Adoption is the legal process, where the adopting parents are awarded by the Court of Adoptions all the rights and responsibilities of the birth parent, therefore providing a permanent home for children who cannot return to their family of origin after all efforts have been tired.
Being a foster parent does not automatically mean you must adopt. For adoption to be possible, the child must be legally cleared for adoption.
The process for adoption in Mecklenburg County is similar to the foster home licensing process with the addition of obtaining a favorable Pre-Placement Assessment.
What is a Pre-Placement Assessment
A Pre-Placement Assessment consists of minimally two interviews with the prospective adoptive parent. Couples must complete separate and joint interviews to provide background information, discuss desires, expectations, and work on any concerns or barriers to providing long-term care for a child.
Prospective adoptive parents must also complete new finger prints even if they were previously finger printed as a foster parent.
The agency conducts Agency Placement Adoptions and Private and Step-Parent Adoptions (see below).
Agency Placement Adoptions
In Mecklenburg County, Adoption Specialists
- recruit for children in foster care cleared for adoption that do not have an identified adoptive family by hosting matching events
- prepare the prospective adoptive parents and children for adoption, and
- prepare the documents necessary to complete the adoption process for children in all adoptive placements.
The children waiting for adoptions are typically:
- part of a sibling group
- school aged
- minority and male
The birth parents of children waiting for adoption have voluntarily relinquished the child to the agency or parental rights of the birth parents have been terminated by the court. The majority of the children are in the custody of DSS or private agency. Many children adopted from DSS are eligible for adoption assistance.
Other Adoption Resources
Families who wish to adopt and cannot be served through our agency can contact other adoption agencies in the community or throughout the state. For a list of these agencies contact our office at 704-336-5437 or visit the state for adoption agencies (See Links/Services).
Private and Step-Parent Adoptions
In Mecklenburg County, Private, Step-Parent, Independent Adoption and Custody Evaluations are completed by the Interstate Unit.
- Relative Adoptions are when a child is legally adopted by someone who is related either by blood (grandparents, uncle, aunt, etc) or
- marriage (step-parent).
There is a fee for this service that is on a sliding scale and based on the families’ income. The reports are required by the Clerk of Courts Office before a decree of adoption can be issued.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the requirements to adopt?
First, one must have the willingness and desire to open his or her heart and home to care for a child. The adoption process requires a thorough assessment of prospective families. They can be single or married and may own or rent their home. In addition, they must meet the following requirements:
- 1. You must be at least 21 years of age
- Criminal records check (certain crimes prevent people from adopting in NC)
- 2. Home safety checks
- 3. Medical examination
- 4. References
- 5. Completion of a Pre-Placement Assessment
Do you have to foster to be an adoptive parent?
In North Carolina, you don’t have to foster in order to adopt. However, our agency strongly encourages prospective adoptive parents to become licensed.
How long does it take to adopt a child in custody?
On average, the typical adoption from placement to finish takes six months to a year.
Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services recognizes that adoption is not the end of the process, but the beginning of a lifelong commitment for both adoptive parents and children. We understand that adoptive families have unique needs therefore we are committed to offering Post Adoption Services to assist families with questions and concerns that may occur in your family. Many adoptive families and children need ongoing community support and services in order to sustain the adoption and maintain healthy individual and family functioning.
Who is Eligible for Services?
All adoptive children and parents who have adopted from the Department of social Services or private agency in North Carolina or another state, however have relocated to Mecklenburg County.
The following Post Adoption Services are available to adoptive families:
Information and Referral
A Post Adoption Social Worker will help direct you to available community resources that can meet your family’s needs.
Crisis Intervention/Case Management/Advocacy
A Post Adoption Social Worker will provide short-term case management and advocacy, problem-solving, and guidance with education and mental health services.
Search and Reunion: Confidential Intermediary
Search Services are provided for adult adoptees ages 18 and other and birth parents who would like to reconnect. Click Confidential Intermediary Services (see Links/Services) for more information.
Adoption Assistance Case Management
Case managers provide ongoing case management for vendor payment and financial assistance until the child’s 18th birthday or sooner if the parent is no longer financially responsible for the child/ren.
LINKS (Phoenix Project), NC REACH and other college tuition
Information on tuition waivers and other college funding for eligible adopted teens (must have been adopted at the age of 12 or older from the foster care system). Adopted teens (12 or older) can participate in other LINKS programs (see Links/Services) as well.
Support Groups and Educational Workshops
Resource List of Support Groups and Educational Workshops in Mecklenburg County.
Access to Lending Library
The Lending Library has books on various topics for children, parenting the adopted teen, diversity, general parenting skills, search and reunion, etc.
Children approved for adoption assistance are eligible for Medicaid until their 18th birthday.
A Post Adoption Social Worker will meet with families and other agency worker’s to provide an overview of services provided after adoption.
What post adoption services are available?
The agency currently offers:
- Information and referral
- Crisis intervention, case management, and advocacy
- Search and Reunion: confidential intermediary
- Adoption assistance case management
- Educational workshops
- Lending library
To learn more about adopting, contact us at 704-336-KIDS (5437).