Adoption Basics in North Carolina

  • By:Ron Payne
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Our firm frequently gets questions about adoption in North Carolina and we hope to answer some of the more common questions here for you!Finalizing the adoption in an adoption ceremony in Forsyth County Hall of Justice

First, does your firm handle adoptions? YES! We handle ALL kinds of adoptions at Payne Law, PLLC – from the more simple step-parent or relative adoptions to complicated interstate adoptions involving the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (also called “ICPC Adoptions”), we handle them.

What does an adoption involve? Generally speaking, there are several steps to an adoption, but they may or may not be done in the order below. Adoption involves getting a home study or “Pre-placement assessment”, also known as a PPA; you need to choose one of the licensed agencies in North Carolina. Some adoptions are exempt from the PPA requirement, but as a general rule, ALL adoptions have to have them unless they are specifically exempted. Once you have the PPA, you then either locate a child to adopt or “put your name in the hat” to be matched to a child. Often times, you may already have a child in mind, especially for one involving a step child, relative or adoption of a friend’s child, or maybe if you are using a surrogate.

You’ll also need to obtain a parental consent to adoption from the birth parent(s). You’ll hear a lot about their right to revoke their consent: the rule is either 7 days after the birth of the child OR 5 days after they receive their copy of the PPA (or the first business day thereafter, if the last day falls on a holiday or a weekend) WHICHEVER IS LATER. In other words, their consent is revocable UNTIL they get the PPA, no matter what they say, put in writing or what not. Once you have the consent to adopt and the PPA, then you can generally start gathering required documents together to file for the adoption. This is where having an attorney comes in handy!

military kids and adoptionWhat do I need a lawyer for? Having a lawyer can help with several things.

First, we’ve handled these before, so we know the process and the law. We can help you prior to filing the adoption papers with gathering the necessary documentation, “best tips” of things to do, choosing an adoption agency to help with the PPA based on your needs, budget and situation, and general advice.

Once the process starts, WE handle the paperwork filing, eliminating multiple trips to the courthouse (parking, security, waiting in line, etc.), so that you can focus on your new child (once you have physical custody of them), as well as doing what you need to do to prepare at home, work, etc.

If hiccups arise, then we can help! For instance, we had what looked to be a relatively straight forward independent adoption nearby. However, birth mom ended up having the baby in another state due to a number of complications, and having an attorney already involved helped keep the process “on track”, especially once DSS (in the other state) started to take an interest. We were able to immediately address their concerns, obtain custody of the baby for our client, and then to get permission for the parents to bring their baby home to North Carolina. Then, while they were at home with the baby, we finalized the adoption, and closed out the interstate adoption file from the birth state. Hopefully, no hiccups will arise in your adoption, but if they do, having counsel already “on the job” will help minimize additional costs (as opposed to calling a lawyer with a brand new case and in an emergency situation –  $$$$$), and keep the process on track.

 

What are the potential costs? Costs vary by adoption, but a typical adoption may include some or all of the following fees:

  • Fees paid to the Licensed Adoption Agency:
    • Home study or pre-placement assessment
    • Post-placement assessment and report to the court
    • Adoptive parent profiles or “Dear Birthmother” letters
  • Attorneys’ fees (for both yourself and/or the birth mom)
  • Private investigator’s fees if needed (attempting to locate birth father to properly terminate his rights)
  • Out of state expenses
    • Travel expenditures to the other state as well as the stay while you seek ICPC approval to bring the child home
    • Attorneys’ fees for attorney in birth mother’s state
  • Birth mother expenses – you can only pay “reasonable and actual fees and expenses” for the birth mother, such as:
    • Medical & hospital expenses
    • Counseling
    • Legal services
    • Court Costs
    • Background investigation
    • Living expenses for up to six weeks after birth
    • You can not pay her just “anything” or a fee for giving you her baby – that’s illegal and could subject you to criminal charges.
    • All expenses paid have to be submitted to the Court for verification before the adoption can be finalized.

If you need an adoption attorney who knows the adoption process, and is experienced in all facets of family law, contact the team at Payne Law, PLLC today! Our consults are only $100 and our adoption fees are very reasonable. We can be reached at (336) 283-6198, or contact us online here. We are willing to handle adoptions for any county in North Carolina. Teachers, police/firefighters/EMS are all eligible for a substantial service discount as well! Just mention this article when you schedule your consultation.

 

Posted in: Adoption, Family

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