Today, same-sex marriage is legal within the State, and the North Carolina government recognizes the validity of same-sex unions granted in other states.
With the right to marry, arguably, comes the right to grow families through adoption. Same-sex couples may legally adopt in North Carolina through the same processes afforded to heterosexual couples. But, while adoption is an exciting time for couples eager to start a family, it can also be an exhausting and challenging process. This is true for same-sex couples just as much as heterosexual couples hoping to grow their families through adoption.
It is important to select an experienced, compassionate attorney to help you navigate the process.
If you are part of the North Carolina LGBTQ community and you are interested in adopting, here are a few key facts to keep in mind as you embark upon the adoption journey.
Same-sex couples must be married to adopt jointly.
North Carolina does not allow unmarried individuals to adopt together, regardless of their sexual orientation. If two individuals want to adopt jointly, they must be married. Like other couples, same-sex couples who meet the time requirement, but who have been married for less than two years, may be required to have two postplacement visits and reports before adoption is granted.
North Carolina does not allow second-parent adoption.
Before same-sex marriage was legal, members of the LGBTQ community could still adopt but only as individuals, not as a couple. For couples who turned to in-vitro fertilization or other forms of assisted reproduction to start a family, only the individual who gave birth to the child would have parental rights.. For homosexual and lesbian couples, a stepparent adoption is necessary to ensure both parents have the legal rights to a child.Same-sex couples must be married six months before the nonbiological parent may petition the court to adopt as a stepparent. Sometimes this period is waived at the discretion of the Clerk of Court.
A same-sex couple may be able to share parental rights to a child adopted before the couple’s marriage through stepparent adoption.
If an LGBTQ individual is single when he or she adopts a child and later decides to marry a same-sex partner, the partner may be able to adopt the child through stepparent adoption. The marriage alone does not automatically grant parental rights to the spouse, nor does the state recognize second-parent adoption. This means that regardless of sexuality, unmarried individuals cannot jointly adopt.
Even if you have been in the child’s life from the start and are listed on the birth certificate, your parental rights may not be sufficiently established. Though North Carolina now issues parent/parent birth certificates instead of mother/father birth certificates, parentage alone does not convey protected legal rights to the non-biological parent. . So, LGBTQ individuals, especially the wife of a birth mother or same-sex male couple having a child through a surrogate, may not have parental rights regardless of being named on the birth certificate.
The stepparent adoption process e is the best way to obtain equal parental rights for homosexual relationships. Stepparent adoptions are often quicker than traditional adoptions. They can take as little as 90 days. . For a stepparent adoption, both legal parents must consent. Additionally, if the same-sex couple has been married less than two years, generally the county’s Department of Social Services or a private agency must conduct two home visits and file a post-placement assessment report with the court. The adopting parent must also pass a ten-year state and federal criminal record check. The court has the discretion to waive the post-placement reports.
Because this is a constantly evolving area of the law, it is important to consult an attorney if you are married and desire both partners to have equal parental rights to the child.
Finding A Legal Partner to Guide You Throughout the Process
With more than 30 years of experience helping North Carolina families realize their dream of growing their families through adoption, Bobby Mills can help you navigate the adoption process as an LGBTQ couple. He will work with you to handle challenges,. Having a skilled attorney on your side can help you handle the process as seamlessly as possible, putting you one step closer to growing your family through adoption.Contact our office by calling 919-306-2899 or schedule a consultation online. We look forward to serving you.