How Do LGBT Adoption Laws Work in North Carolina?

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In a landmark 2014 decision, a federal court struck down North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban, setting the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide the following year. The rulings ushered in a new era of recognition and rights for same-sex couples.

These legislative triumphs have created new opportunities for same-sex couples to form families through adoption. Children raised in a loving, stable home with two legal parents, whether gay or lesbian parents or opposite-sex parents, will likely develop into productive, well-rounded members of society.

However, gay and lesbian couples in North Carolina may have questions about LGBT adoptions. How does adoption law apply to gay and lesbian parents? Does the law hold gay couples to the same standards as heterosexual couples? Does sexual orientation matter to adoption agencies, child welfare agencies, or the foster care system?

This blog, from a knowledgeable and experienced adoption attorney, explores LGBT adoption laws and offers insights for same-sex couples about the adoption process in North Carolina. Keep reading to learn more, then contact us at (919) 306-2899 to schedule a free, 15-minute consultation.

Mills Adoption Law: Experience for What Matters Most—Family.

Adoption Requirements for Same-Sex Couple Adoptions

Most importantly, regarding gay and lesbian adoption, North Carolina’s adoption laws apply equally to same-sex marriages and heterosexual marriages. Therefore, same-sex couples seeking to adopt must fulfill the same requirements as heterosexual couples.

Marital Status: Opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples must be legally married before adopting children. Married same-sex couples and married opposite-sex couples with no children can petition for joint adoption.

Stepparent Adoption: As with joint adoption, a same-sex couple (and heterosexual couples) must be married to pursue stepparent adoption.  However, marriage alone does not qualify spouses in a same-sex marriage for stepparent adoption; they must have also lived together in North Carolina for six months.

Whether they are gay and lesbian parents or heterosexual parents, if married for less than two years, North Carolina law requires a home visit and extensive background check of the past decade. Consent of any adoptive child over 12 and the two legal parents is mandatory. Since North Carolina prohibits second-parent adoption, a court hearing will address any disputes over consent from the child’s other biological parent.

Overall, North Carolina prioritizes marriage, residency, consent, and the child’s best interests. With a complete understanding of the legal requirements, same-sex couples can pursue adoption with realistic expectations and the patience required for this profoundly life-changing process.

Why Should I Adopt When My Name is on The Child’s Birth Certificate?

Using a same-sex female couple as an example, let’s explore the complexities of gay and lesbian adoption. In a lesbian partnership and marriage, one spouse but not the other may have a genetic relationship with the child because one spouse contributed the eggs used for conception and the other spouse gave birth.

In North Carolina, the Vital Records office acknowledges both spouses as parents on the birth certificate, granting them authority in routine parenting activities such as interacting with school officials and healthcare providers.

However, the birth certificate alone does not provide complete protection for the child and the non-genetic parent. Although it creates a presumption of parentage, this presumption can be challenged if evidence shows that only one spouse is genetically related to the child. Without additional legal measures, only the parent with a genetic connection has full protection.

Even if recognized as a parent on the birth certificate, there is no legal safeguard for the relationship between the non-genetic parent and the child. The child may face limitations when it comes to inheritance or receiving Social Security benefits from their non-genetic parent. Furthermore, if the spouses separate or divorce, it jeopardizes the child’s relationship with their non-genetic parent.

Adoption by the non-genetic parent establishes enforceable legal rights as a parent and provides greater protection for all parties involved. It establishes a legal relationship that upholds parental rights for the non-genetic parent. In the case of divorce or the death of the biological parent, the law recognizes the child’s right to maintain a relationship with their non-genetic parent.

You can secure your position as a legally recognized and protected parent to your child by pursuing adoption.

The Adoption Process for Same-Sex Couples

Marriage and Cohabitation: As we noted above, if you want to adopt your stepchild or your partner’s biological child in North Carolina, the law requires you to be married for at least six months and live together during that time. Exceptions may apply.

Petition and Consents: To begin the adoption process, the non-biological parent must file an adoption petition. The biological parent must provide consent, and children over 12 must also agree to the adoption.

Parental Rights of the Other Biological Parent: The rights of the other biological parent must be addressed with one of the three options below:

1) obtain that parent’s consent or proof their rights have been terminated;

2) serve them notice of the adoption and proceed if they do not object; or

3) file to terminate their parental rights if justified.

Post-Placement Reporting: The court generally requires two home visits by a social worker and reports on the visits. Someone will meet with you in your home, and then file a report.

Waiver of Post-Placement Reporting: For couples married at least two years, the court may waive this requirement upon request. You can accomplish this by making an application by motion to the Clerk, who has the discretion. Depending on the county and the case, results will vary. When seeking a waiver of post-placement reporting, the Court will require the petitioning parent to undergo an FBI, SBI, and local county criminal records check. The court may require background checks.

Adopting a child is complicated, but having an experienced adoption attorney to guide you through the process can help make it easier to navigate. The most pressing requirements are marriage, cohabitation, and addressing the rights of the non-adopting biological parent. With the right legal support, same-sex couples will be well on their way to establishing their new families.

The Importance of a Non-Spouse Parent’s Consent in Same-Sex Adoption Proceedings

In an adoption process, the non-spouse parent refers to the child’s other biological parent who is not in a same-sex relationship. Their consent determines whether the adoption proceeds smoothly. However, above all else, the court prioritizes the best interests of the child; therefore, the non-spouse parent must adequately demonstrate that retaining parental rights benefits the overall well-being of the child.

Mills Adoption Law Helps Same-Sex Couples Adopt Children and Build Families

Have you been searching online for “adoption for LGBT couples,” or “LGBT adoption rights” for help with the adoption process in North Carolina? Choose the right adoption attorney 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.

Bobby understands the unique challenges gay and lesbian couples confront with same-sex adoption and can inform you of your rights and responsibilities concerning North Carolina’s gay adoption laws. He has successfully guided multiple same-sex parents through the process of same-sex couple adoption and he’s ready to help you, too. Start your adoption journey today. Contact him at (919) 306-2899 or complete the online form to schedule your free, 15-minute consultation.

Copyright © 2023. 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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