In re B.M.T., 287 N.C. App. 95 (2022)

  • Facts: Petitioners for adoption appeal district court order concluding father’s consent was required for the child’s adoption based on his acknowledging paternity, communicating and visiting with mother while pregnant and child after birth, and providing tangible support to mother during pregnancy and after the child’s birth. Mother and father continued in a relationship when mother was pregnant. Father provided mother with food and baby formula, clothing for herself and baby, cash (which was sometimes accepted and sometimes refused), transportation, housing, and personal items (e.g., car seat, diapers) during her pregnancy and after the child’s birth. Without father’s knowledge, mother executed a consent for adoption and placed child with petitioners and stated father’s identity was unknown. Afterwards, mother and father signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity resulting in the child’s amended birth certificate. Petitioners later filed a petition for adoption. Father was served with notice of the adoption petition and objected to the adoption. A hearing on whether father’s consent was required was held by the district court, which found father’s consent was required.
  • Standard of review is whether there is competent evidence to support the findings and whether the findings support the conclusion. The trial court determines witness credibility and the weight of the evidence.
  • G.S. 48-3-601 requires a man, before the adoption petition is filed, to acknowledge his paternity, provide reasonable and consistent payment for support including tangible means of support that is within his financial means, and visited or communicated with (or attempted to) mother during or after her pregnancy and the child after their birth.  Petitioners concede father acknowledge paternity and communicated with mother.
  • Respondent has the burden of showing (1) he provided payments for the support of mother, minor child, or both, (2) the payments were reasonable based on his financial means, and (3) the payments were consistently made. Attempts or offers of support are insufficient. NC Supreme Court holdings note the importance of a “payment record.” The findings that father provided tangible support before the filing of the adoption petition are supported by competent evidence. Father had receipts, bank and credit card statements, and a pregnancy expense report he created. Father also set up his own home with a bed, toys, and clothing so that he could care for his child.
Adoption of a Minor Child
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