If you find out that you’re unexpectedly expecting, you have options. One of the options you have is adoption. Adoption allows you to give an adoptive parent or parents the chance to love and raise your child. As you consider whether you want to choose adoption for your child, it can be helpful to learn about the adoption process and what to expect if you decide to choose adoption. Here’s what you should know about when a mother chooses adoption in North Carolina:
Learn about the adoption process
The first step to choosing adoption is learning about the process. Adoption is a big decision, and it’s normal and important to take some time to consider what you want to do. You might evaluate your decision by reading some of the detailed information about the process on our site, or in our Adoption Resources section. If you contact an adoption agency, they can provide detailed information and answer your questions. After considering all of your options, if you decide that adoption is right for you and for your child, you proceed to search for your adoptive family.
Choose an adoption agency or choose your adoptive family
You control the process when it comes to choosing an adoptive family. You can choose the family directly if you know someone who is looking to adopt. A single person may adopt by themselves, but if they’re married, both spouses must adopt the child together. If you choose the adopted family and do a direct adoption, you’re going to know the identity of the adoptive family.
The process of choosing an adoptive family
If you choose to work through an adoption agency, you may or may not know the identity of the person or people who adopt your child. Some birth parents and adoptive parents agree to share information. Other parents choose to have a closed process for both privacy and closure.
The process for adoptive parents
The adoption agency completes a home study in order to make sure that the adoptive parents are fit and appropriate for the child. They collect information about the prospective parents’ physical and mental health, their property and their income. The court will view this information later, but for now, it can provide some insight into the prospective adoptive family as you make your final decisions about your child’s placement.
You may choose to have an open or closed adoption
When you don’t know the identity of your adoptive family, the adoption agency keeps that information and acts as a go-between. Your information stays private too. The agency provides you with profiles to choose from. Even though you don’t know the exact identity of the adoptive family, you still have say in where to place your child based on general characteristics of the family that the adoption agency discloses to you. When birth parents and adoptive parents match, you proceed to the next steps in planning for your adoption.
Pre-birth orders in North Carolina
When you’re about three months along, you can begin the official paperwork. Some counties in North Carolina allow you to ask for a pre-birth order. A pre-birth order is a formal court order that gives the adoptive parents some rights as soon as the child is born.
Even though an adoption can’t be finalized right away when the child is born, a pre-birth order can still give the adoptive parents legal rights. They may take the child home with them from the hospital. They may make decisions for the child including decisions regarding medical care. The adoptive parents and their North Carolina adoption attorney can work with you in order to put this kind of order into place before your child arrives.
You might wonder whether the adoptive parents can cover your expenses during pregnancy. The answer is yes. The adoptive family can’t give you an incentive payment, and they can’t pay you or the child’s father anything in order to consent to the adoption. However, they can pay your living expenses during the pregnancy and for six weeks after. They also typically pay for all of the legal fees associated with finalizing the adoption.
The adoptive family can also pay for fees associated with counseling services. Counseling services may include psychological care relating to the adoption. Counseling services at the expense of the adoptive family can give you peace of mind as you go through the adoption process.
After the child is born – Your petition for adoption
When your child is born, the adoptive parents can bring a petition for adoption. The petition for adoption gets filed in a court, but don’t worry, the process doesn’t involve a jury and in most cases, you don’t have to answer any questions. The adoptive parents file the petition and send you a copy. If you agree to the adoption, you prepare a simple document for the court that gives your consent.
Notice to the biological father
You must provide notice of your intent to place the child for adoption to the biological father or to anyone that you think could be the biological father. The biological father has a limited amount of time to indicate that they want notice of future proceedings. If the biological father is in agreement with the adoption, they may choose to forgo future notices, or they may choose to execute a document that indicates they consent to have the adoption occur.
Is there a hearing in court?
If all of the parties are in agreement, the court doesn’t have to have a formal hearing to approve the adoption. The court simply reviews the paperwork and approves it. If the parties aren’t all in agreement, the court may schedule a hearing.
When the adoption is final
After the adoption is final, your legal relationship to your child ends. North Carolina keeps official records in a repository. If your adoption is open, you may continue to have contact with your child or the adoptive parents as the adoptive parents allow. If your adoption is closed, the State of North Carolina won’t release your identity or contact information without your consent.
Making the right choice for you and for your child
The decision to place your child for adoption is one of the biggest decisions that you will ever make. The process involves making the decision to adopt, choosing an adoptive family and completing the paperwork. You can also make arrangements to have the adoptive parents pay for your living expenses and legal expenses. Bobby Mills has over 30 years’ experience in North Carolina adoptions, and can answer your questions as you evaluate your options and arrive at a decision for you and for your child. Call us today to schedule a consultation!