Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - North Carolina

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Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-1-108.1; 48-2-304; 48-2-601; 48-2-603

If the adoption of the adoptee is subject to the Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention), the provisions of the Hague Adoption Convention shall control the individual's adoption. Documentation establishing whether the Hague Adoption Convention applies to an adoptee may be filed, and copies thereof may be certified by the court before or after the decree of adoption has been granted.

The petition for adoption shall state the following:

  • Each petitioner's full name, current address, and whether each petitioner has resided in this State for the 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition
  • The marital status and gender of each petitioner
  • The sex and, if known, the date and State or country of birth of the adoptee
  • The full name by which the adoptee is to be known if the petition is granted
  • That the petitioner desires and agrees to adopt and treat the adoptee as the petitioner's lawful child
  • A description and estimate of the value of any property of the adoptee
  • The length of time the adoptee has been in the physical custody of the petitioner
  • That the petitioner has the resources to provide for the care and support of the adoptee
  • That any required assessment has been completed or updated within the 18 months before the placement
  • That all necessary consents, relinquishments, or terminations of parental rights have been obtained and will be filed as additional documents with the petition
  • A description of the source of placement and the date of placement of the adoptee with the petitioner

If it appears to the court that a petition to adopt a minor is not contested, the court may dispose of the petition without a formal hearing.

No later than 90 days after a petition for adoption has been filed, the court shall set a date and time for hearing or disposing of the petition. The hearing or disposition must take place no later than 6 months after the petition is filed.

At the hearing on a petition to adopt a minor, the court shall grant the petition upon finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the adoption will serve the best interests of the adoptee and upon finding the following:

  • At least 90 days have elapsed since the filing of the petition for adoption.
  • The adoptee has been in the physical custody of the petitioner for at least 90 days.
  • Each necessary consent, relinquishment, waiver, or judicial order terminating parental rights has been obtained and filed with the court and the time for revocation has expired.
  • Any assessment required by this chapter has been filed with and considered by the court.
  • Each petitioner is a suitable adoptive parent.
  • Any accounting and affidavit required under §48-2-602 has been reviewed by the court.
  • The petitioner has received information about the adoptee and the adoptee's birth family, if required by § 48-3-205.
  • There has been substantial compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-2-305; 48-3-206

The petitioner shall file the following documents:

  • Any required affidavit of parentage executed under § 48-3-206
  • Any required consent or relinquishment that has been executed
  • A certified copy of any court order terminating the rights and duties of a parent or a guardian of the adoptee
  • A copy of any required preplacement assessment certified by the agency that prepared the assessment
  • A copy of any document containing the information required under § 48-3-205 concerning the health, social, educational, and genetic history of the adoptee and the adoptee's original family, which the petitioner received before the placement or at any later time
  • A writing that states the name of any individual whose consent is or may be required, but who has not executed a consent or a relinquishment or whose parental rights have not been legally terminated, and any fact or circumstance that may excuse the lack of consent or relinquishment

Any document required under this section that is available to the petitioner when the petition is filed shall be filed with the petition. Any document required under this section that is not available when the petition is filed shall be filed as the document becomes available. The petitioner may also file any other document necessary or helpful to the court's determination.

To assist the court in determining that a direct placement was valid and all necessary consents have been obtained, the parent or guardian who placed the minor shall execute an affidavit setting out names, last known addresses, and marital status of the minor's parents or possible parents. If the placing parent or guardian is unavailable to execute the affidavit, the affidavit may be prepared by a knowledgeable individual who shall sign the affidavit and indicate the source of the individual's knowledge.

In an agency placement, the agency shall obtain from at least one individual who relinquishes a minor to the agency an affidavit setting out the required information. This affidavit is not necessary when the agency acquires legal and physical custody of a minor for purposes of adoptive placement by a court order terminating the parental rights of a parent or guardian.

Background Studies

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-301; 48-3-303

Placement of a minor may occur only if a written preplacement assessment has been completed or updated within the 18 months immediately preceding the placement, and the assessment contains a finding that the individual who is the subject of the assessment is suitable to be an adoptive parent.

A preplacement assessment shall be completed within 90 days after a request has been made. The assessment must include at least one personal interview with each individual being assessed in the individual's residence.

The assessment shall, after a reasonable investigation, report on the following about the individual being assessed:

  • Age and date of birth, nationality, race or ethnicity, and any religious preference
  • Marital and family status and history, including the presence of any children born to or adopted by the individual and any other children in the household
  • Physical and mental health, including any addiction to alcohol or drugs
  • Educational and employment history and any special skills
  • Property, income, and current financial information
  • Reason for wanting to adopt
  • Any previous request for an assessment or involvement in an adoptive placement and the outcome of the assessment or placement
  • Whether the individual has ever been a respondent in a domestic violence proceeding or a proceeding concerning a minor who was allegedly abused, dependent, neglected, abandoned, or delinquent and the outcome of the proceeding
  • Whether the individual has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation
  • Whether the individual has located a parent interested in placing a child with the individual for adoption and a brief, nonidentifying description of the parent and the child
  • Any other fact or circumstance that may be relevant to a determination of the individual's suitability to be an adoptive parent, including the quality of the environment in the home and the functioning of any children in the household

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-2-501; 48-2-502; 48-2-503

Whenever a petition for adoption of a minor is filed, the court shall order a report to the court made to assist the court in determining if the proposed adoption of the minor by the petitioner is in the minor's best interests.

In preparing a report to the court, the agency shall conduct a personal interview with each petitioner in the petitioner's residence and at least one additional interview with each petitioner and the adoptee. In addition, the agency shall observe the relationship between the adoptee and the petitioners.

The report must be in writing and contain the following:

  • An account of the petitioner's marital or family status; physical and mental health; home environment; and property, income, and financial obligations, including any changes that have occurred since the filing of the preplacement assessment
  • All reasonably available nonidentifying information concerning the physical, mental, and emotional condition of the adoptee required by § 48-3-205 that is not already included in the document prepared under that section
  • Copies of any court order, judgment, decree, or pending legal proceeding affecting the adoptee, the petitioner, or any child of the petitioner relevant to the welfare of the adoptee
  • A list of the expenses, fees, or other charges incurred, paid, or to be paid in connection with the adoption that can reasonably be ascertained by the agency
  • Any fact or circumstance known to the agency that raises a specific concern about whether the proposed adoption is contrary to the best interests of the adoptee because it poses a significant risk of harm to the well-being of the adoptee
  • A finding by the agency concerning the suitability of the petitioner and the petitioner's home for the adoptee
  • A recommendation concerning the granting of the petition

In an agency adoption, the report shall be written in such a way as to exclude all information that could reasonably be expected to lead directly to the identity of the adoptee at birth or any former parent or family member of the adoptee, and any copies of documents included in the report shall be redacted to exclude this information.

The agency shall complete a written report and file it with the court within 60 days after the mailing or delivery of the order under § 48-2-501, unless the court extends the time for filing.

If the agency identifies a specific concern about the suitability of the petitioner or the petitioner's home for the adoptee, the agency must file an interim report immediately, which must contain an account of the specific concern. The agency shall indicate in the final report whether its concerns have been satisfied and in what manner.

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-106

A decree of adoption effects a complete substitution of families for all legal purposes after the entry of the decree.

A decree of adoption establishes the relationship of parent and child between each petitioner and the individual being adopted. From the date of the signing of the decree, the adoptee is entitled to inherit real and personal property by, through, and from the adoptive parents in accordance with the statutes on intestate succession and has the same legal status, including all legal rights and obligations of any kind whatsoever, as a child born the legitimate child of the adoptive parents.

A decree of adoption severs the relationship of parent and child between the individual adopted and that individual's biological or previous adoptive parents. After the entry of a decree of adoption, the former parents are relieved of all legal duties and obligations due from them to the adoptee, and the former parents are divested of all rights with respect to the adoptee.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-2-606; 48-9-107(a); 130A-108

A decree of adoption must state at least the following:

  • The name and gender of each petitioner for adoption
  • Whether the petitioner is married, a stepparent, or single
  • The name by which the adoptee is to be known
  • Information to be incorporated in a new standard certificate of birth to be issued by the State registrar
  • The adoptee's date and place of birth, if known or as determined in the section below in the case of an adoptee born outside the United States
  • The effect of the decree of adoption, as set forth in § 48-1-106
  • That the adoption is in the best interests of the adoptee

In stating the date and place of birth of an adoptee born outside the United States, the court shall do the following:

  • Enter the date and place of birth as stated in the certificate of birth from the country of origin, the U.S. Department of State's report of birth abroad, or the documents of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service*
  • If the exact place of birth is unknown, enter the information that is known, including the country of origin
  • If the exact date of birth is unknown, determine and enter a date of birth based upon medical evidence by affidavit or testimony as to the probable chronological age of the adoptee and other evidence the court finds appropriate to consider

A decree of adoption must not contain the name of a former parent of the adoptee.

Upon receipt of a report of the adoption of a minor from the Division of Social Services of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services or a report of an adoption from another State, the State registrar shall prepare a new birth certificate for the adoptee that shall contain the following:

  • The adoptee's full adoptive name, sex, State of birth, and date of birth
  • The full name of the adoptive father, if applicable
  • The full maiden name of the adoptive mother, if applicable
  • Any other pertinent information consistent with this section, as may be determined by the State registrar

The new certificate shall contain no reference to the adoption of the adoptee and shall not refer to the adoptive parents in any way other than as the adoptee's parents.

In the case of an adopted individual born in a foreign country and residing in this State at the time of application, the State registrar shall, upon the presentation of a certified copy of the original birth certificate from the country of birth and a certified copy of the final order of adoption signed by the clerk of court or other appropriate official, prepare a certificate of identification for the individual. The certificate shall contain the same information required by § 48-9-107(a) for individuals adopted in this State, except that the country of birth shall be specified in lieu of the State of birth.

*As of March 1, 2003, the responsibility for providing immigration-related services was transferred from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The statutes do not yet reflect this change.