From Columbia to Charleston and everywhere in between, this guide will help you navigate adoption laws and processes in South Carolina. Find the important South Carolina adoption information you need, along with answers to common adoption questions regarding adoption qualifications, birth parents’ rights and the home study process the Palmetto State.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in South Carolina
Adoption laws vary from state to state. If you are interested in adopting a child in South Carolina, these guidelines will help you understand the laws and qualifications regarding who can adopt and how they can adopt in your state.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in South Carolina?
Any South Carolina may adopt, and a nonresident may adopt in the following circumstances:
- The child has special needs
- The adoptive parent is a relative of the child
- At least one adoptive parent is a member of the military stationed in South Carolina
- Unusual or exceptional circumstances indicate that an out-of-state placement would be in the best interests of the child
- The child has been in foster care for at least six months, has been legally freed for adoption, and no South Carolina resident has been identified as a prospective adoptive parent
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in South Carolina?
Adoptive families may pay necessary and actual medical costs, as well as reasonable living expenses for the birth mother and child for a reasonable period of time.
All expenses are subject to court approval. The adoption petition must include an accounting of all expenses paid within the past five years or agreed to be paid in the future in connection with the adoption. At the finalization hearing, the adoptive parents must file a full, itemized accounting of any and all disbursements of anything of value made or agreed to be made in connection with the adoption.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in South Carolina?
To become a foster parent in South Carolina, you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Complete an application and submit it to the regional office serving your county
- Complete fingerprinting and child abuse registry checks for all members of the household age 18 and older
- Attend 14 hours of preparatory training
- Complete fire and sanitation inspections of your home
- Participate in home visits and pre-placement interviews with an adoption specialist
- Provide three to four references
- Complete medicals for all family members
- Provide copies of important documents including birth certificates, marriage licenses and divorce petitions
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in South Carolina?
Following the adoption of a child in another country, a South Carolina court will review the documentation of the foreign adoption and issue an order stating that the adoption must be recognized in South Carolina. The order and adoption certificate will be transmitted to the state registrar of vital statistics and a hearing will not be required unless the court finds the documentation submitted to be unsatisfactory.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in South Carolina?
The use of advertisement in adoption is not addressed in South Carolina statutes.
Any person or entity that offers compensated services with the intention of arranging or securing an adoption are considered to be facilitating the placement of children for adoption, whether those services are counseling, referrals, searches, or any other form of adoption services. Attorneys are exempt from this definition.
Under no circumstances may a child-placing agency or any person receive any compensation for giving consent or relinquishment of a child for the purpose of adoption, and no child-placing agency or person may receive a child for payment. However, reasonable and necessary costs may be made subject to the court’s approval.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in South Carolina
What are the rights and roles of birth parents in the adoption process? What are the rules for placing a child for adoption in South Carolina? If you are considering adoption for your child, these questions have likely crossed your mind. Find the answers you need below.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
Consent may be executed any time after the child’s birth. Consent or relinquishment must be made by a sworn document, signed by the person giving consent in the presence of two witnesses. One witness must be one of the following:
- A judge of any family court
- A state-licensed attorney who does not represent the prospective adoptive parents
- A person certified to obtain consents
- When the consent is obtained outside of South Carolina, by an attorney licensed in that state, a person designated by an agency of that state, a person or agency authorized by the state to obtain consents or conduct investigations for adoptions, or a qualified resident of that state authorized by a South Carolina family court
Each witness must sign and attach their written certification to the document stating that the provisions of the consent were discussed with the person giving consent and that the consent appears to be given voluntarily and is not obtained through duress or coercion.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In South Carolina, consent is required of:
- The parents or surviving parent of a child born to a married couple
- The mother of a child born outside of marriage
- The father of a child born outside of marriage if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents more than six months after birth and the father has maintained substantial and continuous contact with the child
- The father of a child born outside of marriage if the child was placed with the adoptive parents less than six months after birth, and:
- the father openly lived with the child or the child’s mother for a continuous period of six months, and
- openly claimed the child as his own or paid a fair and reasonable sum for the support of the child
Consent is also required of the legal guardian, child-placing agency or legal custodian of the child if the agency or person has legal authority to execute consent and both parents are deceased or have had their rights terminated by the court.
A child age 14 or older must consent to the adoption unless the court finds that the child does not have the mental capacity to consent or that it is not in the child’s best interest.
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
Consent is irrevocable unless the court finds that revocation is in the best interests of the child and that the consent was not given voluntarily or was obtained through fraud, duress or coercion. Withdrawal of consent is not permitted except by court order after all persons concerned have been heard. The entry of the final adoption decree renders any consent irrevocable.
What rights does the father of the baby have in South Carolina adoptions?
The father of a child born outside of marriage has the right to receive notice of an adoption proceeding as follows:
- If the child was placed with the adoptive parents more than six months after birth, the father has maintained substantial and continuous contact with the child through:
- Payment toward the support of the child of a fair and reasonable sum
- Visits to the child at least monthly when he is physically and financially able to do so
- Regular communication with the child or with the person or agency having custody of the child
- The father openly lived with the child for a period of six months within the one year period immediately prior to the child’s placement for adoption and openly claimed that he was the father of the child
- If the child was placed with the adoptive parents within six months of birth:
- The father openly lived with the child or the child’s mother for six continuous months immediately prior to placing the child for adoption and openly claimed to be the father of the child during that time
- He paid a fair and reasonable sum for the support of the child or for expenses incurred in connection with the mother’s pregnancy and birth
The Department of Social Services has established a Responsible Father Registry to provide notice to unmarried biological fathers who register. To preserve the right to notice of an adoption proceeding, a registrant must file a claim of paternity with the registry. A claim of paternity is not deemed to be an acknowledgement of paternity and is not admissible as evidence in any proceeding.
An unmarried biological father’s failure to file with the registry constitutes an implied irrevocable waiver of the father’s right to notice of any adoption proceedings.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in South Carolina
A pre-placement and post-placement evaluation is required for all prospective adoptive or foster parents before they are eligible to begin the adoption or foster process in South Carolina. Your home study will assess your ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child.
What is included in the South Carolina home study process?
The South Carolina home study includes at least two face-to-face interviews and separate face-to-face interviews with each member of the household. The investigation will study the following:
- The suitability of the home
- The emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships and other relevant characteristics of the prospective adoptive parents and how these characteristics will affect their ability to parent
- Any involvement in proceedings concerning allegedly neglected, abandoned, abused or delinquent children
- Any courses or counseling completed by the parents in preparation for adoption
- Motivation to adopt
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Attitudes and feelings of the family toward adoption
- Plans for discussing adoption with the child
- Record of arrests and criminal convictions
- Checks with the child abuse central registry
- Adjustment of children in the home
- Physical examinations for each household members within six months of the study
- Ability to provide financially for the child
- Personal and community character references
- Religious orientation
- Location and physical environment of the home
- Plan for childcare if the parents work
Who is included in the home study process?
In South Carolina, each member of the household must be included in the adoption study.
Who will conduct the home study?
The child-placing agency will conduct the study.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in South Carolina?
Within 30 days of completion of the study, the prospective adoptive parents will receive written notice of acceptance or denial of their application. If denied, the child-placing agency will inform them of the reasons why they are being denied.
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?
The home study must be completed prior to an adoptive placement. The report must be updated annually before the placement of a child to determine any changes in circumstances.
What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for South Carolina?
After the adoption petition is filed, a post-placement study must be completed and filed with the court at the finalization hearing. The postplacement investigation must meet the following requirements:
- State the race, sex and age of the adoptive child and determine whether the child is suitable for adoption by the prospective parents
- State the reason for the child’s placement away from his or her biological parents
- Determine whether the child desires to be adopted (if of appropriate age and mental capacity)
- Review and investigate allegations of the adoption petition, its attachments, and the accounting of disbursements
- Evaluate the progress of the adoptive placement
- Determine whether the placement is in the best interests of the child
The caseworker will contact the adoptive family at least monthly after placement until the final decree of adoption as they prepare the post-placement report.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in South Carolina?
In a stepparent or relative adoption, no home study or accounting of disbursements is required unless otherwise directed by the court. Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the following requirements: that the final hearing must not be held before 90 days after the filing of the adoption petition, that independent counsel must be appointed for an indigent parent, and that the adoption proceeding must be finalized in South Carolina.
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?
Any out-of-state placement is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The child will not be sent to the adoptive parents’ state until the appropriate public authorities in that state notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the child’s best interests.
What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
Foster families who have applied and been approved for adoption will be given first consideration for the adoption of their foster child if the child is legally free for adoption, has been in the same foster home for a consecutive six months or longer and the placement is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
To start the home study process, contact a trusted South Carolina home study provider:
- Adoption Matters, Inc. (SC)
Adoption Matters, Inc. is a nonprofit child placing agency licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. The agency offers home studies and post-placement supervision in addition to options counseling, stepparent adoptions and supportive counseling for all members of the adoption triad.
- Carolina Adoption Services
Carolina Adoption Services (CAS) is licensed to provide adoption home study services in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
South Carolina Adoption Professionals
If you would like more information about adoption, or if you are ready to begin the adoption process, you should contact an adoption professional for additional guidance and support. These local adoption professionals can help ensure that you meet all of the legal and home study requirements for adoptions in South Carolina:
- American Adoptions
- A Chosen Child Adoption Services
- Nightlight Christian Adoptions
- Adoption Advocacy
- Hope Embraced
For more information about foster care in South Carolina, visit the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
Things to do in South Carolina
If you are adopting a child in South Carolina, you may need to spend some time in the state as you visit prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC clearances to return to your home state. Here are a few fun ways to spend your time in the Palmetto State:
- Falls Park on the Reedy (Greenville)
- Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum (Mount Pleasant)
- Hilton Head Island Bike Trails (Hilton Head)
- Charleston Waterfront Park (Charleston)
- Huntington Beach State Park (Murrells Inlet)
- Broadway at the Beach (Myrtle Beach)
For more information about traveling to South Carolina, visit http://discoversouthcarolina.com/.