What You Need to Know About Adoption
Updated: Jan 10
And How to Adopt a Baby in NC
Congratulations! You’re thinking about—or maybe you’ve already decided—to adopt! This is an exciting time in your life. And you have so much to look forward to… inviting a child into your loving home and building a lifetime bond together.
The adoption process can also be a time that causes stress, worry, and anxiety for many couples and individuals who want to adopt. But you don’t have to go through it alone. At Spidell Family Law, we are ready to partner with you to help you navigate the paperwork, courts, and more. Whether you are adopting in North Carolina or out of state, we can be your guide from decision day to adoption day.
First, a Few Facts About Adoption
Did you know…
● 10-15% of U.S. couples are affected by infertility.
● More than 57,000 children were adopted in 2020 in the United States, alone.
Adoption is one of the best ways for couples to start a family when dealing with infertility, preferring not to bear a pregnancy, or just wanting to offer a child a better life. Adoption also reducing the number of children in foster care homes nationwide or internationally.
Having a dedicated attorney on your side helps to ensure a smooth process, prevent mistakes, and all required paperwork is completed correctly and on time.
Spidell Family Law Has the Answers to Your Adoption Questions
When it comes to what you need to know about adoption, Spidell Family Law has the answers to all of your questions.
● What children are eligible to be adopted?
● Will I be approved to be an adoptive parent?
● How do I get started with the adoption process?
● Can my new spouse adopt my child as their stepchild?
● Do I need the help of an attorney in order to adopt?
● How long does adoption take?
● And more!
How Adoption Works in North Carolina
Prospective adoptive parents can adopt children in one of three ways in North Carolina.
● Adoption of minor children
● Stepparent adoptions of minor children
● Adult adoptions
The most common adoptions that occur in North Carolina are adoptions of minor children, from another person or an adoption agency, and stepparent adoptions. For this post, we’ll focus on these two types of adoptions.
It is highly recommended that you work with an attorney who focuses on adoption. A dedicated attorney helps to ensure a smooth process, prevent unnecessary mistakes, and complete all required paperwork correctly and on time.
A Word about Adoption vs. Legal Guardianship
While adoption and legal guardianship share some legal permissions, they are, in fact, completely different. Adoption is final and places a child permanently with a new family, in the eyes of the court. However, guardianship may eventually turn to adoption, depending on the circumstances.
Have you struggled to start a family? Want to grow your family through adoption? Start your family today with the help of an experienced family law attorney. Your Spidell Family Law attorney will guide you through the NC adoption process.
What You Need to Know About Adoption in North Carolina
The NC adoption process is the same whether you are adopting a child from an agency (such as DSS), another person, or adopting the child as their stepparent.
Heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, stepparents, and single individuals all have the same child adoption rights in North Carolina. A stepparent must be married to the child’s biological parent and that spouse must also give their consent to the adoption.
To be considered as a potential adoptive parent, you must first meet several initial qualifications.
Be at least 18 years old.
Submit a criminal background check.
Complete a Home Study.
Provide your fingerprints.
An adoption may take up to 90 days to process and complete once all of the required paperwork is filed with the court.
The Home Study
The home study can be one of the most challenging parts of adoption. During this process, you will need to provide multiple forms of documentation as well as verify your financial, medical, and home life stability.
● Proof of financial stability
● Medical exams
● Veterinary records for pets that live with you
● DMV records
● Written referrals from others
● Vehicle registration records
● Applications detailing your home and family life
A Child Must be Eligible for Adoption
The child being adopted must be truly eligible for adoption by meeting at least one of the following requirements:
● The child’s biological parents had their parental rights terminated.
● The biological parents are deceased.
● The parents have decided to relinquish their parental rights.
● The parents have consented to the adoption of their child.
North Carolina courts require termination of an unknown father’s or mother’s parental rights for a child adoption—even if the parent cannot be found. Any child available for adoption over the age of 12 must also consent to their own adoption in North Carolina.
File Your Paperwork with the Court
Before a North Carolina adoption can be considered, all of the required adoption papers must be filed with the court.
● Adoption petition
● Copies of birth certificate(s)
● Marriage license(s)
● Termination of Parental Rights or Custody Orders from the Court
● Copies of Consents to Adopt or Relinquishments of Rights
How Long Does Adoption Take?
An adoption will take at least 90 days to process and complete (per the statute’s 90-day waiting period) once all of the required paperwork is filed with the court. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, some court procedures, including adoption, have been taking longer than normal. So, be patient. We’ll get through this together.
Amending the Birth Certificate
Once the North Carolina adoption is final, you can have the child’s birth certificate amended to reflect the child’s new parents and the child’s new legal name. The adoptive parents now have all legal rights for the child that were previously held by the biological parents. In addition, the duty for child support is eliminated when a child is officially adopted. When an adoption becomes formal, it also severs the right for the adopted child to inherit from their biological parents.
Adoption Is Worth It!
Being approved for adoption is an exciting time for parents. However, remember that for older children, it can also be a sad time, as they lose their biological parents while gaining new ones.
As a prospective adoptive parent, you will find plenty of resources available on video, in books, and online to help you navigate this process and to help your child learn about adoption too. Let Spidell Family Law also be your guide in this process.
So, is adoption worth it? Yes! It definitely is. We look forward to meeting you.