Adopting a child is a wonderful way to add to your family. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that nearly 140,000 children are adopted nationwide each year, some through a private process as infants, others by step-parents, and some out of the foster-care system.
This has raised an important question: What are the requirements to adopt a child in North Carolina? In this blog post, our Monroe adoption lawyers explain what is and what is not required to be eligible to adopt a child.
The Requirements to Adopt a Child in North Carolina
Becoming a legal parent is a big responsibility. North Carolina wants to make sure that all adoptive parents are up to the task of providing a happy, healthy, and stable life for a child. Here is what is required to adopt a child:
- Rights Relinquished By Birth Parent: The birth parent(s) must relinquish rights (voluntary or involuntary) before an adoption is finalized.
- Parents Must be At Least 18 Years Old: Only adults can adopt a child in North Carolina, unless the applicant is legally emancipated or married and below the age of 18.
- Background Check: Conduct a comprehensive background check of all applicants.They may deny adoption based on adverse information in a background check, including criminal history. Generally, the criminal history an adoption agency is interested in includes crime against children, violent crimes, and drug crimes.
- Ability to Prove a Safe Home: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is responsible for an adoption home study to ensure that a prospective parent can provide a safe and secure environment for a child. Home studies or “preplacement assessments” are not required if the adoption is considered “independent,” i.e. the biological or legal parent directly places the child with the prospective adoptive parent and consents to the adoption, and the prospective adoptive parent is a grandparent, full or half-sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, or great-grandparent of the child.
What is NOT Required to File for Adoption
There are many myths and misconceptions about adoption. Unfortunately, some prospective adoptive parents are discouraged from moving forward because they are worried that they will not qualify. We want to clear up any misunderstandings. Here is what is NOT required to be eligible to adopt a child in North Carolina:
- Marriage: You can apply for adoption if you are single, married, or divorced. If you are married and apply for adoption, your spouse must consent to the adoption as well.
- Home Ownership: Whether you rent or own, you can adopt a child in North Carolina.
- Parental Experience: You can adopt a child if you already have kids or are ready to have your first child.
The Adoption Process is Complicated: An Attorney Can Help
As you may have read or heard before, adopting a child can be complicated. The legal process is hard to navigate. Even seemingly minor mistakes on your adoption paperwork can slow down the adoption process. There is good news: You do not have to go through adoption all on your own. Monroe, NC Family Law Attorney, will help you and your family determine the best course of action.
Contact Our North Carolina Adoption Lawyer for Immediate Help
At Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP, our Monroe adoption attorneys are compassionate, experienced advocates for parents and families. If you have any questions about the requirements to adopt a child, we are more than happy to help. For a confidential consultation, please call our Monroe office or send us a message directly online. We provide adoption services throughout all of North Carolina.