The legal adoption process is a means to an end, expanding a family in a specific capacity and formalizing a parent/child relationship. The legal process is initiated with the intent of achieving a final decree of adoption. We celebrate those days with love and joy (acknowledging that there is also loss in adoption).

But with that decree of adoption comes a whole host of other questions. How do I get the new birth certificate with the adoptive parent(s) names on it? If there was a name change, how do I get a new social security card? Will the adoptee get a new social security number? When can the adoptee change their name on their photo identification? How long will all of this take?

Your adoption was finalized in NC . . . now what?

  • First, the Clerk of Court’s office in the county of jurisdiction has 10 days following the issuance of the decree of adoption to forward your adoption file to the NC Division of Social Services at the NC Department of Health and Human Services. NC DHHS is charged with being the formal record keeper for all finalized adoptions in the state. They will maintain your sealed adoption file indefinitely.
  • The Clerk of Court’s Office will maintain a copy of the Petition for Adoption and the Decree of Adoption for their file. Should you ever need another certified copy of your Decree of Adoption, request it directly through the County Clerk of Court’s Office were your adoption was finalized.
  • Upon receipt at the NC Division of Social Services (NC DSS) at the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), your adoption file will be reviewed for any errors that would specifically affect the issuance of a correct birth certificate. Once reviewed, it is “indexed.” Once indexed, the adoption record is maintained for all of perpetuity by that office, initially as a paper record and then later as a scanned and microfilmed file. This process is mandated by law to take no more than 45 days.
  • Should your adoption have an error that would affect the issuance of a correctly amended birth certificate, the adoption file will be returned to the County Clerk of Court for correction prior to indexing.
  • Once indexed, your Report to Vital Records will be mailed from NC DSS to the Office of Vital Records in the State where the child was born. If the child was born in another country, NC will receive and process the Report to Vital Records. If the child was born on a military base in another country and has a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, the Report to Vital Records will be sent to the US State Department.
  • Once the adoption is indexed and the Report to Vital Records has been mailed by NC DSS to the appropriate office, the adoptive parents will receive a letter in the mail from NC DSS indicating they can now request an amended birth certificate.
  • You will follow the specific requirements outlined by each State’s Office of Vital Records which typically involves an application and fee. Visit their website to learn about each specific process for requesting an amended birth certificate after an adoption is finalized.
  • If the adoptee was born in NC, once amended, the original birth certificate will be sealed. Should you or your child desire a copy of the original birth certificate after the adoption, it is only available through a court order unsealing the original birth certificate. To that end, request certified copies of the original before the adoption, should you desire a copy for your records or the adoptee’s life book.
  • Once a birth certificate is amended by an adoption in NC, it is only available through the Office of Vital Records. Accessing the birth certificate through the local Register of Deeds will no longer be possible.
  • Once received, the amended birth certificate will have the adoptive parent(s) names listed as the parents and will reflect any name change made through the adoption for the adoptee.
  • Following receipt of the birth certificate, you can now request an amended social security card. You will need both the Decree of Adoption and the amended birth certificate to complete this process through the Social Security Administration. Information on that process can be located here.
  • If you have concerns that your child’s social security number has been compromised and you wish to have a new number issued along with the name change you should pursue that request through the Social Security Administration.
  • Do not forget that after the adoption is final you will also have to update all photo Identification, banks accounts, school records, medical records, etc.

How We Can Help

At Stephenson & Fleming, LLP, we are happy to use our knowledge and experience to support you through the process of gaining these documents once the final decree of adoption is issued. Our staff has extensive experience navigating the various agencies involved and understanding the logistics of how your identifying documents will be amended and issued. We have the knowledge and expertise to assist you in overcoming any hurdles or barriers that might arise.

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