Adoption Lawyer

Summerville · Moncks Corner · Goose Creek · Charleston

We are Passionate About Helping Our Clients With Adoption of a Child.

Are you:

  • A step-parent adopting your spouse’s child?

  • A grandparent adopting a grandchild?

  • A foster parent adopting a foster child?

  • A couple adopting a child through an adoption agency?

If you are considering adopting a child in South Carolina, your adoption attorney at Seaton & Duncan can help you to navigate the process and will be there with you every step of the way.

Adoption proceedings are one area where we know that we are able to make a difference in a child’s life. Seeing the happy smiles on the faces of our clients at the conclusion of their adoption, and knowing that it was done right makes our job worthwhile.

Understanding Adoption in South Carolina

What is Adoption?

Adoption is a process through which a child becomes a permanent and legal member of your family.

It’s a legal process, and it’s also an emotional process that provides stability for a child who needs a home and parents who they can trust will never leave them.

Once you have adopted a child:

  • You have legal authority to make important decisions on their behalf,
  • They will inherit from you as your child after your death, and
  • One or more of the child’s biological parents will have their parental rights terminated.

Who Can Adopt a Child in South Carolina?

Anyone who is competent to raise a child (and who can pass a home study) can adopt in South Carolina.

The most common adoptive parents include:

  • Stepparents,
  • Grandparents,
  • Couples who are unable to have a child naturally,
  • Foster parents, and
  • Adoptive parents who just want to make a difference in a child’s life.

What are the Different Types of Adoption in South Carolina?

There are several types of adoptions that are available in South Carolina – and variations among those types of adoptions.

For example:

  • Adoptions through private adoption agencies,
  • Direct-placement adoptions negotiated between the birth mother and the adoptive parents,
  • Foster care adoptions,
  • International adoptions,
  • Open adoptions (where the birth parent is known and available),
  • Closed adoptions (where the birth parent is unknown and cannot be contacted), and
  • Relative adoptions – including step-parent adoptions and grandparent adoptions.

What is a “Relative Adoption?”

One of the more common types of adoption in South Carolina is “relative adoptions,” where a child is adopted by a stepparent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or other relative who wants to care for the child and give them permanency.

There are many valid reasons for a relative to adopt a child – inheritance, decision making power, or stability for the child, for example, but the adoptive parents must consider that the biological parents’ parental rights must be terminated before the adoption can be final.

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Four (4) Things to Consider If You’re Thinking About Adoption in South Carolina

1. Consider whether adoption is right for your family.

Adoption is permanent – every adoptive parent should carefully consider whether they are prepared for the commitment that adoption brings and to love their new child unconditionally.

Before making the decision to adopt, new adoptive parents should consider:

  • Pre-adoption counseling,
  • Pre-adoption training,
  • Whether it is in the child’s best interests to terminate their biological parents’ parental rights,
  • Whether the adoptive parents are emotionally fit to handle children, and
  • What type of adoption is appropriate for your family.

3. If you are adopting from an individual or an adoption agency, consider the age, gender, and other characteristics that you are looking for in a child.

Should you prioritize a certain age group like infants, or are you open to adopting an older child or even multiple children?

Consider that older children, although they may have a more difficult time adjusting to a new family, likely have a greater need for loving parents to adopt them.

If you are considering adopting multiple children, make sure that you are emotionally and financially equipped to take on the responsibility of caring for them.

2. If you are adopting a step-child or relative, consider whether this is the best choice for the child.

In many cases, it is clear from the outset that adoption is appropriate and may even seem necessary for the child’s well-being and stability.

In other cases, adoptive parents may need to consider whether it is in the child’s best interests to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents.

This may be an easy decision when the biological parent or parents are unfit, deceased, or just not present in the child’s life.

When a biological parent is going through what may be a temporary struggle, and they are likely to recover, however, it may be in a child’s best interests to pursue a parent-child relationship even if they are temporarily in another adult’s custody.

4. Consider adopting a special needs child.

Adopting a special needs child can be a beautiful and rewarding experience, but not every family is equipped to handle the experience.

Consider whether you and your family are emotionally and financially equipped to handle the challenges of caring for a special needs child, and take some time to talk to other families who have taken special needs children into their homes.

Ready To Speak With An Attorney?

Let’s discuss the details of your case and see if we can help.

Common Questions About
Child Adoption in South Carolina

How long does it take to adopt a child in South Carolina?

The process can take anywhere from a few months to years, but it varies depending on:

  • The type of adoption,
  • Whether you are using an adoption agency,
  • Whether the adoption is domestic or international,
  • Whether the biological parents are contesting the adoption, and
  • Whether you will need a home study before the adoption can be finalized.

Do I need a lawyer to adopt a child in South Carolina?

An attorney is not necessary to adopt a child, but it is a good idea if you want to make sure that you do not run into problems either during the process or later in the child’s life.

Your attorney can help you to finalize your adoption by:

  • Filing all necessary paperwork,
  • Helping you to complete a home study when required,
  • Communicating with adoption agencies, DSS, and other agencies as needed,
  • Ensuring that all potential parties in interest are served with notice to minimize the risk of court challenges,
  • Obtaining consent from all parties in interest to avoid court challenges, and
  • Ensuring that the biological parents’ parental rights are terminated when necessary.

Who must consent to an adoption in South Carolina?

SC Code Section 63-9-310 lists the person who must give consent or relinquishment for purposes of an adoption, and these may include:

  • The adoptee if they are over 14 years old,
  • The child’s mother,
  • The child’s father, or
  • The legal guardian, child placing agency, or legal custodian of the child if the parents are deceased or if their parental rights have been terminated.

There are special rules for when parental consent is required if the child has already been placed with the prospective adoptive parents.