Adoption is a profound way to create a family for those wishing to do so.
Adoption in North Carolina comes in many forms and whichever form of adoption you may choose, the reward of love and commitment lies at the end. Those wishing to adopt a child would do well to remember that adopting a child is a serious commitment and should never be taken lightly. Adoption of a child is a lifelong commitment to love, support and nurture.
Why people adopt
Often, when people think of adoption, they think of a couple who are unable to conceive and desire a child. However, there are several types of adoptions. A child could be adopted by a relative after a natural parent has died or lost the parental rights through a court proceeding; a foster parent may adopt a foster child through a public agency; or an adult may even adopt another adult for any number of reasons. Just about the only type of adoption not allowed in North Carolina is a spouse adopting another spouse.
Children in North Carolina
There are many children in North Carolina that would benefit from adoption. North Carolina’s child population is nearly 2 million. Almost 400,000 of those children live below the poverty line and over 100,000 of those children are under five years of age. As a result, over the last five years adoptions through public agencies alone in North Carolina have grown drastically.
Adoption laws in North Carolina
Chapter 48 of the North Carolina General Statutes establishes North Carolina?s laws on adoption and was written to provide a “clear judicial process for adoption, to promote the integrity and finality of adoptions, to encourage prompt, conclusive disposition of adoption proceedings” In North Carolina, any adult may adopt another individual, except that spouses may not adopt each other. Also, any individual may be adopted in North Carolina. When someone is adopted (the adoptee), their biological family is completely substituted by their new family. The moment the adoption is completed, the adoptee may inherit from their new parents exactly as if, and to the same degree as, a naturally born child of the parent. For all purposes the adopted individual is the offspring of the parent. The biological parents of an adoptee are released from any and all obligations with respect to their child after the adoption; with few exceptions, past due child support is still owed by the natural parent and any property owned by the adoptee before the adoption remains the property of the adoptee.
Where to adopt
An adoption is a special proceeding where a Clerk of Court acts as the judge. Either, the adoptee or the adoptive parents must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months prior to the filing of a petition to adopt by the adoptive parents. If the adoption is an agency adoption, the agency must have legal custody of the adoptee if either of the prior two requirements are not applicable. Filing of a petition of adoption is proper in the county where a petitioner lives, the adoptee lives, or where an agency office is located. If an adoptee is involved in an action under Chapter 7B of the North Carolina General Statutes, such as when a child’s parents are the subject of a petition to terminate their parental rights—then the district court dealing with that issue will keep jurisdiction until the adoption is entered.
Your first step
The requirements and procedures for adoption can be daunting. If you decide to adopt through an agency like the Department of Social Services, you will receive great help, advice, and guidance through the process. If you are seeking to adopt a stepchild or a child who is the subject of a petition to terminate parental rights, you should consult a licensed NC attorney to either handle the adoption or to advise you as to the consequences of the adoption. Because of the multitude of consequences with respect to your estate assets, your other children, and for other reasons; your first step in the adoption process is to seek out and consult an attorney.