How do I get started with the N.C. adoption process?
Most adoptive parents must have a pre-placement assessment (formerly called a “homestudy”) completed or updated within 18 months before an adoption can be finalized. It must be prepared by a licensed child-placement agency. Speak with an attorney regarding whether a pre-placement assessment may be required for your type of adoption.
Should I hire an N.C. adoption attorney?
Adoption in North Carolina is governed by statute. The statutory procedures set forth in Chapter 48 of the North Carolina General Statutes must be strictly adhered to in order to accomplish a legal adoption. These laws are quite complex. Working with an experienced adoption attorney can help ensure that your adoption proceeds smoothly. The attorney can help explain your rights and options and the adoption process.
You should hire an attorney as early as possible in the decision-making process. Make sure you understand the fee structure and the exact services the attorney can provide.
How can I adopt my spouse’s child/children from a prior relationship?
This is called a Stepparent Adoption. Your spouse must sign a “Consent to Adoption,” and if the child is over the age of 12, he or she must also consent to the adoption. The parental rights of the child[ren]’s other parent must be terminated with that parent’s consent or through court proceedings, so you should consult an attorney to assist you in obtaining the consent from the other parent or terminating his/her parental rights. Most adoptions in North Carolina require a “post-placement assessment” and a Report to the Court that the adoption is in the best interests of the child[ren]. This assessment and report must be done either by the Department of Social Services in your county or by a licensed child-placement agency.