Nothing is more rewarding and joyous than opening your heart and home to an adopted child. However, the adoption process in North Carolina can be complicated and stressful. If you’re considering adopting a step-child, relative, or child you’ve come to know through an adoption service, you’ll benefit from working with a knowledgeable family law attorney.
The adoption attorneys at Greene, Wilson, Crow & Smith have experience with uncontested and contested adoptions, relative adoptions, step-parent adoptions, and surrogacy agreements. We represent parents in New Bern and throughout North Carolina. Contact Greene, Wilson, Crow & Smith to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you achieve your adoption goals.
Types of Adoptions in North Carolina
At Greene, Wilson, Crow & Smith, we represent clients in a wide range of adoption matter matters. There are several different types of adoption under North Carolina’s statutory adoption law. The adoption process is different depending on the type of adoption. For some types of adoption, the process can be more complex. Types of adoption in North Carolina include the following:
- Agency adoption
- Foster care adoption
- Independent or private adoption
- Relative placement and adoption
- Surrogacy adoption
- Step-parent adoption
- Foreign adoption
How the Adoption Process Works
Prospective parents have multiple options available for adopting a child in North Carolina. Adoptive parents could choose to adopt a child independently, completing the process with the assistance of an adoption attorney. Adoptive parents can choose to work with an adoption agency that can help them navigate the adoption process. In other cases, potential adoptive parents adopt a child out of North Carolina’s foster care system.
Finding the right adoption for you and your family is important, as the path you choose can have implications for how the adoption proceeds. You’ll need to meet several requirements to obtain a final degree of adoption in addition to the home study. First, the rights of the child’s biological parents must be terminated. The biological parents may voluntarily waive their rights or have their rights terminated by a court. In relative and step-parent adoptions, the termination of parental rights process can be complicated.
Understanding North Carolina’s Adoption Laws
Adoption is the process of creating a legal parental relationship between a child and an adult who is not the child’s biological parent. North Carolina has specific adoption laws governing the state. Although each adoption situation is unique, there are general processes and rules that apply in all adoption cases.
Some types of adoption, such as agency adoption, require the adopting parents to complete pre-placement assessments and procedures. Other types of adoption, such as relative placement, may not require all the same pre-adoption procedures. However, all adoptions require the necessary parental consent. All adoptive parents must submit a petition to adopt to the court along with supporting documentation.
When a petition for adoption isn’t opposed, a hearing may not be required. If one or more parties oppose the adoption petition, the court will hold a hearing. Both sides can present evidence to determine whether the adoption is in the child’s best interest. In most cases, the court will set a date for the hearing or disposition no later than 90 days after the petition has been filed. The hearing or disposition must be no later than six months after the petition was filed with the court unless the court extends the timeframe.
Who Can Be Adopted in North Carolina?
Anyone of any age can be adopted in North Carolina. Consent is required if the individual being adopted is an adult or a child over age 12. The adult adoption process is different from the process of adopting a child. The county social services departments do not have statutory responsibilities in adult adoption cases.
When Is Parental Consent Required for Adoption?
The consent of biological parents is generally required for an adoption, except in the following cases:
- A guardian has been appointed for the child
- A court has terminated the child’s parents
- The putative father has denied paternity through a notarized written affidavit
- A guardian or placement agency has determined that consent to adopt is being unreasonably withheld
- The child is over age 12, and there is a finding that it isn’t in the child’s best interest to require consent
When a biological parent doesn’t respond in a timely manner after service of notice of the adoption proceeding, the court may waive the consent requirement. Navigating the issue of parental consent can be challenging. The attorneys at Greene, Wilson, Crow & Smith can help you understand your rights and options.
How Long Does the Adoption Process Take?
Waiting for an adoption to be finalized can be frustrating. The length of time the adoption will take depends on multiple factors. Some adoptions are finalized within 18 months. In other cases, an adoption may be able to be finalized in just a few months. Adoption home studies are valid for up to 18 months. If your adoption isn’t finalized before the expiration of your home study, you’ll likely need to update your home study. Speaking to an adoption attorney may be beneficial for expediting the process, depending on the circumstances.
Surrogacy Adoption in North Carolina
With today’s medical innovations, potential parents have many options available to them, including surrogacy. As with many other states, North Carolina doesn’t have clear laws regarding surrogate mothers. If you are considering working with a surrogate mother, it’s crucial you work with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you create a surrogacy agreement and protect your legal rights while helping you achieve your goal of becoming a parent.
Contact an Experienced Adoption Attorney in New Bern
Several types of complications can arise during the adoption process. One of the benefits of working with an experienced New Bern adoption attorney at Greene, Wilson, Crow & Smith is that we can help you overcome the hurdles standing between you and your adoption. Whatever issues arise, we will protect your legal rights and work diligently toward finding solutions. Contact Greene, Wilson, Crow & Smith to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation.