Adoption is basically a statutory procedure. It includes the adoption of a child by a relative or other unrelated person, the adoption of a stepchild by a stepparent, the adoption of a child in a foreign country, or even the adoption of an adult. Adoptions can be conducted either by agency placement or direct placement.
The Adoption Process
General Requirements for Adoption:
- Residence: Either the adoptee or the adoptive parent(s) must have lived in North Carolina for at least the six months immediately before the petition for adoption is filed OR the adoptee must have lived in North Carolina since birth.
- Venue: The petition must be filed in the county where:
- The petitioner lives or is domiciled
- The adoptee lives
- The agency that places the child is located
- Timing: Generally, a petition for adoption must be filed no later than 30 days after the child is placed with the petitioner or North Carolina acquires jurisdiction to hear the petition, whichever occurs later.
- Consent/Relinquishment: In an agency adoption, the placing parent or guardian must execute a relinquishment, which vests legal and physical custody in the agency. In a direct placement, the placing parent must execute a consent, unless his or her consent is not necessary.
- Notice: Notice of the adoption proceeding must be served no later than 30 days after filing a petition unless the person entitled to receive notice waives his or her right (See Notice).
- Report to Court: This is the written report for the court prepared by the agency that placed the minor or by the agency that conducts a pre-placement assessment.
- Hearing on or Disposition of Petition to Adopt a Minor: A date must be set no later than 90 days after the filing of the petition and must be heard no later than six months after the petition is filed.
- Adoption Decree: This must conform to the requirements set forth in NCGS §48-2-206.
The Legal Effects of Adoption:
- Substitutes the adoptive family into the place of the biological family
- Establishes a relationship of parent and child between the adoptee and the adoptive parent, giving the child the same legal status as a natural child of his or her adoptive parents
- Severs the relationship of parent and child as to the biological or previous adoptive parents (unless stepparent adoption, which has no effect on the relationship between the child and the spouse of the adoptive stepparent)
In North Carolina, any per guardian or by an adoption agency. Once the child is placed with the prospective parent(s), a petition for adoption must be filed within 30 days. Along with the petition, a pre-placemson over the age of 18 may adopt another person unless they are spouses of one another. A child may be placed for adoption either directly through the child’s parent orent assessment of the petitioner is conducted by the county department of social services or by another agency licensed by the North Carolina Department of Human Resources. Once the requisite consents and notice are given in accordance with Chapter 48, the agency prepares and files with the court a written Report to court, a document that ultimately assists the court in determining whether the adoption is in the child’s best interest. Unless the petition is contested or is for an adult adoption, the court may proceed without a formal hearing. At the hearing or disposition, the petition for adoption will be granted if the court finds that the adoption will serve the best interest of the adoptee. Once the adoption decree is signed, a relationship of parent and child is established between the adoptee and the adoptive parent and the adoptee acquires the same legal status as a natural child of the petitioner(s).