Understanding the Process of Grandparents Adopting Grandchildren in North Carolina

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Raising her grandchildren was not how Mary expected to spend her golden years, but when her daughter fell ill, she opened her home without hesitation. Taking in two young boys after their mother entered the hospital was the easy part; gaining legal custody through adoption was a challenging, emotional process. While she loved the boys as her own, the uncertainty of their future weighed heavy on Mary’s heart.

As a grandparent embarking upon the adoption process in North Carolina, she quickly learned that adopting a grandchild involved more than just love and devotion. It demanded perseverance in navigating complex legal requirements for grandparents adopting grandchildren. This blog seeks to help others in Mary’s situation understand the process of adopting a grandchild as they open their homes and hearts through this difficult, yet rewarding path.

Reasons for a Grandparent to Adopt a Grandchild

While Mary’s situation arose due to her daughter’s medical issues, several factors may necessitate grandparent adoption. Substance abuse by the children’s parents is one of the leading motivators for grandparents to adopt their grandchildren. Adoption lawyers note that the opioid epidemic has led to an uptick in cases where grandparents step in on a long-term basis to provide stability. In other situations, financial hardship or parental neglect may make grandparent adoption the best path. Tragically, parent death is another circumstance that leaves children in the care of aging relatives.

Whatever the reason, the well-being of the child should be the priority throughout the adoption process. As adoption attorneys can attest, taking the steps to legally adopt enables grandparents to advocate fully for their grandchildren and make choices regarding education, medical care, and general welfare without hesitation. It also provides grandchildren with legal protections and rights of inheritance. While assuming a parental role may not be the retirement many envisioned, grandparent adoption with the help of an experienced attorney ensures the proper fulfillment of the legal matters involved so that families can flourish together through any challenges as a legal parent-child unit.

When a Grandparent Wants to Adopt the Child: How Grandparent Adoption Works in North Carolina

North Carolina has a defined legal process for grandparents pursuing adoptions. Generally speaking, grandparents adopting grandchildren follow the same pathway as any other adoption case in the state. First, grandparents must file a petition for adoption, along with filing fees, directly with the court, demonstrating how they satisfy the criteria to adopt a grandchild in their specific situation.

In the adoption process, the state requires the consent of the children’s parents, unless their parental rights have been terminated. Notarized consent forms would be submitted along with the petition. After an investigation period, if all requirements are positively met, the court will hold a hearing to finalize the adoption. With a decree issued by the judge, the adoption is legally binding and the grandchild becomes the grandparent’s child in all aspects under the law.

While challenging at times, following the official process helps ensure that grandparent adoptions of grandchildren serve the best interests of children, and that grandparents can provide fully for their care.

Documents You’ll Need for Grandparent Adoption in North Carolina

As an experienced attorney knows, preparing the right paperwork in grandparent adoption is critical. To become a legal parent, a grandparent must:

  • Petition for Adoption of the child – This filing initiates the adoption case and proves why the child should be adopted.
  • Child’s Birth Certificate – To verify the child’s age and parents.
  • Consent Forms – Signed by the parents consenting to the adoption.
  • Affidavit of Parental Notification – If a parent’s whereabouts are unknown.
  • Background Check Forms – Criminal and social services checks for adoptive parents.
  • Statement of Income and Expenses – To prove financial capability.
  • Health Records for Child and Parents – Including any substance abuse issues.
  • Marriage Certificate – If adopting as a couple, not single grandparent.

Skilled adoption lawyers know that all proper documentation helps the adoption process go smoothly, ending in a finalized adoption that allows a grandparent to raise a grandchild with parental rights.

What Is a Home Study and How Does It Affect Grandparent Adoption?

Grandparents do not need a pre placement/home study. Grandparents may need post placement reports. If the grandchild has lived with the grandparents for two or more years, the court may waive the requirement for post placement reports. Grandparents may need criminal record checks. Even when the grandchild has lived with the grandparents for two or more years, the court may require post placement reports.

Once finished, the home study professional will write a detailed report for the court recommending whether grandparents’ home is a suitable placement for adoption. A favorable recommendation significantly increases chances of finalizing the adoption for the family. Grandparents pursuing adoption must cooperate with North Carolina requirements for adoption for a smooth path forward toward the goal of obtaining legal rights as a parent to the child.

What if the Biological Parents Don’t Consent to the Adoption?

Gaining consent from the child’s parents can sometimes be challenging for grandparents seeking to adopt. However, a grandparent can still pursue adoption even if the parents are uncooperative or cannot be located.

The biological parents must be provided notice of the proposed adoption. There are three ways to proceed. 1) Obtain the parent’s consent; 2) File a petition for adoption and serve the parent with notice of the petition. If the parent fails to object, proceed without him or her; or 3) If the parent objects, file a petition for termination of parental rights if grounds exist.

One option is filing a motion with the court to have the parents’ rights terminated on the basis of abandonment or neglect. Grounds like failure to maintain substantial contact or support the child financially for over six months may qualify. Naturally, these claims must be accompanied by evidence.  If a judge terminates parental rights, parental consent is no longer needed.

For grandparents seeking adoptions of grandchildren, consulting an experienced adoption lawyer can help them build a strong termination case if facing non-consent issues, with the goal of demonstrating that the adoption serves the best interests of the child.

Mills Adoption Law: Experience for What Matters Most – Family

As a grandparent seeking to adopt a grandchild in North Carolina, have you been searching online for “adoption lawyers” or “adoption attorney near me?”  Consult attorneys who focus exclusively on adoption law. Bobby Mills, founding attorney of Mills Adoption Law, has over 35 years of hands-on experience, representing all parties involved in the adoption process. Through thousands of cases, he truly understands how to navigate the legal system and stand up for families. If you are a grandparent seeking to adopt your grandchildren, Bobby is committed to protecting your rights and fighting for your best interest throughout every step of the process. 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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