Adoption: Helping Families Achieve Positive Outcomes

Adoption law is one of the most gratifying areas in which to practice for our team of attorneys and staff here at Scott Law Group, PLLC. In most cases, a family law attorney is involved in the breakup of a family. In adoption, the family law attorney helps in the creation or expansion of a family.

In general, adoption is a method of establishing the legal relationship of a parent and child between persons who are not already related by blood. The principal object of adoption is to promote the welfare of the child. North Carolina statutes governing adoption should be understood as a process of selecting fit parents for children, not of finding children for adoptive parents.

At the same time that adoption creates the legal relationship of parent and child between two persons who are not related, it permanently severs the relationship between the adoptee-child and his or her natural, biological parents and their families. From the date the adoption decree is signed, the adoptee-child has the same legal status as a legitimate child born to the adoptive parent and may inherit through his or her adoptive parents through intestate succession. At the same time, the biological parents are relieved of all their legal rights and obligations toward the child. Neither the adoptee-child nor the biological parents may inherit by and through each other through intestate succession.

An exception to the above paragraph is in the case of a stepparent adoption, when a stepparent adopts his or her stepchild, the adoption does not terminate the relationship of the child with his or her natural, biological parent who is, of course, the spouse of the adopting stepparent.

Understanding North Carolina's Adoption Laws

Legal adoption in North Carolina is governed by state statutes and the statutory procedures set forth in Chapter 48 of the North Carolina General Statutes and must be strictly adhered to in order to accomplish a legal adoption. The statutory procedures for legal adoptions will differ depending on whether it is a private adoption or agency adoption. Different articles under Chapter 48 cover adoptions of minors, adult adoptions, stepparent adoptions, and the readoption of a child by his or her natural parent after a stepparent adoption. The latter type of adoption is becoming more and more frequent. Because strict compliance with statutory procedures is required, it is advisable to hire a family law attorney to handle your North Carolina child adoption.

As expressly stated in Chapter 48, the primary purpose of North Carolina adoption statutes is to promote the integrity and finality of adoptions, to encourage prompt, conclusive disposition of adoption proceedings, and to structure services to adopted children, biological parents, and adoptive parents that will provide for the needs and protect the interests of all parties to an adoption, particularly adoptive minors.

Secondly, North Carolina adoption statutes seek to protect biological parents from making hasty and ill-considered decisions to relinquish the child to an adoption agency or to consent to a private adoption. The adoptive parents are also protected under statutes from adopting a child without knowledge of the child's heredity and state of health. The privacy rights of all parties to an adoption are also protected under Chapter 48. Finally, adoption statutes strongly discourage illegal trafficking of children for the purpose of adoption.

Any person over the age of 18 may adopt another individual, with the only caveat under Chapter 48 being that spouses may not adopt each other. Any person may be adopted. The name of the adoptee person will be changed to the name designated in the adoption decree.

Private or direct adoption placements are those made by the natural, biological parents either directly to prospective adoptive parents or through a nonlicensed intermediary such as a physician, lawyer, relative or friend. Agency placements are those made by a licensed private adoption agency or an official state bureau designated to make adoption placements. In an agency placement, the child is formally "surrendered" or "relinquished" by the biological parents to the agency, which then acts in place of the parents in seeking to bring about a desirable adoption. Agencies can also receive children through judicial disposition in cases where the parental rights of the natural, biological parents have been terminated through a court proceeding and ruling. Both direct and agency adoptions are governed by Chapter 48 of the state's general statutes.

Do You Have Questions About Adoption?

Give us a call at Scott Law Group, PLLC, at 336-310-8569, 800-566-2907 or send our team an email by completing our online contact form. Our office is located in Kernersville, and we work with clients throughout the state.