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North Carolina Adoption Laws

Adoption is regulated primarily at the state level, and laws tend to vary quite a bit from one state to the next. According to North Carolina adoption laws, any minor or adult (consent needed at age 12 and older) may be adopted by an adult over the age of 18. The state also requires at least 90 days of home residency prior to finalization of the adoption.

The following table highlights the main provisions of North Carolina's adoption laws, and an in-depth discussion follows. See FindLaw's Adoption section to learn more.

Code Section §48-1-100, et seq.; No
Who May Be Adopted Any person; any adult with his consent; spouses may not adopt each other
Age that Child's Consent Needed 12 years and older
Who May Adopt Any adult person over 18 yrs. old or husband and wife jointly or one spouse gives consent, only one unmarried person may file. Must have resided in North Carolina for six months next preceding filing of petition. Residency requirement waived under certain circumstances.
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption? At least 90 days
State Agency/Court Health and Human Services/Superior
Statute of Limitations to Challenge 6 months

Who may adopt?

In North Carolina, any adult person over the age of eighteen may adopt. Normally, spouses will adopt jointly, but North Carolina allows only one spouse to adopt as long as the other spouse consents. If unmarried, only one person may file for adoption.

Who is eligible for adoption?

Any person is eligible for adoption, including adults. If an adult is adopted, that adult must give their consent. However, spouses may not adopt each other. Because North Carolina's adoption law allows for adult adoption, same sex couples may consider using adoption to gain access to benefits that are only afforded to legal family members, and to ensure inheritance rights. The age of the adoptive child and adoptive parent does not matter.

Whose consent is needed for adoption?

Consent of the adoptee is needed if they are twelve years or older.

Does North Carolina have an adoption residency requirement?

Yes. In order to adopt in North Carolina, you must live in North Carolina for at least ninety days.

Open vs. Closed Adoptions

Many adopting parents and birth parents may be concerned about a child's ability to find the birth parents after the adoption. If the birth parents do not want the child to be able to find them, this is called a closed adoption. However, for medical reasons, some records may be maintained to help track genetic disorders, or for organ compatibility. If the birth parents and adopting parents want the child to be able to find the birth parents, this is called an open adoption. Sometimes the process for relocating the birth parents may be difficult, even if their names and birth location are known.

If you would like to know more about adoption laws, and whether you fit the requirements for adoption, there are many attorneys throughout North Carolina with adoption law experience who may be able to help. In addition to helping you understand the legal requirements for adoption, they may be able to help you navigate legal issues surrounding same sex adoption, international adoption, and open versus closed adoptions.

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