Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses - North Carolina

Date: May 2022

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103(a)

An adoptive parent, or a person acting on behalf of an adoptive parent, may pay the reasonable and actual fees and expenses for the following:

  • Medical, hospital, nursing, pharmaceutical, travel, or other similar expenses incurred by a birth mother or her child related to the pregnancy and birth or any illness of the child to be adopted
  • Counseling services for a birth parent or the child that are directly related to the adoption and are provided by a licensed psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed clinical mental health counselor, licensed or certified social worker, fee-based practicing pastoral counselor, or other licensed clinical mental health counselor
  • Ordinary living expenses of a mother during the pregnancy
  • Expenses incurred in ascertaining the information required under § 48-3-205 about a child to be adopted and the child's birth family
  • Legal service connected with the adoption performed for a birth parent who consents to the adoption of a minor or relinquishes the minor to an agency

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103(a)(4)

Living expenses may not be paid beyond 6 weeks after the birth of the child.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-102

Except for the expenses authorized by § 48-10-103, a person or entity may not give or receive compensation for the following:

  • The placement of a minor for adoption
  • The consent of a parent, guardian, or agency to the adoption of a minor
  • The relinquishment of a minor to an agency for purposes of adoption
  • Assisting a parent or guardian in locating or evaluating a potential adoptive parent or in transferring custody of a minor to the adoptive parent

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103(c), (d)

A payment for expenses may not be made contingent on the placement of the minor for adoption, relinquishment of the minor, consent to the adoption, or cooperation in the completion of the adoption. Except as provided below, if the adoption is not completed, a person who has made authorized payments may not recover them; but neither is this person liable for any further payment unless the person has agreed in a signed writing with a provider of a service to make this payment regardless of the outcome of the proceeding for adoption.

A prospective adoptive parent may seek to recover a payment if the parent or other person receives or accepts it with the fraudulent intent to prevent the proposed adoption from being completed.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103(e); Admin. Code Tit. 10A, § 70H.0113

An adoptive parent may pay the reasonable and actual fees and expenses for the following:

  • Services of an agency in connection with an adoption
  • Legal services, court costs, travel, or other administrative expenses
  • Preparation of the preplacement assessment and the report to the court

An agency may charge a reasonable fee to prospective adoptive parents. In assessing a fee, the agency may consider the income of adoptive parents and may use a sliding scale to provide services to persons of all incomes.

In regulation: County departments of social services may charge reasonable fees for the preparation of a preplacement assessment or report to the court in accordance with §§ 48-3-304(a) and 48-2-504(a). No fee shall be charged unless there is a written fee agreement that is signed by the parties to be charged prior to the beginning of the preparation. The fee agreement shall not be based on the outcome of the report or the adoption proceeding.

Maximum fees for the preparation of the reports shall not exceed the following amounts:

  • $1,500 for the preplacement assessment and report to the court
  • $200 for the report to the court only

No fee shall be charged when one or more of the following circumstances exist:

  • The head of household for the prospective adoptive family is an Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient.
  • The family's income is below the State's Established Income (or 150 percent of the 1992 Federal Poverty Level).
  • The family has identified a child who is in the custody and placement responsibility of the Department of Social Services, and the adoptive family continues to pursue the adoption of the identified child.

Fees for the above reports may be reduced or waived if it can be documented in the case record that the prospective adoptive family cannot pay the required fee.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-2-602

At least 10 days before the date of the hearing, each petitioner shall file with the court an affidavit accounting for any payment or disbursement of money or anything of value made or agreed to be made by or on behalf of each petitioner in connection with the adoption, including the amount of each payment or disbursement made or to be made and the name and address of each recipient. The court, in its discretion, may request a more specific statement of any fees, charges, or payments made or to be made.