender of each petitioner;
- The sex and, if known, the date and state or country of birth of the adoptee;
- The full name by which the adoptee is to be known if the petition is granted;
- If the adoptee is a minor a description and estimate of the value of any property of the adoptee.
- The length of time the adoptee has been in the physical custody of the petitioner.
- Information if the petitioner has the resources, including those available under a subsidy for an adoptee with special needs, to provide for the care and support of the adoptee.
- A description of the source of placement and the date of placement of the adoptee with the petitioner.
- The date of the petitioner's marriage, the name of the petitioner's spouse, and whether the spouse is deceased or has been adjudicated incompetent;
- The length of time the petitioner's spouse or the petitioner has had legal custody of the adoptee and the circumstances under which custody was acquired; and
- That the adoptee has resided primarily with the petitioner or with the petitioner and the petitioner's spouse during the six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
- The name, age, and last known address of any child of the prospective adoptive parent, including a child previously adopted by the prospective adoptive parent or the adoptive parent's spouse, and the date and place of the adoption;
- The information about biological parents.
Additional Documents to be Filed with the Petition
- Any required Affidavit of Parentage executed pursuant to N.C.G.S.§48-3-206;
- Any required Consent or Relinquishment that has been executed;
- A certified copy of any court order terminating the rights and duties of a parent or guardian of the child;
- A certified copy of any court order or pleading in a pending proceeding concerning custody of or visitation with the child;
- A copy of any required pre-placement assessment certified by the agency that prepared it or an affidavit stating why the assessment is not available. In direct agency placements, in which an assessment is required and is not provided to the placing parent before placement of the child for adoption, a Certificate of Delivery of Pre-placement Assessment, (DSS-5219) must be filed, indicating that the prospective adoptive parent has later delivered a copy of the assessment to the placing parent;
- A copy of any document containing the information required under N.C.G.S.§48-3-205 concerning the health, social, educational, and genetic history of the adoptee and the adoptee's biological family which the petitioner received before the placement or at any later time, certified by the person who prepared it, or if this document is not available, an affidavit stating the reason why it is not available;
- Any signed copy of the form required by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children authorizing a child to come into North Carolina or an explanation of why such is not available;
- A statement containing the name of any individual whose consent is or may be required, but who has not executed a consent or a relinquishment or whose parental rights have not been legally terminated, and any fact or circumstance that may excuse the lack of consent or relinquishment; and
- In an adoption pursuant to Article 4 of Chapter 48 (stepparents), a copy of any agreement to release past-due child support payments;
- Any consent to an agency by a placing parent and adopting parents to release identifying information under N.C.G.S.§48-9-109. Use form DSS-5218 (Consent to Release of Identifying Information).
- The petitioner may also file any other document necessary or helpful to the court's determination.