If you’re considering adoption, you might wonder how adoption specifically works in North Carolina. In some ways, the adoption process is the same for all adoptive parents. In other ways, you have some choices when it comes to how to pursue your adoption in North Carolina. Here are the basics about how to adopt in North Carolina from Bobby Mills:
You may adopt directly or through an agency
There are several ways to begin the adoption process. You may work directly with the adoptive parent. You may also work with an agency without any direct contact with the adoptive parent.
Identifying a child available for adoption
Adoption begins with identifying a child to adopt. You may pursue identifying a child to adopt before the child is born. You can even begin some of the legal paperwork before the child is born.
There are several ways that parents identify an adoptable child. You may know a parent who is looking to place their child for adoption. If you work directly with a biological parent, you work directly to provide the court with the paperwork that they need in order to evaluate and approve the adoption. There are some risks involved with direct adoption. It’s important to evaluate your case with a North Carolina adoption attorney in order to identify potential problems and ensure that there are no problems that could derail the case and cause heartache.
Adopting through an agency
Alternatively, you may work through an adoption agency to identify a child that’s available for adoption. The adoption agency gathers information about you. They also gather information about children waiting for adoption. Then, they work to match families. An adoption agency can help you gather the paperwork that you need to submit to the court. An experienced adoption attorney can help you with legal paperwork, and they can help you evaluate the case in order to ensure that your case is successful the first time.
Adopting through foster care
Some parents meet their adoptive children through foster care. A child in the foster care system may or may not be available for adoption. North Carolina social services workers try to reunite parents and children whenever possible. If that’s not in the child’s best interests, the child may become available for adoption. Foster parents may decide to adopt a child in their care. Approval to be a foster parent and approval to be an adoptive parent are separate procedures. Parents adopting from foster care still need the approval of the court through the adoption process.
Completing your home study
Nearly all North Carolina adoptions require a home study. The only exception is where a stepparent is adopting a stepchild and the child has lived with the stepparent for a significant period of time. A home study involves allowing a third party to learn about your family and complete a report that gives an opinion about the suitability of the adoption.
The home study involves multiple visits to your home. The evaluator gathers information about your family history, your health history and the current makeup of your family. The evaluator talks to each family member about their feelings surrounding the adoption.
After the home study is complete, the evaluator makes a recommendation about whether they think the adoption is in the child’s best interests. The child’s best interests are the evaluator’s overriding concern. The home study evaluator writes a report and sends it to the court for the court’s review.
If you use an adoption agency for your adoption, they can help you arrange for an appropriate individual to conduct the home study. You must use an approved person or agency. If you adopt independently or if you use an agency, a North Carolina adoption attorney can help you find the appropriate evaluator. They can also help you review the evaluator’s recommendation. If you disagree with any information in the report, your attorney can help you determine how to address the inaccuracies.
Beginning the legal process
Once you’ve identified a child for adoption, you can begin the legal process. If your child’s biological mother is expecting, you can prepare some paperwork before the child is born. Doing some paperwork before the child is born can give you some rights to manage the child’s care immediately when the child is born. In all cases, an adoption formally begins when a parent files a petition for adoption in the appropriate court.
When you file for adoption, it’s important to have the appropriate consents from biological parents. You must either have the permission of both parents, or you must have grounds to terminate the rights of a parent. You must provide each parent with notice of the proceedings.
If one parent doesn’t agree to the adoption, you must prove that the parent is unfit to parent under North Carolina law. The standard to win termination of a biological parent’s rights is very high. Our adoption attorneys in North Carolina can help you determine if your case is likely to be successful. If a parent consents to the adoption, they can complete paperwork in order to state their intent to the court.
Completing the legal process
If all of the consents are in order and the court has all of the information that it needs to make a decision, the court may approve the adoption without a hearing. If the court wants more information or if a parent wants to contest the adoption, the court can schedule a hearing. The parties have the opportunity to present information at the hearing. If the court approves the adoption, the court signs the order and forwards the record to state offices for central recordkeeping. The records are generally confidential.
Extra steps for international adoptions
If you choose to adopt from another country, there are a few extra steps to your adoption. You must use an approved adoption agency. You must first complete the adoption in your child’s home country. Then, you must finalize your adoption in North Carolina.
The specifics of what you need to do to complete the adoption depend on your child’s home country. Your child may be formally adopted in their home country, or you may receive only a guardianship. In all cases, it’s important to verify your adoption in North Carolina in order to prevent challenges to the adoption in the future.
The adoption process in North Carolina
The adoption process in North Carolina depends on the specific facts of your case. You may already know the child or their biological parent, or you may work with an agency to identify a child who is available for adoption. In all cases, you must show the court that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. Bobby Mills can help you determine the best course of action to help you make the adoption process smooth and successful – to get started, give us a call or fill out our contact form.