North Carolina adoption process

Adoption creates a permanent family between adoptive parents and a child. There is helpful information available about the process for those considering building their family through adoption in North Carolina.

Types of adoption

Married couples and individuals can file a petition to adopt and there are several types of adoption available. These include agency, independent, relative, foreign, stepparent and adult adoption.

In an agency adoption, a county department of social services or a licensed child-placing agency places a child with a prospective adoptive parent and consents to the adoption. An independent adoption occurs where a child’s parent or guardian places the child with the prospective adoptive parent and consents to the adoption.

Sometimes, a child’s parent or guardian will place a child with a relative for purposes of adoption. Relatives include grandparents, siblings, first cousins, aunts and uncles.

There are also foreign adoptions where an adoptive parent adopts a child from another country, stepparent adoption and adult adoption where one adult petitions to adopt another adult.

Filing process

An adoption case begins when the adoptive parent files a petition in the county where he or she lives or where the child lives. If it is an agency adoption, the petition can be filed in the county where the agency has an office.

In some adoptions, the adoptive parents must demonstrate to the court they have completed a preplacement assessment, also called a home study. The home study evaluates the suitability of the adoptive parents.

The court will review the petition and enter a final adoption decree. An experienced family law attorney can help adoptive parents navigate the process and answer their questions.