Investigators believe Kathryn Chance, of Dunn, burned and beat the boy, who suffers from injuries that include a bruised face and scorched genitals.
Authorities said Chance took the boy to Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital and even had good explanations for the boy's injuries.
Doctors, however, called sheriff's deputies.
The boy spent days at UNC Hospitals before being taken to a new foster home.
Case workers do extensive background checks before placing children in foster homes, county officials said. They also visit families about every six months.
Chance declined to discuss the case with WRAL.
"I can't speak without my attorney," she said.
This is the second reported case of alleged abuse within the past couple of weeks concerning a child in the care of foster or adopted parents.
Two weeks ago, a Johnston County 4-year-old died in the care of his adoptive mother. Investigators said Lynn Paddock, who is charged with second-degree murder, wrapped him so tightly in a blanket that he suffocated.
The Wake County Department of Social Services, which handled the adoption, is reviewing the case. Allegations of abuse, however, were raised against Paddock seven months before she and her husband adopted the child in July 2005.
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