North Carolina Adoption Laws, pg 3

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Who Must Consent to an Adoption
Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-601; 48-3-602

Consent to an adoption in a direct placement must be executed by:
  • The mother of the minor
  • Any man who may or may not be the biological father of the minor but who:
    • Is or was married to the mother
    • Attempted to marry the mother of the minor before the minor's birth
    • Has legitimated the minor under the law of any State
    • Has acknowledged his paternity of the minor
    • Has received the minor into his home and openly held out the minor as his biological child
    • Is the adoptive father of the minor
  • A guardian of the minor
  • The guardian ad litem of an incompetent parent

In an agency placement, consent must be provided by:

  • The agency that placed the minor for adoption
  • Each individual described above who has not relinquished the minor


Age When Consent of Adoptee is Considered or Required
Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-601; 48-3-603

Consent to an adoption must be executed by the minor to be adopted if he or she is age 12 or older unless the court finds that it is not in the best interest of the minor to require the consent.

When Parental Consent is not Needed
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-603

Consent to an adoption of a minor is not required of:
  • An individual whose parental rights and duties have been terminated
  • A man, other than an adoptive father, if the man has been judicially determined not to be the father of the minor to be adopted, or another man has been judicially determined to be the father of the minor
  • An individual who has relinquished parental rights or guardianship powers, including the right to consent to adoption
  • A man who is not married to the minor's birth mother and who, after the conception of the minor, has executed a notarized statement denying paternity or disclaiming any interest in the minor
  • A deceased parent or the personal representative of a deceased parent's estate
  • An individual listed in § 48-3-601 who has not executed a consent or a relinquishment and who fails to respond to a notice of the adoption proceeding within 30 days after the service of the notice
  • An individual who does not respond to notice in a timely manner or whose consent is not required as determined by the court
  • An individual whose actions resulted in a conviction under § 14-27.2 or § 14-27.3 and the conception of the minor to be adopted

The court may issue an order dispensing with the consent of a guardian or an agency that placed the minor upon a finding that the consent is being withheld contrary to the best interest of the minor.

When Consent Can Be Executed
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-604

A man whose consent is required under § 48-3-601 may execute a consent to adoption either before or after the child is born.

The mother of a minor child may execute a consent to adoption at any time after the child is born but not sooner.

A guardian of a minor to be adopted may execute a consent to adoption at any time.

An agency licensed by the Department or a county department of social services in this State that places a minor for adoption shall execute its consent no later than 30 days after being served with notice of the proceeding for adoption.

A minor to be adopted who is age 12 or older may execute a consent at any time.

How Consent Must Be Executed
Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-605; 48-3-606

Consent executed by a parent or guardian must be signed and acknowledged under oath before an individual authorized to administer oaths or take acknowledgments. A parent who has not reached the age of 18 years shall have legal capacity to give consent to adoption and to release that parent's rights to a child and shall be as fully bound as if the parent had attained age 18.

A consent by an agency must be executed by the executive head or another authorized employee and must be signed and acknowledged under oath in the presence of an individual authorized to administer oaths or take acknowledgments.

A consent to the adoption of an Indian child must meet the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1901, et seq).

A consent must state:

  • That the individual executing the document is voluntarily consenting to the transfer of legal and physical custody to, and the adoption of the minor to be adopted by, the identified prospective adoptive parent
  • That the individual executing the document understands that after the consent is signed and acknowledged, it is final and irrevocable and may not be withdrawn or set aside except under a circumstance set forth in § 48-3-609
  • That the consent is not affected by any separate agreement between the individual executing the consent and the adoptive parent
  • That the individual executing the consent has not received or been promised any money or anything of value for the consent except for lawful payments that are itemized on a schedule attached to the consent
  • That the person executing the consent has:
    • Received or been offered an unsigned copy of the consent
    • Been advised that counseling services may be available through county departments of social services or licensed child-placing agencies
    • Been advised of the right to employ independent legal counsel


Revocation of Consent
Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-607; 48-3- 608; 48-3-609

A consent is final and irrevocable except under a circumstance set forth below.

A consent to the adoption of any infant who is in utero or any minor may be revoked within 7 days following the day on which it is executed. The individual who gave the consent may revoke by giving written notice to the person specified in the consent.

In a direct placement, if a preplacement assessment is required, and if placement occurs before the preplacement assessment is given to the parent or guardian who is placing the minor, then that individual's time to revoke any consent previously given shall be either 5 business days after the date the individual receives the preplacement assessment or the remainder of the 7 days, whichever is longer.

If a person revokes a consent, the prospective adoptive parent shall, immediately upon request, return the minor to that person.

If a person revokes consent, the adoption cannot proceed until another consent is obtained or the person's parental rights are terminated. A second consent to adoption by the same adoptive parents is irrevocable.

A consent shall be void if:

  • Before the entry of the adoption decree, the individual who executed the consent establishes by clear and convincing evidence that it was obtained by fraud or duress.
  • The prospective adoptive parent and the individual who executed the consent mutually agree in writing to set it aside.
  • The petition to adopt is voluntarily dismissed with prejudice.
  • The court dismisses the petition to adopt and no appeal has been taken, or the dismissal has been affirmed on appeal and all appeals have been exhausted.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

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