The marriage equality ruling nearly a decade ago that legalized same-sex marriage in North Carolina opened a new world of possibilities for LGBTQIA+ families, particularly in the area of adoption.
Who can adopt in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, anyone over the age of 18 can legally adopt a child. Any applicant for adoption must complete the home study process during their application, which includes at least one personal interview with each prospective parent, fingerprinting and criminal background checks of all adults in the home, and a home visit to observe the home environment and well-being of any other children that already live in the home.
If an adopter is married, their spouse must also join the petition for adoption and undergo the adoption application process. You cannot apply to adopt on your own if you are married.
Single adults are allowed to adopt children on their own; unmarried adopters cannot have anyone else join in on their adoption petition. North Carolina does not allow two unmarried individuals to adopt a child together, known as second-parent adoption, regardless of sexual orientation. If you and your partner would like to jointly adopt a child, you must marry first.
Adoption when your spouse is the biological parent
Many LGBTQIA+ families choose to have biological children, usually where one spouse is the biological parent and the second biological “parent” is a donor or surrogate.
If your spouse is the biological parent of your child, they are considered the legal parent of the child. Even though same-sex marriages are now legally recognized in North Carolina, being married to your partner/co-parent does not automatically make you your child’s legal parent as well.
In order to also be considered your child’s legal parent, you would have to petition for a stepparent adoption. This will enable you to be added to the child’s birth certificate as a parent and will also grant you parental rights to the child.
You and your spouse must be married for at least six months before you can petition for a stepparent adoption. This form of adoption requires consent from both of the child’s legal parents, either in the form of a waiver of the non-custodial parent’s rights or a court order terminating the other parent’s rights. Typically, in cases where the other biological parent is a sperm or egg donor, the waiver of parental rights will be signed before the donation process.
If your child is over the age of 12 at the time of the adoption, they must also consent to the adoption in writing.
Let SeiferFlatow guide you through the adoption process
Adoption can be a very complicated process to navigate, especially for LGBTQIA+ families. At SeiferFlatow, we offer support to families in the LGBTQIA+ community. Our experienced family law team can help guide you through your adoption journey to assure all of your legal rights are respected and upheld. Contact our office to schedule a consultation to get one step closer to making your dream of adoption a reality.