Whether you’re considering placing a baby for adoption or hoping to adopt a child into your own forever family, an adoption agency in South Carolina will be one of your best resources for support. The adoption process in South Carolina can differ from other states, so working with professionals and getting all the information you can up front is in your best interest.
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3 Things to Know About South Carolina Adoption
By: Mahli Rupp
South Carolina is 32,030 square miles of beaches, historic sites, and other vacation hot spots. People love to visit Myrtle Beach, the golf courses, Fort Sumter, Coastal Charleston, and plenty of other places that would be both adventures and learning opportunities. But what do you know about South Carolina adoption?
As of this year, South Carolina is estimated to be home to over 5.2 million people. Many of those people are potential families looking to adopt a new child into their lives. If you are one of many birth parents asking about South Carolina adoption for your child, here are some things you should know before you consider it.
Making the decision to place your child for adoption is a big deal (to put it lightly) no matter where you are doing it. Being knowledgeable about what kinds of adoption are open to you in your area, as well as which would best fit your particular situation, is a great way to ensure that you get the best experience possible.
Open Adoption: This kind of adoption allows for open communication between everyone in the adoption triad. (The adoption triad is made of the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child being placed. Learn more about it here.) Open adoption often gives the birth parent a choice of receiving updates as their child grows up and connecting with them, even the adoptive parents themselves to an extent. Birth parents are able to negotiate certain terms with the adoptive parents once they have decided on a family.
Closed Adoption: This kind of adoption is a historically more common alternative to open adoption. It is likely the scenario you see in most media, where the adoptee and the adoptive parents do not know much about the birth parents. A closed adoption means no contact or visits between the child and adoptive family after the adoption is settled. In some cases, you can even specify that they are given little information about you, should the child want to try and find you. Depending on your situation, you may find that this option is a better choice.
Intrastate Adoption: This just means that the adoption is taking place within state lines. For example, if you live and place your child in South Carolina and another person who also lives in South Carolina adopts them, that is an intrastate adoption.
Interstate Adoption: This refers to adoption that happens across state lines. For our example, this would be if you live in and placed for adoption in South Carolina, but someone from Tennessee wanted to adopt the child. If all parties agree to it, there would be some extra paperwork to go through via the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children in order to legally complete the adoption.
Domestic Adoption: Broadening the parameters a bit, domestic adoption is any adoption within the United States.
International Adoption: International adoptions happen between the United States and another country. In this case, a child from South Carolina could potentially be adopted by a family in Europe or any other country that allows for adoptions with the U.S. You can look here to find more information about adopting from the US.
Agency Adoption: Most adoptions are through agencies, which help birth and adoptive parents through the adoption processes. These organizations can either be public or private, which means their policies and requirements might be slightly different depending on which you choose. You can research specific agencies and ask for informational consultations before deciding on one.
Independent Adoption: Instead of going through an agency, you also have the option of hiring an adoption facilitator, an adoption attorney, or someone else from the state government in order to help you. Birth parents who choose this option often look for prospective adoptive parents via online advertising and simply by spreading the news of their decision.
Like any other state or country, there are certain requirements people need to meet in order to proceed with an adoption. Whether you are the birth parent or the adoptive parent, it is good to know the general rules that apply to South Carolina adoption. As an expectant parent who may be considering adoption, it is also important for you to fully know what those requirements are and what your rights are.
Some general things to remember:
Anyone who lives in South Carolina and is at least 21 years old or older is eligible to adopt a child. This includes married couples, people who have been divorced, people who are single, same-sex couples, first-time parents, parents with other children, and biological relatives of the child.
People from outside of South Carolina are also able to adopt within their own state territory, but they must fall into a certain set of circumstances. To adopt as a nonresident, one of these things needs to apply:
the child has been in foster care for longer than six months, is legally available, and no SC resident has been identified as their adoptive parent
the child has a disability/special needs
you are biologically related to the child
at least one prospective parent is a military member stationed in the state
odd and/or exceptional situations that make the court think this would be a better option for the child
Regardless of parental status, marital status, et cetera, everyone is required to do plenty of background checks. They will need to do a multitude of background checks, including any household members that are 18 years old and older, along with the usual requirements in the adoption process.
The home study (the part of the adoption process where a potential adoptive family’s home is evaluated) must be carried out by a qualified official. However, if a stepparent or other biological relative is adopting the child, no home study is needed unless the court is notified.
The adoption process is an in-depth, lengthy process that is meant to prove that the adoptive parents are financially stable enough and emotionally stable enough to give the adoptee a loving, fulfilling life.
Your Rights as an Expectant Parent:
You and/or your spouse can give consent for the adoption after the child’s birth. This most commonly happens when the mother is discharged; however, it can happen at any point after the child is born.
Once the consent forms are signed, you cannot go back unless a court finds some legal reason to revoke them.
If the parents of the child are married, both parents need to willingly consent to place their child for adoption. If the parents are officially divorced or otherwise no longer together, then only the birth mother’s consent is needed to go through with the adoption. There are some exceptions to that rule though:
The father has kept up a good, solid relationship with the child and the adoption took place more than 6 months after the child was born.
The father took at least 6 consecutive months to live with either the mother or the child, officially claimed the child, and paid reasonable child support.
Unmarried fathers are able to access adoption proceeding updates; however, they must file a paternity claim to the Responsible Father Registry. If they try to do anything without filing, their right to access adoption proceeding updates terminates.
Assuming they have the mental capacity to consent, any adoptee that is at least 14 years old or more will also be required to consent to the adoption.
If the parents are deceased, or if their parental rights have been legally terminated, then an agency, legal guardian, or authorized custodian will step in to consent.
Consent is made official via a document signed with at least two witnesses, one of which needs to be either a state-licensed attorney (who is not a family representative), a judge, or a person who is certified for obtaining consents. All witnesses will sign and submit statements saying that everything was discussed in full with all parties and that consent was given voluntarily.
If the court approves, an adoptive family could potentially pay the medical and living expenses of the birth mother and child. All the expenses and payments must be recorded and included in the finalization.
This article was just the tip of the iceberg for South Carolina adoption. The work that goes into placing a child for adoption can seem to never end, unfortunately, as there are many steps to take and options to consider. However, that does not mean you are left stranded without help or hope, of course not! There are so many different resources to explore throughout your journey, resources that can help you make decisions and get through the process. I hope at least something here or in the article can help you, wherever in that process you are.
Adoption law information. The website linked here holds even more information on the adoption requirements specific to South Carolina adoption, as well as the contact info for a respected adoption attorney who can help you. You can also find out more about the legal side of things through agency consultations and researching other websites.
Parent profiles for prospective parents. Looking for a family that wants to adopt? Check out the parent profiles here. These online profiles are set up to match families looking to adopt with birth parents looking to place their child for adoption. Each profile will have the prospective parents’ names, ages, races, and adoption preferences. They may also include other information, such as their religion, histories, and where they are from. The profiles will also include ways to contact them and pictures of them.
Public adoption forums. The online forums here are a popular way to search for resources from people who have been through similar situations. Using the search bar or the tabs on the left, you can narrow down your search with anything from “South Carolina” to “birth parent”.
Join the adoption community here. A large part of the adoption process is the sense of community. Everyone’s situation is different, but certain experiences in adoption pull us together, and it makes it easier to handle the pressures of everything when you know there are people who have also gone through it. Getting in contact with adoption groups, meeting with experienced professionals, and meeting the adoptive parents (if you desire to) are all great ways to build bridges to help you on the journey.
Webpages for research. Click here to find more information on all things related to South Carolina adoption. Rather than a long article, this page has a collection of links to other resources you may find useful. Among these are:
Directories for adoption service providers
Galleries and photo listings for children waiting to be adopted
Frequently asked questions
Contact information for Gladney Center for Adoption, an agency that could help if you are interested
Recent research article. Here is an article that I found helpful while doing my own research for this one. It is geared more towards prospective adoptive parents; however, there are definitely parts that are helpful regardless, and it is also just a good read in general.
Social service website. Here is the website for the South Carolina Department of Social Services, also known as the DSS. These are the people in charge of foster care and adoption regulation, so it is a great place to look for credible, helpful information.
Use social media. The internet has provided fast, easy ways to spread the news to our family and friends. If you have already had private discussions with family and you are comfortable with it, consider using a social media outlet in order to spread the word that you are looking for someone who wants to adopt. You may find someone, or at least get more information for your research purposes. Please do not feel the need to use this if you do not feel comfortable though! Government officials will keep things more lowkey if you are in a situation where you feel privacy is best.
I hope something either in this article’s body or in the resources above can help any birth parents out there who are looking for a place to start.
The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed and qualified professional. While the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions, or typographical errors.
Can I Adopt in South Carolina?
You must be at least 21 years old. All members of the household 18 and older must submit fingerprints and child abuse background information. Applicants must attend 14 hours of training to determine the type of child that would fit in the home. Medicals, home safety inspections, and 3-4 references must be submitted. Parents must complete a home study.
What Adoption Regulations Exist in South Carolina?
Advertising: Licensed child-placing agencies and attorneys are permitted to advertise for the services they provide. Parents with an approved home study may also advertise that they are open to receive a child for placement. It is illegal for adoption facilitators to receive compensation for the placement of a child in an adoptive home. However, facilitators may receive compensation for medical or legal services. § 63-9-30(5); 63-9-310(F); 63-9-710(A)(11)
Relinquishment: Consent to an adoption can be given at any time after the child’s birth. Consent can only be revoked if in the child’s best interest and the consent came under fraud or duress. § 63-9-330; 63-9-350
Birth parent expenses: Payment made be made for the following expenses: medical, hospital, and living expenses for the birth mother and child for a reasonable amount of time. All payments are subject to court approval. § 63-9-310(F)
Post-adoption contact agreements: Contact agreements in South Carolina are not legally enforceable.
Birth father rights: Unmarried fathers who wish to receive notice of adoption proceedings may file their information with the Department of Social Services Responsible Father Registry. § 63-9-810; 63-9-820
Finalization: The average time between TPR and adoption finalization in 2014 was 12.8 months.
Is Adoption Assistance Available in South Carolina?
Many of the children waiting to be adopted in South Carolina have special needs. Federal (Title IV-E) and state (non-IV-E) programs exist to help adoptive parents meet their child’s needs. In South Carolina, the maximum monthly amount ranges between $400-535. For more information on adoption assistance please visit NACAC.org.
Can I adopt a Child from another country?
It is always possible to adopt a child from another country, even if you live in the United States. Children under 18 adopted from a Hague Convention country entering the U.S. with an IH-3 visa may automatically receive U.S. citizenship.
Children adopted from a non convention country must qualify as orphans before receiving U.S. citizenship. When U.S. citizens finalize an adoption abroad, they must apply to the USCIS for an IR-3 visa for the child. An IR-3 visa classifies the child as an immigrant and may provide the child with citizenship upon arrival in the States.
South Carolina law requires parents to petition the court for validation or file the foreign adoption decree. In SC, parents wishing to receive a State birth certificate must submit documentation from readoption or validation of a foreign adoption.
Parents must be at least 21 years old in order to adopt. Individuals 18 and older must complete background checks. 14 hours of parental training is required. Medicals, home safety inspections, and 3-4 references must be submitted. Parents must complete a home study.
Adoption agencies/attorneys may advertise the services they provide. Hopeful adoptive parents with completed home studies may advertise.
Consent can be given any time after birth. Parents can only revoke if proved that consent came under duress, and that revocation is in the best interest of the child.
Hopeful adoptive parents may pay medical and living expenses on behalf of the birth mother. Contact agreements in South Carolina are not legally enforceable. Unmarried fathers wishing to receive notice of adoption proceedings may register their information with the Responsible Father Registry.