Here’s what to keep in mind with adopting a child in NC.
With its rolling mountains; long, breezy coastline; and ideal climate, North Carolina is a wonderful place to live. It is also a safe and beautiful place to raise a family.
North Carolina has excellent schools, affordable homes, and a comfortable population. Many children in need of a home would love to grow up in such a richly blessed state.
If you have ever thought about adopting a child in NC, you are in for an exciting ride. Here is some important information to consider before choosing a path for your journey.
Adopting a Child in NC Through Foster Care
There are currently over 10,000 children in foster care in North Carolina. The largest age group is from 1-5 years old. Neglect is the most common reason these children are in foster care, and substance abuse is the second most popular cause. Twenty-six percent of the children in foster care are already available for adoption.
There are currently two separate tracks for fostering children in North Carolina and adopting a child in NC through foster care. The goal when you become a foster parent is for the child to become reunified with his or her birth parent. If that is not possible, the child will become available for adoption. If you are interested in adopting a younger child through foster care, foster-to-adoption may be an option for you. Despite its risks, it is by far the least expensive option. Your social worker may be able to help you identify foster children who will become available for adoption in the future. They cannot, however, guarantee that this will be the case.
Adopting a child in NC through foster care is very affordable. It is usually less than $3,000, and the federal adoption credit of $13,801 per child will more than comfortably cover any legal or agency fees associated with your adoption. Be sure to keep track of the amount of money you spend throughout the process to make sure that you are reimbursed.
When you are fostering your child, you are eligible for a state subsidy each month. While these vary by county, the state recommended rates are $475 for children under 5 years old, $581 for children ages 6-12, and $634 for children ages 13 and older. If your child becomes available for adoption, there is a state adoption subsidy for children with special needs. Foster children also receive free healthcare in the form of Medicaid until they are 18 years old.
The children already available for adoption in North Carolina are those that are more difficult to place. They include sibling groups, teenagers, members of racial groups that exit the system more slowly, and children with various mental, physical, and emotional disabilities. There is a great need for parents to adopt African American males.
If you decide to adopt through foster care, you must first choose an adoption agency or local Division of Social Services to work with. Next, you can attend an orientation meeting to get a picture of what it will be like to adopt from foster care. Your social workers can tell you how long it will take you to adopt and the kinds of challenges you will likely be facing. If you commit to providing a safe, loving home for a child, as well as the patience and wisdom to learn, you are an excellent candidate to adopt from foster care.
To adopt a child in NC, you must be at least 18 years old. You can be married, single, divorced, or widowed. It does not matter if you don’t own your home or if you are not wealthy.
Parents adopting from foster care are strongly encouraged to participate in 30 hours of “Trauma-Informed Partnering For Safety and Permanence/Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting,” also known as TIPS-MAPP. This course is designed to inform participants about the welfare system. It will explain the role of foster and adoptive parents, develop participants’ skills to become good foster and adoptive parents, and assess families to determine if fostering or adopting is best.
Hopeful adoptive parents must also complete a pre-placement assessment if they wish to adopt. This must be updated every 18 months or if there is a significant change to your home situation, such as a move.
Once you have been approved to adopt through foster care in North Carolina, you can register a photo listing site and begin making inquiries regarding children available for adoption. You can also register with a photo listing site’s office and asked to be added to the database of approved families and waiting children. This registration is optional and does not guarantee a match. To register with a North Carolina office, you may also need to complete a Family Registration Form.
When you register with a photo listing website, you may be able to submit your pre-placement assessment and ask to be matched with a waiting child. It is also possible to be matched for adoption with a child you are already fostering.
Once you have been matched for adoption, you will be ready to meet your child. You may meet with their teachers or social workers to get as much information as you can about their background. Finally, you will begin the transition of moving them to your home. Once you have completed the post-placement requirement, you will receive your decree of adoption.
There is a separate track in North Carolina if you wish to become a foster parent, rather than an adoptive parent. You must be at least 21 years old, and complete the necessary background checks. As with adopting through foster care, your marital status will not affect your ability to adopt.
Prospective foster parents must complete a Mutual Home Assessment to foster, which is different from the pre-placement assessment required of adoptive parents. Your agency will then complete a foster home application and submit it to the NC Division of Social Services for review and licensure.
Unlike adoptive parents, prospective foster parents are required to complete the TIPS-MAPP training. This will seem like a lot of work at first, but your experiences will help to prepare you for the joys and challenges of raising children you did not give birth to.
Once you are approved to foster, you can begin to review and accept foster placements. Before accepting, be sure that you carefully consider the needs and abilities of your current family.
A monthly subsidy will help to provide for the daily needs of your foster child, such as food, clothing, and childcare. However, it is important to note that your social worker will expect you to prove that you can care for your existing family financially before you become a foster parent.
Adopting a Child in NC Through an Agency
An agency adoption is what most people think of when they hear the word “adoption.” A family can apply to adopt an infant, and make a plan with the birth mother about how open the adoption will be. In most cases, emails, texts, and updates are exchanged at certain times of the year. You may be asked to prepare a photo album, either online or in a photo book, that can be shown to birth mothers. Your traditions, family makeup, ethnicity, and values will likely all be of interest to her.
Some agencies in North Carolina that facilitate this type of adoption are A Child’s Hope, Triangle Adoption Services, and Christian Adoption Services.
Adoption through a private agency is expensive and can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000. The national Adoption Tax Credit, employer assistance, and adoption grants can help you to make this affordable.
The wait time with an agency is usually around two years and can vary depending upon your requirements in terms of preferred openness, preferred race or nationality, willingness to parent children whose birth mother abused substances, genetic factors, and the type of adoption you want. It is important to note that birth mothers in North Carolina have up to seven days to revoke their consent after their children are born. Many prospective parents are willing to take the risks involved in applying for private adoption.
A home study is required for private adoptions in North Carolina. These are nothing to worry about, and most are successful. One home inspection will be required, as will a second interview, either inside your home or in your social worker’s office.
Your home study will give you a chance to solidify your own reasons to adopt. It will also help you to explore your preferences in terms of age, gender, and feelings about open adoption. Your social worker will ask you about your own parenting philosophy and preferred method of discipline. You will need to provide paperwork about your health, finances, insurances, and education. There will be a criminal background check, and you will have to provide at least three non-relative references.
Keep in mind that the most important requirement to become an adoptive parent is your desire to provide a warm, loving family to a child that does not have a home. Perfection is not demanded.
Adopting a Child in NC Through a Lawyer
Private adoption in North Carolina can also be facilitated directly through a lawyer. This method is slightly less expensive, costing around $15,000 to $30,000. It may involve more legwork from adoptive parents, such as placing ads in local newspapers or answering phone calls from prospective birth mothers.
The state of North Carolina has nine lawyers who are members of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. This is an association of over 60 lawyers who have distinguished themselves in adoption law by participating in over 50 adoption proceedings, including 10 interstate placements. They are required to maintain the highest standards of ethics, competence, and professionalism.
Adopting a child through a private lawyer in North Carolina will also take around two years. As with agency adoption, your wait time will depend upon your flexibility in terms of age, gender, and birth parent substance abuse.
Adopting a Child in NC Internationally
Some popular international adoption agencies in North Carolina include St. Mary’s International Adoption, Carolina Adoption Services, and Triangle Adoption Services. Countries they serve include Bulgaria, Poland, Haiti, and China. Be sure to research the types of children generally available for adoption in these countries before committing to one.
Many adoptive parents prefer international adoption because it does not usually involve birth mother contact after the adoption is complete. However, it does involve some travel to meet your child and finalize the adoption.
It can take anywhere from two to five years to complete an international adoption. Many countries have sibling groups available. The cost of international adoption is the highest of all adoptions and can be anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000. The reason for its cost is that international adoption often involves flying to and living in a foreign country for a period of time. As with domestic adoption, the tax credit, employer assistance, and adoption grants can help you offset expenses. Keep in mind that the national adoption tax credit is per child, so its value can double, or even triple if you decide to adopt a sibling group.
Adopting a Child in NC
If you decide to adopt a child in NC, you are in for an exciting ride. You do not need to be wealthy or a perfect parent. If your goal is to let the love in your heart pour over into the heart of a child in need of a home, you are ready to start on the journey of a lifetime.
Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.