For years, same-sex couples in the U.S. have fought for legal rights. Marriage is now legal for LGBT couples in all 50 states, but some states cling to outdated ideas about same-sex unions. If you and your spouse want to adopt a child, you may have questions. 

Are you allowed to adopt? What is the process? Who will help? Answers are available, and there is good news. In North Carolina, all married couples have the same rights when it comes to adoption. 

Legal requirements

In order for you and your spouse to adopt a child together, you must be older than 18 and have lived in the state for half a year or more. A judge may waive the residency requirement if circumstances warrant it. If the child is 12 or older, the child must consent to the adoption. 

A special type of adoption is stepparent adoption. This applies to you if you want to adopt the child of your spouse. In such cases, your stepchild’s other parent waives parental rights or a court terminates those parental rights prior to granting the adoption. 

Parental rights

As adoptive parents, you and your spouse will have the same rights and responsibilities that all parents do. The two of you will share decision-making power regarding your adopted child’s medical, emotional and educational needs. 

Legalities aside, LGBT parents may face unique challenges. Some people may question which of you is the “real” parent. Strangers may ask personal questions about how you became parents. Many questions arise from ignorance or curiosity rather than hostility, but you do not owe anyone an explanation about your personal choices. Do your best to be patient and focus on the joy your family brings you.