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Can You Adopt the Biological Child of Your Same-Sex Spouse in NC?

Stepparent adoption provides the non-biological parent with the same parental rights as full adoption. The difference is that both biological parents retain their rights, too.

August 30, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the country paved the way for partner adoptions. North Carolina responded with the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, prohibiting discrimination based on the prospective parents’ or child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

If one of you has a biological child, it is reasonable that both of you would want parental rights. As with any couple, there are challenges to adopting a stepchild, but it is possible under the right circumstances. Two cases would allow any stepparent to adopt a stepchild.

Standard adoption of a stepchild

The N.C. law does not permit second-parent adoptions. If both biological parents still have legal parental rights, the stepparent cannot file for a standard adoption. However, if the other biological parent does not have legal rights, the non-biological parent can file.

Stepparent adoption of a stepchild

Though second-parent adoptions are not possible, stepparent adoptions are. However, the state requires you to meet one of the following criteria:

• The biological spouse must have primary legal custody, with the child living at the residence for six months before filing.

• The biological spouse is deceased or incapacitated and unable to fulfill parenting duties, and the individual had primary custody before passing away or becoming incapacitated.

• You can demonstrate a “good cause,” requiring immediate action for the child’s best interest.

If your situation meets one of the above criteria, you have one additional hurdle to cross. You must have the other biological parent’s consent.

Stepparent adoption provides the non-biological parent with the same parental rights as full adoption. The difference is that both biological parents retain their rights, too.

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