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NORTH CAROLINA

Adoption Law

 

North Carolina law denies adult adoptees unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates. A court order is required for the release of any identifying information, including an OBC. An OBC must be specifically requested in any court action that seeks the release of identifying information.

 

Relevant North Carolina Law: Adoption Records and Confidentiality

§ 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.

 

§ 48-9-105. 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.

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