The plains of South Dakota are almost as well-known as the Black Hills National Forest, and of course, Mount Rushmore. One of the least populated states in the country, South Dakota is located in the midwestern portion of the United States. A state rich with Native American culture, and prairie ecosystems, South Dakota has a lot to offer. If you are considering adopting from South Dakota, or currently reside in South Dakota and are facing an unexpected pregnancy, this article will outline everything you need to know about South Dakota adoption.

Types of Adoption

The first thing to understand about South Dakota adoption is that there are essentially four types of adoption—domestic, kinship, adoption from foster care, and international. If you are residing in South Dakota and considering adoption, you will likely be pursuing either a domestic adoption, an adoption from foster care, or an international adoption. 

As a prospective adoptive parent, the first step in your adoption journey will be to decide what type of adoption is right for you. Are you interested in adopting an infant or are you open to an older child? Are sibling groups something you would consider? What about a child from another country? Does the idea of becoming a transracial or a transethnic family excite you, or would you rather adopt a child whose background is more similar to your own?

Prospective adoptive parents who are interested in domestic adoption will work to match with an expectant mother. Once the birth of the child occurs, the prospective adoptive parents will begin the legal process of adopting the child, provided the birth parents still consent to the adoption. The process of domestic adoption is governed by the laws of the state in which the expectant mother resides. The laws vary from state to state, but this article will outline the basics of South Dakota adoption. Thanks to the Interstate Compact of the Placement of Children (ICPC), you do not need to reside in South Dakota in order to adopt a child who is born and/or who is currently residing there. 

If, as a prospective adoptive parent, you are open to adopting an older child or potentially even a sibling group, then you may want to consider adopting from foster care. Children who are available for adoption from foster care have had their biological parents’ parental rights terminated and are in need of a forever home. At any given time in the United States, there are approximately 50,000 children in need of a loving, supportive, constant home. Many states, including South Dakota, offer ongoing support for foster families, including help with the adoption process itself. 

Lastly, prospective adoptive parents may consider international adoption. International adoption is the process of adopting a child from another country and bringing that child to the United States. Children available for intercountry adoption are typically between the ages of 2–4 at placement and have minor, medically correctable special needs (such as hearing loss or cleft lip), to more advanced special needs (such as cerebral palsy or heart conditions). In some instances, a child’s biggest special need is simply their age.

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy in South Dakota, you may be considering adoption. Choosing to place a child for adoption is a difficult decision, but it can be the most loving choice you make—both for your child and yourself. You may not feel like you are at a time in your life where parenting a child is an option, or you may have future goals you want to achieve which may be hindered by parenting a child. Whatever your reason, this article will guide you through South Dakota adoption. 

As an expectant parent, you typically have two types of adoption available to you: domestic and kinship adoption. In kinship adoption, the expectant parents will identify an individual who is biologically related to the child and place the child with that individual. The process of adoption is still the same—the individual will need to go through a home study and the adoption will be legally binding—but the child will be biologically related to their adoptive parent(s).

 Domestic adoption is the far more typical form of adoption in South Dakota. In domestic adoption, expectant parents will work with an adoption facilitator or an adoption agency to identify prospective adoptive parents. If you wish not to identify the prospective adoptive parents, an adoption agency may handle this for you as well.

Cost of Adoption

As a prospective adoptive parent, the question of “how much does adoption cost?” is always a consideration. You may be coming to adoption from fertility struggles, or you may fear the price tag many organizations float around. 

The good news is that though domestic adoption costs may range from $20,000-$40,000 and international adoption costs range from $35,000-$50,000, you do not have to pay all of these fees at once. Many adoption agencies stagger the payments so you will pay for your application first, then your home study, then another fee once you are accepted into the program (either domestic or a country program of your choosing), another fee once a match is made, and then any travel expenses related to meeting your child. If you choose to adopt from foster care in South Dakota, most of your expenses will be covered by the state. 

No matter what path to adoption you choose, the good news is that there are many adoption grants available and the Adoption Tax Credit provides $14,300 of tax credit. For domestic adoptions, this amount may be applied as you go through the adoption process, but for international adoptions, the adoption process must be finalized. You then have five years to use the Adoption Tax Credit, so it is very useful in offsetting the costs of adoption.

As an expectant parent, should you choose to place your child, South Dakota adoption will cost you nothing. The issue of birth parent expenses are not addressed in the state adoption law statutes, which means that many expenses related to your pregnancy will be covered. These may include living expenses, transportation expenses related to appointments for your pregnancy or to counseling sessions, counselors, legal fees, and any medical fees not covered by your insurance or Medicaid. These fees will be covered by the prospective adoptive parents and negotiated on your behalf by the adoption agency. All fees must be submitted to a court of law before the adoption is finalized, but your adoption agency and adoption attorney will handle all of this for you.

Adoption Timeline

When first exploring adoption, another question prospective adoptive parents have is how long a South Dakota adoption will take. The answer is, it depends. For all prospective adoptive parents, the first step in the adoption journey is to complete a home study. A home study will be completed by a state-licensed social worker, and the purpose is to verify that your home will be a safe, nurturing, and supportive environment for the child. The home study also allows you, as the prospective adoptive parent, to reflect on what type of child you believe will be a good match for your family. Taking the time to articulate what you are open to, and what you are not, is a good first step in finding the right match. Typically it takes between 3–6 months to complete a home study. 

If you are pursuing a domestic adoption, once your home study is complete you will work to complete your parent profile, and then wait to be matched. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks, to a few months, to even a few years. 

For adoption from foster care, prospective adoptive parents may identify a child with a Waiting Child profile. These are children who are eligible for immediate placement and adoption. You may also choose to work with an adoption agency to identify the type of child you are interested in parenting. The matching process for adoption from foster care is typically about 6 months. For international adoption, the process can be longer in some respects, as you must complete a country-specific dossier before being approved to be eligible to be matched. 

Once eligible and registered with the country’s Central Adoption Authority, you can expect to be matched anywhere from a few months to a few years. Once a match is made, you may travel to meet your child anywhere from a few months to a few years (depending on the child’s country of origin).

As an expectant parent, your timeline truly depends on you. You may choose to begin the adoption process at any point during your pregnancy, including right before you give birth, or even a few days after. A good adoption agency will work with you to make sure your needs are met and that you have all the education and resources you need to make a decision that is right for you and your child.

Finding a Match

Beginning the adoption process can be daunting for both prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents alike. One of the biggest questions each member of the adoption triad may have is how to identify the right match. For the prospective adoptive parents, part of this process will begin during the home study. Think about what kind of child you are open to parenting. Is it important that your child be of the same race or ethnicity as you? Are you open to medical conditions? If you are adopting domestically, are you open to having an open or semi-open adoption with the birth parents? In South Dakota adoption, post-adoption contact contracts are not legally enforceable, but they can give a good degree of clarity and expectation going into the adoption process. 

For prospective domestic adoptive parents, once your home study is complete you will put together a parent profile, which is designed to highlight what life with your family would be like for the adopted child. Parent profiles may involve photos, videos, letters, essays, or anything else that might help showcase what your family is like. A good adoption agency will help you market yourself to expectant parents. 

Once an expectant parent is identified, you will work to get to know one another (whether through letters, emails, phone calls, video chats, or even in-person meetings) to decide if the match is a good one for you both. For prospective foster care adoptive parents, the process may involve searching waiting child databases or engaging an adoption agency to identify prospective matches on your behalf. Once you find a match, your home study will be evaluated by the child’s caseworker and an independent team, who will determine if the child is a good match for your family.

For prospective international adoptive parents, the process is a bit different in that upon your dossier completion, the Central Adoption Authority in your country of choice will match you with a child whom they believe fits your criteria. Part of the international adoption process is filling out a substantial medical form as to what special needs you may be open to parenting. Depending on your level of comfort, if you are open to either sex, and what age range you would welcome, your process may move slowly or quickly. Once a child is identified, you will receive that child’s medical and social history. You then have anywhere from 2 days to 1 week to evaluate the file. If you decide to move forward, you will work to complete an acceptance dossier and file for your child’s visa with the U.S. Department of State.

As an expectant parent, much like the prospective adoptive parents, you will need to consider what level of adoption you are open to and what traits you wish your child’s adoptive parents to have. Is it important to you that your child be raised in a religious background? Or is it important that they be the same race or ethnicity as their adoptive parents? What about siblings? Where do you want your child to live? What hobbies do you hope they pursue? Are there pets in the home? The more you can articulate, the better you will be able to find the perfect match for you and your child. And if you don’t want to choose prospective adoptive parents for your child, that is okay too. If you want to pursue a closed adoption, your adoption agency will help you facilitate this.

Finalizing the Adoption

Moving from prospective adoptive parent to adoptive parent is a wonderful feeling. When the big day comes, if you are pursuing a domestic adoption, take your cues from the expectant parents. The delivery day will come with a lot of emotion (and fatigue!) so be prepared to do whatever the birth parents need. 

For expectant parents, a good idea is to have a hospital plan in place so all will know what to expect on the big day. Consent to the adoption may not be given until 5 days after the child is born. During this time, the child may remain with the birth parents or the adoptive parents, depending on the wishes of the birth parents. Consent may be revoked for up to one year after the adoption has been legalized. Once the year is complete, the adoption is finalized and no consent can be revoked.

For families adopting from foster care, if the child is over the age of 13, they must consent to the adoption. Furthermore, the child must reside with the family for a minimum of 6 months in order for the adoption to be finalized. 

For families adopting internationally, the adoption may be finalized at any time. In India, for example, the adoption takes place before you arrive. In China, it takes place the second day you meet the child. And in South Korea, the adoption is not technically finalized until you return to the United States. In all cases, however, the child will legally be recognized as a U.S. citizen once they come to the United States.

Ready to begin your adoption journey? A great place to start is with a full-service national agency, like Gladney. They can answer all questions, big and small, related to South Dakota adoption and help you along your journey—wherever that might be. Visit or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.