Can You Adopt Someone Over 18 in North Carolina?

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can you adopt someone over 18

Mark is a stepparent who raised his stepchild Alexandra with unwavering love and devotion, treating her as if she was his biological child. He celebrated her every milestone and triumph, from learning to ride a bike to graduating at the top of her high school class and receiving an acceptance letter from her preferred college.

Though they shared a beautiful parent-child relationship from the moment they met, life’s circumstances prevented Mark from officially adopting his beloved stepchild before she turned 18. Now, as she begins a new chapter of life as a young adult, Mark’s desire to solidify their bond through adoption is stronger than ever.

But can you adopt someone over 18?

This blog, from an experienced North Carolina adoption lawyer,  delves into the intricacies of adult adoption in the state and sheds light on the adult adoption process, rights, and possibilities within the state’s legal framework.

Whether you are a stepparent, a close relative, or a lifelong guardian, understanding the laws and regulations surrounding an adult adoption case is essential when seeking to establish a legal bond that matches the deep emotional connection you share with your loved one.

Continue reading to learn more, then contact us at (919) 306-2899 to schedule a free, 15-minute consultation.

Does North Carolina Allow Adult Adoptions?

In North Carolina, after a child reaches adulthood you can still adopt to establish a legal relationship in cases where a genuine parent-child relationship exists and the petitioner and adoptee understand the legal and practical consequences of adult adoptions.

The state’s adult adoption laws offer great flexibility. Any adult can adopt another adult, excluding spouses adopting each other. Adult adoptions only require the consent of three people:

  • The adoptee (the person being adopted)
  • The adopting adult (the petitioner)
  • Spouse of the adopting adult (if applicable)

Benefits of Adult Adoption

Adult adoption protects cherished relationships and inheritances and fosters a profound sense of belonging. Emotionally transformative and legally binding, adult adoption solidifies bonds and establishes a lasting feeling of security.

Moreover, adult adoption has many advantages, such as:

  • Ensuring inheritance rights
  • Granting access to vital medical records
  • Enabling participation in healthcare decision-making
  • Facilitating visitor access during hospital stays
  • Qualifying for Social Security benefits

Is Legal Clearance for Biological Parents Required to Adopt an Adult?

Adult adoption is a distinctive process where the person being adopted agrees to their own adoption. Unlike traditional adoptions, there is no need for legal procedures involving the biological parents. This eliminates the emotional and financial challenges typically associated with obtaining parental consent or terminating parental rights. While the biological parents must still be notified of the adoption petition, this requirement can be waived under certain circumstances.

Adult Adoption and Its Implications for Family Members

Adult adoption in North Carolina requires sending notice of the proceeding to the following individuals:

  • Any adult children of the prospective adoptive parent
  • Any spouse of the prospective adoptive parent
  • Any parent of the adoptee
  • Any spouse of the adoptee
  • Any adult child of the adoptee

The Clerk of Court may “for cause” waive the requirement to serve notice of the proceeding on the biological parent of the adult adoptee.

The fact that these individuals receive notice of the proceeding does not mean that their consent is required. They cannot prevent the adoption by objecting to the proposed adoption or withholding their consent.

Why is Notice So Crucial for Adult Adoptions in North Carolina?

When an adult adoption is finalized, it can significantly affect inheritance rights. Therefore, informing all relevant parties—which may include the birth parents of the adoptee, the children of the petitioner, and the spouse of the adoptee—is vital.

The Adult Adoption Process in NC

If you’re considering adopting a legal adult in North Carolina,  you must understand the legal process. To begin, you’ll need to file a Petition for Adoption with the County Clerk of Court’s office, which requires a filing fee of $120.

The petition itself requires various legal documents, tailored to your specific case. You must complete these documents meticulously, in accordance with NC’s General Statutes.

At Mills Adoption Law, we have the experience and knowledge to assist you in this process. We work closely with the adoptive family and the adoptee to compile all necessary paperwork efficiently and accurately, so that you can meet all legal requirements with ease.

Requirements for an Adult Adoption Hearing

To proceed with an adult adoption, a face-to-face hearing is necessary. During this hearing, the Clerk of Court will carefully assess the evidence to determine if the following conditions have been met:

Time Requirements: A minimum of 30 days must have passed since the petition was filed, unless there are valid reasons to waive this waiting period.

Notice of Petition: Proof must be provided that the petition has been properly served to any individuals entitled to receive notice.

Consent and Documentation: All necessary consents, waivers, documents, and judicial orders must be obtained and filed with the court.

Free Will and Understanding: The adoption must be entered into by all parties willingly and without any form of coercion or undue influence. Additionally, both the petitioner(s) and the adoptee must fully comprehend the implications and consequences of the adoption.

Compliance with Legal Requirements: Finally, all legal requirements for an adult adoption must be thoroughly met.

By meticulously reviewing these criteria, the Clerk of Court ensures the legitimacy and authenticity of the adult adoption process.

When all the requirements mentioned above are fulfilled, a Decree of Adoption will be granted. This decree marks the official date when an adult adoptee becomes a fully recognized and legally accepted child of their adoptive parent(s).

Do I Need an Adoption Attorney?

People often seek to avoid hiring an adoption attorney when everyone involved agrees.  However, as experienced adoption attorneys can attest, the paperwork and procedures required to adopt an adult can create significant challenges. While mutual agreement makes adult adoption possible, it does not make the process easy. It’s in the best interest of the person being adopted, family members, and all affected individuals to seek the guidance and counsel of a knowledgeable and experienced adoption lawyer.

Mills Adoption Law: Experience for What Matters Most— Family

Legal proceedings are complicated, but the assistance of a seasoned adult adoption lawyer can make adult adoptions in North Carolina much easier. Make the best choice by consulting a law firm that focuses exclusively on adoption. Bobby Mills, the founder of Mills Adoption Law, has over 35 years of experience in family law, enabling him to provide the informed guidance you need. Having represented all members of the adoption triad—adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees—he has seen things and can anticipate problems other attorneys will not anticipate. Contact him at (919) 306-2899 or complete the online form to schedule your free, 15-minute consultation.

Copyright © 2024. Mills Adoption Law. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Mills Adoption Law
4600 Marriott Dr, Ste 350
Raleigh, NC 27612
(919) 306-2899 

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