The following is a general description of the adoption laws of SC. Intercountry and interstate adoptions require additional procedures, refer to the Adoption Law Resources navigation links on the right side of the page for more information. If you have additional concerns, our members will gladly answer all of your questions. To view the entire SC Adoption Act Title 63 Chapter 9 click here.
Title 63 Chapter 9, SC Children's Code
Who Can Adopt?
SECTION 63-9-60. Persons who may adopt.
(A)(1) Any South Carolina resident may petition the court to adopt a child. Placement of children for adoption pursuant to this article is limited to South Carolina residents with exceptions being made in the following circumstances only:
- The child is a special needs child, as defined by Section 63-9-30;
- 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 this State;
- The child is to be placed for adoption with a relative related biologically or by marriage;
- At least one of the adoptive parents is in the military service stationed in South Carolina;
- 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
- 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.
Who Can Be Adopted?
Any child or adult present within the State at the time the petition for adoption is filed can be adopted.
Consent to Adoption
Written consent is required of the following people:
- The natural parents of a child born or conceived during marriage
- The legal guardian if both parents are deceased or their parental rights have been terminated;
- The adoptee, if over 14 years of age, unless the court waives it;
- The mother, when she was not married at the time of birth or conception;
- The father of the child when he was not married to the mother, if the child was placed with adoptive parents more than 6 months after birth and he has maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child as demonstrated by:
- Payment of child support
- Visitation of the child at least monthly, or
- Regular communication by the father to the child or with the person or agency having custody if he is unable to visit;
- A father of a child born out of wedlock who lived with the child for 6 months within the 1-year period prior to placement of the child, and held himself out to be the father during that time;
- The father of the child born out of wedlock if the child was placed for adoption 6 months or less after the child's birth and he lived with the child or the child's mother for a continuous period of 6 months prior to placement of the child, and held himself out to be the father or paid child support or expenses incurred during the mother's pregnancy; and
- 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.
Consent is not required of the following people:
- A parent whose parental rights have been terminated;
- A parent who is found to be mentally incapable of giving consent; or
- A parent who has already given upon the child to the adoption agency.
Withdrawal of Consent
Withdrawal of consent is not permitted except in the best interest of the child or when consent was not given voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion. After the final entry of the decree of adoption all consents are irrevocable. Consent may not be revoked merely because the consenting parent was a minor.
All adoption hearings are confidential and must be held in closed court. All records and papers pertaining to the adoption are confidential and must be sealed and withheld from inspection, except upon a court order. The background report filed prior to the adoption shall include medical history of the biological family of the adoptee. Non-identifying information may be released to adoptive parents under the sole discretion of the chief executive office of the placement agency.
The adoption agency shall maintain a confidential register of the names of biological parents and adoptees that agree to release their identity to the other party. If the adoptee is 21 years of age or older and the biological parent has submitted an agreement to the register to have his or her identity released, then it shall be disclosed. Applicants requesting identifying information must do so in writing and the consent for release of information of all parties involved must be on file.
Under no circumstances may a child-placing agency or any person receive a fee, compensation, or any other thing of value for giving consent to give up a child for adoption. Expenses may be paid for certain costs in connection with the adoption:
- Reimbursement of medical and reasonable living expenses of the mother and child for a reasonable period of time;
- The fee for investigation and reports;
- The fee of the individuals who are required to take the consent;
- The fee of the guardian ad litem;
- Reasonable attorney fees; and
- Reasonable fees to a child-placing agency.
At the final adoption hearing the adoptive parents shall file a full, detailed accounting of all disbursements of anything of value made, or anticipated being made, in connection with the adoption.
It is a felony to participate in the selling or buying of a child, in consistency with these provisions.
Place of Adoption Hearing
The adoption hearing may take place in the county where the adoptive parents live, where the adoptee lives or was born, or where the agency having custody is located.
Authority To Place Child
Any agency, person, or entity licensed in order to act in child placement capacity or the State Department of Social Services have authority to place a child. A person who facilitates an adoption is not required to be licensed.