North Carolina parents who desire to adopt a child have recently received some welcome news. In 2019, as part of larger federal legislation, Congress passed a number of changes that create new benefits pertaining to adoption. These benefits allow aspiring parents to better cover expenses related to births or adoption. Additionally, federal workers will receive paid leave time to care for a newly adopted child. 

As part of the SECURE Act, a person who maintains a retirement account has the option of withdrawing money from the account within a year of the birth of a child or adoption. Unless stated otherwise, prematurely withdrawing money from a retirement account incurs penalties. However, thanks to the SECURE Act, parents seeking to adopt a child may take out money from a retirement account for adoption expenses without paying penalties. 

However, federal law limits how much people can withdraw. The law states that people may only take as much as $5,000 from a retirement account for the purposes of adoption or with respect to the birth of a child. So while a parent may benefit from this new withdrawal provision, the law does not grant an indefinite ability to take out retirement money without incurring a penalty. 

Another change in federal law provides paid time to federal workers who want to adopt a child. Federal employees who worry about losing income to take off work to care for a new child will have an option under the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act to take up to 12 weeks of paid federal leave. Parents can exercise this option for the birth of a child or for adoption.