Adoption is a major decision under any circumstances. And while same-sex couples rights in the U.S. have come a long way in the past 15 years, there’s always an underlying question about discrimination.
Here are a few things same-sex couples can do to prepare for adoption in North Carolina.
The law is on your side
The legalization of same-sex marriage in North Carolina in 2014 means that in the strictest legal sense there are no barriers to same-sex couples adopting. However, as we are painfully aware, same-sex couples still face frequent, everyday challenges.
If you are confronted with discrimination while seeking adoption based on your sexual orientation or your spouse’s biological sex or gender identity, consult an attorney to enforce your rights.
You must be married to adopt in North Carolina
North Carolina adoption laws are stricter than other states. Namely, the state does not permit unmarried couples to jointly adopt, no matter their sexual orientation. That said, if you do not wish to marry, but would like to pursue adoption while remaining North Carolina residents, you have options.
Workarounds for unmarried couples wanting to adopt
While North Carolina does not allow unmarried couples to adopt, there are a few alternatives.
Unmarried couples can adopt a child in some states, including South Carolina. You’ll have to commit to several road trips, but you can always adopt over the border.
Another option is for just one person in the couple to legally adopt the child.
Adopting your same-sex spouse’s biological child
If your spouse already has a biological child, you can legally adopt that child as a stepparent. However, you will need the consent of the child’s other biological parent to do so. If the other parent is absent or otherwise not involved in the child’s life, you can petition for a court order to have the other parent’s rights revoked.
If the child is over the age of 12, you will also need the child’s written consent to adopt them.
Other adoption requirements
North Carolina has some general adoption requirements you should be aware of. If you and your spouse have been married less than two years, the county’s department of social services will conduct two home inspections and will also file a post-adoption assessment. If you have been married more than two years, the assessment may be waived.
There is also a 10-year state and federal background check conducted on both parents.
If you have any questions about adoption in North Carolina, consult an attorney for more detailed information.