In North Carolina, a parent who places a child for adoption signs a consent to adoption. Like in many other states, the parent has the right to revoke that consent.
Consent to Adoption & Revocation in North Carolina.
Generally, a consent to the adoption of a minor may be revoked within seven days following the day on which the consent is signed. The period includes weekends and holidays. If the final day of the revocation period falls on a weekend or legal holiday when North Carolina courthouses are closed for transactions, then the revocation period extends to the next business day.
There are circumstances that can extend the revocation period. The placing parent is entitled to receive a copy of the adoptive home study. A copy of the home study should be provided to the placing parent at the time that the consent is signed. If the home study is not completed, it must be provided later. The placing parent has five days to revoke a consent after the home study is delivered or the remainder of the seven-day period, whichever is longer.
The placing parent is also entitled to receive an original or signed copy of the consent. The placing parent should be provided an original or signed copy of the consent at the time it is signed.
When the placing parent is provided an original or signed copy of the consent and home study at the time that the consent is signed, the revocation period starts the next day.
Seven Days +
A recent court decision highlights the importance of satisfying these requirements and documenting that it was done. The decision holds that the revocation period does not start when the consent is signed, but rather starts when the placing parent receives an original or signed copy of the consent.
The mother signed her consent to adoption on September 1. On September 8, the eighth day after she signed her consent, the mother contacted her lawyer about revoking her consent. On October 4, thirty-two days after she signed her consent, the mother revoked her consent.
The mother and her former foster parent testified that the mother did not receive a signed original or copy of her consent on September 1. The lawyer for the mother testified that she believed that she left a signed original or copy with the mother because that it was her general practice. The notary certified that to the best of his knowledge, the mother received a copy of her consent
The Court of Appeals, North Carolina’s intermediate appellate court, held that the revocation period did not start on September 2, the day after the mother signed her consent, but rather started the day after the mother received a copy of the consent from her hospital record on September 29.
The delay in providing the mother a copy of her consent gave her until October 5, a total of thirty-three days, to revoke her consent. The decision holds that the revocation was valid.
PROS – The consent identifies the person who is to receive any revocation, the court house where the adoption is filed, how to revoke a consent, and the deadline to do so. The placing parent must receive an original or signed copy to have the information necessary to revoke a consent. Requiring that the placing parent receive an original or signed copy of the consent to adoption protects the rights of the parent and preserves the integrity of the adoption process.
CONS – Unfortunately, this decision also creates an opportunity for a parent to extend the revocation period by denying that she or he received a copy of the consent at the time it was signed. The decision highlights the importance of following procedures and documenting that it has been done. The solution is to obtain a receipt from the parent acknowledging that a copy of the consent was received.
I often hear: “It is just forms.” “Everyone agrees.” “Why do I need a lawyer?” For my answer and suggestions on what to look for when hiring an adoption lawyer view “Why Hire an Adoption Attorney in NC?”