Adoption is the process wherein the legal relationship between a parent and a child is established where no biological relationship exists. The minor child must be either “free for adoption” or “given in adoption” by an authorized individual or an agency. In North Carolina, the court is not allowed to grant a petition for adoption without the minor's consent if the minor is 12 or older.
Therefore, to ensure that the adoption process goes as smoothly as possible for your family, it is important that you consult with an attorney if you are thinking about adopting in North Carolina.
“Free for Adoption” vs. “Given in Adoption”
A minor is “free for adoption” when they have no living parents, or all parental rights to them have been terminated as per the laws of the state or country the minor lived in. “Given for adoption” meanwhile, means that only certain parties may give a minor up for adoption, and the courts have to approve of it first. These parties that may give a minor up for adoption are:
- A statutory parent
- A guardian of the party giving the minor up may give the minor to a qualified relative of the minor
- A parent may give the minor to their spouse or to whomever shares parental responsibility for the child with them, if the other parent died or had their parental rights terminated.
The Adoption Process
The adoption process goes through three phases: the petition, the investigation, and the hearing. In the petition phase, a written petition, consent to the adoption or a court order terminating a parents rights along with some other documents between the giving party and the adopting party must be filed in court.
Once approved, in the investigation phase, an agency will assess the needs of the child and conduct a study into whether you and your home will be able to meet their needs. An investigation is mandatory for all adoption procedures, unless the adopting party is a grandparent, aunt, or sibling of the biological parent. If the adopting party is a spouse or step-parent, a report must be provided to the court or a limited investigation.
After the investigation and the resulting report are done, the court will review all of the documents and the report filed with the court. If the court determines the adoption will be in the best interest of the minor, it will approve of the adoption.
The adoption process in North Carolina is not simple. However, while it is not easy, the rewards can be great if you have been wanting to adopt and bring a child into your home. One of your first steps if you are seriously considering adopting a minor is hiring an experienced family law attorney to guide you through all of the legal challenges you will inevitably face. This will not only make the process easier for you, but also more efficient. Here at The Law Offices of Regina M. Taylor, we've facilitated many adoption procedures over the years, and we serve you with the utmost compassion, care, and respect in your adoption matters. Contact us today and let us help you and your growing family.