North Carolina Changes Adoption Law

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Effective November 1, 2001
 Related Resources
• NC Adoption Resources
• NC Access to Adoption Records
 Elsewhere on the Web
• NC Center for Adoption Education

Three significant changes to North Carolina's Adoption Law go into effect on November 1, 2001.

1. Post-Adoption Contact

Adoptive and birth parents will now be able to maintain contact with each other if both parties agree to do so before the adoption is finalized.

PRO: When they reach the age of majority, those adopted through an agency may be able to locate their biological parents in North Carolina, which is a closed adoption records state.

CON: The law relies on several "ifs:" IF adoptive parents decide to share the information with their child; IF the two parties hold to the contact agreement (the state did not set any legal deterrents in the event one party decides to withdraw from the contact agreement).

2. Advertising

Prospective adoptive parents will no longer be forbidden to advertise in local newspapers or other media.

PRO: Combined with the new contact agreement potential, expectant parents who may otherwise be inclined to move to another state that provides for openness in adoptions might now choose to stay and relinquish in their home state to local adoptive parents.

CON: This new law has the potential to become exploitive of both expectant and adopting parents, and could lead to corruption by misrepresentation. Adoption works best when left to adoption professionals - not advertising executives, graphics designers, or copywriters who may do little or no checking for accuracy.

3. Revocation Period

The revocation period for relinquishment of newborn children will now be seven days instead of 21. This means that placing parents can not change their minds about relinquishment after the seven-day period.

PRO: A child will not have a prolonged stay in foster care during the revocation period. Advocates also state that placing parents don't want the longer period. [See news release below.]

CON: Placing parents may sign relinquishment papers before being aware that family support exists, or that they truly wish to parent. During the highly charged emotional period immediately following birth, the best decisions may not be made.


  • This section originally included an option for mandatory therapy for the relinquishing mother, but it was omitted from the final bill.

  • One argument in support of this bill was based on adoptive parents having to allow the newborn child to live in foster care while they waited out the 21 day revocation period. However, the bill's opponents note that North Carolina provides training and certification for prospective adoptive parents to be licensed as foster parents, in which case, they can take the newborn into their home under a legal risk agreement. Historically, the majority of relinquishing parents have not rescinded their agreement to relinquish, and this was seen as a reasonable alternative to reducing the revocation period so drastically.

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    Visitor Comments (1)
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    Guest - 10 months ago
    so if a child was adopted in 1968 and she is now 57 she can get an open file of her adoption? #1
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