South Carolina

Adoption Laws

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-310

Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required of the following persons:

  • The parents or surviving parent of a child conceived or born during the marriage of the parents
  • The mother of a child born when the mother was not married
  • The father of a child born when the father was not married to the child’s mother if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents more than 6 months after the child’s birth, but only if the father has maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child
  • The father of a child born when the father was not married to the child’s mother if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents less than 6 months after the child’s birth, but only if the father openly lived with the child or the child’s mother for a continuous period of 6 months and openly held himself out to be the father or paid a fair and reasonable sum for the support of the child

Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required of the legal guardian, child-placing agency, or legal custodian of the child if authority to execute a consent or relinquishment has been vested legally in the agency or person and both parents of the child are deceased or their parental rights have been judicially terminated.

Consent is required of the child-placing agency or person facilitating the placement of the child for adoption if the child has been relinquished for adoption to the agency or person.

Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption given by a parent who is a minor is not subject to revocation by reason of the parent’s minority.

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-310

A child who is age 14 or older must consent to the adoption except where the court finds that the child lacks the mental capacity to consent or that it is not in the child’s best interests.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-320

Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is not required of the following persons:

  • A parent whose parental rights have been terminated
  • A parent whom the family court finds to be mentally incapable of giving consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption and whom the court finds to be unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the child and whose capacity is unlikely to be restored for a reasonable period of time, and, in the court’s judgment, it would be detrimental to the child to delay adoption
  • The biological parent of a child conceived as a result of that parent’s criminal sexual conduct or incest

A parent who has executed a relinquishment pursuant to § 63-9-330 to a person facilitating the adoption or to a child-placing agency for the purpose of adoption of his child is not required also to execute a separate consent document.

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-330

Consent may be given at any time after the child’s birth.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-9-330; 63-9-340

Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption must be made by a sworn document, signed by the person or the head of the agency giving consent or relinquishment after the birth of the child.

The sworn document that gives consent must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom must be one of the following:

  • A judge of any family court
  • An attorney licensed to practice law in South Carolina who does not represent the prospective adoption petitioners
  • A person certified by the State Department of Social Services to obtain consents or relinquishments
  • When the consent or relinquishment is obtained outside the State, by an attorney licensed to practice law in that State, by a person designated by an agency of that State, by a person or agency authorized by that State’s law to obtain consents or relinquishments or to conduct investigations for adoptions, or by a qualified resident of that State authorized by a South Carolina family court

The persons who witness the signing of the consent shall attach to the document written certification signed by each witness that before the signing of the document, the provisions of the document were discussed with the person giving consent, and that based on this discussion, it is each witness’s opinion that consent or relinquishment is being given voluntarily and that it is not being obtained under duress or through coercion.

Revocation of Consent Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-9-330; 63-9-350

The written consent must attest that the person giving consent understands that consent or relinquishment once given must not be withdrawn unless the court finds that it is in the best interests of the child and that the consent or relinquishment was not given voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion. The written consent must also attest that the entry of the final decree of adoption renders any consent or relinquishment irrevocable.

Withdrawal of any consent or relinquishment is not permitted except by order of the court after notice and opportunity to be heard is given to all persons concerned, and except when the court finds that the withdrawal is in the best interests of the child and that the consent or relinquishment was not given voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion. Any person attempting to withdraw consent or relinquishment shall file the reasons for withdrawal with the family court. The entry of the final decree of adoption renders any consent or relinquishment irrevocable.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents Ann. Code Ann. §§ 63-7-2340; 63-7-2350; Code of Regs. § 114-550(G)

A fingerprint-based FBI and State criminal history check is required for a prospective foster parent and any person age 18 or older who is residing in the prospective foster parent’s home. No child may be placed in foster care with a person:

  • Who has a substantiated history of child abuse or neglect
  • Who has pled guilty or nolo contendere to or who has been convicted of:
    • An offense against the person, as provided for in Chapter 3, Title 16
    • An offense against morality or decency, as provided for in Chapter 15, Title 16
    • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
    • Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature when the victim was a person age 17 or younger
    • Criminal domestic violence
    • A felony drug-related offense

In regulation:The following requirements shall be met prior to the issuance of a standard license to provide foster care:

  • Background checks shall be documented, including a review of abuse and neglect history, criminal history found with the State Law Enforcement Division and the FBI, and the Sex Offender Registry.
  • The applicant(s) cannot be considered for licensure if an applicant and/or any household member over age 18 has a substantiated history of child abuse and/or neglect, convictions of any of the crimes listed in § 63-7-2350, and/or is listed on the Sex Offender Registry.

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Ann. Code § 63-9-520(A)(1); Code of Regs. § 114-550(G)

A background investigation is required for the prospective adoptive parent to indicate whether the parent has any history of involvement with any proceeding concerning abused, neglected, or abandoned children.

In regulation: The following requirements shall be met prior to the approval of a preadoptive placement:

  • Background checks shall be documented, including a review of abuse and neglect history, criminal history found with the State Law Enforcement Division and the FBI, and the Sex Offender Registry.
  • The applicant(s) cannot be considered for licensure if an applicant and/or any household member over age 18 has a substantiated history of child abuse and/or neglect, convictions of any of the crimes listed in § 63-7-2350, and/or is listed on the Sex Offender Registry.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Code §§ 63-7-1710; 63-7-2570

When a child is in the custody of the department, the department shall file a petition to terminate parental rights if:

  • A child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
  • A court has determined that:
    • The child is an abandoned infant.
    • The parent has committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent.
    • The parent has aided, abetted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or manslaughter of another child of the parent.
    • The parent has committed a felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of the parent.

The family court may order the termination of parental rights upon a finding of one or more of the following grounds and a finding that termination is in the best interests of the child:

  • The child or another child while residing in the parent’s home has been harmed, and because of the severity or repetition of the abuse or neglect, it is not reasonably likely that the home can be made safe within 12 months.
  • The child has been removed from the parent, has been out of the home for 6 months following the adoption of a placement plan, and the parent has not remedied the conditions that caused the removal.
  • The child has lived outside the home of either parent for 6 months, and during that time the parent has willfully failed to visit the child. The court may attach little or no weight to incidental visitations, but it must be shown that the parent was not prevented from visiting by the party having custody or by court order.
  • The child has lived outside the home of either parent for 6 months, and during that time the parent has willfully failed to support the child. Failure to support means that the parent has failed to make a material contribution to the child’s care.
  • The presumptive legal father is not the biological father of the child, and the welfare of the child can best be served by termination of the parental rights of the presumptive legal father.
  • The parent has a diagnosable condition unlikely to change within a reasonable time including, but not limited to, alcohol or drug addiction, mental deficiency, mental illness, or extreme physical incapacity, and the condition makes the parent unable or unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the child. It is presumed that the parent’s condition is unlikely to change within a reasonable time upon proof that the parent has been required to participate in a treatment program for alcohol or drug addiction and has failed two or more times to complete the program successfully.
  • The child has been abandoned.
  • The child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the State for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
  • The physical abuse of a child resulted in the death or admission to the hospital for in-patient care of that child, and the abuse is the act for which the parent has been convicted of committing, aiding, abetting, conspiring to commit, or soliciting to commit an offense against the person, criminal domestic violence, criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, or assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
  • A parent of the child is convicted of the murder of the child’s other parent.
  • The child was conceived as a result of the criminal sexual conduct of a biological parent unless the sentencing court makes specific findings that the conviction resulted from consensual sexual conduct where neither the victim nor the actor were younger than age 14 nor older than age 18 at the time of the offense.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Code § 63-7-1710

This section does not apply:

  • To a child for whom the family court has found that initiation of termination of parental rights is not in the best interests of the child, after applying the criteria of § 63-7-1700(C)-(G) and entering the findings required to select a permanent plan for the child. For this exemption to apply, the court must find that there are compelling reasons for selection of a permanent plan other than termination of parental rights.
  • If the family court finds that the department has not afforded services to the parents provided for in the treatment plan in a manner that was consistent with the time periods in the plan or that court hearings have been delayed in such a way as to interfere with the initiation, delivery, or completion of services, but only if:
    • The parent did not delay the court proceedings without cause or delay or refuse the services.
    • Successful completion of the services in question may allow the child to be returned within the extension period.
    • The case is not one for which the court has made a determination that reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family are not necessary.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

An investigation must be made of the prospective adoptive parent(s).

In regulation: Each member of the household must be included in the adoption study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-4980

The child-placing agency shall conduct the adoptive study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-60

Any South Carolina resident may petition the court to adopt a child.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

Preplacement investigations must answer all of the following:

  • Whether the home of the prospective adoptive parents is suitable
  • How the emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, and any other relevant characteristics of the prospective adoptive parents affect their ability to provide a child with an adequate environment
  • Whether a prospective parent has ever been involved in any proceeding concerning allegedly neglected, abandoned, abused, or delinquent children
  • Whether the prospective parent has completed a course or counseling in preparation for adoption
  • Whether the prospective parent is approved for placement of a child for purposes of adoption

In regulation: The child-placing agency should include in any home study at least two face-to-face interviews. Separate face-to-face interviews with each member of the household must be conducted.

The child-placing agency also shall study the following areas:

  • Motivation for adoption
  • Strengths and weaknesses of each household member
  • Attitudes and feelings of the family toward accepting adoptive children
  • The applicant’s plan for discussing adoption with the child
  • Record of arrests and criminal convictions and checks with the child abuse central registry
  • Adjustment of birth children, foster children, or previously adopted children
  • A report of a physical examination for household members within 6 months of the study that verifies that each person suffers no communicable disease, specific illness, or disabilities that would interfere with the family’s ability to parent a child
  • Ability to provide financially for the child being adopted with or without agency financial assistance through adoption subsidy
  • Personal and community character references
  • Religious orientation, if any
  • Location and physical environment of the home
  • Plan for child care if parent(s) work

Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-4980

The child-placing agency shall notify applicant(s) in writing within 30 days of completion of the adoption investigation of the acceptance or denial of their application. When applicant(s) are not accepted, the child-placing agency shall inform them of the reasons why the application is denied.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520

Before the placement of any child by any agency or by any person with a prospective adoptive parent, a preplacement investigation, a background investigation, and reports of these investigations must be completed.

If the waiting period for an adoptive placement exceeds 1 year from the date the preplacement investigation report is completed, the report must be updated before the placement of a child to determine any change in circumstances.

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must be completed after the filing of the adoption petition. Copies of this report must be provided to the adoption petitioner and must be filed with the court at the final hearing on the adoption. A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must:

  • Answer all of the following:
    • The race, sex, and age of the adoptive child and whether the child is a suitable child for adoption by the prospective adoptive parent
    • The reason for the child’s placement away from the biological parents
    • Whether the child, if of appropriate age and mental capacity, desires to be adopted
  • Review and where indicated, investigate the allegations of the adoption petition and its attachments and of the accounting of disbursements required under § 63-9-740
  • Evaluate the progress of the placement of the adoptive child
  • Determine whether adoption by the petitioner is in the best interests of the child

In regulation: The caseworker shall be in contact with the adoptive family at least monthly after the placement of a child prior to the final decree. Information obtained from the contact shall be used in making recommendations for the finalization of the adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-1110

Any person may adopt his or her spouse’s child, and any person may adopt a child to whom he or she is related by blood or marriage. In the adoption of these children:

  • No investigation or report is required unless otherwise directed by the court.
  • No accounting by the petitioner of all disbursements is required unless the accounting is ordered by the court.
  • Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement that the final hearing must not be held before 90 days after the filing of the adoption petition.
  • Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement of the appointment of independent counsel for an indigent parent.
  • Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement that the adoption proceeding must be finalized in this State.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-2200

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

Foster parents may apply to adopt a foster child. Foster families who have been approved for adoption will be given first consideration for the adoption of a foster child under the following conditions:

  • The child has been in the same foster home for a consecutive 6 months period of time or more.
  • The child is legally free for adoption.
  • Placement for adoption with the foster family is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-40

An infant may be relinquished. The term ‘infant’ means a person who is no more than 30 days old.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-40

An infant may be voluntarily left at a safe haven by a person who does not express an intent to return for the infant and the circumstances give rise to a reasonable belief that the person does not intend to return for the infant.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-40

The infant may be left at a safe haven. The term ‘safe haven’ includes a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, a law enforcement agency, a fire station, an emergency medical services station, or any staffed house of worship during hours when the facility is staffed.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-40

A safe haven provider must, without a court order, take temporary physical custody of an infant who is voluntarily left at the safe haven. If the safe haven is a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, the hospital or hospital facility shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the infant. Any other safe haven shall, as soon as possible but no later than 6 hours after receiving an infant, transport the infant to a hospital or hospital outpatient facility.

The safe haven provider must offer the person leaving the infant information concerning the legal effect of leaving the infant at the safe haven and ask the person to identify any parent of the infant other than the person leaving the infant at the safe haven. The safe haven provider also must attempt to obtain from the person information concerning the infant’s background and medical history as specified on a form provided by the Department of Social Services. This information includes, but is not limited to, information concerning the use of a controlled substance by the infant’s mother provided that information regarding the use of a controlled substance by the infant’s mother is not admissible as evidence of the unlawful use of a controlled substance in any court proceeding.

The hospital or hospital outpatient facility shall notify the department that it has taken temporary physical custody of the infant no later than the close of the first business day after taking possession.

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-40

A safe haven and its agents and any health-care professionals practicing within a hospital or hospital outpatient facility are immune from civil or criminal liability for any action authorized by this section as long as the safe haven or health-care professional complies with all provisions of this section.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-40

The person leaving the infant is not required to disclose his or her identity; however, the person must leave the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or employee of the safe haven. Any identifying information disclosed by the person leaving the infant must be kept confidential by the safe haven and disclosed to no one other than the department.

A person who leaves an infant at a safe haven or directs another person to do so must not be prosecuted for any criminal offense on account of such action if:

  • The person is a parent of the infant or is acting at the direction of a parent.
  • The person leaves the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or an employee of the safe haven.
  • The infant is not more than 30 days old or the infant is reasonably determined by the hospital or hospital outpatient facility to be not more than 30 days old.

This subsection does not apply to prosecution for the infliction of any harm upon the infant other than the harm inherent in abandonment.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-40

The department has legal custody of the infant immediately upon receipt of the notice. The department shall assume physical control of the infant as soon as practicable but no later than 24 hours after receiving notice that the infant is ready for discharge from the hospital. The department is not required to initiate a child protective services investigation solely because an infant comes into its custody under this subsection.

Immediately after receiving notice, the department shall contact the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for assistance in assuring that the infant is not a missing infant.

Within 48 hours after obtaining legal custody of the infant, the department shall file a petition alleging that the infant has been abandoned, that the court should dispense with reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family, and that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the infant. A hearing on the petition must be held no earlier than 30 and no later than 60 days after the department takes legal custody of the infant.

The act of leaving an infant at a safe haven is conclusive evidence that the infant has been abused or neglected for purposes of Department of Social Services’ jurisdiction and for evidentiary purposes in any judicial proceeding in which abuse or neglect of an infant is an issue. It is also conclusive evidence that the requirements for termination of parental rights have been satisfied as to any parent who left the infant or acted in concert with the person leaving the infant.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-310(F)

Subject to court approval, payment may be made for the following:

  • Necessary and actual medical costs
  • Reasonable living expenses for the birth mother and the child for a reasonable period of time

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-740

No assessment is allowed for a cost that does not have a corresponding receipt or that the court considers unreasonable.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-310(F)

Under no circumstances may a child-placing agency or any person receive a fee, compensation, or any other thing of value as consideration for giving a consent or relinquishment of a child for the purpose of adoption, and no child-placing agency or person may receive a child for payment of such fee, compensation, or any other thing of value.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-310(F)

Costs may be assessed and payment made, subject to the court’s approval, for the following:

  • Fees for investigations and reports
  • Fees to individuals required to take consents or relinquishments
  • Guardian ad litem fees
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for services actually rendered
  • Reasonable fees to child-placing agencies and sending agencies

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-9-710(C)(4); 63-9-740

The adoption petition must include a statement of all payments of money or anything of value made within the past 5 years or agreed to be made in the future by or on behalf of the petitioner to any person, agency, or organization connected with the adoption that is other than a disbursement of expenses listed below.

At the final hearing on the adoption, the petitioner shall file a full, itemized accounting of disbursements of anything of value made, agreed to be made, or anticipated being made by or on behalf of the petitioner for expenses incurred or fees for services rendered in connection with the adoption. The accounting must be verified by the petitioner under penalty of perjury. The accounting by the petitioner must include:

  • Dates and amounts of disbursements made, agreed to be made, or anticipated being made and by whom the disbursements were or are to be made
  • Names and addresses of persons to whom the disbursements were made or are to be made
  • Services received for the disbursements and by whom the services were received
  • Receipts for reasonable living expenses incurred by the mother and child assessed as costs under § 63-9-310(F)(1)

No assessment is allowed for a cost that does not have a corresponding receipt or is unreasonable.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Ann. Code § 63-9-310

The father of a child born when the father was not married to the child’s mother may establish the right to receive notice of an adoption proceeding as follows:

  • If the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents more than 6 months after the child’s birth:
    • The father has maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child as demonstrated by:
      • Payment by the father toward the support of the child of a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father’s financial ability
      • Visits by the father to the child at least monthly when the father is physically and financially able to do so
      • Regular communication by the father with the child or with the person or agency having lawful custody of the child
  • A father of a child born when the father was not married to the child’s mother, who openly lived with the child for a period of 6 months within the 1-year period immediately prior to placing the child for adoption, and who during the 6-month period openly held himself out to be the father of the child is considered to have maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child.
  • If the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents 6 months or less after the child’s birth:
    • The father openly lived with the child or the child’s mother for a continuous period of 6 months immediately prior to placing the child for adoption, and the father openly held himself out to be the father of the child during that time.
    • The father paid a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father’s financial ability, for the support of the child or for expenses incurred in connection with the mother’s pregnancy or with the birth of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, hospital, and nursing expenses.

Paternity Registry Ann. Code §§ 63-9-810; 63-9-820

The Responsible Father Registry shall be established and maintained by the Department of Social Services. It is the purpose of the registry to provide notice to unmarried biological fathers who affirmatively assume responsibility for children they may have fathered by registering with the registry.

Except as set forth in § 63-9-730(B), in order to preserve the right to notice of an adoption proceeding or a petition for termination of parental rights, a registrant must file a claim of paternity with the registry. A claim of paternity filed with the registry must not be deemed to be an acknowledgment of paternity, and a claim of paternity filed with the registry, as well as any other information contained in the registry, is not admissible as evidence in any proceeding.

Except for a person who is required to receive notice pursuant to § 63-9-730(B), an unmarried biological father’s failure to file a claim of paternity with the registry constitutes an implied irrevocable waiver of the father’s right to notice of any proceedings pertaining to the termination of his parental rights and to the child’s adoption. Such waiver includes a waiver of any right of the parent to be named as a party or served with a summons or any other document prepared in conjunction with a termination of parental rights proceeding or an adoption proceeding.

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Ann. Code § 63-9-730

The following persons are entitled to notice of an adoption proceeding:

  • Any person adjudicated by a court in this State to be the father of the child
  • Any person who has properly registered with the Responsible Father Registry at the time of the filing of the petition for termination of parental rights or adoption
  • Any person who is recorded on the child’s birth certificate as the child’s father
  • Any person who is openly living with the child or the child’s mother, or both, at the time the adoption proceeding is initiated, and who is holding himself out to be the child’s father
  • Any person who has been identified as the child’s father by the mother in a sworn, written statement

Required Information Ann. Code § 63-9-820

A claim of paternity must be signed by the registrant and must include:

  • The registrant’s name, address, and date of birth
  • The mother’s name and, if known, her address and date of birth
  • If known, the child’s name, place of birth, and date of birth
  • If known, the date, county, and State of conception of the child
  • The date the claim is filed

Revocation of Claim to Paternity Ann. Code § 63-9-820

A registrant may at any time revoke a claim of paternity and shall file the revocation with the department in the manner prescribed by the department. The filing of a revocation of a claim of paternity makes the prior claim of paternity filed by the registrant null and void.

Access to Information Ann. Code § 63-9-820

The registry is not available for public inspection and is not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act pursuant to chapter 4, title 30 except that:

  • The department may file a written request with the registry regarding a child for whom the department has an open case for child welfare services.
  • The department shall provide the names and addresses of all registrants who have filed a claim of paternity for the child in question upon written request of a child-placing agency or an attorney assisting in the adoption or termination of parental rights of a child. The written request may be filed with the registry before or after the birth of the child and must include:
    • The mother’s name and, if known, her address and date of birth
    • If known, the child’s date of birth and place of birth
    • If known, the date, county, and State of conception of the child

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Ann. Laws §§ 63-9-30(5); 63-9-310(F); 63-9-710(A)(11)

A person or entity that offers services for compensation where the intent of those services is to arrange or secure adoptions must be considered 'facilitating the placement of children for adoption,' whether those services constitute counseling, referrals, searches, or any other form of adoption services. An attorney who represents a client in an adoption or who otherwise facilitates an adoption is exempt from this definition.

Under no circumstances may a child-placing agency or any person receive any compensation for giving a consent or relinquishment of a child for the purpose of adoption, and no child-placing agency or person may receive a child for payment of any such compensation. However, reasonable and necessary costs may be assessed and payments made, subject to the court’s approval.

A petition for adoption shall specify the name and address of the child-placing agency or the person facilitating placement of the child for adoption, if any.

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Who May Adopt Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-60

The following persons may adopt:

  • Any South Carolina resident may adopt.
  • A nonresident may adopt if:
    • The child is a special needs child.
    • The child is being placed with a relative.
    • At least one of the adoptive parents is a member of the military stationed in South Carolina.
    • Unusual or exceptional circumstances or public notoriety concerning the child or the child’s family indicate that the best interests of the child would be served by an adoptive placement outside the State.
    • The child has been in foster care for at least 6 months, has been legally freed for adoption, and no South Carolina resident has been identified as a prospective adoptive parent.

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-50

Any child present within the State at the time the petition is filed may be adopted irrespective of place of birth or place of residence.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-30

A child may be placed by any of the following:

  • A parent
  • The Department of Social Services
  • A child-placing agency
  • Any person or entity that holds legal or physical custody of a child for the purpose of placement for adoption, or a person or entity that facilitates the placement of children for the purpose of adoption, with the exception of an attorney

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-780

Nonidentifying information may be accessed by the following persons:

Identifying information may be accessed by the following persons:

  • The adopted person who is age 21 or older
  • The birth parents and siblings

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-780

The adoption agency may furnish nonidentifying information to adoptive parents, birth parents, or adopted persons when, in the sole discretion of the chief executive officer of the agency, the information would serve the best interests of the persons concerned. Nonidentifying information includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • The health and medical histories of the birth parents
  • The health and medical history of the adopted person
  • The adopted person’s general family background without name references or geographical designations
  • The length of time the adopted person has been in the care and custody of the adoptive parent

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-780

The public adoption agency responsible for the placement shall furnish to an adopted person the identity of the adopted person’s birth parents and siblings, and to the birth parents and siblings the identity of the adopted person under the following conditions:

  • The adopted person is age 21 or older, and the applicants apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information.
  • The agency has a current file containing affidavits from the adopted person and the birth parents and siblings that they are willing to have their identities revealed to each other.
  • The agency has established and maintained a confidential register that contains the names and addresses of the adopted person and birth parents and siblings who have filed affidavits.
  • The adopted person and his or her birth parents and siblings have undergone counseling by the adoption agency concerning the effects of the disclosure. The adoption agency may charge a fee for the services, but services must not be denied because of inability to pay.

No disclosure may be made within 30 days after compliance with these conditions. The director of the adoption agency may waive the 30-day period in extreme circumstances. The agency may delay disclosure for 20 days from the expiration of the 30-day period to allow time to apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin the disclosure for good cause shown.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Ann. Code § 44-63-140

The original birth certificate is placed in a special sealed file by the State Registrar. The statute does not specify a procedure for access to the original certificate.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Adoption Reunion Registry, South Carolina Department of Social Services

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-9-760; 62-2-109

After a final decree of adoption is entered, the birth parents of the adopted person are relieved of all parental responsibilities and have no rights over the adopted person.

The adoption of a child by an adoptive parent does not in any way change the legal relationship between the child and either birth parent of the child whose parental responsibilities and rights are not expressly affected by the final decree.

For purposes of intestate succession by, through, or from a person, an adopted person is the child of the adopting parent and not the birth parent, except that adoption of a child by the spouse of the birth parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and that birth parent.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-9-760; 62-2-109

After the final decree of adoption is entered, the relationship of parent and child and all the rights, duties, and other legal consequences of the relationship of parent and child exist between the adopted person, the adoptive parent(s), and the kindred of the adoptive parent(s).

For purposes of intestate succession by, through, or from a person, an adopted person is the child of the adopting parent(s) and not the birth parent(s).

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Ann. Code §§ 62-2-302; 62-2-609

If a testator fails to provide in his or her will for any child who was adopted after the execution of the will, the omitted child receives a share in the estate equal in value to that which he or she would have received if the testator had died intestate unless:

  • It appears from the will that the omission was intentional.
  • When the will was executed, the testator had one or more children and gave substantially all his or her estate to his or her spouse.
  • The testator provided for the child by transfer outside the will with the intent that the transfer be in lieu of a testamentary provision.

Adopted persons are included in class gift terminology and terms of relationship in accordance with rules for determining relationships for purposes of intestate succession.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

What may be included in postadoption contact agreements? Ann. Code § 63-9-760(D)

The validity of the final decree of adoption is not affected by an agreement entered into before the adoption between adoptive parents and biological parents concerning visitation, exchange of information, or other interaction between the child and any other person. Such an agreement does not preserve any parental rights with the biological parents and does not give to them any rights enforceable in the courts of this State.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement? Ann. Code § 63-9-760(D)

An agreement may be made between adoptive parents and biological parents before the entry of a decree.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements? Ann. Code § 63-9-760(D)

The validity of the final decree of adoption is not affected by an agreement entered into before the adoption between adoptive parents and biological parents concerning visitation, exchange of information, or other interaction between the child and any other person.

Are agreements legally enforceable? Ann. Code § 63-9-760(D)

Such an agreement does not preserve any parental rights with the biological parents and does not give to them any rights enforceable in the courts of this State.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

Ann. Code §§ 63-9-920; 63-9-760(A)

When the relationship of parent and child has been created by a decree of adoption of a court of any other State or nation, the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State must be determined by § 63-9-760.

After the final decree of adoption is entered, the relationship of parent and child and all the rights, duties, and other legal consequences of the natural relationship of parent and child exist between the adopted child, the adoptive parent, and the kindred of the adoptive parent.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

Ann. Code § 63-9-910

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 63-9-790(A)-(B), in the case of a child born in a foreign country who was not a U.S. citizen at birth and whose adoption was finalized in a foreign country, the court shall review the documentation. If it finds the documentation to be satisfactory, the court shall issue an order stating that the required documentation has been submitted and is satisfactory and that the foreign adoption must be recognized and domesticated in South Carolina. The court shall transmit the order and the certificate of adoption to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics without the necessity of a hearing unless the court finds the documentation submitted is unsatisfactory and such finding is stated in the order resulting from the hearing.

Documentation required to be submitted to the court includes, but is not limited to:

  • A verified petition seeking domestication of the foreign adoption
  • A post-foreign adoption home study completed by a certified person that evaluates the adjustment and progress of the child and family since adoption
  • Naturalization papers, if available
  • Other documentation as the court may request

The court administration in consultation with the Department of Health and Environmental Control shall develop petition forms, including the documentation required to be filed with the petition, and guidelines for obtaining the domestication of a foreign adoption. These forms and guidelines must be available to the public upon request at all county clerks of court offices and at Department of Health and Environmental Control offices.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Ann. Code § 44-63-140

When adoption is decreed by a family court in this State of a person born in a foreign country who was not a U.S. citizen at birth and evidence of the date and place of birth submitted to the court and the court order setting forth the date and place of birth are attached to the Certificate of Adoption, the State Registrar shall prepare a ‘Certificate of Foreign Birth.’ The certificate must be labeled 'Certificate of Foreign Birth’ and must show the actual country of birth. A statement also must be included on the certificate that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.

Source

Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. [1]

References