Vol. 19, No. 1 • November 2014

Adult Adoption in NC

Julia S. Charles movingly describes what being adopted as an adult has meant to her. Inspired by her story, some readers may be wondering about adult adoption: What is the process like? How does it work in North Carolina?

As a rule, adult adoption is "easier" than other kinds of adoption because there is no legal clearance requirement. In other words, while the end result is the same--the severing of all legal ties between adoptees and their biological parents--there is no requirement for termination of parental rights (TPR), relinquishment, or parental consent. In adult adoptions the adoptee's parents are notified, though with good cause even this requirement can be waived.

Although the adoptee's parent's consent is not required, a parent receiving notice does have the right to request a hearing on whether the adoption should occur. Even so, the uncertainty and delays for appeals that often characterize adoptions of children are not seen in adult adoptions.

If you are considering adult adoption, it would be wise to consult an attorney to help you explore the issue thoroughly and, if needed, to guide you through the process. As additional background, below you will find a list of what is required in adult adoption proceedings in North Carolina.

Checklist for Clerks of Court

  • "Adult" is defined by NCGS 48-1-101(3) as an individual who is 18 years of age, or if under the age of 18, is either married or has been emancipated under applicable State Law.

  • Petition for Adult Adoption (DSS-5163), NCGS 48-5-101 and attachments to the DSS-5163.

  • Consent to Adoption by Adult Adoptee (DSS-5164).

  • Consent to Adoption by Spouse of Petitioner (DSS-5165) (when adult's stepparent is petitioner) unless waived for cause.

  • If applicable, consent to adoption by guardian of incompetent adult adoptee (NCGS 48-5-103). Also need investigation by court appointed GAL other than guardian.

  • Proof of Service of Notice by Petitioner to appropriate persons per NCSG 48-2-401, including any adult children of prospective adoptive parent and any parent, spouse, or adult child of adoptee listed in petition to adopt, or certified copies of any written waivers of that notice. NOTE: For cause, the requirement of notice to the adoptee's parent may be waived.

  • Affidavit accounting for any payments or disbursement made or agreed to be made by petitioner in connection with adoption (DSS-5191).

  • Decree of Adult Adoption (DSS-5166). NCGS 48-2-605 provides that the prospective adoptive parent and the adoptee shall both appear in person unless the court for cause waives this requirement, in which case an appearance for either or both may be made by an attorney authorized in writing to make an appearance. At least 30 days shall have elapsed from the filing of the adoption petition unless waived by the clerk, but notice of the petition must have been served on all required persons.

  • Report to Vital Records for Adult Adoption (DSS-5167).

Source: NCDSS, 2014b

~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~