North Carolina

Adoption

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information
Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-103; 48-9-104; 48-9-109

Nonidentifying information is available to:

  • The adoptive parent
  • The adult adopted person
  • A minor adopted person who is a parent or an expectant parent

A licensed child-placing agency or a county Department of Social Services may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for the purpose of sharing identifying information for any of the following:

  • A birth parent
  • An adult adopted person
  • An adult birth sibling of an adult adopted person
  • An adult birth half-sibling of an adult adopted person
  • An adult family member of a deceased birth parent
  • An adult family member of a deceased adopted person

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-103; 48-3-205

Any person listed above may request a copy of any document prepared pursuant to § 48-3-205 and any additional nonidentifying health-related information about the adopted person’s original family. The information that is provided at the time of the adoptive placement includes:

  • The date of the child’s birth and any other reasonably available nonidentifying information
  • The age of the birth parents at the time of the child’s birth
  • The heritage of the birth parents including nationality, ethnic background, and race
  • Education completed by the birth parents at the time of the child’s birth
  • The general physical appearance of the birth parents
  • All reasonably available nonidentifying information about the health and genetic history of the child, the birth parents, and other members of the birth parents’ families

Nonidentifying information about the adopted person’s present circumstances may be disclosed to a birth parent, an adult sibling, or the guardian of a minor sibling.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-104; 48-9-109

Except as provided below, no one shall release from any sealed records the name, address, or other identifying information about an adopted person, adoptive parent, birth parent, or individual who, but for the adoption, would be the adopted person’s sibling or grandparent, except upon order of the court.

A child-placing agency may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for a person listed above without appointment by the court in order to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information, facilitate contact, or share identifying information with the written consent of all parties. An agency also may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for the adoptive parents of a minor adopted person without appointment to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information.

If such agency determines that the person who is the subject of the search, or a lineal ascendant of that person, is deceased, the agency may obtain a copy of the death certificate and deliver it to the person who requested the services.

Nothing in this article is meant to prevent:

  • An employee of a court, agency, or any other person from:
    • Inspecting confidential records, other than records maintained by the State Registrar, for the purpose of discharging any obligation
    • Disclosing the name of the court or agency involved in the adoption to an individual described above who can verify his or her identity
    • Disclosing or using information contained in sealed records for statistical or research purposes
  • In agency placements, a parent placing a child for adoption and the adopting parents from authorizing an agency to release information to each other that may reveal the identity of an adopted person, an adoptive parent, or an adopted person’s placing parent
  • The Division of Social Services from sharing information regarding the identity of birth parents with an agency acting as a confidential intermediary

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-9-106

Upon receipt of a certified copy of a court order issued pursuant to § 48-9-105 authorizing the release of an adopted person’s original birth certificate, the State Registrar shall give the individual who obtained the order a copy of the original birth certificate with a certification that the copy is a true copy of a record that is no longer a valid certificate of birth.

Where the Information Can Be Located

North Carolina Division of Social Services

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Collection of Family Information About Adopted Persons and Their Birth Families

Agency or Person Preparing the Report
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-205
An individual or agency placing the minor, or the individual’s agent, must compile and provide to the prospective adoptive parent a written document containing the information described below about the child and the child’s birth family.

Contents of Report About the Adopted Person
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-205
The information that must be provided includes the date of the birth of the child and the child’s weight at birth. In addition, the written document must include all reasonably available nonidentifying information about the health of the child that is relevant to the adoption decision or to the minor’s health and development. This health-related information shall include:

  • The child’s present state of physical and mental health
  • Health and genetic histories
  • Information concerning any history of emotional, physical, sexual, or substance abuse
  • An account of the prenatal and postnatal care received by the child

Contents of Report About the Birth Family
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-205
The information that must be provided includes:

  • The ages of the birth parents in years at the time of the child’s birth
  • The heritage of the birth parents, including nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, and race
  • The education of the birth parents, including the number of years of school completed by the birth parents at the time of the child’s birth
  • The general physical appearances of the birth parents

In addition, the written document must include all reasonably available nonidentifying information about the health of the birth parents and other members of the birth parents’ families that is relevant to the adoption decision or to the child’s health and development. This health-related information shall include each individual’s:

  • Present state of physical and mental health
  • Health and genetic histories
  • Information concerning any history of emotional, physical, sexual, or substance abuse

When the Report Is Made
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-205
The information must be provided to the adoptive parent before the child is placed for adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-106
After the entry of a decree of adoption, the birth parents or previous adopted parents are relieved of all legal duties and obligations due from them to the adopted person and are divested of all rights with respect to the adopted person.However, neither an adoption by a stepparent nor a readoption pursuant to § 48-6-102 has any effect on the relationship between the child and the parent who is the stepparent’s spouse.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-106
From the date of the signing of the decree, the adopted person is entitled to inherit real and personal property by, through, and from the adoptive parent(s) in accordance with the statutes on intestate succession.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 31-5.5
A will shall not be revoked by the subsequent adoption of a child by the testator, but any after-adopted child shall have the right to share in the testator’s estate to the same extent he or she would have shared if the testator had died intestate unless:

  • The testator made some provision in the will for the child, whether adequate or not.
  • It is apparent from the will itself that the testator intentionally did not make specific provision therein for the child.
  • The testator had children living when the will was executed, and none of the testator’s children actually take under the will.
  • The surviving spouse receives all of the estate under the will.
  • The testator made provision for the child that takes effect upon the death of the testator, whether adequate or not.

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State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-2-205

When a child has been previously adopted in a foreign country by petitioners seeking to readopt the child under the laws of North Carolina, the adoption order entered in the foreign country may be accepted in lieu of the consent of the biological parent or parents or the guardian of the child to the readoption. A man and a woman who adopted a minor child in a foreign country while married to one another must readopt jointly, regardless of whether they have since divorced. If either parent does not join in the petition, he or she must be joined as a necessary party.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate
Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 130A-108(b); 48-9-107(a)

In the case of an adoptee born in a foreign country and residing in this State at the time of application, the State Registrar shall, upon the presentation of a certified copy of the original birth certificate from the country of birth and a certified copy of the final order of adoption, prepare a certificate of identification for the person.In the case of an adoptee born in a foreign country and readopted in this State, the State Registrar shall, upon receipt of a report of that adoption from the Division of Social Services, prepare a certificate of identification for that person. The certificate shall contain the same information required by § 48-9-107(a) for persons adopted in this State, except the country of birth shall be specified in lieu of the State of birth.

The new certificate shall contain:

  • The adoptee’s full adoptive name, sex, country, and date of birth
  • The full name of the adoptive father, if applicable
  • The full maiden name of the adoptive mother, if applicable
  • Any other pertinent information consistent with this section as may be determined by the State Registrar

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