Frequently Asked Questions
How much does adoption cost in North Carolina?
As you can imagine, there are many variables, making it hard to predict the cost of an adoption. It depends very much on the type of adoption and other specific factors. An independent, or private adoption, is typically more complex and more expensive because you must take into account fees for a home study and post placement reports, legal fees, allowable birth mother expenses, adoption agency fees, if applicable, and filing fees with the Clerk of Court. Relative adoptions, DSS Adoptions, and Stepparent or Adult Adoptions are typically uncontested, and usually significantly less expensive.
How long is the adoption process?
Again, this depends very much on the type of adoption and the child’s situation. In almost all adoptions, there is a pre-placement assessment requirement before an adoption can be filed; there are some exceptions in certain types of cases. Once the Adoption Petition has been filed, there is generally a minimum of 90 days from the time of filing before the Decree of Adoption can be entered by the Clerk of Court.
What does the home study involve?
The home study, or pre-placement assessment, involves a series of meetings between a social worker and prospective adoptive parent(s). It is aimed in part at ensuring that the home will be a suitable environment for a child. The home study process also involves the gathering and review of certain documents, including criminal background checks and obtaining child abuse clearances for applicants. Personal character references may also be required.
The prospect of facing a home study can be anxiety-provoking for most prospective adoptive parents. It’s natural to be concerned about how you will be evaluated, but remember: it’s not necessary to be perfect. If you have concerns, we will discuss this with you and work with the agency to address these concerns. If you need help initiating the home study process, we can help provide a list of agencies and facilitate obtaining the home study.
Can I Get Financial Assistance to Adopt?
Adoptive parents of children with special needs may be eligible under state and/or federal programs for a one time grant of financial assistance to pay for non-recurring adoption expenses. These expenses include court costs, attorney fees, reasonable and necessary adoption fees, and possibly other expenses.
Some companies and government agencies offer their employees adoption benefits, which may include reimbursement for expenses involved in adoption such as legal and agency fees and paid or unpaid leave time. Check with your employer to see if they offer adoption benefits.
There is also a federal tax credit for adoption. You can take a credit against your federal income tax for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. If your employer offers adoption benefits, federal law provides that these benefits are excluded from income for the purpose of taxation.
If you have further questions about adoption, or North Carolina family law in general, we invite you to contact our law office.