Current through the end of the 2004 Regular Session
SECTION 20-7-1646. Short title.
This subarticle may be cited as the South Carolina Adoption Act.
SECTION 20-7-1647. Legislative purpose; resolution of conflicts in favor of children; requirement that children be adopted by, or placed with, South
The purpose of this subarticle is to establish fair and reasonable procedures for the adoption of children and to provide for the well-being of the child,
with full recognition of the interdependent needs and interests of the biological parents and the adoptive parents. However, when the interests of a child
and an adult are in conflict, the conflict must be resolved in favor of the child. Children may be adopted by or placed for adoption with residents of South
Carolina only, except in unusual or exceptional circumstances.
SECTION 20-7-1650. Definitions.
(a) "Adoptee" means a person who is proposed to be or who has been legally adopted.
(b) "Adoption" means the judicial act of creating the relationship of parent and child where it did not exist previously.
(c) "Adoptive parent" means an adult who has become a parent of a child through the legal process of adoption.
(d) "Child" means any person under eighteen years of age.
(e) "Child placing agency" or "agency" means the State Department of Social Services and any person or entity who holds legal or
physical custody of a child for the purpose of placement for adoption or a person or entity who facilitates the placement of children for the purpose of
adoption. For the purposes of this subsection, a person or entity who offers services for compensation where the intent of those services is to arrange
or secure adoptions must be considered "facilitating the placement of children for adoption", whether those services constitute counseling, referrals,
searches, or any other form of adoption services. However, an attorney engaged in the practice of law who represents a client in an adoption or who otherwise
facilitates an adoption in the course of that practice is exempt from this definition.
(f) "Consent" means the informed and voluntary release in writing of all parental rights with respect to a child by a parent for the purpose
of adoption, or the informed and voluntary release in writing of all custodial or guardianship rights, or both, with respect to a child by the child placing
agency or person facilitating the placement of the child for adoption where the child's parent previously has executed a relinquishment to that agency or
(g) "Court" means any family court in this State.
(h) "Relinquishment" means the informed and voluntary release in writing of all parental rights with respect to a child by a parent to a child
placing agency or to a person who facilitates the placement of a child for the purpose of adoption and to whom the parent has given the right to consent
to the adoption of the child.
(i) "South Carolina resident" means a person who has established a true, fixed principal residence and place of habitation in this State, and
who intends to remain or expects to return upon leaving without establishing residence in another state. Temporary absences for short periods of time do
not affect the establishment of residency.
(j) "Special needs child" means children who fall into one or more of the following categories:
(1) children who are members of a sibling group;
(2) children of mixed racial heritage;
(3) children aged six or older; or
(4) children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.
SECTION 20-7-1660. Children who may be adopted.
Any child present within this State at the time the petition for adoption is filed, irrespective of place of birth or place of residence, may be adopted.
SECTION 20-7-1670. Persons who may petition for adoption of child; exceptions to requirements that children be placed with South Carolina residents and
placements by Department of Social Services.
(A) Any South Carolina resident may petition the court to adopt a child. Placement of children for adoption pursuant to Subarticle 7, Article 11, Chapter
7 of Title 20 is limited to South Carolina residents with exceptions being made in the following circumstances only:
(a) the child is a special needs child, as defined by Section 20-7-1650;
(b) there has been public notoriety concerning the child or child's family, and the best interests of the child would be served by placement outside
(c) the child is to be placed for adoption with a relative related biologically or by marriage;
(d) at least one of the adoptive parents is in the military service stationed in South Carolina;
(e) there are unusual or exceptional circumstances such that the best interests of the child would be served by placement with or adoption by nonresidents
of this State; or
(f) the child has been in foster care for at least six months after having been legally freed for adoption and no South Carolina resident has been identified
as a prospective adoptive home.
Before a child is placed within or outside the boundaries of this State for adoption with nonresidents of this State, compliance with Subarticle 11,
Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20 (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) is required, and a judicial determination must be made in this State
that one of the circumstances in items (a) through (f) of this section applies, whether or not the adoption proceedings are instituted in South Carolina.
Additionally, in order to determine if any of the circumstances in items (a) through (f) of this section apply so as to permit placement with a nonresident
for the purpose of adoption or adoption by a nonresident, a petition may be brought for the determination before the birth of the child or before placement
of the child with the prospective adoptive parents. In ruling on this question the court must include in its order specific findings of fact as to the circumstances
allowing the placement of a child with a nonresident or the adoption of a child by a nonresident. The court also must analyze the facts against the objective
criteria established in Sections 16-3-1060 and 20-7-1690(F) and make specific findings in accordance with the pertinent law and evidence presented. The
order resulting from this action does not prohibit or waive the right to refuse to consent to a release of rights or relinquish rights at later time nor
to withdraw a consent or relinquish at a later time as provided in this chapter. The order must be merged with and made a part of any subsequent adoption
proceeding initiated in South Carolina.
(B) This section does not apply to a child placed by the State Department of Social Services or any agency under contract with the department for purposes
of placing that child for adoption. Neither the department nor its contractors may delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption by a nonresident
if that nonresident has been approved for adoption of the child by another state authorized to approve such placements pursuant to the Interstate Compact
on Placement of Children. The department shall provide an opportunity for a hearing, in accordance with the department's fair hearing procedures, to a nonresident
who believes that the department, in violation of this section, has delayed or denied placement of a child for adoption.
SECTION 20-7-1680. Jurisdiction of adoption proceedings; venue.
The family court has exclusive jurisdiction over all proceedings held pursuant to this Subarticle 7, Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20. Proceedings for
adoption by residents of this State may be brought in the family court of the county in which the petitioner resides or is in military service, or in the
county in which the child resides or is born. For nonresidents of this State proceedings for adoption must be brought in the county in which the child resides,
in which the child is born, or in which the agency having custody of the child is located.
The family court may order a change of venue as in civil proceedings in this State.
SECTION 20-7-1690. Persons from whom consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required; irrevocability of consent or relinquishment given
by minor; prohibition against accepting compensation for consent or relinquishment.
(A) Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required of the following persons:
(1) the adoptee, if over fourteen years of age, except where the court finds that the adoptee does not have the mental capacity to give consent, or that
the best interests of the adoptee are served by not requiring consent; and either
(2) the parents or surviving parent of a child conceived or born during the marriage of the parents; or
(3) the mother of a child born when the mother was not married; and either
(4) the father of a child born when the father was not married to the child's mother, if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents more
than six months after the child's birth, but only if the father has maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child as demonstrated
(a) payment by the father toward the support of the child of a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father's financial ability; and either
(b) visits by the father to the child at least monthly when the father is physically and financially able to do so, and when the father is not prevented
from doing so by the person or agency having lawful custody of the child; or
(c) regular communication by the father with the child or with the person or agency having lawful custody of the child, when the father is physically
and financially unable to visit the child, or when the father is prevented from visiting the child by the person or agency having lawful custody of the
The subjective intent of the father, if unsupported by evidence of the acts specified in subitems (a), (b), and (c) of this item (4) of subsection (A)
of this section, does not preclude a determination that the father failed to maintain substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child. In
making this determination, the court may not require a showing of diligent efforts by any person or agency having lawful custody of the child to encourage
the father to perform the acts. A father of a child born when the father was not married to the child's mother, who openly lived with the child for a period
of six months within the one-year period immediately preceding the placement of the child for adoption, and who during the six-months period openly held
himself out to be the father of the child is considered to have maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child for the purpose
of this item (4) of subsection (A) of this section; or
(5) the father of a child born when the father was not married to the child's mother, if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents six
months or less after the child's birth, but only if:
(a) 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 months period; or
(b) the father paid a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father's financial ability, for the support of the child or for 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.
(B) Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required of the legal guardian, child placing agency, or legal custodian of the child if
authority to execute a consent or relinquishment has been vested legally in the agency or person and:
(1) both the parents of the child are deceased; or
(2) the parental rights of both the parents have been judicially terminated.
(C) Consent is required of the child placing agency or person facilitating the placement of the child for adoption if the child has been relinquished
for adoption to the agency or person.
(D) If the consent of a child placing agency required by this subsection is not provided to any person eligible under Section 20-7-1670, the agency has
an affirmative duty to inform the person who is denied consent of all of his rights for judicial review of the denial.
(E) Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption given by a parent who is a child is not subject to revocation by reason of the parent's minority.
(F) Under no circumstances may a child-placing agency or any person receive a fee, compensation, or any other thing of value as consideration for giving
a consent or relinquishment of a child for the purpose of adoption and no child-placing agency or person may receive a child for payment of such fee, compensation,
or any other thing of value.
However, costs may be assessed and payment made, subject to the court's approval, for the following:
(1) reimbursements for necessary, actual medical, and reasonable living expenses incurred by the mother and child for a reasonable period of time;
(2) the fee for obtaining investigations and reports as required by Section 20-7-1740;
(3) the fee of the individuals required to take the consent or relinquishment, as required by Section 20-7-1705(A);
(4) the fee of a guardian ad litem appointed pursuant to Section 20-7-1732;
(5) reasonable attorney's fees and costs for actual services rendered;
(6) reasonable fees to child-placing agencies; and
(7) reasonable fees to sending agencies as defined in Section 20-7-1980( 2)(b), the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
The court may approve an adoption while not approving unreasonable fees and costs.
SECTION 20-7-1695. Persons from whom consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is not required; appointment of guardian ad litem for incompetent
(A) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20-7-1690, consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is not required of the following persons:
(1) a parent whose rights with reference to the adoptee have been terminated pursuant to Subarticle 3, Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20; or
(2) a parent whom the family court finds to be mentally incapable of giving consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption and whom the court
finds to be unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the adoptee and whose capacity is unlikely to be restored for a reasonable period of time,
and, in the court's judgment, it would be detrimental to the adoptee to delay adoption. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for an incompetent parent
for whom there has been no prior appointment and shall appoint independent counsel for an incompetent parent who is indigent. However, upon good cause shown,
the court may waive the requirement for the appointment of independent counsel for an incompetent and indigent parent.
(B) A parent who has executed a relinquishment pursuant to Section 20-7-1700 to a person facilitating the adoption or to a child placing agency for the
purpose of adoption of his child is not required to execute a separate consent document also.
SECTION 20-7-1700. Form and content of consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption; consent of child placing agency which has accepted relinquishment
for the purpose of adoption.
(A) Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption, pursuant to Section 20-7-1690, must be made by a sworn document, signed by the person or the
head of the agency giving consent or relinquishment after the birth of the adoptee, and must specify the following:
(1) the permanent address of the person or agency making the sworn written statement;
(2) the date, time, and place of the signing of the statement;
(3) the date of birth, race, and sex of the adoptee and any names by which the adoptee has been known;
(4) the relationship of the adoptee to the person or agency giving consent or relinquishment;
(5) the name and address of the adoptee's mother or father;
(6) that the consent or relinquishment by the person or agency forfeits all rights and obligations of the person or agency with respect to the named
adoptee, including any future child support obligation. Giving consent or relinquishment does not relieve a person from the obligation to pay a child support
arrearage unless approved by the court;
(7) that consent or relinquishment once given must not be withdrawn except by order of the court upon a finding that it is in the best interests of the
child, and that the consent or relinquishment was not given voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion; and that the entry of the final
decree of adoption renders any consent or relinquishment irrevocable;
(8) that the person or agency giving the consent or relinquishment understands that consent or relinquishment must not be given if psychological or legal
advice, guidance, or counseling is needed or desired and that none is needed or desired;
(9) that the person or agency giving the consent or relinquishment waives further notice of the adoption proceedings, unless the proceedings are contested
by another person or agency;
(10) that the person or agency giving the consent or relinquishment is doing so voluntarily, and the consent or relinquishment is not being obtained
under duress or through coercion; and
(11) that the person or agency giving the consent or relinquishment has received a copy of the document.
(B) When a child placing agency accepts a relinquishment for the purpose of adoption, which gives the agency the right to consent to an adoption of the
child, and which contains the information required in subsection (A) of this section, the consent of the agency for the purpose of adoption is not required
to meet the requirements of subsection (A). However, the sworn document relinquishing the child must be filed with the court pursuant to subsection (C)
of Section 20-7-1730.
SECTION 20-7-1705. Signing of consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption.
(A) The sworn document provided for in Section 20-7-1700, which gives consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption, must be signed in the presence
of two witnesses one of whom must be one of the following:
(1) a judge of any family court in this State;
(2) an attorney licensed to practice law in South Carolina who does not represent the prospective adoption petitioners;
(3) a person certified by the State Department of Social Services, pursuant to Section 20-7-1750, to obtain consents or relinquishments;
(4) when the consent or relinquishment is obtained outside of this State, by an attorney licensed to practice law in that state, by a person designated
by an agency of that state, by a person or agency authorized by that state's law to obtain consents or relinquishments or to conduct investigations for
adoptions, or by a qualified resident of that state authorized by a South Carolina family court. When a consent or relinquishment is obtained outside of
this State, it may be accepted as valid in this State, provided the court determines:
(a) the consent or relinquishment complies with the laws of the state where it is obtained; and
(b) the relinquishing party or agency is domiciled in that state at the time of the signing of the consent or relinquishment; or
(c) the content of the consent or relinquishment is in substantial compliance with the intent of Section 20-7-1700(A).
(B) The persons who witness the signing of the sworn document, as provided for in subsection (A) of this section shall attach to the document written
certification signed by each witness that before the signing of the document, the provisions of the document were discussed with the person giving consent
or relinquishment, and that based on this discussion, it is each witness' opinion that consent or relinquishment is being given voluntarily and that it
is not being obtained under duress or through coercion.
(C) A copy of the document must be delivered to the person giving the consent or relinquishment at the time of the signing of the document.
SECTION 20-7-1710. Repealed by implication by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 2, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986).
SECTION 20-7-1720. Withdrawal of consent or relinquishment.
Withdrawal of any consent or relinquishment is not permitted except by order of the court after notice and opportunity to be heard is given to all persons
concerned, and except when the court finds that the withdrawal is in the best interests of the child and that the consent or relinquishment was not given
voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion. Any person attempting to withdraw consent or relinquishment shall file the reasons for withdrawal
with the family court. The entry of the final decree of adoption renders any consent or relinquishment irrevocable.
SECTION 20-7-1730. Filing and contents of, and attachments to, petition for adoption; filing of consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption
and postplacement investigation report.
(A) A petition for adoption shall specify:
(1) the full name, age, address, and place of residence of each petitioner, and, if married, the place and date of the marriage;
(2) when the petitioner acquired, or intends to acquire, custody or placement of the child and from what person or agency;
(3) the date and place of birth of the child, if known;
(4) the name used for the child in the proceeding, and if a change in name is desired, the new name;
(5) that it is the desire of the petitioner to establish the relationship of parent and child between the petitioner and the child, and that the petitioner
is a fit and proper person and able to care for the child and to provide for the child's welfare;
(6) a full description and statement of value of all real property and of any personal property of value owned or possessed by the child;
(7) facts, if any, which excuse consent on the part of a parent to the adoption or which excuse notice of the adoption proceedings to a parent;
(8) facts, if any, which may permit placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State, pursuant to Section 20-7-1670;
(9) the existence and nature of any prior court orders known to the petitioner which affect the custody, support, or visitation of the child;
(10) the relationship, if any, of each petitioner to the child; and
(11) the name and address of the child placing agency or the person facilitating placement of the child for adoption, if any.
(B) The petition must be filed within sixty days of the date the adoptee is placed for the purpose of adoption in the home of the petitioner.
(C) All of the following must be filed at the time the adoption petition is filed or, after the filing, upon good cause shown:
(1) any consent or relinquishment required by Section 20-7-1690;
(2) the preplacement investigation report;
(3) the background investigation report;
(4) a statement of all payments of money or anything of value made within the past five years or agreed to be made in the future by or on behalf of the
petitioner to any person, agency, or organization connected with the adoption that is not a disbursement made and reported pursuant to Section 20-7-1775.
SECTION 20-7-1732. Appointment of guardian ad litem for child.
Before any hearing is held on the adoption or any matter related to the adoption, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the adoptee as in other
family court actions, and the adoptee must be served with a copy of the pleadings. However, if the adoptee is fourteen years of age or younger, the child
may be served by service upon his guardian ad litem or other person with whom he resides.
SECTION 20-7-1734. Notice of adoption proceedings; response to notice; right of certain persons to appear and be heard.
(A) Notice of any proceeding initiated pursuant to this Subarticle 7 of Article 11 of Chapter 7 of Title 20 must be given to the persons or agencies
specified in subsection (B) of this section, unless the person has given consent or relinquishment or parental rights have been terminated.
(B) The following persons or agencies are entitled to notice as provided in subsection (A) of this section:
(1) any person adjudicated by a court in this State to be the father of the child;
(2) any person or agency required to give consent or relinquishment pursuant to subsections (A) or (B) of Section 20-7-1690 from whom consent or relinquishment
cannot be obtained;
(3) the father of the child whose consent or relinquishment is not required pursuant to items (4) or (5) of subsection (A) of Section 20-7-1690;
(4) any person who is recorded on the child's birth certificate as the child's father;
(5) any person who is openly living with the child or the child's mother, or both, at the time the adoption proceeding is initiated, and who is holding
himself out to be the child's father;
(6) any person who has been identified as the child's father by the mother in a sworn, written statement; and
(7) any person from whom consent or relinquishment is not required pursuant to item (2) of subsection (A) of Section 20-7-1695.
(C) Persons specified in subsection (B) of this section are not entitled to notice if the child who is the subject of the adoption proceeding was conceived
as a result of criminal sexual conduct or incest.
(D) Any person or agency entitled to notice pursuant to this section must be given notice that adoption proceedings have been initiated. Notice must
be given in the manner prescribed by law for personal service of summons in civil actions. If notice cannot be effected by personal service, notice may
be given by publication or by the manner the court decides will provide notice.
(E) Notice given pursuant to this section must include notice of the following:
(1) within thirty days of receiving notice the person or agency shall respond in writing by filing with the court in which the adoption is pending notice
and reasons to contest, intervene, or otherwise respond;
(2) the court must be informed of the person's or agency's current address and of any changes in address during the adoption proceedings; and
(3) failure to file a response within thirty days of receiving notice constitutes consent to adoption of the child and forfeiture of all rights and obligations
of the person or agency with respect to the child.
When notice of intent to contest, intervene, or otherwise respond is filed with the court within the required time period, the person or agency must
be given an opportunity to appear and to be heard before the final hearing on the merits of the adoption.
Petitioners must be notified by the court of notice and reasons to contest, intervene, or otherwise respond, and petitioners also must be given the opportunity
to be represented or to appear and to be heard at any hearing held relating to the adoption.
SECTION 20-7-1736. Use of fictitious names.
For purposes of this subarticle, the petitioner may employ the use of fictitious names where necessary to avoid disclosure of identities of parties or
persons, so long as service of process or notice is considered sufficient by the court.
SECTION 20-7-1738. Temporary custody of adoptee following placement in petitioner's home; completion of postplacement investigation report prior to final
hearing; when family court order required.
Once a petitioner has received the adoptee into his home and a petition for adoption has been filed, the petitioner has temporary custody of the adoptee
and is responsible for the care, maintenance, and support of the adoptee, including necessary medical or surgical treatment, except as provided in Sections
20-7-1900 through 20-7-1970. A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation pursuant to Section 20-7-1740 must be completed before the final
hearing. Unless the adoptee is removed pursuant to Section 20-7-610, when adoptive parents have received the adoptee into their home for the purpose of
adoption but no petition has been filed pursuant to Section 20-7-1730, the child-placing agency shall secure an order from the family court before removal
of the child from the adoptive parents. At the hearing the burden of proof is on the child-placing agency to prove that continued placement with the adoptive
family is not in the adoptee's best interest.
SECTION 20-7-1740. Investigations and reports.
Before the final hearing for adoption of a child, investigations and reports must be completed in accordance with the following:
(A) Before the placement of any child by any agency or by any person with a prospective adoptive parent, a preplacement investigation, a background investigation,
and reports of these investigations must be completed.
(1) Preplacement investigations must answer all of the following:
(a) whether the home of the prospective adoptive parent is a suitable one for the placement of a child;
(b) how the emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, and any other relevant characteristics of the prospective adoptive parent affect the
parent's ability to accept, care, and provide a child with an adequate environment as the child matures;
(c) whether the prospective adoptive parent has ever been involved in any proceeding concerning allegedly neglected, abandoned, abused, or delinquent
(d) whether the prospective adoptive parent has completed a course or counseling in preparation for adoption;
(e) whether the prospective adoptive parent is approved for placement of a child for purposes of adoption, and if not approved, a statement of the reasons
for not approving the prospective adoptive parent; and
(f) any other information that is disclosed by the investigation that would be of value to or would assist the court in deciding the case.
(2) If the waiting period for an adoptive placement exceeds one year from the date the preplacement investigation report is completed, the report must
be updated before the placement of a child for the purpose of adoption to determine any change in circumstances.
(3) A background information investigation and a report of this investigation may not disclose the identity of the biological parents of the adoptee
and shall provide the following:
(a) a medical history of the biological family of the adoptee, including parents, siblings, and other family members related to the adoptee including
ages, sex, race, and any known genetic, psychological, metabolic, or familial disorders; and
(b) a medical and developmental history of the adoptee.
(4) Notwithstanding any provision of this section, upon good cause shown, the court in its discretion may permit the temporary custody and placement
of a child with a prospective adoptive parent before the completion of the preplacement or background investigation and reports required pursuant to this
(B) A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must be completed after the filing of the adoption petition. Copies of this report
must be provided to the adoption petitioner and must be filed with the court at the final hearing on the adoption provided for in Section 20-7-1760. A postplacement
investigation and report of this investigation must:
(1) answer all of the following:
(a) the race, sex, and age of the adoptee and whether the child is a suitable child for adoption by the prospective adoptive parent;
(b) the reason for the adoptee's placement away from the biological parents;
(c) whether the adoptee, if of appropriate age and mental capacity, desires to be adopted;
(2) review and where indicated, investigate the allegations of the adoption petition and its attachments and of the accounting of disbursements required
under Section 20-7-1775;
(3) evaluate the progress of the placement of the adoptee; and
(4) determine whether adoption by the petitioner is in the best interests of the adoptee.
(C) The investigators and all persons participating in, conducting, or associated with the preparation of reports required under this section must be
available for examination and cross-examination by any party to an adoption proceeding concerning the contents of and recommendations contained in the reports.
SECTION 20-7-1750. Certification of persons who conduct investigation or obtain consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption; directory; fees.
With the exception of the persons provided for in Section 20-7-1705(A)(1), (2), and (4), any person obtaining a consent or relinquishment for the purpose
of adoption must be certified by the State Department of Social Services. Any person conducting an investigation for the adoption of a child pursuant to
Section 20-7-1740 also must be certified by the department. However, where the adoption petitioner or prospective adoption petitioner is a nonresident of
this State, a South Carolina family court may authorize a qualified nonresident to conduct any investigations required under Section 20-7-1740.
The department shall promulgate regulations to provide for the following: certification of investigators; issuance, monitoring, and revocation of certificates;
and sanctioning of noncompliance with regulations. Any person certified by the department may charge a fee which may not exceed the reasonable costs of
the services rendered. The fee must be approved by the department during the certification process.
The department shall develop, revise, and publish quarterly a directory of persons certified pursuant to this section. A reasonable fee may be charged
by the department for copies of this directory.
SECTION 20-7-1760. Time for holding final hearing; findings which warrant order granting adoption; requirements as to decree.
(A) The final hearing on the adoption petition must not be held before ninety days and no later than six months after the filing of the adoption petition.
In the case of a special needs child, the hearing must not be held before ninety days and no later than twelve months after the filing of the adoption petition.
In its discretion, upon good cause shown, the court may extend, or in the case of a special needs child extend or shorten the time within which the final
hearing on the adoption petition may be held.
(B) Upon satisfactory examination by the court of the record, including the reports required in Section 20-7-1740, and following the final hearing on
the adoption petition the court shall issue an order granting the adoption if it finds that:
(1) the adoptee has been in the actual custody of the petitioner for a period of ninety days unless the court finds as provided in subsection (A) that
there is good cause for modifying the time within which the final hearing may be held;
(2) all necessary consents or relinquishments for the purpose of adoption have been obtained;
(3) notice of the adoption proceeding has been given to all persons entitled to receive notice under Sections 20-7-1690 and 20-7-1734, and any hearing
resulting from the notice has been held and handled according to the satisfaction of the court;
(4) the disbursements made and accounted for pursuant to Section 20-7-1775 are reasonable costs for expenses incurred or for fees for services rendered;
(5) the petitioner is a fit and proper person and able to care for the child and to provide for the child's welfare, and the petitioner desires to establish
the relationship of parent and child with the adoptee;
(6) the best interests of the adoptee are served by the adoption; and
(7) if the petitioner is a nonresident of this State, the findings pursuant to Section 20-7-1660 are included in the order, and there has been compliance
with Subarticle 11, Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20 (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children).
(C) The court shall enter its findings in a written decree which shall also include the new name of the adoptee, if appropriate, and may not include
any other name by which the adoptee has been known or the names of the biological or presumed parents of the adoptee. The final adoption decree shall order
what effect, if any, the adoption has on the legal rights and responsibilities of the adoptee's biological parents, that the adoptee is the child of the
petitioner, and that the adoptee must be accorded the status provided for in Section 20-7-1770.
SECTION 20-7-1770. Effect of final decree.
(A) After the final decree of adoption is entered, the relationship of parent and child and all the rights, duties, and other legal consequences of the
natural relationship of parent and child exist between the adoptee, the adoptive parent, and the kindred of the adoptive parent.
(B) After a final decree of adoption is entered, the biological parents of the adoptee are relieved of all parental responsibilities and have no rights
over the adoptee.
(C) Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary in this section, the adoption of a child by an adoptive parent does not in any way change the
legal relationship between the child and either biological parent of the child whose parental responsibilities and rights are not expressly affected by
the final decree.
(D) The validity of the final decree of adoption is not affected by an agreement entered into before the adoption between adoptive parents and biological
parents concerning visitation, exchange of information, or other interaction between the child and any other person. Such an agreement does not preserve
any parental rights with the biological parents and does not give to them any rights enforceable in the courts of this State.
SECTION 20-7-1720 did not apply to a purported consent to adoption signed by the natural father, who, in reserving the right of visitation, did not agree
to relinquish all rights to the child within the meaning of SECTION 20-7-1770(b). McLaughlin v. Strickland (S.C.App. 1983) 279 S.C. 513, 309 S.E.2d 787.
Insurance agent did not, by means of adult adoption, legally qualify as "parent" of designated producer, for purposes of reinsurance facility
statute allowing a designated producer to transfer his or her designated producer status to a parent; although adult adoption rendered agent a parent for
purposes of intestate succession, he did not assume "all the rights, duties and other legal consequences" connected with the natural relationship
of parent and child. Gorman v. South Carolina Reinsurance Facility (S.C.App. 1999) 333 S.C. 696, 511 S.E.2d 98, rehearing denied, certiorari granted. Insurance
SECTION 20-7-1775. Itemized accounting of disbursements made by or on behalf of petitioner in connection with adoption.
(A) At the final hearing on the adoption, the petitioner shall file a full, itemized accounting of disbursements of anything of value made, agreed to
be made, or anticipated being made by or on behalf of the petitioner for expenses incurred or fees for services rendered in connection with the adoption.
The accounting must be verified by the petitioner under penalty of perjury.
(B) The accounting by the petitioner must include:
(1) dates and amounts of disbursements made, agreed to be made, or anticipated being made and by whom the disbursements were or are to be made;
(2) names and addresses of persons to whom the disbursements were made or are to be made;
(3) services received for the disbursements and by whom the services were received;
(4) receipts for reasonable living expenses incurred by the mother and child assessed as costs under Section 20-7-1690(F)(1). No assessment is allowed
for a cost which does not have a corresponding receipt or which is unreasonable.
SECTION 20-7-1780. Hearings and records confidential; access to records; furnishing nonidentifying information; violations; penalties.
(A) Unless the court otherwise orders, all hearings held in proceedings under Subarticles 7 and 9 of Article 11 of Chapter 7 of Title 20 are confidential
and must be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than those persons involved in the proceedings and their counsel.
(B) All papers and records pertaining to the adoption and filed with the clerk of court are confidential from the time of filing and upon entry of the
final adoption decree must be sealed and kept as a permanent record of the court and withheld from inspection. No person may have access to the records
except for good cause shown by order of the judge of the court in which the decree of adoption was entered.
(C) All files and records pertaining to the adoption proceedings in the State Department of Social Services, or in any authorized agency, or maintained
by any person certified by the department under the provisions of Section 20-7-1750, are confidential and must be withheld from inspection except upon court
order for good cause shown.
(D) The provisions of this section must not be construed to prevent any adoption agency from furnishing to adoptive parents, biological parents, or adoptees
nonidentifying information when in the sole discretion of the chief executive officer of the agency the information would serve the best interests of the
persons concerned either during the period of placement or at a subsequent time nor must the provisions of Subarticles 7 and 9 of Article 11 of Chapter
7 of Title 20 be construed to prevent giving nonidentifying information to any other person, party, or agency who in the discretion of the chief executive
officer of the agency has established a sufficient reason justifying the release of that nonidentifying information. As used in this subsection "nonidentifying
information" includes but is not limited to the following:
(1) the health and medical histories of the biological parents;
(2) the health and medical history of the adoptee;
(3) the adoptee's general family background without name references or geographical designations; and
(4) the length of time the adoptee has been in the care and custody of the adoptive parent.
(E)(1) The public adoption agencies responsible for the placement shall furnish to an adoptee the identity of the adoptee's biological parents and siblings
and to the biological parents and siblings the identity of the adoptee under the following conditions:
(a) The adoptee must be twenty-one years of age or older, and the applicants shall apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information.
(b) The adoption agency must have a current file containing affidavits from the adoptee and the biological parents and siblings that they are willing
to have their identities revealed to each other. The affidavit also must include a statement releasing the agency from any liability due to the disclosure.
It is the responsibility of the person furnishing the affidavit to advise the agency of a change in his status, name, and address.
(c) The adoption agency shall establish and maintain a confidential register containing the names and addresses of the adoptees and biological parents
and siblings who have filed affidavits. It is the responsibility of a person whose name and address are in the register to provide the agency with his current
name and address.
(d) The adoptee and his biological parents and siblings shall undergo counseling by the adoption agency concerning the effects of the disclosure. The
adoption agency may charge a fee for the services, but services must not be denied because of inability to pay.
(2) No disclosure may be made within thirty days after compliance with these conditions. The director of the adoption agency may waive the thirty-day
period in extreme circumstances.
(3) The adoption agency may delay disclosure for twenty days from the expiration of the thirty-day period to allow time to apply to a court of competent
jurisdiction to enjoin the disclosure for good cause shown.
(F)(1) It is unlawful for a person having custody of or access to the papers, records, or files described in subsections (B) or (C) to disseminate or
permit dissemination of information contained in them except as otherwise authorized in this section.
(2) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars
or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
SECTION 20-7-1790. Issuance and filing of amended birth certificates.
(A) For each adoption handled through a child placing agency as defined in Section 20-7-1650, the attorney for the petitioner shall, within fifteen days
of the filing of the final decree, transmit to the appropriate agency a certified copy of the adoption decree and a Certificate of Adoption with Part II
completed and verified by the adoptive parent and Part III certified by the clerk of court. The agency shall complete Part I of the Certificate of Adoption
and transmit the form to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics within thirty days of the filing of the final decree.
(B) For other adoptions, the attorney for the petitioner shall complete Parts I and II of the Certificate of Adoption form provided by the State Registrar
of Vital Statistics and file with the clerk of court at the time of filing of the final decree. The clerk of court shall certify Part III of the Certificate
of Adoption and transmit the form to the State Registrar within thirty days of the filing of the final decree.
(C) In the case of a person who was born in a foreign country and who was not a United States citizen at birth, the court shall require evidence from
sources determined to be reliable by the court as to the date and place of birth of the person and shall set forth in the order of the court the date and
place of birth as established by the evidence. The court order and evidence submitted to the court must be attached to the Certificate of Adoption and transmitted
to the State Registrar.
(D) The Certificate of Adoption form provided by the State Registrar must not be used in conjunction with any legal procedure affecting a birth certificate
other than adoption.
(E) The State Registrar, upon receipt of a certified Certificate of Adoption, shall take action as provided by Section 44-63-140 with respect to the
issuance and filing of an amended certificate.
SECTION 20-7-1795. Foreign adoptions; review of documentation; forms and guidelines; order and certificate of adoption.
(A) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20-7-1790(A) and (B), in the case of a child born in a foreign country who was not a United States citizen
at birth and whose adoption was finalized in a foreign country, the court shall review the documentation as required by this section and, if it finds the
documentation to be satisfactory, shall issue an order stating that the documentation required by this section has been submitted and is satisfactory and
that the foreign adoption must be recognized and domesticated in South Carolina. The court shall transmit the order and the certificate of adoption to the
State Registrar of Vital Statistics without the necessity of a hearing unless the court finds the documentation submitted pursuant to subsection (B) is
unsatisfactory and such finding is stated in the order resulting from the hearing.
(B) Documentation required to be submitted to the court includes, but is not limited to:
(1) a verified petition seeking domestication of the foreign adoption;
(2) a post foreign adoption home study completed by a person certified pursuant to Section 20-7-1750 which evaluates the adjustment and progress of the
child and family since adoption;
(3) naturalization papers, if available;
(4) other documentation as the court may request as stated in materials developed pursuant to subsection (C).
(C) Court administration in consultation with the Department of Health and Environmental Control shall develop petition forms, including documentation
required to be filed with the petition, and guidelines for obtaining the domestication of a foreign adoption. These forms and guidelines must be available
to the public upon request at all county clerks of court offices and at Department of Health and Environmental Control offices.
(D) The state registrar, upon receipt of the order and certificate of adoption shall take action as provided in Section 44-63-140 with respect to the
issuance and filing of an amended certificate of birth.
SECTION 20-7-1800. Direct and collateral attacks on final orders; appeals.
(A) Except as provided in subsection (B), after the final order, judgment, or decree of adoption is entered, no party to an adoption proceeding, and
no one claiming under a party, may question the validity of the adoption because of any defect or irregularity, jurisdictional or otherwise, in the proceeding,
and a party, and anyone claiming under a party, is fully bound by the order. No adoption may be attacked either directly or collaterally because of any
procedural or other defect by anyone who was not a party to the adoption. The failure on the part of the court or an agency to perform duties or acts within
the time required by this chapter does not affect the validity of any adoption proceeding.
(B) A party to an adoption proceeding may appeal a final order, judgment, or decree of adoption in the manner provided for appeals from the court in
other family court matters. In addition, this section may not be construed to preclude a court's inherent authority to grant collateral relief from a judgment
on the ground of extrinsic fraud. For purposes of this subsection, "extrinsic fraud" is fraud that induces a person not to present a case or deprives
a person of the opportunity to be heard. However, a court is under no obligation to grant a person relief from a judgment based upon extrinsic fraud if
the person might have prevented the judgment by the exercise of proper diligence.
SECTION 20-7-1810. Effect of foreign decrees of adoption.
When the relationship of parent and child has been created by a decree of adoption of a court of any other state or nation, the rights and obligations
of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State must be determined by Section 20-7-1770.
SECTION 20-7-1820. Adoption of spouse's child or child who is related by blood or marriage.
Any person may adopt his spouse's child, and any person may adopt a child to whom he is related by blood or marriage. In the adoption of these children:
(a) no investigation or report required under the provisions of Section 20-7-1740 is required unless otherwise directed by the court;
(b) no accounting by the petitioner of all disbursements required under the provisions of Section 20-7-1775 is required unless the accounting is ordered
by the court;
(c) upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement, pursuant to Section 20-7-1760, that the final hearing must not be held before ninety
days after the filing of the adoption petition; and
(d) upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement, pursuant to Section 20-7-1695(A)(2), of the appointment of independent counsel for an
SECTION 20-7-1825. Adoption of adult persons.
An adult person may be adopted by another adult person with the consent of the person to be adopted or his guardian and with the consent of the spouse,
if any, of a sole adoptive parent, filed in writing with the court. The provisions of Sections 20-7-1650 through 20-7-1770 and Section 62-2-109 do not apply
to the adoption of an adult person. A petition for the adoption must be filed with the family court in the county where the adoptive parents reside. After
a hearing on the petition and after those investigations as the court considers advisable, if the court finds that it is in the best interests of the persons
involved, a decree of adoption may be entered which has the legal consequences stated in Section 62-2-109.
SECTION 20-7-1830. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act
No. 525, Section 13 (See Editor's Note below).
SECTION 20-7-1840. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act
No. 525, Section 13 (See Editor's Note below).
SECTION 20-7-1850. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act
No. 525 Section 13 (See Editor's Note below).
SECTION 20-7-1860. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act
No. 525, Section 13 (See Editor's Note below).
SECTION 20-7-1870. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986) (See Editor's Note below).
SECTION 20-7-1880. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986) (See Editor's Note below).
SECTION 20-7-1890. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act
No. 525, Section 13 (See Editor's Note below).
SECTION 20-7-1895. Statewide adoption exchange.
(A) The State Department of Social Services shall establish, either directly or through purchase of services, a statewide adoption exchange with a photograph
(B) The adoption exchange must be available to serve all authorized, licensed child-placing agencies in the State as a means of recruiting adoptive families
for any child who meets one or more of the following criteria:
(1) The child is legally free for adoption.
(2) The child has been permanently committed to the department or to a licensed child-placing agency.
(3) The court system requires identification of an adoptive family for the child before ties to the biological parents are severed.
(4) The department has identified adoption as the child's treatment plan.
(C) The department shall register with the adoption exchange each child in its care who meets any one or more of the above criteria and for whom no adoptive
family has been identified. This registration must be made at least thirty days from the determination date of the child's adoptable status and updated
at least monthly.
(D) If an adoption plan has not been made within at least three months from the determination date of the child's adoptable status, the department shall
provide the adoption exchange with a photograph, description of the child, and any other necessary information for the purpose of recruitment of an adoptive
family for the child, including registration with the photograph listing component of the exchange which must be updated monthly. The department shall establish
criteria by which a determination may be made that recruitment or photograph listing is not required for a child. The department also shall establish procedures
for monitoring the status of children for whom that determination is made.
(E) In accordance with guidelines established by the department, the adoption exchange may accept from licensed child-placing agencies, referrals and
registration for recruitment and photograph listing of children meeting the criteria of this section.
(F) The department shall refer appropriate children to regional and national exchanges when an adoptive family has not been identified within one hundred
eighty days of the determination of the child's adoptable status. The department shall establish criteria by which a determination may be made that a referral
to regional or national exchanges is not necessary, and the department shall monitor the status of those children not referred.
(G) The department shall provide orientation and training to appropriate staff regarding the adoption exchange procedures and utilization of the photograph
SECTION 20-7-1897. Adoption and Birth Parent Services Program to be only public adoption program.
The Adoption and Birth Parent Services Program within the South Carolina Department of Social Services is the only public adoption program in South Carolina.