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Family Law


In North Carolina adoption is the legal formalization of a parent and child relationship. Adoption permanently severs the relationship of the biological parents to a child while establishing a legal “parent-child” relationship with adoptive parents who are not necessarily related by blood. 

While adoptions are meant to bring joy to a family, they are riddled with many challenges and complications that can easily become overwhelming and stressful. Having an experienced attorney helping you navigate through the intricacies of adoption is essential to ensuring that your adoption is handled correctly and efficiently. 

Types of Adoption

There are many different types of adoption, each with its own unique requirements. An attorney can help you fully understand each type of adoption along with the processes and requirements of each so you can make an informed decision about which type best suits your family’s needs.  

At Hopper Cummings, our attorneys limit our adoption services to step-parent adoptions, second-parent adoptions, and adult adoptions.  We have experience in representing both prospective adoptive parents and birth parents in the step-parent adoption process.

What is a Step-Parent Adoption?

In a step-parent adoption, the step-parent seeks to create a legal parent-child relationship with a child of their spouse. Step-parent adoptions also occur in same-sex marriages when the non-biological parent wishes to legally formalize the relationship with a child of their significant other, however, these are often referred to as “second parent adoptions” or “conformity adoptions.”

While step-parent adoptions do have certain requirements, they are generally less restrictive than other adoptions. For example, a home study investigation, which is an extensive undertaking into the prospective adoptive parent’s life, is not required as it is in other types of adoptions but other requirements must be met.  These include:

  • You must be legally married to one of the biological parents; 
  • You must have resided in North Carolina for at least 6 months, with your spouse and child; 
  • The child must consent to the adoption if they are 12 years or older. 

Often the biggest hurdle in step-parent adoptions is acquiring the consent of the biological parent. If a parent is unwilling to consent to the adoption then it will be necessary to petition the court to involuntarily terminate that parent’s rights.  The Court handles cases involving termination of parental rights very seriously and will normally only terminate parental rights in extreme cases of abuse or neglect.  Other issues that often must be addressed in step-parent adoptions include issues of support obligations and any future contact with the child.  Concerns surrounding these issues are best addressed by a knowledgeable attorney who knows the circumstances of your particular situation and can guide you through the process. 

Second-Parent Adoptions

Since legislation now allows same-sex married couples to adopt, second-parent adoptions, or confirmatory adoptions, are being highly utilized in the LGBTQ community. In situations where one spouse is a biological parent of the child, the other, non-genetic parent can legally adopt and formalize their legal parental rights to the child through a second-parent adoption.

 Adult Adoptions

Not all adoptions involve minors. The adoption of an individual 18 years of age or older is referred to as an adult adoption. There are a variety of reasons why it may become necessary to adopt an adult, after all, the desire to legally belong to a family doesn’t end once a child becomes an adult.  For some, it may be a step-parent finally adopting an adult stepchild, while in other situations it can be because a close parent-child bond has developed. By seeking to legally formalize the parent-child relationship through adult adoption each party can enjoy the emotional benefits of having a legal family as well as the legal benefits that include inheritance rights, rights to medical records, and social security benefits.

Adult adoptions are more straightforward than child adoptions as they are much less restrictive and only require consent from the adoptee, prospective adoptive parent, and their spouse. It is not necessary to obtain permission from the adoptee’s parents, however, it is required that notification be sent to them as well as the adoptee’s spouse, and any adult children they may have. Another benefit similar to step-parent adoptions, there is no requirement that a home study investigation be performed.

All adoptions can provide opportunities for various complications to arise.  Working with an attorney through all stages of adoption can make the process easier and less stressful. Failure to properly follow the requirements can mean delays, or in some cases, denials. At Hopper Cummings, our attorneys can help you overcome any obstacle that may arise in an efficient manner.  We help you understand the implications involved and assist you in making informed decisions about what options are most beneficial to you and your family. Contact us for a consultation today if you have questions or need help with a step-parent, second-parent, or adult adoption.  Call 919-533-4115 or complete our online form.


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This article and all of the content on this website are intended for information purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice or substituted for consultation with an experienced attorney. We strive to ensure the content on our site is current, informative, and based on North Carolina law and practice procedure in effect at the time of its writing and publication. Call our office to schedule a consultation at 919-533-4115, email us at, or complete a contact form on any page of this site for specific and accurate information about your unique matter.

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