Adoption FAQ

We receive many questions at the Department of Social Services about adoption and foster care. Below are the most common questions we receive with their answers.

Each answer will provide you with additional information and resources if available.

If I am married do we have to attend trainings at the same time?
Yes. Married couples are expected to participate in the MAPP training together. Once you are licensed you are required to receive continuing education training every two years. The continuing education training can be taken separate or jointly from your spouse or partner.

Do I have to have a job to be a foster parent?
You must be employed or receiving retirement or disability.

Do you receive a stipend to take care of children in DSS custody?
Yes. Licensed foster parents receive a monthly stipend based on the child’s age. The age categories are as follows:

Age 0-5$702
Age 6-12$742
Age 13 & over$810

What are the requirements to adopt?
First, one must have the willingness and desire to open his or her heart and home to care for a child. The adoption process requires a thorough assessment of prospective families. They can be single or married and may own or rent their home. In addition, they must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Criminal records check (certain crimes prevent people from adopting in NC).
  • Home safety checks.
  • Medical examination.
  • References.
  • Completion of a Pre-Placement Assessment

What is the cost to Families?
There is no cost to families for post adoption services.

Do you complete pre-placement assessments for people who want to adopt?
Our agency only completes pre-placement assessments for prospective adoptive families who have identified a child in our custody. The Pre-Placement Assessment is free of charge.

When are orientations held?
Orientations are held at our Charlotte East location, located at 5800 Executive Center Drive. The orientations will begin at 6:30pm. The orientations are held the fourth Tuesdays of each month, with the exception of November and December due to the holiday season. Please review the orientation schedule.

What are the ages of children in custody who are available for adoption?
Children of all ages are available for adoption. However, infants and toddlers in foster care are often placed with relatives or adopted by their foster parents if they are not able to be returned to their parents. The ages for the majority of the children who are available for adoption in Mecklenburg County are 11 years and older. In many cases, these are siblings who need to be placed together.

Do you have to foster to be an adoptive parent?
In North Carolina, you do not have to foster in order to adopt. However, our agency strongly encourages prospective adoptive parents to become licensed.

How much does it cost to adopt a child who is in DSS custody?
Adoption is a legal process, and there are some legal fees associated with the process. However, if you choose to adopt children in custody, most of these fees are reimbursable through non-recurring fees.

Can I receive public assistance and be a foster parent?
No. You cannot receive public assistance, such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance, Work First benefits or public housing to be a foster parent with Mecklenburg County. 

Is financial assistance available for people who adopt children in DSS custody?
Every child who is legally cleared for adoption is assessed for eligibility for adoption assistance. The prospective adoptive parent will be informed of the child’s eligibility at the time the child is presented to you for consideration of adoption.

  • Adoption assistance has five (5) specific benefits for children who are determined to be eligible.
  • Non-recurring costs are reimbursed to the adoptive family for single costs involved in visiting the child and any legal fees incurred as a result of the adoption.
  • Monthly cash assistance equal to the current foster care stipend based on the child’s age.
  • Medicaid eligibility until the child is eighteen (18) years old.
  • Vendor payments for Non-Medicaid covered preexisting medical and psychological needs.
  • Post Adoption Services.

How long do I have to live in Mecklenburg County to be a foster parent?
6 months

How long does it take to adopt a child in custody?
On average, the typical adoption from placement to finish takes six months to a year.

Can one parent stay home and the other parent work?

How do I start the Foster Home Licensing or Adoption process?
Prospective Foster Parents must attend an orientation meeting. The orientation meeting is where you will find out more about:

  • The children who need care.
  • The role and responsibilities of foster and adoptive parents.
  • The process you will need to go through. ​

If I have never parented before, do I need to foster a child before adopting?
No. While fostering would give you great experience with parenting, it is not necessary or required before adopting. collapse 

What does LINKS stand for?
It is not an acronym; LINKS represents "linking" youth to the resources they need for self sufficiency.

Who is eligible for LINKS services?
Youth who are in custody of DSS as teens (age 13+) up to age 21. Youth who have been adopted at the age of 12.

How do I access LINKS services?
Teen youth who are in DSS/YFS custody are automatically included in the programming and services offered by The Phoenix Project. For those youth who are no longer in custody but have not yet reached the age of 21, they can contact The Phoenix Project office at 704-336-3290.

More information is available at:

For information on scholarships available to current and former foster youth search online links at and

What is LINKS?
LINKS is the name the state of NC uses for Independent Living services. LINKS, The Phoenix Project, and Independent Living are synonymous.

What is The Phoenix Project?
The Phoenix Project is Mecklenburg County’s name for Independent Living services.

What services does LINKS provide?
The Phoenix Project provides individual guidance, consultation, community linkages, and group programming for the purpose of preparing youth for the transition to adulthood.

Some of the program offerings include Lifeskills training (pre-employment skills, financial literacy, housing, transportation, etc.), Softskills group (goal setting, values clarification, self-esteem, sexuality, etc.), vocational exposure/career planning, educational planning (college applications, FAFSA, financial aid& scholarship information, etc.), opportunities for volunteerism and leadership.

What is a CARS Agreement?
A CARS Agreement is a contract between DSS and the youth who is aging out of foster care (at age 18) in which the youth is requesting to remain in foster placement while working towards the transition out of care. The youth must be enrolled in an educational or vocational training program and be making progress towards achieving his/her goals. collapse Find Out About : Post-Adoption ‎(14)

What Post Adoption Services are available?
The agency currently offers:

  • information and referral crisis intervention.
  • case management, and advocacy.
  • search and reunion (confidential intermediary).
  • adoption assistance case management.
  • medicaid.
  • educational workshops.
  • lending library.

Is there a fee for the Confidential Intermediary Program?
Mecklenburg County is currently not charging a fee at his time.

Who is eligible for Post Adoption Services?
All adoptive children and parents who have adopted from the Department of Social Services or private agency in North Carolina or another state, but have relocated on Mecklenburg County.

Can I apply for the confidential intermediary program if I was adopted in another county?
No, Mecklenburg County only provides Confidential Intermediary Services for those individuals who adoption was completed by our agency. You may review the list of other county/private agencies that provide Confidential Intermediary.

At what age is an adult adoptee eligible to apply for CI services?
Effective October 1, 2010 an adoptee who has reached the age of eighteen (18) may participate in CI services.

What is a Confidential Intermediary?
A Confidential Intermediary is a licensed child-placing agency that acts as a third party to facilitate the sharing of adoption information between a biological parent, an adoptee and/or other eligible family members.

What proof of kinship is required in determining eligibility for the CI program?
A birth, death, and/or marriage certificates will suffice.

Who is eligible to apply for CI services?
Effective October 1, 2010 the following individuals are eligible to participate in CI services:

  • a biological parent.
  • an adult adoptee.
  • an adult biological sibling of an adult adoptee.
  • an adult biological half-sibling of an adult adoptee.
  • an adult family member of a deceased biological parent.
  • an adult family member of a deceased adoptee.

For the purposes of CI services, the definition of "family member" includes a spouse, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, grandparent, or grandchild.

What is required before identifying information can be shared?
The consent of the party being sought is required in al CI searches. If the individual being sought fails to give their consent the searchee will be notified and the case will be closed. The written consent of the biological parent(s) must also be obtained prior to the search of a sibling or family member. If the biological parent (s) cannot be located, or refuse to submit their consent, the searchee will be notified and the case will be closed.

What are the possible outcomes of a CI search?

  • The party being sought agrees to share identifying information
  • The party being sought refuses to share identifying information, but agrees to update non-identifying information to be shared with the individual who initiated the search.
  • The party being sought is located, but refuses to participate.
  • The agency is unsuccessful in locating the party sought.
  • The agency determines the party sought is deceased.

Will participating in the CI program allow me access to an adoption file?
No. Adoption records remain sealed and can only be release upon order of the Court in the original county of jurisdiction.

What information will be shared if it is confirmed that the person being sought is deceased?
The agency will provide a copy of the death certificate to the individual who initiated the search.