Prospective adopters in North Carolina may face unexpected changes due to recent revisions to state law. The state amended several areas of the law, affecting families seeking adoption within the state as well as from other states in the U.S. and foreign countries.
Significant alterations to Chapter 48 of the General Statutes of North Carolina include matters of state jurisdiction, petition filing and minor consent. The North Carolina General Assembly website provides a complete list of changes to Chapter 48.
Before, North Carolina could only take over a case if another state released its authority or dismissed the case. The new law allows North Carolina courts to step in if the former state’s jurisdiction requires placing the adoptee with someone unspecified rather than the petitioning adopter or other potential adopter.
State laws regarding conditions in which a readoption may occur have also changed. If a married couple adopts a child internationally, the parents may wish to readopt later under North Carolina laws. A provision is now included stating that if one parent dies after the first adoption, the surviving parent may file for state readoption in the name of both parents rather than as an individual.
According to FindLaw, minors over the age of 11 must consent to an adoption. The new provision states that the court must inform the minor of his or her right to seek legal advice before giving consent. Previously, the minor in question had the right to “employ independent counsel.” While the distinction may be subtle, the minor retains the right to seek legal advice prior to consent.