Your spouse may be able to adopt your child. If there is another legal parent to the child, that person must consent to an adoption by your spouse or their rights must be terminated before your spouse can adopt. Stepparent adoptions are common in North Carolina. In these types of adoptions, you will not need a preplacement assessment or “home study” but you may still be required to file a postplacement report with the court. Sometimes, the Court will waive that requirement.
In order to adopt using the stepparent adoption process, the petitioner must be married to the child’s parent. Without a valid marriage, there is no stepparent under the law.
Stepparent adoption process
The process itself typically involves a petition, the consent of the spouse who is the legal/biological parent along with a number of supporting documents and may or may not involve a report to court conducted by a social work agency. Additionally, for same-sex couples a number of additional filings may be required to deal with the rights of any sperm donor (anonymous or otherwise). At the end of the stepparent adoption process the court issues a decree naming the petitioner and spouse legal parents of the child or children. The old birth certificate is sealed and a new birth certificate is created with both
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Stepparent Adoption by Lesbian Couples
Stepparent adoptions are highly recommended for lesbian couples, where one wife gave birth to the child. That stepparent adoption will give full, legal status to the second mother as a legal parent.
Since the US Supreme Court case mandating marriage equality, stepparent adoptions can now be used by lesbian couples when a child is born to, and genetically related to, one mother and the other mother is not genetically related to the child, or when one woman gives birth and the other woman contributed the eggs used to conceive the child (referred to as “ovum-sharing”). While North Carolina’s Vital Records office will list two married women on a birth certificate, the non-genetic parent is still only presumed to be a legal parent under North Carolina law, and this presumption can be rebutted. While the birth certificate will allow both spouses to do many practical day-to-day things like school and doctors’ offices, it will not provide adequate protection for the child in the event of the non-biological parent’s death or if the parents separate and there is a custody dispute. Despite being on the birth certificate, if the non-biological parent died without adopting the child, the child may not be able to access Social Security survivor benefits, would not be able to inherit from the parent if the parent died in without a Will and would not have standing to sue for wrongful death if it were necessary.
NicholsonPham adoption attorneys have completed hundreds of adoptions and can help you complete yours.