County of Cumberland  
Department of Social Services

1225 Ramsey Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301
Child Placement Receptionist (910) 677-2541


Table of Contents

How do I start the adoption process?

To start the adoption process you should attend an Informational Meeting held at Cumberland County Department of Social Services on the third Thursday of every month at noon or 6:30 pm.  We are located at 1225 Ramsey Street, Fayetteville NC and the meetings are held in a conference room behind the  main desk on the first floor.

Directions to CCDSS 

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What is the process of adopting a child in North Carolina?

  • Educate yourself about foster children and adoption.
  • Submit an application.
  • Complete a Pre-Placement Assessment (formerly home study).
  • Work with your social worker to find the right child.
  • Visit with your child.
  • Bring your child home.
  • Legalize the adoption in court

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How long does the adoption process take?

The adoption process may take anywhere from a few months to over a year to be finalized. Factors that influence the amount of time include legal status of the child or children and timeliness of the required court hearings. In legal risk placements, a child resides with the pre-adoptive family throughout the process of terminating the parents rights in court which is usually lengthy.

Once the child is legally cleared for adoption in legal risk placements or in cases where the parental rights have already been terminated prior to the child being offered to you, the legal process takes 3 to 6 months.

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What help is available to adoptive families?

Adoption Assistance is provided on the behalf of children in foster care who have special needs after their adoption is final. Special needs includes mental, emotional, medical or physical problems, but older children and sibling groups may also be considered to have special needs. The subsidy includes a monthly cash payment based on the child's age, and vendor payments for therapeutic and remedial services. The adoption costs can also be paid.

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What can I expect from a Pre-Placement Assessment?

The Pre-Placement Assessment, formerly known as a home study, is a way for an agency to get to know you, teach you about adoption, and prepare you to adopt a child from foster care.  Pre-Placement Assessments are required in all adoptive placements, except where a biological parent places a child with a grandparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle or great -grandparent of the child.  It must be completed or updated within 18 months before the placement occurs. The Pre-Placement Assessment must be based on at least one personal interview with each individual being assessed and must occur in the individual's residence. The issues discussed during the Pre-Placement Assessment  are:

  • Age and date of birth, nationality, ethnicity and any religious preference of the prospective parents.
  • Marital status and family history, including the presence of any children born to or adopted by the individual and any other children in the household.
  • Physical and mental health, including an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
  • Educational and employment history and any special skills
  • Property, income and current financial information provided by the individual.
  • Motivations to adopt.
  • Any previous request for an assessment or involvement in an adoptive placement and the outcome of the assessment or placement.
  • Whether the individual has ever been a respondent in a domestic violence proceeding or a proceeding concerning a minor who was allegedly abused, dependent, neglected, abandoned or delinquent and the outcome of the proceeding.
  • Whether the individual has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation.
  • Whether the individual has located a parent interested in placing a child with the individual for adoption and a brief non-identifying description of the parent and child.
  • Any other facts or circumstances that may be relevant to a determination of the individual's stability to be an adoptive parent, including the quality of the environment in the home and the functioning of any children in the household.

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Can I adopt a child (or Children) of a different race?

YES. In the Pre-Placement Assessment, you will learn about the needs of children who are placed with a family of a different race. Federal law (the Multiethnic Placement Act) forbids discrimination on the placement of children on the basis of ethnicity.

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How much background information will be shared with me?

The law requires that the agency involved in the adoption provide specific information to the adopting parents before the placement of the child. We will share everything except the parent's names, addresses, dates of birth or social security numbers.

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Do my child's birth families have any legal rights?

They do not retain any legal rights. However, some children have an emotional bond with their birth family and should stay in contact with them. This would typically include extended family members.

If you are involved in a legal risk adoption then the birth parents still have rights until the judge terminated their rights, making the child legally cleared for the adoption to take place.

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What legal steps are required for adoption?

The first step is to obtain a Pre-Placement Assessment. After the child is placed a petition will be filed by the prospective adoptive parents seeking the court's approval of the adoptive placement. The Pre-Placement Assessment will be filed with the petition. A certified copy of the background information about the child's health, social, educational and genetic history provided by the placement agency.

Once the petition is filed, notice of the petition will be served on the agency that placed the child for adoption and the agency that prepared the Pre-Placement Assessment. The Report to The Court is to provide information to assist the court in determining whether the adoptive placement is in the best interest of the child. The petitioners must also file an affidavit accounting for any payment made in connection with the adoption. Once the Report to The Court is made by the agency the Decree of Adoption can be filed.

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