North Carolina

Adoption Laws

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-601; 48-3-602

Consent to an adoption in a direct placement must be executed by:

  • The mother of the minor
  • Any man who may or may not be the biological father of the minor but who:
    • Is or was married to the mother
    • Attempted to marry the mother of the minor before the minor’s birth
    • Has legitimated the minor under the law of any State
    • Has acknowledged his paternity of the minor
    • Has received the minor into his home and openly held out the minor as his biological child
    • Is the adoptive father of the minor
  • A guardian of the minor
  • The guardian ad litemof an incompetent parent

In an agency placement, consent must be provided by:

  • The agency that placed the minor for adoption
  • Each individual described above who has not relinquished the minor

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-601; 48-3-603

Consent to an adoption must be executed by the minor to be adopted if he or she is age 12 or older unless the court finds that it is not in the best interests of the minor for the court to require consent.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-603

Consent to an adoption of a minor is not required of:

  • An individual whose parental rights and duties have been terminated
  • A man, other than an adoptive father, who has been judicially determined not to be the father of the minor adopted person, or another man has been judicially determined to be the father of the minor
  • An individual who has relinquished parental rights or guardianship powers, including the right to consent to adoption
  • A man who is not married to the minor’s birth mother and who, after the conception of the minor, has executed a notarized statement denying paternity or disclaiming any interest in the minor
  • A deceased parent or the personal representative of a deceased parent’s estate
  • An individual listed in § 48-3-601 who has not executed a consent or a relinquishment and who fails to respond to a notice of the adoption proceeding within 30 days after the service of the notice
  • An individual who does not respond to notice of the adoption proceedings in a timely manner or whose consent is not required as determined by the court
  • An individual whose actions resulted in a conviction under § 14-27.2 or § 14-27.3 and the conception of the minor to be adopted

The court may issue an order dispensing with the consent of a guardian or an agency that placed the minor upon a finding that the consent is being withheld contrary to the best interests of the minor.

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-604

A man whose consent is required under § 48-3-601 may execute a consent to adoption either before or after the child is born.

The mother of a minor child may execute a consent to adoption at any time after the child is born but not before.

A guardian of a minor to be adopted may execute a consent to adoption at any time.

An agency licensed by the Department Health and Human Services or a county department of social services that places a minor for adoption shall execute its consent no later than 30 days after being served with notice of the proceeding for adoption.

A minor to be adopted who is age 12 or older may execute a consent at any time.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-605; 48-3-606

Consent executed by a parent or guardian or by a child who is age 12 or older must be signed and acknowledged under oath. A parent who is younger than age 18 has legal capacity to give consent to adoption as if he or she were age 18.

A consent by an agency must be executed by the executive head or another authorized employee and must be signed and acknowledged under oath.

A consent to the adoption of an Indian child must meet the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1901, et seq.).

A consent must state:

  • The date and place of its execution
  • The name, date of birth, and permanent address of the person executing consent
  • The date of birth or the expected delivery date and the sex and name of the child, if known
  • That the person executing consent is voluntarily consenting to the adoption by the identified prospective adoptive parent
  • The person who would receive any notice of revocation
  • That the consenting person understands that after the consent is signed and acknowledged, it is final and irrevocable except as set forth in § 48-3-609
  • That the consent is not affected by any separate agreement between the consenting person and the adoptive parent
  • That the consenting person has not received or been promised any money or anything of value for the consent except for lawful payments
  • That the consenting person understands that when the adoption is final, all rights and obligations will be extinguished and the legal relationship with the child terminated
  • The name and address of the court
  • That the person executing consent waives notice of any adoption proceeding
  • That the person executing consent has:
    • Received or been offered an unsigned copy of the consent
    • Been advised that counseling services may be available through county departments of social services or licensed child-placing agencies
    • Been advised of the right to employ independent legal counsel

Revocation of Consent Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-607; 48-3- 608; 48-3-609

A consent is final and irrevocable except under a circumstance set forth below.

A consent to the adoption of any infant who is in utero or any minor may be revoked within 7 days following the day on which it is executed. The individual who gave the consent may revoke it by giving written notice to the person specified in the consent.

In a direct placement, if a preplacement assessment is required, and if placement occurs before the preplacement assessment is given to the parent or guardian who is placing the minor, then that individual’s time to revoke any consent previously given shall be either 5 business days after the date the individual receives the preplacement assessment or the remainder of the 7 days, whichever is longer.

If a person revokes consent, the prospective adoptive parent shall, immediately upon request, return the minor to that person.

If a person revokes consent, the adoption cannot proceed until another consent is obtained or the person’s parental rights are terminated. A second consent to adoption by the same adoptive parents is irrevocable.

A consent shall be void if:

  • Before the entry of the adoption decree, the individual who executed the consent establishes by clear and convincing evidence that it was obtained by fraud or duress.
  • The prospective adoptive parent and the individual who executed the consent mutually agree in writing to set it aside.
  • The petition to adopt is voluntarily dismissed with prejudice.
  • The court dismisses the petition to adopt and no appeal has been taken, or the dismissal has been affirmed on appeal and all appeals have been exhausted.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents Gen. Stat. § 131D-10.3A; Admin. Code Tit. 10A, § 70E.1115

The department shall prohibit any individual from providing foster care if the individual has a criminal history. A fingerprint-based criminal history check must be conducted on all persons age 18 or older who reside in a licensed family foster home. The criminal history includes any county, State, and Federal conviction of a felony or pending felony indictment for:

  • A crime of child abuse or neglect or spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, other than physical assault or battery
  • Physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense, if the offense was committed within the past 5 years

The fingerprints of all persons will be used to check the criminal history records of the State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI.

In regulation:An applicant is not eligible for licensure if he or she has, within the past 5 years, been substantiated for abuse or serious neglect and is placed on the Responsible Individuals List of the Central Registry, as defined in statute § 7B-311.

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Gen. Stat. § 48-3-309; Admin. Code Tit. 10A, § 70H.0405

A fingerprint-based criminal history check must be conducted prior to placement on prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a minor in the custody of the department and on all persons age 18 or older residing in the prospective adoptive home. The criminal history includes a county, State, or Federal conviction of a felony or a pending felony indictment for:

  • A crime of child abuse or neglect or spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, other than physical assault or battery
  • Physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense, if the offense was committed within the past 5 years

In regulation:The agency shall conduct a preplacement assessment of a prospective adoptive parent. The assessment process must determine whether the individual has ever been a respondent in a domestic violence proceeding or a proceeding concerning a minor who was allegedly abused, neglected, dependent, undisciplined, or delinquent, and the outcome of the proceeding; whether the individual has been found to have abused or neglected a child or has been a respondent in a juvenile court proceeding that resulted in the removal of a child; or has had child protective services involvement that resulted in the removal of a child.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111

The court may terminate the parental rights upon a finding of one or more of the following:

  • The parent has abused or neglected the child.
  • The parent has willfully left the child in foster care for more than 12 months without showing reasonable progress in correcting the conditions that led to the removal of the child.
  • The child has been in an out-of-home placement for a continuous period of 6 months, and the parent has willfully failed for such period to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of care for the child although financially able to do so.
  • A noncustodial parent has for a period of 1 year or more willfully failed without justification to pay for the care, support, and education of the child, as required by a custody agreement.
  • A putative father of a child born out of wedlock has not established his paternity.
  • The parent is incapable of providing for the proper care of the child as a result of substance abuse, mental retardation, mental illness, or organic brain syndrome.
  • The parent has willfully abandoned the child for at least 6 consecutive months, or the parent has voluntarily abandoned an infant pursuant to § 7B-500 for at least 60 consecutive days.
  • The parent has committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent or other child residing in the home; has aided, abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of the child, another child of the parent, or other child residing in the home; has committed a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child, another child of the parent, or other child residing in the home; or has committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of the other parent of the child.
  • The parental rights of the parent to another child have been terminated involuntarily, and the parent lacks the ability or willingness to establish a safe home.
  • The parent has been convicted of a sexually related offense that resulted in the conception of the child.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111

No parental rights shall be terminated for the sole reason that the parents are unable to care for the child on account of their poverty.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights Gen. Stat. § 7B-1114

A child whose parent’s rights have been terminated, the guardian ad litemattorney, or a county Department of Social Services with custody of the child may file a motion to reinstate the parent’s rights if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The child is at least age 12 or, if the child is younger than 12, the motion alleges extraordinary circumstances requiring consideration of the motion.
  • The child does not have a legal parent, is not in an adoptive placement, and is not likely to be adopted within a reasonable period of time.
  • The order terminating parental rights was entered at least 3 years before the filing of the motion, unless the child’s permanent plan is no longer adoption.

At the hearing on the motion, the court shall consider whether reinstatement is in the child’s best interests, based on the following criteria:

  • What efforts were made to achieve adoption or a permanent guardianship
  • Whether the parent has remedied the conditions that led to the termination of parental rights
  • Whether the child would receive proper care and supervision in a safe home if placed with the parent
  • The child’s age, maturity, and ability to express a preference
  • The parent’s willingness to resume contact with the child and to have parental rights reinstated
  • The child’s willingness to resume contact with the parent
  • Services that would be needed by the child and the parent if rights were reinstated
  • Any other criteria the court deems necessary

At any hearing under this section, the court may do one of the following:

  • Enter an order for visitation
  • Order that the juvenile be placed in the former parent’s home and supervised by the department

The court shall either dismiss or grant a motion for reinstatement of parental rights within 12 months from the date the motion was filed, unless the court makes written findings why a final determination cannot be made within that time.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-309

The prospective adoptive parents and all individuals age 18 or older residing in the prospective adoptive home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-109

Only a county department of social services in this State or an agency licensed by the department may prepare preplacement assessments.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-301

An individual seeking to adopt a child must be found to be suitable to be an adoptive parent, either in general or for a specific minor.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-303; 48-3-309

The preplacement assessment must include at least one personal interview with each individual being assessed. The preplacement assessment shall report on the following:

  • Age, nationality, race or ethnicity, and any religious preference
  • Marital and family status and history
  • Physical and mental health, including any addiction to alcohol or drugs
  • Education and employment history and any special skills
  • Property, income, and current financial information
  • Reason for wanting to adopt
  • Whether the individual has ever been a respondent in a domestic violence proceeding or a proceeding concerning a minor who was allegedly abused, dependent, neglected, abandoned, or delinquent
  • Whether the individual has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation
  • The quality of the environment in the home and the functioning of any children in the household

The department shall ensure that fingerprint-based criminal histories of all prospective adoptive parents and all individuals age 18 or older who reside in the prospective adoptive home are checked prior to placement and, based on the criminal history, a determination is made as to the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ fitness to have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children and whether other individuals required to be checked are fit for an adoptive child to reside with them in the home. The department shall ensure that all individuals required to be checked are checked prior to placement for county, State, and Federal criminal histories.

Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-309

A county department of social services shall issue an unfavorable preplacement assessment to a prospective adoptive parent if any person residing in the home has a criminal history. An unfavorable preplacement assessment shall be issued when the county department of social services determines that, based on other criminal convictions, whether felony or misdemeanor, the prospective adoptive parent is unfit to have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children or other individuals required to be checked are unfit for an adoptive child to reside with them in the home.

For purposes of this section, the term ‘criminal history’ means:

  • A county, State, or Federal conviction of a felony or a pending felony indictment of:
    • A crime for child abuse or neglect
    • Spousal abuse
    • A crime against a child, including child pornography
    • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, other than physical assault or battery
  • A county, State, or Federal conviction of a felony or a pending felony indictment for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense, if the offense was committed within the past 5 years

Refusal to consent to a criminal history check by any individual required to be checked is grounds for the issuance of an unfavorable preplacement assessment.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-301

A preplacement assessment must be completed or updated within 18 months immediately preceding a placement of a child for adoption.

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-2-501; 48-2-502

Whenever a petition for adoption of a minor is filed, the court shall order a report to the court made to assist the court to determine if the proposed adoption of the minor by the petitioner is in the minor’s best interests.

In preparing the report, the agency shall conduct a personal interview with each petitioner in the petitioner’s residence and at least one additional interview with each petitioner and the adoptive child. The agency shall observe the relationship between the child and the petitioners.

The report must contain:

  • An account of the petitioner’s marital or family status, physical and mental health, home environment, property, income, and financial obligations
  • All reasonably available nonidentifying information concerning the physical, mental, and emotional condition of the adoptive child
  • Copies of any court order, judgment, decree, or pending legal proceeding affecting the adoptive child, the petitioner, or any child of the petitioner relevant to the welfare of the adoptive child
  • A list of the expenses, fees, or other charges incurred, paid, or to be paid in connection with the adoption
  • Any fact or circumstance known to the agency that raises a specific concern about whether the proposed adoption is contrary to the best interests of the adoptive child because it poses a significant risk of harm to the well-being of the child
  • A finding by the agency concerning the suitability of the petitioner and the petitioner’s home for the adoptive child
  • A recommendation concerning the granting of the petition

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-301; 48-2-501

A preplacement assessment is not required when a parent or guardian places a minor child directly with a grandparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, or great-grandparent of the minor.

The following exceptions for the requirement for a postpetition report apply:

  • In any stepparent adoption in which the minor has lived with the stepparent for at least the 2 consecutive years immediately preceding the filing of the petition, the court may order a report. However, the court is not required to order a report unless the minor’s consent is to be waived, the minor has revoked consent, or both of the minor’s parents are dead.
  • In any adoption of a minor by the minor’s grandparent in which the minor has lived with the grandparent for at least the 2 consecutive years immediately preceding the filing of the petition, the court may order a report. However, the court is not required to order a report unless the minor’s consent is to be waived, the minor has revoked consent, or the minor is eligible for adoption assistance.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-207; 48-1-109

An interstate placement of a minor for purposes of adoption shall comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

A preplacement assessment prepared in another State may be used in this State only if:

  • The prospective adoptive parent resided in the State where it was prepared.
  • The person or entity that prepared it was authorized by the law of that State to gather the necessary information.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-500

A child who is younger than 7 days old may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-500

The child’s parent may relinquish the infant.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-500

The following individuals shall, without a court order, take into temporary custody an infant under 7 days old that is voluntarily delivered to the individual by the infant’s parent who does not express an intent to return for the infant:

  • A health-care provider who is on duty or at a hospital, a local or district health department, or a nonprofit community health center
  • A law enforcement officer who is on duty or at a police station or sheriff’s department
  • A social services worker who is on duty or at a local department of social services
  • A certified emergency medical service worker who is on duty or at a fire or emergency medical services station
  • Any adult

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-500

An individual who takes an infant into temporary custody shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health and well-being of the infant and shall immediately notify the Department of Social Services or a local law enforcement agency.

Any individual who takes an infant into temporary custody may inquire as to the parents’ identities and any relevant medical history, but the parent is not required to provide the information. The individual shall notify the parent that the parent is not required to provide the information.

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-500

An individual who accepts a relinquished infant is immune from any civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of any omission or action taken pursuant to the requirements of this section as long as that individual was acting in good faith. The immunity established by this subsection does not extend to gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing that would otherwise be actionable.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-500; 14-322.3

The parent is not required to provide identifying information or medical history information. The individual taking custody of the child shall notify the parent that the parent is not required to provide the information.

When a parent abandons an infant who is less than 7 days old by voluntarily delivering the infant as provided in § 7B-500 and does not express an intent to return for the infant, that parent shall not be prosecuted for abandonment, failure to support, or unlawful surrender of a child.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-500

The safe haven provider takes temporary custody of the child.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103(a)

An adoptive parent, or a person acting on behalf of an adoptive parent, may pay the reasonable and actual fees and expenses for:

  • Medical, hospital, nursing, pharmaceutical, traveling, or other similar expenses incurred by a birth mother or her child incident to the pregnancy and birth or any illness of the child to be adopted
  • Counseling services for a birth parent or the child that are directly related to the adoption and are provided by a licensed psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, licensed or certified social worker, fee-based practicing pastoral counselor, or other licensed professional counselor
  • Ordinary living expenses of a mother during the pregnancy
  • Expenses incurred in ascertaining the information required under § 48-3-205 about a child to be adopted and the child’s birth family
  • Legal service connected with the adoption performed for a birth parent who consents to the adoption of a minor or relinquishes the minor to an agency

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103(a)(4)

Living expenses may not be paid beyond 6 weeks after the birth of the child.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-102

Except for the expenses authorized by § 48-10-103, a person or entity may not give or receive compensation for:

  • The placement of a minor for adoption
  • The consent of a parent, guardian, or agency to the adoption of a minor
  • The relinquishment of a minor to an agency for purposes of adoption
  • Assisting a parent or guardian in locating or evaluating a potential adoptive parent or in transferring custody of a minor to the adoptive parent

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103(c), (d)

A payment for expenses may not be made contingent on the placement of the minor for adoption, relinquishment of the minor, consent to the adoption, or cooperation in the completion of the adoption. Except as provided below, if the adoption is not completed, a person who has made authorized payments may not recover them; but neither is this person liable for any further payment unless the person has agreed in a signed writing with a provider of a service to make this payment regardless of the outcome of the proceeding for adoption.

A prospective adoptive parent may seek to recover a payment if the parent or other person receives or accepts it with the fraudulent intent to prevent the proposed adoption from being completed.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103(e); Admin. Code Tit. 10A, § 70H.0113

An adoptive parent may pay the reasonable and actual fees and expenses for:

  • Services of an agency in connection with an adoption
  • Legal services, court costs, travel, or other administrative expenses
  • Preparation of the preplacement assessment and the report to the court

An agency may charge a reasonable fee to prospective adoptive parents. In assessing a fee, the agency may take into account the income of adoptive parents and may use a sliding scale related to income in order to provide services to persons of all incomes.

In regulation: County departments of social services may charge reasonable fees for the preparation of a preplacement assessment or report to the court in accordance with §§ 48-3-304(a) and 48-2-504(a). No fee shall be charged unless there is a written fee agreement that is signed by the parties to be charged prior to the beginning of the preparation. The fee agreement shall not be based on the outcome of the report or the adoption proceeding.

Maximum fees for the preparation of the reports shall not exceed:

  • $1500 for the preplacement assessment and report to the court
  • $200 for the report to the court

No fee shall be charged when one or more of the following circumstances exist:

  • The head of household for the prospective adoptive family is an Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient.
  • The family’s income is below the State’s Established Income (or 150 percent of the 1992 Federal Poverty Level).
  • The family has identified a child who is in the custody and placement responsibility of the Department of Social Services, and the adoptive family continues to pursue the adoption of the identified child.

Fees for the above reports may be reduced or waived if it can be documented in the case record that the prospective adoptive family cannot pay the required fee. Unless reduced or waived, the entire fee shall be paid

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-2-602

At least 10 days before the date of the hearing, each petitioner shall file with the court an affidavit accounting for any payment or disbursement of money or anything of value made or agreed to be made by or on behalf of each petitioner in connection with the adoption, including the amount of each payment or disbursement made or to be made and the name and address of each recipient. The court, in its discretion, may request a more specific statement of any fees, charges, or payments made or to be made.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Paternity Registry

No

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Gen. Stat. §§ 48-2-206; 49-10

At any time after 6 months from the date of conception, the birth mother, agency, or adoptive parents chosen by the birth mother may file a special proceeding with the clerk requesting the court to determine whether consent of the biological father is required. The biological father shall be served with notice of the intent of the biological mother to place the child for adoption, allowing the biological father 15 days after service to assert a claim that his consent is required.

If the biological father fails to respond within the time required, the court shall enter an order that the biological father’s consent is not required for the adoption. A biological father who fails to respond within the time required under this section is not entitled to notice under § 48-2-401(c) of an adoption petition filed within 3 months of the birth of the minor or to participate in the adoption proceeding.

The putative father of any child born out of wedlock, whether such father resides in North Carolina or not, may apply by a verified written petition, filed in a special proceeding in the superior court of the county in which the putative father resides or in which the child resides, asking that such child be declared legitimate. The mother, if living, and the child shall be necessary parties to the proceeding.

If it appears to the court that the petitioner is the father of the child, the court may thereupon declare and pronounce the child legitimated.

Required Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Revocation of Claim to Paternity

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Access to Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-101(b)-(b1)

No one other than a county department of social services, an adoption facilitator, or a licensed agency may advertise in any periodical or newspaper, or by radio, television, or other public medium, that any person or entity will place or accept a child for adoption.

This article shall not prohibit a person from advertising that the person desires to adopt. This section shall apply only to a person with a current completed preplacement assessment that finds the person suitable to be an adoptive parent.

The advertisement may be published only in a periodical or newspaper or on radio, television, cable television, or the Internet. The advertisement shall include a statement that:

  • Indicates that the person has a completed preplacement assessment
  • Identifies the name of the agency that completed the preplacement assessment
  • Identifies the date the preplacement assessment was completed
  • States whether the person is willing to provide lawful expenses

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-10-102; 48-10-101; 48-1-101(3a); 48-3-202

Except as provided in § 48-10-103, a person or entity may not pay or give, offer to pay or give, or request, receive, or accept any money or anything of value, directly or indirectly, for:

  • The placement of a minor for adoption
  • The consent of a parent, a guardian, or an agency to the adoption of a minor
  • The relinquishment of a minor to an agency for purposes of adoption
  • Assisting a parent or guardian in locating or evaluating a potential adoptive parent or in transferring custody of a minor to the adoptive parent

No one other than a parent, guardian, or agency may place a minor for adoption. No one other than a parent, guardian, agency, or an adoption facilitator may solicit potential adoptive parents for children in need of adoption. No one other than an agency or an adoption facilitator, or an individual with a completed preplacement assessment that contains a finding that the individual is suitable to be an adoptive parent or that individual’s immediate family, may solicit for adoption a potential adoptee.

An adoption facilitator is an individual or a nonprofit entity that assists birth parents in locating and evaluating prospective adoptive parents without charge.

In a direct placement, a parent or guardian must personally select a prospective adoptive parent, but a parent or guardian may obtain assistance from another person or entity, or an adoption facilitator, in locating or evaluating a prospective adoptive parent.

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Who May Adopt Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-103

Any adult may adopt, except that spouses may not adopt each other.

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-104

Any individual may be adopted.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-201

A child may be placed by any of the following:

  • An agency
  • A guardian
  • Both parents if they are married and living together, or one parent has legal custody and the other parent has physical custody
  • A parent with legal and physical custody of the child

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-103; 48-9-104; 48-9-109

Nonidentifying information is available to:

A licensed child-placing agency or a county Department of Social Services may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for the purpose of sharing identifying information for any of the following:

  • A birth parent
  • An adult adopted person
  • An adult birth sibling of an adult adopted person
  • An adult birth half-sibling of an adult adopted person
  • An adult family member of a deceased birth parent
  • An adult family member of a deceased adopted person

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-103; 48-3-205

Any person listed above may request a copy of any document prepared pursuant to § 48-3-205 and any additional nonidentifying health-related information about the adopted person’s original family. The information that is provided at the time of the adoptive placement includes:

  • The date of the child’s birth and any other reasonably available nonidentifying information
  • The age of the birth parents at the time of the child’s birth
  • The heritage of the birth parents including nationality, ethnic background, and race
  • Education completed by the birth parents at the time of the child’s birth
  • The general physical appearance of the birth parents
  • All reasonably available nonidentifying information about the health and genetic history of the child, the birth parents, and other members of the birth parents’ families

Nonidentifying information about the adopted person’s present circumstances may be disclosed to a birth parent, an adult sibling, or the guardian of a minor sibling.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-104; 48-9-109

Except as provided below, no one shall release from any sealed records the name, address, or other identifying information about an adopted person, adoptive parent, birth parent, or individual who, but for the adoption, would be the adopted person’s sibling or grandparent, except upon order of the court.

A child-placing agency may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for a person listed above without appointment by the court in order to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information, facilitate contact, or share identifying information with the written consent of all parties. An agency also may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for the adoptive parents of a minor adopted person without appointment to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information.

If such agency determines that the person who is the subject of the search, or a lineal ascendant of that person, is deceased, the agency may obtain a copy of the death certificate and deliver it to the person who requested the services.

Nothing in this article is meant to prevent:

  • An employee of a court, agency, or any other person from:
    • Inspecting confidential records, other than records maintained by the State Registrar, for the purpose of discharging any obligation
    • Disclosing the name of the court or agency involved in the adoption to an individual described above who can verify his or her identity
    • Disclosing or using information contained in sealed records for statistical or research purposes
  • In agency placements, a parent placing a child for adoption and the adopting parents from authorizing an agency to release information to each other that may reveal the identity of an adopted person, an adoptive parent, or an adopted person’s placing parent
  • The Division of Social Services from sharing information regarding the identity of birth parents with an agency acting as a confidential intermediary

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-9-106

Upon receipt of a certified copy of a court order issued pursuant to § 48-9-105 authorizing the release of an adopted person’s original birth certificate, the State Registrar shall give the individual who obtained the order a copy of the original birth certificate with a certification that the copy is a true copy of a record that is no longer a valid certificate of birth.

Where the Information Can Be Located

North Carolina Division of Social Services

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-106

After the entry of a decree of adoption, the birth parents or previous adopted parents are relieved of all legal duties and obligations due from them to the adopted person and are divested of all rights with respect to the adopted person.

However, neither an adoption by a stepparent nor a readoption pursuant to § 48-6-102 has any effect on the relationship between the child and the parent who is the stepparent’s spouse.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-106

From the date of the signing of the decree, the adopted person is entitled to inherit real and personal property by, through, and from the adoptive parent(s) in accordance with the statutes on intestate succession.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Gen. Stat. § 31-5.5

A will shall not be revoked by the subsequent adoption of a child by the testator, but any after-adopted child shall have the right to share in the testator’s estate to the same extent he or she would have shared if the testator had died intestate unless:

  • The testator made some provision in the will for the child, whether adequate or not.
  • It is apparent from the will itself that the testator intentionally did not make specific provision therein for the child.
  • The testator had children living when the will was executed, and none of the testator’s children actually inherit under the will.
  • The surviving spouse receives all of the estate under the will.
  • The testator made provision for the child that takes effect upon the death of the testator, whether adequate or not.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

What may be included in postadoption contact agreements? Gen. Stat. § 48-3-610

If a person executing consent and the prospective adoptive parent or parents enter into an agreement regarding visitation, communication, support, and any other rights and duties with respect to the minor, this agreement shall not be a condition precedent to the consent itself, and failure to perform shall not invalidate a consent already given.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement? Gen. Stat. § 48-3-610

The person executing consent and the prospective adoptive parent or parents may enter into the agreement.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements?

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Are agreements legally enforceable? Gen. Stat. § 48-3-610

The agreement itself shall not be enforceable.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

Gen. Stat. § 48-2-205

When a child has been previously adopted in a foreign country by petitioners seeking to readopt the child under the laws of North Carolina, the adoption order entered in the foreign country may be accepted in lieu of the consent of the biological parent or parents or the guardian of the child to the readoption. A man and a woman who adopted a minor child in a foreign country while married to one another must readopt jointly, regardless of whether they have since divorced. If either parent does not join in the petition, he or she must be joined as a necessary party.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Gen. Stat. §§ 130A-108(b); 48-9-107(a)

In the case of an adoptee born in a foreign country and residing in this State at the time of application, the State Registrar shall, upon the presentation of a certified copy of the original birth certificate from the country of birth and a certified copy of the final order of adoption, prepare a certificate of identification for the person.

In the case of an adoptee born in a foreign country and readopted in this State, the State Registrar shall, upon receipt of a report of that adoption from the Division of Social Services, prepare a certificate of identification for that person. The certificate shall contain the same information required by § 48-9-107(a) for persons adopted in this State, except the country of birth shall be specified in lieu of the State of birth.

The new certificate shall contain:

  • The adoptee’s full adoptive name, sex, country, and date of birth
  • The full name of the adoptive father, if applicable
  • The full maiden name of the adoptive mother, if applicable
  • Any other pertinent information consistent with this section as may be determined by the State Registrar

Source

Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. [1]

References