The adoption attorneys at NicholsonPham can assist with many types of adoptions including individual adoption, stepparent adoption, and interstate adoption. We handle adoptions throughout North Carolina and can also assist attorneys in other states that may need a legal representative in North Carolina. Two of our attorneys are fellows with the prestigious American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and we work with attorneys all over the United States. We are ready to help make your adoption dreams come true.

In North Carolina the four most common types of adoptions are:

There are different requirements for each type of adoption and a consultation with a knowledgeable adoption attorney is the best way to understand any complications arising from the circumstances of the adoption you are considering. Most adoptions require a home study, called a pre-placement assessment, as well as the consent of either a parent or an agency. Prior to being finalized, your adoption might also require a termination of parental rights, clearance by ICPC offices in two states, and completion of additional notices required by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). NicholsonPham’s adoption attorneys recommend a consultation to discover the most effective way to proceed with your adoption.

In a re-adoption, the adoptive parent re-adopts, in the state of residence, a child already adopted in a foreign country. Some seek a re-adoption to obtain an adoption decree that is written in English as well as a certificate of foreign birth for foreign-born child. Some people want to change the name of their adopted child and can more easily do that through a re-adoption in North Carolina.

In an international adoption, the adoptive parents are attempting to adopt a child in a foreign country. The requirements of the foreign country and state in which the adoptive parents reside must be met. In addition to an attorney to assist with the adoption in both countries, it is recommended the adoptive parents consult with an immigration attorney, as an adoption of a child from a foreign country will not automatically result in US citizenship.

In an interstate adoption, the adoptive parents live in a state different from that in which the child is born and/or lives. The requirements of each state must be met and clearance must be received by the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) Offices of each state prior to any adoption being finalized. In addition to an attorney to assist the adoptive parents, we recommend the adoptive parents hire an attorney to represent the birth parent(s).

An open adoption is an adoption where the adoptive parents know the identity of the birth mother, and perhaps the birth father, and the parties have often had some contact with each other prior to the birth of a child. Most independent adoptions are open adoptions. A closed adoption is an adoption where the adoptive parents and the birth mother are only given some written information about each other and do not meet each other. This often occurs with agency adoptions. In some open adoptions the parties exchange contact information and maintain some form of contact throughout the child’s life. The contact may be as limited or unlimited as both families agree.

There are two primary types of adoption placement: direct independent placement from parent or guardian to the prospective adoptive parents and agency placement to the prospective adoptive parents. It is legal in North Carolina for adoptions to occur without going through an adoption agency. Agencies include private adoption agencies as well as the Department of Social Services. The adoption process will differ depending on the manner in which a child is placed with you for adoption.

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  • Department of Social Services
  • Non-Profit Adoption Agency

  • Private Adoption Agency

In an agency adoption, the birth parent or parents relinquish their rights and surrender the child to a licensed child-placing agency or to the local DSS. The agency then places the child with the adoptive parents who must file a petition to adopt. Sometimes the adoptive parents have already been chosen at the time of the relinquishment; sometimes that happens later.

The birth parents still have seven days to revoke their relinquishment after they sign the paperwork.




  • Biological / Legal Parent
  • Prior Adoptive Parent
  • Guardian

In an independent adoption, a parent or guardian places their child with another individual(s) for adoption that they have personally chosen. No agency is involved, although sometimes, the birth parent finds the adoptive parent through a match making website or national database.

When a parent places their child for adoption, a consent to adopt and various paperwork must be prepared and filed. Making sure that paperwork is correct is one of the most important tasks of an adoption attorney.