November is National Adoption Awareness Month!

Each year, November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness month.   For over two decades, National Adoption Month has been celebrated across the country. Many national, state, and local agencies will arrange programs, events, and activities during the month of November to raise awareness for children who need a forever family.

There are different reasons why people adopt, and often, people adopt children within their extended families.   A niece or nephew may be adopted by an aunt, or a stepchild can be adopted by a stepparent. Foster parents may wish to adopt the children they have fostered through social services. There are also people who choose to adopt children through a private adoption agency.

Regardless of the circumstances, 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.  Some types of adoptions are listed below. 

Foster Care Adoptions.  Children who are eligible for adoption from foster care may have been abused or neglected by their birth parents. If parental rights have been terminated, the consent of the birth parents is not needed for adoption. Foster children of all ages are available, and there are sibling groups who need to be adopted together. Many children with special needs also need homes. This is the least expensive adoption choice, because many of the costs are covered by the state.

Stepparent Adoptions.  In North Carolina, stepparent adoptions may occur after the biological parent and the stepparent wishing to adopt have been married six months or longer. The other biological parent, known as the “noncustodial parent”, must either consent to his/her parental rights being terminated, or have those rights terminated through the court system for the adoption to occur.  The other biological parent’s child support obligation will end when the stepparent adoption occurs. If the stepchild is 12 years of age or older, he/she must also agree to the stepparent adoption.

Private Adoptions. In a private adoption, adoptive parents work directly with a birth mother (often with the help of an adoption facilitator or agency) to agree to an adoption. In North Carolina, a birth father can consent to placing his child for adoption before the child is born. Birth mothers, however, may not consent until after the child is born. Once consent is given, it may be revoked anytime within seven days following the day the consent was given, including weekends and holidays. If consent is revoked but given a second time, it cannot be revoked again.

Most adoptive parents must have a pre-placement assessment completed or updated within a specified period of time before an adoption can be finalized.  It must be prepared by a licensed child-placement agency.   The pre-placement assessment is a thorough investigation of the prospective adoptive parents’ background, education, employment, etc. that is ultimately included in a report used to assess how fit they are for becoming adoptive parents. The process involves a substantial amount of paperwork and forms that must be completed as well as criminal background checks, income and employment verification, and other documentation that must be included in the package. It generally takes between four to six weeks to complete this process. For private adoptions, the pre-placement assessment does not have to be completed prior to the placement of the child.  

If you have questions in mind about the adoption process, contact our office for proper guidance. We are ready to help you throughout the adoption process.