Is giving a baby up for adoption without the father’s consent in South Carolina possible?
Does the birth father have to agree to adoption?
What happens if a mother wants to give a baby up for adoption but the father does not?
These are all common questions that pregnant women considering adoption in South Carolina ask, especially if their relationship with their baby’s birth father is complicated. If this is your situation, our law firm can help. We can discuss with you birth father rights in adoption and how they apply to your circumstances, as well as guide you through any necessary legal steps involving your baby’s father as you move forward with your adoption process.
Because this can be a complex area of adoption law, it’s important to contact our professionals as early as possible in your adoption journey for our free and confidential legal representation.
What are the Birth Father Rights in Adoption in S.C.?
Often, women considering adoption ask, “Does the father have to give consent for adoption in South Carolina? Can I give my child up for adoption without the father’s consent?”
This is a complicated area of law. Just as you have rights as a prospective birth mother, a prospective birth father also has certain rights under South Carolina law — but they will be determined by several different circumstances.
If a birth father is married to a birth mother, his consent or relinquishment must be obtained or his rights must be terminated by the court.
A birth father who is not married to the birth mother can block an adoption only if:
- The father openly lived with the child or the child’s mother for a continuous period of six months immediately preceding the placement of the child for adoption, and the father openly held himself out to be the father of the child during the six-month period; or
- The father paid a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father’s financial ability, for the support of the child or for the 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.
The birth father’s rights are also affected by considerations such as whether his efforts to support the birth mother were thwarted. He must use prompt and good faith efforts to demonstrate his commitment to the child.
If you are placing a child for adoption who is more than six months old, the birth father’s rights and responsibilities will be slightly different. Attorney Jim Thompson can explain the South Carolina birth father adoption laws in your individual situation.
In either case, even though consent of the birth father may not be required, he is entitled to receive notice of the adoption proceedings. This can be accomplished by personal service or, if he cannot be located, by publication in a newspaper.
Do I Have to Identify the Baby’s Father?
Sometimes, prospective birth mothers ask, “Is adoption possible without knowing who the father is?”
In South Carolina, a birth mother has a right to privacy and cannot be compelled to identify the biological father if his consent to the adoption is not required. In other words, unless the birth father has lived with the birth mother for six consecutive months immediately preceding the placement of the child for adoption, or he has contributed a fair and reasonable sum of money for pregnancy-related expenses, his consent to the adoption is not required and the birth mother is not compelled to identify him.
In Evans v. South Carolina Department of Social Services, our Supreme Court held that to compel a biological mother to identify the birth father would undermine the confidentiality that is a foundation of the adoption process and would violate the mother’s right to privacy. At the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson, we will always respect your privacy and will explain in detail the process ahead of you if there is an unknown father in your adoption.
So, what exactly happens in an adoption when the father is unknown? When a birth mother does not know the identity of the birth father or she declines to reveal his identity, the Responsible Father Registry comes into play.
What is the Responsible Father Registry?
South Carolina has devised a method to protect an unknown or unidentified birth father through the South Carolina Responsible Father Registry. The registry is a way through which a man who has potentially fathered a child with a woman to whom he is not married can ensure that he receives notice of an adoption action involving the child.
In order to establish his right to notice, a man must record his name in the state-maintained database — the registry — along with the name of the woman. Then, if and when an adoption action is filed regarding a child of the woman who is named in the registry, the law group will require the party initiating the action to notify the registered man of the proceedings so that he may come forward to assert his rights to the child if he so chooses.
As a prospective birth mother, you will bear no responsibility for identification in the Responsible Father Registry. Only a potential father can take these steps to protect his parental rights.
You can always contact us for free online or by calling one of our adoption counselors at 864-680-8038 or toll free at 1-800-796-8373.