Original Birth Certificates. North Carolina is a Restricted State. Either consent to release of the parties involved or a court order is required for the release of any identifying information to a North Carolina-born adopted person, including an original birth certificate. The birth record must be specifically requested in any court action that seeks the release of identifying information.
Court Records. The court of adoption in North Carolina controls the release of any records deemed confidential, including court records and the original birth certificate.
Confidential Intermediaries/Identifying Information. An adoption agency may act as a confidential intermediary to facilitate contact or to share identifying information, but only if a person consents to share information. Confidential intermediaries may assist adult adopted people, birthparents, full and half-siblings of adult adopted people, adult family members of a deceased birthparent, adult family members of a deceased adoptee, and adoptive parents of children younger than 18. If a confidential intermediary determines that a birthparent is deceased, the intermediary is only authorized to release the death certificate of that parent. Agencies may charge a fee for confidential intermediary services.
Descendant Rights. Descendants and ancestors of adopted people do not have any additional rights to obtain identifying information or the original birth record of the adoptee, other than what may be provided by court order or through the state’s confidential intermediary process.
Adult Adoption. North Carolina law provides for adoption of adults. Only the consent of the person being adopted is necessary, unless the person petitioning for the adoption is married and is the stepparent of the adoptee. In such cases, the spouse of the petitioner is required, unless the court waives the requirement for cause.
North Carolina Law: Vital Records and Birth Certificates
Relevant parts of North Carolina vital records law. The full vital records law is available here.
§ 130A-108. Certificate of identification for individual of foreign birth
(a) In the case of an adopted individual 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 signed by the clerk of court or other appropriate official, prepare a certificate of identification for the individual. The certificate shall contain the same information required by G.S. 48-9-107(a) for individuals adopted in this State, except that the country of birth shall be specified in lieu of the state of birth.
(b) In the case of an adopted individual 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 pursuant to G.S. 48-9-102(f), prepare a certificate of identification for that individual. The certificate shall contain the same information required by G.S. 48-9-107(a) for individuals adopted in this State, except the country of birth shall be specified in lieu of the state of birth.
§ 130A-118. Amendment of birth and death certificates
(a) After acceptance for registration by the State Registrar, no record made in accordance with this Article shall be altered or changed, except by a request for amendment. The State Registrar may adopt rules governing the form of these requests and the type and amount of proof required.
(b) A new certificate of birth shall be made by the State Registrar when:
(1) Proof is submitted to the State Registrar that the previously unwed parents of a person have intermarried subsequent to the birth of the person;
(2) Notification is received by the State Registrar from the clerk of a court of competent jurisdiction of a judgment, order or decree disclosing different or additional information relating to the parentage of a person;
(3) Satisfactory proof is submitted to the State Registrar that there has been entered in a court of competent jurisdiction a judgment, order or decree disclosing different or additional information relating to the parentage of a person; or
(4) A written request from an individual is received by the State Registrar to change the sex on that individual’s birth record because of sex reassignment surgery, if the request is accompanied by a notarized statement from the physician who performed the sex reassignment surgery or from a physician licensed to practice medicine who has examined the individual and can certify that the person has undergone sex reassignment surgery.
(c) A new birth certificate issued under subsection (b) may reflect a change in surname when:
(1) A child is legitimated by subsequent marriage and the parents agree and request that the child’s surname be changed; or
(2) A child is legitimated under G.S. 49-10 or G.S. 49-12.1 and the parents agree and request that the child’s surname be changed, or the court orders a change in surname after determination that the change is in the best interests of the child.
(d) For the amendment of a certificate of birth or death after its acceptance for filing, or for the making of a new certificate of birth under this Article, the State Registrar shall be entitled to a fee not to exceed fifteen dollars ($15.00) to be paid by the applicant.
(e) When a new certificate of birth is made, the State Registrar shall substitute the new certificate for the certificate of birth then on file, and shall forward a copy of the new certificate to the register of deeds of the county of birth. The copy of the certificate of birth on file with the register of deeds, if any, shall be forwarded to the State Registrar within five days. The State Registrar shall place under seal the original certificate of birth, the copy forwarded by the register of deeds and all papers relating to the original certificate of birth. The seal shall not be broken except by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Thereafter, when a certified copy of the certificate of birth of the person is issued, it shall be a copy of the new certificate of birth, except when an order of a court of competent jurisdiction shall require the issuance of a copy of the original certificate of birth.
North Carolina Law: Court Records and Birth Records
Relevant parts of North Carolina adoption law related to court and other records. The entire North Carolina adoption statute is available here.
§ 48-9-101. Records defined
(a) For purposes of this Article, “records” means any petition, affidavit, consent or relinquishment, transcript or notes of testimony, deposition, power of attorney, report, decree, order, judgment, correspondence, document, invoice, receipt, certificate, or other printed, written, microfilmed or microfiched, video-taped or tape-recorded material or electronic data processing records regardless of physical form or characteristics pertaining to a proceeding for adoption under this Chapter.
(b) Repealed by Session Laws 2010-116, s. 2, effective October 1, 2010.
§ 48-9-102. Records confidential and sealed
(a) All records created or filed in connection with an adoption, except the decree of adoption and the entry in the special proceedings index in the office of the clerk of court, and on file with or in the possession of the court, an agency, the State, a county, an attorney, or other provider of professional services, are confidential and may not be disclosed or used except as provided in this Chapter.
(b) During a proceeding for adoption, records shall not be open to inspection by any person except upon an order of the court finding that disclosure is necessary to protect the interest of the adoptee.
(c) When a decree of adoption becomes final, all records and all indices of records on file with the court, an agency, or this State shall be retained permanently and sealed. Sealed records shall not be open to inspection by any person except as otherwise provided in this Article.
(d) All records filed in connection with an adoption, including a copy of the petition giving the date of the filing of the original petition, the original of each consent and relinquishment, additional documents filed pursuant to G.S. 48-2-305, any report to the court, any additional documents submitted and orders entered and a copy of the final decree, shall be sent by the clerk of superior court to the Division within 10 days after the decree of adoption is entered or 10 days following the final disposition of an appeal pursuant to G.S. 48-2-607(b). The original petition and final decree shall be retained by the clerk.
(e) The Division must cause the papers and reports related to the proceeding to be permanently indexed and filed.
(f) The Division shall transmit a report of each adoption and any name change to the State Registrar if the adoptee was born in this State. In the case of an adoptee who was not born in this State, the Division shall transmit the report and any name change to the appropriate official responsible for issuing birth certificates or their equivalent.
(g) In any adoption, the State Registrar may, in addition to receiving the report from the Division, request a copy of the final order and any separate order of name change directly from the clerk of court.
§ 48-9-103. Release of nonidentifying information
(a) An adoptive parent, an adoptee who is an adult at the time of the request, or a minor adoptee who is a parent or an expectant parent may request a copy of any document prepared pursuant to G.S. 48-3-205 and a copy of any additional nonidentifying health-related information about the adoptee’s original family that has been submitted to a court, agency, or the Division. A minor seeking treatment pursuant to G.S. 90-21.1 may request that a copy of this information be sent to the treating physician.
(b) If a request under this section is made to the agency that placed the adoptee or prepared the report to the court, the agency shall furnish the individual making the request or the treating physician named by a minor making the request with a copy of any relevant report or information that is included in the sealed records of the agency. If a request under this section is made to the court that issued the decree of adoption, the court shall refer the individual to the Division, or, if known to the court, the agency that placed the adoptee or prepared the report to the court. The Division may refer the individual to the agency that prepared the report to the court. If the agency no longer exists, the Division may furnish the information to an agency convenient to the requesting party.
(c) Any report or information released under this section shall be edited by the sender to exclude the name, address, or other information that could reasonably be expected to lead directly to the identity of an adoptee at birth or an adoptee’s parent at the adoptee’s birth or other member of the adoptee’s original family and shall contain an express reference to the confidentiality provisions of this Chapter.
(d) An individual who is denied access to a report or information requested under this section may petition the clerk of original jurisdiction for review of the reasonableness of the denial.
(e) If the court or the agency receives information from an adoptee’s former parent or from an adoptee’s former relative about a health or genetic condition that may affect the health of the adoptee or the adoptee’s child, an appropriate employee shall make a reasonable effort to contact and forward the information to an adoptee who is 18 or more years of age, or an adoptive parent of an adoptee who is under 18 years of age.
(f) Nothing in this section shall prohibit an agency from disclosing nonidentifying information about the adoptee’s present circumstances, in the nature of information required under G.S. 48-3-205, to a former parent, an adult sibling, or the guardian of a minor sibling on request.
(g) The Department shall prescribe a reasonable procedure for verifying the identity, age, or other relevant characteristics of an individual who requests or provides a report or information under this section and the Department, the court, or agency may charge a reasonable fee for locating and making copies of a report or information.
(h) No request under this section shall be made to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
§ 48-9-104. Release of identifying information; confidential intermediary services
(a) Except as provided in this section or in G.S. 48-9-109(2) or (3), no person or entity shall release from any records retained and sealed under this Article the name, address, or other information that reasonably could be expected to lead directly to the identity of an adoptee, an adoptive parent of an adoptee, an adoptee’s parent at birth, or an individual who, but for the adoption, would be the adoptee’s sibling or grandparent, except upon order of the court for cause pursuant to G.S. 48-9-105.
(b) A child placing agency licensed by the Department or a county department of social services may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for any of the following:
(1) A biological parent.
(2) An adult adoptee.
(3) An adult biological sibling of an adult adoptee.
(4) An adult biological half sibling of an adult adoptee.
(5) An adult family member of a deceased biological parent.
(6) An adult family member of a deceased adoptee.
In order to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information, to facilitate contact, or to share identifying information with any person listed in subdivisions (1) through (6) of this subsection, an agency may act as a confidential intermediary without appointment by the court pursuant to G.S. 48-9-105 and with the written consent of all parties to the contact or the sharing of information. Written consent of the biological parent is required if the biological parent is living at the time any party described in subdivisions (2) through (6) of this subsection seeks to contact or share identifying information with any other party described in subdivisions (2) through (6) of this subsection. Further, an agency may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for the adoptive parents of a minor adoptee or the guardian of a minor adoptee, without appointment by the court pursuant to G.S. 48-9-105, to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information. An agency providing confidential intermediary services shall contact individuals in a manner reasonably calculated to prevent incidental disclosure of confidential information. An agency that agrees to provide confidential intermediary services may charge a reasonable fee for doing so, which fee must be pursuant to written agreement signed by the individual to be charged. The Division shall establish guidelines for confidential intermediary services.
(c) For purposes of this section only, the term “family member” means a spouse, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, grandparent, or grandchild.
(d) If an agency providing confidential intermediary services determines that the person who is the subject of the search is deceased, the agency may obtain a copy of the death certificate pursuant to G.S. 130A-93 and deliver it to the person who requested the services. If the agency further determines that a lineal ascendant of the deceased person who is the subject of the search is deceased, the agency may also obtain a copy of the death certificate of the deceased lineal ascendant and deliver it to the person who requested the services.
§ 48-9-105. Action for release of identifying and other nonidentifying information
(a) Any information necessary for the protection of the adoptee or the public in or derived from the records, including medical information not otherwise obtainable, may be disclosed to an individual who files a written motion in the cause before the clerk of original jurisdiction. In hearing the petition, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interest of the adoptee, but shall also give due consideration to the interests of the members of the adoptee’s original and adoptive family.
(b) The movant must serve a copy of the motion, with written proof of service, upon the Department and the agency that prepared the report for the court. The clerk shall give at least five days’ notice to the Department and the agency of every hearing on this motion, whether the hearing is before the clerk or a judge of the district court; and the Department and the agency shall be entitled to appear and be heard in response to the motion.
(c) In determining whether cause exists for the release of the name or identity of an individual, the court shall consider:
(1) The reason the information is sought;
(2) Any procedure available for satisfying the petitioner’s request without disclosing the name or identity of another individual, including having the court appoint a representative to contact the individual and request specific information;
(3) Whether the individual about whom identifying information is sought is alive;
(4) To the extent known, the preference of the adoptee, the adoptive parents, the adoptee’s parents at birth, and other members of the adoptee’s original and adoptive families, and the likely effect of disclosure on these individuals;
(5) The age, maturity, and expressed needs of the adoptee;
(6) The report or recommendation of any individual appointed by the court to assess the request for identifying information; and
(7) Any other factor relevant to an assessment of whether the benefit to the petitioner of releasing the information sought will be greater than the benefit to any other individual of not releasing the information.
(d) An individual who files a motion under this section may also ask the court to authorize the release by the State Registrar of a certified copy of the adoptee’s original certificate of birth.
§ 48-9-106. Release of original certificate of birth
Upon receipt of a certified copy of a court order issued pursuant to G.S. 48-9-105 authorizing the release of an adoptee’s original certificate of birth, the State Registrar shall give the individual who obtained the order a copy of the original certificate of birth with a certification that the copy is a true copy of a record that is no longer a valid certificate of birth.
§ 48-9-107. New birth certificates
(a) Upon receipt of a report of the adoption of a minor from the Division, or the documents required by G.S. 48-9-102(g) from the clerk of superior court in the adoption of an adult, or a report of an adoption from another state, the State Registrar shall prepare a new birth certificate for the adoptee that shall contain the adoptee’s full adoptive name, sex, state of birth, and date of birth; the full name of the adoptive father, if applicable; the full maiden name of the adoptive mother, if applicable; and any other pertinent information consistent with this section as may be determined by the State Registrar. The new certificate shall contain no reference to the adoption of the adoptee and shall not refer to the adoptive parents in any way other than as the adoptee’s parents.
(b) In an adoption by a stepparent, the State Registrar shall prepare a new birth certificate pursuant to subsection (a) of this section except:
(1) The adoptive parent and the parent whose relation with the adoptee remains unchanged shall be listed as the adoptee’s mother and father on the new birth certificate; and
(2) The city and county of birth of the adoptee shall be the same on the new birth certificate as on the original certificate.
The names of the adoptee’s parents shall not be changed as provided in subdivision (1) of this subsection if the petitioner, the petitioner’s spouse, the adoptee if age 12 or older, and any living parent whose parental rights are terminated by the adoption jointly file a request that the parents’ names not be changed with the court prior to the entry of the adoption decree. The Division shall send a copy of this request with its report to the State Registrar or other appropriate official in the adoption of a minor stepchild, and the clerk of superior court shall send a copy with the documents required by G.S. 48-9-102(g) in the adoption of an adult stepchild.
(c) The State Registrar shall seal the original certificate of birth and all records in the possession of that office pertaining to the adoption. These records shall not be unsealed except as provided in this Article. The State Registrar shall provide certified typed copies or abstracts of the new certificate of birth of an adoptee prepared pursuant to subsection (a) of this section to the adoptee, the adoptee’s children, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee’s spouse, brothers, and sisters. For purposes of this subsection, “parent”, “brother”, and “sister” shall mean the adoptee’s adoptive parent, brother, or sister and shall not mean a former parent, brother, or sister.
(d) At the time of preparing the new birth certificate pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the State Registrar shall notify the register of deeds or appropriate official in the health department in the county of the adoptee’s birth to remove the adoptee’s birth certificate from the records and forward it to the State Registrar for retention under seal with the original certificate of birth in the State Registrar’s office. The register of deeds shall also delete all index entries for that birth certificate. The State Registrar shall not issue copies of birth certificates for adoptees to registers of deeds. Only the State Registrar shall issue certified copies of such records, and these copies shall be prepared as prescribed in subsection (c) of this section.
§ 48-9-108. Restoration of original birth certificates if a decree of adoption is set aside
If a final decree of adoption is set aside, the court shall send a certified copy of the order within 10 days after it becomes final to the State Registrar if the adoptee was born in this State or to the appropriate official responsible for issuing birth certificates or their equivalent if the adoptee was not born in this State. The court shall also send a copy to the Division. If the adoptee desires to have the adoptive name shown on the original birth certificate when it is restored, the order must include this directive. Upon receipt of such an order, the State Registrar shall seal the certificate issued under this section and restore the adoptee’s original certificate of birth. This sealed file may subsequently be opened only by direction of a valid court order pursuant to G.S. 48-9-105 and G.S. 48-9-106.
§ 48-9-109. Certain disclosures authorized
Nothing in this Article shall be interpreted or construed to prevent:
(1) An employee of a court, agency, or any other person from:
a. Inspecting permanent, confidential, or sealed records, other than records maintained by the State Registrar, for the purpose of discharging any obligation under this Chapter.
b. Disclosing the name of the court where a proceeding for adoption occurred, or the name of an agency that placed an adoptee, to an individual described in G.S. 48-9-104(a) who can verify his or her identity.
c. Disclosing or using information contained in permanent and sealed records, other than records maintained by the State Registrar, for statistical or other research purposes as long as the disclosure will not result in identification of a person who is the subject of the information and subject to any further conditions the Department may reasonably impose.
d. Giving a file-stamped copy of a document to a person, or to the legal representative of a person, who has filed the document in an adoption proceeding.
(2) In agency placements, a parent or guardian placing a child for adoption and the adopting parents from authorizing an agency to release information or from releasing information to each other that could reasonably be expected to lead directly to the identity of an adoptee, an adoptive parent of an adoptee, or an adoptee’s placing parent or guardian. The consent to the release of identifying information shall be in writing and signed prior to the adoption by any placing parent or guardian and the adopting parents and acknowledged under oath in the presence of an individual authorized to administer oaths or take acknowledgments. Any consent to release identifying information shall be filed under G.S. 48-2-305.
(3) The Division from sharing information from its records regarding the identity of birth parents with an agency acting as a confidential intermediary pursuant to G.S. 48-9-104(b), if the information is needed by the agency to carry out its duties as a confidential intermediary. Any information disclosed to the agency pursuant to this subdivision shall not be redisclosed by the agency except as allowed by G.S. 48-9-104(b).
Relevant North Carolina Law: Adoption Generally
Relevant parts of North Carolina adoption law. The entire North Carolina adoption statute is available here.
§ 48-1-101. Definitions
In this Chapter, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Adoptee” means an individual who is adopted, is placed for adoption, or is the subject of a petition for adoption properly filed with the court.
(2) “Adoption” means the creation by law of the relationship of parent and child between two individuals.
(3) “Adult” means an individual who has attained 18 years of age, or if under the age of 18, is either married or has been emancipated under the applicable State law.
(3a) “Adoption facilitator” means an individual or a nonprofit entity that assists biological parents in locating and evaluating prospective adoptive parents without charge.
(4) “Agency” means a public or private association, corporation, institution, or other person or entity that is licensed or otherwise authorized by the law of the jurisdiction where it operates to place minors for adoption. “Agency” also means a county department of social services in this State.
(4a) “Agency identified adoption” means a placement where an agency has agreed to place the minor with a prospective adoptive parent selected by the parent or guardian.
(5) “Child” means a son or daughter, whether by birth or adoption.
(5a) “Confidential intermediary” means an agency that may act as a third party to facilitate the sharing of information authorized by G.S. 48-9-104.
(5b) “Criminal history” means a county, State, or federal conviction of a felony by a court of competent jurisdiction or a pending felony indictment of a crime for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against a child, including child pornography, or for a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, other than physical assault or battery; a county, State, or federal conviction of a felony by a court of competent jurisdiction or a pending felony indictment for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense, if the offense was committed within the past five years; or similar crimes under federal law or under the laws of other states.
(6) “Department” means the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
(7) “Division” means the Division of Social Services of the Department.
(8) “Guardian” means an individual, other than a parent, appointed by a clerk of court in North Carolina to exercise all of the powers conferred by G.S. 35A-1241, including a standby guardian appointed under Article 21 of Chapter 35A of the General Statutes whose authority has actually commenced; and also means an individual, other than a parent, appointed in another jurisdiction according to the law of that jurisdiction who has the power to consent to adoption under the law of that jurisdiction.
(9) “Legal custody” of an individual means the general right to exercise continuing care of and control over the individual as authorized by law, with or without a court order, and:
a. Includes the right and the duty to protect, care for, educate, and discipline the individual;
b. Includes the right and the duty to provide the individual with food, shelter, clothing, and medical care; and
c. May include the right to have physical custody of the individual.
(9a) Repealed by Session Laws 2010-116, s. 1, effective October 1, 2010.
(10) “Minor” means an individual under 18 years of age who is not an adult.
(11) “Party” means a petitioner, adoptee, or any person whose consent to an adoption is necessary under this Chapter but has not been obtained.
(12) “Physical custody” means the physical care of and control over an individual.
(13) “Placement” means transfer of physical custody of a minor to the selected prospective adoptive parent. Placement may be either:
a. Direct placement by a parent or the guardian of the minor; or
b. Placement by an agency.
(14) “Preplacement assessment” means a document, whether prepared before or after placement, that contains the information required by G.S. 48-3-303 and any rules adopted by the Social Services Commission.
(15) “Relinquishment” means the voluntary surrender of a minor to an agency for the purpose of adoption.
(16) “Report to the court” means a document prepared in accordance with G.S. 48-2-501, et seq.
(17) “State” means a state as defined in G.S. 12-3(11).
(18) “Stepparent” means an individual who is the spouse of a parent of a child, but who is not a legal parent of the child.
§ 48-1-103. Who may adopt
Any adult may adopt another individual as provided in this Chapter, but spouses may not adopt each other.
§ 48-1-104. Who may be adopted
Any individual may be adopted as provided in this Chapter.
§ 48-1-105. Name of adoptee after adoption
When a decree of adoption becomes final, the name of the adoptee shall become the name designated in the decree.
§ 48-1-106. Legal effect of decree of adoption
(a) A decree of adoption effects a complete substitution of families for all legal purposes after the entry of the decree.
(b) A decree of adoption establishes the relationship of parent and child between each petitioner and the individual being adopted. From the date of the signing of the decree, the adoptee is entitled to inherit real and personal property by, through, and from the adoptive parents in accordance with the statutes on intestate succession and has the same legal status, including all legal rights and obligations of any kind whatsoever, as a child born the legitimate child of the adoptive parents.
(c) A decree of adoption severs the relationship of parent and child between the individual adopted and that individual’s biological or previous adoptive parents. After the entry of a decree of adoption, the former parents are relieved of all legal duties and obligations due from them to the adoptee, except that a former parent’s duty to make past-due payments for child support is not terminated, and the former parents are divested of all rights with respect to the adoptee.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, neither an adoption by a stepparent nor a readoption pursuant to G.S. 48-6-102 has any effect on the relationship between the child and the parent who is the stepparent’s spouse.
(e) In any deed, grant, will, or other written instrument executed before October 1, 1985, the words “child”, “grandchild”, “heir”, “issue”, “descendant”, or an equivalent, or any other word of like import, shall be held to include any adopted person after the entry of the decree of adoption, unless a contrary intention plainly appears from the terms of the instrument, whether the instrument was executed before or after the entry of the decree of adoption. The use of the phrase “hereafter born” or similar language in any such instrument to establish a class of persons shall not by itself be sufficient to exclude adoptees from inclusion in the class. In any deed, grant, will, or other written instrument executed on or after October 1, 1985, any reference to a natural person shall include any adopted person after the entry of the decree of adoption unless the instrument explicitly states that adopted persons are excluded, whether the instrument was executed before or after the entry of the decree of adoption.
(f) Nothing in this Chapter deprives a biological grandparent of any visitation rights with an adopted minor available under G.S. 50-13.2(b1), 50-13.2A, and 50-13.5(j).
§ 48-1-107. Other rights of adoptee
A decree of adoption does not divest any vested property interest owned by the adoptee immediately prior to the decree of adoption including any public assistance benefit or child support payment due on or before the date of the decree. An adoption divests any property interest, entitlement, or other interest contingent on an ongoing family relationship with the adoptee’s former family.
§ 48-2-606. Decree of adoption
(a) A decree of adoption must state at least:
(1) The name and gender of each petitioner for adoption;
(2) Whether the petitioner is married, a stepparent, or single;
(3) The name by which the adoptee is to be known;
(4) Information to be incorporated in a new standard certificate of birth to be issued by the State Registrar;
(5) The adoptee’s date and place of birth, if known, or as determined under subsection (b) of this section in the case of an adoptee born outside the United States;
(6) The effect of the decree of adoption as set forth in G.S. 48-1-106; and
(7) That the adoption is in the best interest of the adoptee.
(b) In stating the date and place of birth of an adoptee born outside the United States, the court shall do each of the following:
(1) Enter the date of birth as stated in the certificate of birth from the country of origin, the United States Department of State’s report of birth abroad, or the documents of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service or a date of birth based upon medical evidence by affidavit or testimony as to the probable chronological age of the adoptee and other evidence the court finds appropriate to consider.
(2) Enter the place of birth as stated in the certificate of birth from the country of origin, the United States Department of State’s report of birth abroad, or the documents of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service or, if the exact place of birth is unknown, enter the information that is known, including the country of origin.
(3) Repealed by Session Laws 2019-172, s. 5, effective October 1, 2019.
(c) A decree of adoption must not contain the name of a former parent of the adoptee.
§ 48-3-705. Consequences of relinquishment
(a) A relinquishment executed pursuant to G.S. 48-3-702 through G.S. 48-3-704 may be revoked as provided in G.S. 48-3-706 and is otherwise final and irrevocable except under a circumstance set forth in G.S. 48-3-707.
(b) Upon execution, a relinquishment by a parent or guardian entitled under G.S. 48-3-201 to place a minor for adoption:
(1) Vests legal and physical custody of the minor in the agency; and
(2) Empowers the agency to place the minor for adoption with a prospective adoptive parent selected in the manner specified in the relinquishment.
(c) A relinquishment terminates:
(1) Any right and duty of the individual who executed the relinquishment with respect to the legal and physical custody of the minor.
(2) The right to consent to the minor’s adoption.
(3) Repealed by Session Laws 1997-215, s. 19.1(b).
(d) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, parental rights and duties of a parent who executed a relinquishment are not terminated until the decree of adoption becomes final or the parental relationship is otherwise legally terminated, whichever occurs first. Until termination the minor remains the child of a parent who executed a relinquishment for purposes of any inheritance, succession, insurance, arrears of child support, and other benefit or claim that the minor may have from, through, or against the parent.
(e) An agency or county department of social services to whom a minor has been relinquished may, after the time within which the relinquishing parent or guardian may revoke the relinquishment has expired, apply ex parte to a clerk of superior court for an order finding that the child has been relinquished to the agency and confirming that the agency or county department of social services has legal custody of the minor for the purposes of obtaining a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, a Social Security number, or federal and State benefits for the minor.
North Carolina Law: Adult Adoption
The entirety of the North Carolina adoption statute related to adult adoption.
§ 48-5-100. Application of Article
This Article shall apply to the adoption of adults, including married and emancipated minors.
§ 48-5-101. Who may file for a petition to adopt an adult
(a) An adult may adopt another adult, except for the spouse of the adopting adult, pursuant to this Article.
(b) If a prospective adoptive parent is married, both spouses must join in the petition unless the prospective adoptive parent is the adoptee’s stepparent or unless the court waives this requirement for cause.
§ 48-5-102. Consent to adoption
(a) Consent to the adoption of an adult is required only of:
(1) The adult being adopted; and
(2) The spouse of the petitioner in an adoption by the adult’s stepparent, unless the court waives this requirement for cause.
(b) The consent of the adult being adopted must:
(1) Be in writing and be signed and acknowledged before an individual authorized to administer oaths or take acknowledgments;
(2) State that the adult agrees to assume toward the adoptive parent the legal relation of parent and child and to have all of the rights and be subject to all of the duties of that relationship; and
(3) State that the adult understands the consequences the adoption may have for rights of inheritance, property, or support, including the loss of nonvested inheritance rights which existed prior to the adoption and the acquisition of new inheritance rights.
(c) The consent of the spouse of the petitioner in a stepparent adoption:
(1) Must be in writing and be signed and acknowledged before an individual authorized to administer oaths or take acknowledgments; and
(2) Must state that the spouse:
a. Consents to the proposed adoption;
b. Understands that the adoption may diminish the amount the spouse might take from the petitioner through intestate succession or by dissenting to the petitioner’s will and may also diminish the amount of other entitlements that may become due the spouse and any other children of the petitioner through the petitioner; and
c. Believes the adoption will be in the best interest of the adult being adopted and the prospective adoptive parent.
(d) Anyone who gives a consent under this Article may revoke the consent at any time before the entry of the decree of adoption by delivering a written notice of revocation to the individual to whom the consent was given. If a petition to adopt has been filed, the notice of revocation shall also be filed with the clerk of court in the county where the petition is pending.
§ 48-2-605. Hearing on petition to adopt an adult
(a) At the hearing on a petition to adopt an adult, the prospective adoptive parent and the adoptee shall both appear in person, unless the court waives this requirement for cause, in which event an appearance may be made for either or both of them by an attorney authorized in writing to make the appearance.
(b) At the hearing, the court shall grant the petition for adoption upon finding by a preponderance of the evidence all of the following:
(1) At least 30 days have elapsed since the filing of the petition for adoption, but the court for cause may waive this requirement;
(2) Notice of the petition has been served on any person entitled to receive notice under Part 4 of this Article;
(3) Each necessary consent, waiver, document, or judicial order has been obtained and filed with the court;
(4) The adoption is entered into freely and without duress or undue influence for the purpose of creating the relation of parent and child between each petitioner and the adoptee, and each petitioner and the adoptee understand the consequences of the adoption; and
(5) There has been substantial compliance with the provisions of this Chapter.
North Carolina Law: Adoption by Former Parent
The entirety of the North Carolina “readoption” statute.
§ 48-6-100. Application of Article
This Article shall apply to the adoption of adoptees by a former parent.
§ 48-6-101. Readoption under other Articles
A former parent may readopt a minor adoptee pursuant to Article 3 of this Chapter or, if applicable, Article 4 of this Chapter. A former parent may readopt an adult adoptee pursuant to Article 5 of this Chapter.
§ 48-6-102. Readoption after a stepparent adoption
(a) In addition to the methods set out in G.S. 48-6-101, a former parent may petition pursuant to this section to readopt an adoptee adopted by a stepparent.
(b) The petitioner’s spouse shall not join the petition.
(c) Consent to the readoption must be executed by:
(1) The adoptee, if 12 or more years of age;
(2) The petitioner’s spouse, if any;
(3) The adoptee’s adoptive parent, if the adoptee is a minor;
(4) The adoptee’s parent who is or was the spouse of the adoptive parent, if the adoptee is a minor; and
(5) Any guardian of the adoptee.
(d) The consent executed by the adoptee shall conform to the requirements of G.S. 48-4-103(e).
(e) The consent executed by the petitioner’s spouse shall conform to the requirements of G.S. 48-5-102(c).
(f) The consent executed by the adoptive parent shall conform to the requirements of G.S. 48-4-103(b).
(g) The consent of the adoptee’s parent who was the spouse of the adoptive parent shall conform to the requirements of G.S. 48-4-103(a) except for those required by G.S. 48-4-103(a)(2)b.
(h) A consent executed by the guardian of a minor adoptee shall conform to the requirements of G.S. 48-4-103(c).
(i) An adoption under this section does not affect the relationship between the adoptee and the parent who was married to the adoptive parent.
(j) An adoption under this section does not terminate or otherwise affect any existing order of custody.
John Haralson says
My brother, that I never knew existed until a year ago, was born on October 20, 1947 in Asheville North Carolina, at a maternity home. His birth is registered in the North Carolina births, and I even was able to send off and get his original unsealed birth certificate. I contacted the North Carolina Adoption review board and they tell me he was not adopted in North Carolina. There also is no record of him dying..and he was not raised by the biological fathers family. On the paperwork from the maternity home it says that the plan for him was to go to Mrs. Lees Boarding house. There is and was no such place. Can you tell me what to do to find him. I have done the dna and my closest match is my second cousin. Please reply, Johnny Haralson
Gregory D. Luce says
Very interesting. If the birth certificate was not sealed it is unlikely there was an adoption. And the reference to Mrs. Lee’s boarding house may essentially just be a house owned by a Mrs. Lee, who was the equivalent of a foster parent to children. It sounds as if this may be a half-sibling? And that Mrs. Lee cared for your brother for a time until the mother could better take care of him? Given this was 1947, it was still in the very possible realm that support was provided to the mother to get back on her feet and care for her child, not requiring her to give him up for adoption. Let us know if this scenario could make sense in what you know of other facts, but from what you are saying here I would say that he was not adopted.
John Haralson says
Gregory, i was born 18 months after my brother. I assume he was a half brother. My mother married my father in 1949 after I was born and her divorce was final. I contacted the family of her husband whom she was still married to at the time of my brothers birth and they knew nothing about him, or even the fact that she was married to him for 8 years at the time of my brothers birth. Please reply to me at [email protected] …i have only just now seeing your reply. ..John
Carolyn Roberts says
I was adopted in 1967 in NC . All records are sealed in Raleigh . I am 50 now , mature, no criminal background etc . My adoptive parents were great and also know I’m searching for Birth Mother . I have done DNA on ancestry however no leads to the mother . What can I do to get my Original Birth Certificate?? I have health questions along with many questions for the closing of the empty feeling or non completion of a normal person . It’s not fair this is being held from me !! I have the right to know ! Plez can u help ?
amy varner says
Carolyn – if you did ancestry.com you should be able to find your parents. email me at [email protected] and I will help you.
Shannon Dulock says
My Father recently told me and my Sister that before he met my Mother that she had a baby girl in 1967 in NC and put her up for adoption. My Mother was from Raleigh and she was 19 at time of birth. She met my Father in 1968 and they married and had me in 1972 my sister in 1973. My Father has no more info and my Mother passed away in 1990 when I was 18, and her parents have passed as well so I can’t ask them for info. I saw you’re post and thought maybe we could be a match.
I was born to an unwed mother jan of 1970 ..she married Dec of 1972 and then that man had his name added to my birth certificate. He and my mom always said he just went to the local health dept and swore on a bible that he was my natural father. They accepted that and changed the record. This was never a secret that he was not my father. My mom for various reasons could not tell me “who” was my bio father. The man who gave me his name passed away 1978. My mom passed 2015 ..I took DNA test and have found a biological father (passed 2004). I was born with my moms maiden name and seen that birth certificate when the state sent that one at my request to me. I had to have my “real” name to get divers license etc. But in this dna project I realized I would like a copy of that record. I called to see how to get it and they are telling me it is listed as adoption and therefore not open record without a court order. I pointed out that there was not an adoption. the lady agreed and said that there was a court document adding him. They had swore there was never a court visit ..just the day at the health dept adding him. What can I do to get my original birth certificate instead of the “lie” that continues
I feel I’m in the same situtation you are or were. What did you end up doing if you don’t mind sharing.
I’m trying to do some research for my mother. She was born in 1959 (we think) in Raleigh but was given up for adoption and lived in an orphanage for several years before being adopted and moved to Virginia. She has never had access to her original birth certificate. When she was adopted, her adopted mother changed her birthrate, middle and last name. Later in life she found her birth mother and father but both had died. But, she has still be unsuccessful in obtaining a copy of her original birth certificate. Doesn’t NC have any way for a person to get this even when both the biological parents AND adopted parents are deceased?
Amy dillow says
Mother was born in Cumberland county 10/15/1955 . She’s no longer with us . I’ve been working to obtain any information . She was adopt d in Illinois . What can I do ?
I have access to the birth registry for NC but there were 5 females born that day on the list ??? Help
Alison Borbonio Flores says
How can you obtain access to the birth registery if you don’t mind me asking please?
Diana Gosliga says
What if you are doing genealogy research and the ‘adoptee’ is deceased as well as the birth mother and adoptive father? I have a name and birth date but can’t locate anything about the biological father on Ancestry.com. Hoping there is an original birth certificate listing the bio-dad’s info. How can I get a copy of that?
Cindy L Hailey says
I am a NC adoptee and have found all my biological family. My bio. mother passed 6 years after our meeting. We had a good relationship and I continue to correspond and sometimes visit my half-sibs, cousins, uncle, etc. It’s all good.
In 2015, I reunited w/my bio. father and met my half-sibs on his side. We talk via phone every other month or so and sometimes visit.
I want to own my OBC. It’s mine and at 60+, I should be allowed to have it. This antiquated law is ludicrous. My adoptive parents are both deceased, my adoptive mother passed while I was a teenager. My father gave his blessing on me searching for my bio. parents 10 years before I actually started the search. I met my bio. mother and all her side of the family when I was 42.
So I have all I need in that respect. There is this ONE LAST HURDLE…my OBC! How do I get it??
You’re right, the law is ludicrous and antiquated. It doesn’t fit all situations and should be amended to allow for certain situations. I was adopted by my stepfather, and my bio dad was never even listed on the OBC. The only things different are my original last name, which is my mother’s maiden name (my pre school diploma has it), and “unknown” is replaced by adoptive stepfather’s name. So it wouldn’t tell me anything I don’t already know. Oh, did I mention all three are deceased? So I’m the only living person it affects. All three families know stepfather adopted me. It was never a secret. Everyone knew I existed before they ever met. Hell, I was at the wedding, in the pictures!
OBC Alison Denise Lindsay says
The same here this seems to one of the most ludicrous laws, with health issues and geo mapping for potential life threatening diseases this law if changed could save a life. For those of us adopted by a step parent that was abusive from 6 months after the adoption was filed until 18 years old, and mentally years after, this is a piece of mental clarity. To own your life, and identity even if you know the truth, my bio father was not listed either, do not care want a OBC with a man’s name that never earned the right to be my father. Certainly did not earn the right with first black eye at 5 years old, multiple over the years, broken jaw at 14, broken ribs at 15, removed and placed with foster family at 15 until he went twice to therapy. Protect those sealed records with everything, do not worry about the children you leave with these people.
Ginger Gaskins says
If a birth certificate has been amended and it is sealed, does that automatically mean the person was adopted? I have close friend who has attempted to get his long form and when they couldn’t locate it initially, they advised it was because the original was sealed. Adoption has never been brought up…
Almost certainly. There is no other reason for an original, long form BC to be sealed.
Sandra Jackson says
My paternal grandmother was born in July 1890 or 91 in Charlotte, North Carolina then was adopted at which time she was given her adopted father’s name. She grew up aware of her adoption and her biological family last name which she pasted along to her children to ensure at some point a generation of off spring would be able to connect with our biological relatives. I have searched the NC birth records records through Ancestry.com to no avail. I am not sure how adoptions were handled in that era, especially since my grandmother was bi-racial. If there are records of her birth and adoptions, how do you suggest that should proceed with my search.
Sandra Jackson says
I have done DNA through Ancestry and 23 and Me which has rendered potential relatives but none have any clue who my grandmother is or who her actual parents are or maybe. Were birth and adoption records kept for African American mixed race people during that era? If so, how could I get access to those records.
India M Shotts says
So I have Tested I. Several DNA sites and Ancestry has a close match with 1293cM and DNA painter has given a few matches that have me thrown, he was born in 1963 and I in 1967. He was adopted and has no clue who his parents were or are. I have asked my dad to test and was told no, he won’t talk about family. I am trying to get my half brother to test and so far that is a no go. What can we do to find out our true relations? I am at a loss of what else to do.
Jimmy Bundy says
My grandfather was adopted and has long passed. He went his whole life not knowing who his birth parents were. I took a DNA test through Ancestory and discovered that his adopted mother is a DNA match through a 4th cousin. I found out that the family that was supposed to be his maternal family is actually from his paternal side. I believe I have it pegged who his father was.
The problem is that even though his OBC is sealed, the NC Children’s Home Society gave him limited information and the surnames of his supposed birth parents. The DNA evidence that I have strongly suggests that if the Children’s Home Society gave him honest information, the OBC may be fraudulent. My grandfather was born in 1926 and adopted in 1927. I’m thinking about filing to get his OBC released because it may in fact be wrong, especially knowing that it would have been easy to give fake names to the hospital staff in the 1920’s.
This would make my great grandmother guilty of fraud, even though she’s been dead for 36 years. I don’t see how the DNA evidence could be wrong so I’m going to explore breaking the sealed OBC.
I saw this post. Did you receive any response?
I saw my original birth certificate as a child. I can tell you what was on it. Bio dad is listed as unknown (but we all know, him included). I always knew who bio dad was. We met a few times and I wasn’t impressed.
I was raised by my biological mother, with her family. She married “the boy next door” and he adopted me. They raised me together, even after their divorce. My new bc has adopted dad’s name on it. I know all families, they all know me. I only associate with my mother’s family and adopted dad’s family. (Not healthy, nor safe to deal with bio dad’s family. Just bad news. Yes I figured this out on my own at a young age, and confirmed when the police questioned me after meeting him for the 3rd time in my life at 22.)
After both my parents died, I met bio dad again, in my 40’s, for the 5th time. Still bad news, and I didn’t want my young son exposed to that lifestyle. I did however see him again at 50, when he was on death’s door. He died a day or two later.
My issue is, if everyone is dead except me, his name isn’t on my obc, there are no secrets, and I already know all there is, why can’t I get my original birth certificate? What do I need to do to get this? I want it for my archives. It’s a part of who I am. I already know I was born with my mother’s maiden name. That has never been a secret either.
The difference between the two birth certificates is my last name, and unknown (obc) is now adoptive dad’s name. It’s not as if I was in an orphanage, my mother’s husband adopted me after they were married. That’s it. No secrets.
Suzanne Rau says
I was born in Asheville nc in 1948. I was adopted on july19,1951. Just this past year my daughter took a dna test and i found out I have 3 sisters and a brother (since passed). Biological parents have passed. Adoptive parents have passed. One of my sisters was also adopted. So , just the 4 sisters are alive. I was wondering how i might go about getting my obc and my sister get hers. The others were raised by the biological parents.
D TAMBASCIO says
Is it true that N.C. adoption records can be OPENED to the next of kin after 100 years of the adoptee’s birth and the person adopted has died?
Kolby Cummings says
How would I
Go about unsealing my adoption records in NC I’m 20 years old I can’t get my ID Or a job due to the fact I don’t have a ID and my adoption mom won’t help me what so ever and I’m in need of OBC please help what
Do I do
Lori Lesbott says
My Aunt was put up for adoption against my grandmother’s wishes. She was in the hospital at tge time because her step-mother shot her. She was born in North Carolina, Haywood County in April of 1938. Her adopted birth certificate says the 1st, but I believe it was the 3rd. She was several months old when placed for adoption. Her adopted name was Peggy Ann Carver. I can’t remember the name my grandmother named her. She grew up one town over from my mom, and I believe her adopted parents were picked by the step-monster (my grandmother step-mother) because she used to take my grandmother to watch her play in the school yard. Anyways, through Ancestry DNA we were able to find her four daughters. She had passed away August 21, 2012 from cancer. We are in constant contact with her daughters and they are trying to figure out who there mother’s father is. It might be on her original birthday certificate. From what I have researched North Carolina is a closed state. Is there anyway to get the birth certificate since all parties have passed away.