The Important Adoption Laws in S.C. to Know

As a leading adoption lawyer in South Carolina, attorney Jim Thompson is well-versed in state adoption laws. More importantly, he knows how these adoption laws may impact your adoption process — and he’ll be there every step of the way to make sure your process is completely legally and efficiently.

When you’re considering adoption, it’s a good idea to research the laws on adoption in South Carolina. This way, you can determine which adoption process might be best for your situation based on the legalities involved. In addition, having basic knowledge on the laws of adoption is important for anticipating what your adoption process may look like.

Attorney Jim Thompson is available to talk about the more detailed adoption laws in South Carolina when you call 864-573-5533. In the meantime, here are the important laws you should know if you’re considering adoption.

Adoption Laws for Prospective Adoptive Families

Welcoming an adopted child into your life can seem like a complicated legal process. Because the adoption process focuses on the best interest of all involved, there are many adoption laws and requirements that prospective adoptive parents must meet before a child is placed with them. These regulations ensure that any placement of a child is done safely and is the best situation for all members of the adoption triad.

When you first contact the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson, we will walk you through the state adoption laws that apply to your situation. Here are some basics you’ll need to know:

Who Can Adopt a Child in South Carolina?

Any person who lives in South Carolina may adopt, as long as they meet necessary home study requirements. If you live outside of South Carolina, adoption law says you can adopt a child in South Carolina if:

  • You are a relative of the child being adopted
  • At least one prospective parent is a member of the military and stationed in South Carolina
  • The child being adopted has special needs
  • Unusual circumstances make an out-of-state adoption placement in the best interests of the child

The Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson regularly works with families from outside of South Carolina and can provide the legal services and guidance you need to complete your South Carolina adoption.

If you are an adoptive family who lives outside of the United States, you may still be able to adopt a child from South Carolina through our international adoption program. If you are a South Carolina family who has adopted a child from outside the U.S., you will need to undergo certain international adoption procedures, including the domestication of your foreign adoption. The Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson can help you complete this process.

If you’re looking to adopt from the foster care system, you must be at least 21 years old. You’ll have to go through extensive background clearances and training before you are approved to adopt a child from foster care or become a foster parent.

What Kind of Background Checks Do Prospective Adoptive Parents Need?

Whether you are applying to be a foster parent (even if you’re related to the child), adopt from foster care or adopt an infant privately, you will need to complete the background check process. Anyone who lives in your household and is over the age of 18 is also subject to this adoption law.

Adoption law requires that your background checks include:

  • Child abuse and neglect history
  • State and national criminal records history
  • The sex offender registry

Unless you are a stepparent or a relative adopting a child, you will also need to complete an adoption home study and post-placement assessments. Your adoption home study must be updated every 12 months, as well as any time you have a major life change (like a new job or a move to a new home). Every member of your household must be involved in your home study, even if they are under the age of 18. Read more about South Carolina adoption laws for home studies here.

What are the Adoption Laws for Birth Parent Expenses?

In South Carolina, prospective adoptive parents can pay a prospective birth mother’s necessary and actual medical expenses, as well as any reasonable expenses for the mother and child. According to South Carolina adoption law, all payments must be approved by a court and be included in accounting filed at the finalization hearing.

Please read the following to learn more about adoption costs in South Carolina.

Adoption Laws for Prospective Birth Parents

Prospective birth parents should be just as aware as prospective adoptive parents of the adoption laws that may apply to their situation. Not only do these laws protect their child’s safety in the adoption process, but they also protect the prospective birth parents’ rights to that child until they’re absolutely ready to make their adoption decision.

Here are the South Carolina adoption laws every prospective birth parent should be aware of:

Who Can Place a Baby for Adoption in South Carolina?

South Carolina adoption law says that a child may be placed for adoption by:

  • A parent
  • The Department of Social Services
  • A child-placing agency (like an adoption or foster care agency) or a South Carolina attorney
  • Any person or entity that has legal or physical custody of a child for the purpose of adoption

While the law says agencies and other entities can place a child for adoption, it’s important to understand they can only do this with the consent of the child’s biological parents (excepting certain foster care situations). An agency cannot place a baby for adoption on its own; it must do so with the cooperation of and in partnership with the child’s birth parents.

Who Has to Consent to a Child Adoption in S.C.?

Adoption laws regarding parental consent and birth parent rights can be complicated. Whether or not a particular birth parent has to consent to the adoption of a child will likely vary from situation to situation, especially in cases where a prospective birth father is uncooperative or unknown.

Typically, these people will have to give their consent for an adoption:

  • The parents of a child conceived or born during those parents’ marriage
  • The birth mother of a child
  • The birth father, if:
    • He was not married to the child’s mother, the baby was placed for adoption more than six months after birth, and he maintained a relationship with the child
    • He was not married to the child’s mother, the baby was placed for adoption less than six months after birth, and he openly lived with the child and/or the mother for six months and held himself to be the father, or financially supported the mother

There may be cases where a birth parent does not have to give his or her consent, but this will be regulated by complicated child adoption laws. It’s best to contact attorney Jim Thompson right away if you’re concerned about who needs to consent to an adoption.

In the case of a private domestic infant adoption, consent can be given any time after the child is born (usually when the mother is discharged from the hospital) and is irrevocable.

If the child being adopted is over 14 years old, they will also need to consent to the adoption.

To give consent, parents must sign a sworn document in the presence of two witnesses: one being a judge, a state-licensed attorney who is not representing the adoptive family or a Certified Adoption Investigator. When giving consent, parents are acknowledging their consent was given voluntarily.

What is the South Carolina Safe Haven Adoption Law?

In South Carolina, a newborn infant may be relinquished to a safe haven facility as long as they are no more than 60 days old. In a safe haven adoption, also known as Daniel’s Law in South Carolina, a mother is protected from child abandonment or neglect charges and can maintain her anonymity. She must leave her child in the physical custody of a staff member at a designated safe haven location, which includes:

  • Hospital or hospital outpatient facilities
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Fire stations
  • Emergency medical services station
  • Staffed houses of worship

If you’re considering a safe haven adoption, remember that it’s never too late to choose adoption for your baby, even if he or she has already been born. When you work with our law firm, you can still maintain your privacy and anonymity, but you will also have the chance to pick the family who will adopt your baby and receive counseling and other assistance. Call us today at 864-573-5533 to learn more about how we can help you.

While this article addresses some of the important adoption laws in South Carolina, there are many others that may apply to your adoption situation. That’s why it’s so important that you consult an experienced attorney like Jim Thompson to further understand which adoption laws may affect your process, including any international adoption laws, Native American adoption laws and more.

To learn more about South Carolina adoption laws, contact us today.