All states have adoption laws in place to aid and protect children, birth guardians and adoptive families throughout the entire legal process. As a South Carolina adoption attorney, one part of Lauren Taylor’s job is ensuring you are knowledgeable of these laws, and that your adoption will meet all of the state of South Carolina’s legal requirements. The legal team at Lauren Taylor Law always takes a personalized approach to each and every adoption case we work on. We want you to be prepared and have a better understanding of how the process of adopting a child works.
Adoption is such an exciting journey to parenthood, but it can also be a very complicated legal process. If you are a hopeful adoptive family in Greenville, it may be useful to familiarize you and your loved ones with adoption laws and all the legal processes within your state. Being familiar with all the terms, rules and laws can only help you in the legal process. Below our legal team has compiled a small list of frequently asked questions dealing with South Carolina adoption laws to help you gain a firmer grasp on the subject.
Who Is Allowed to Adopt a Child in the State of South Carolina?
Every state has certain eligibility requirements for prospective adopters. Any resident of South Carolina may adopt, as long as state home study requirements have been met. Also, nonresidents may adopt a child within the state of South Carolina in a few circumstances. Non-South Carolina residents may adopt a child within South Carolina if they are a relative of the child, if the child has special needs and if the child has already been in foster care for six months. Also, if one of the prospective parents is a member of the military and they are stationed in South Carolina they can adopt a South Carolina child.
Lastly, if unusual circumstances indicate that an out-of-state guardian would be best for the child, then it may be an eligible adoption. Adoptions can be amazingly beautiful, yet legally difficult events in a family’s life. If you and your family have questions about the requirements for adopting a child, or you are looking for a consultation about your adoption case, please call our office today.
Who Is Allowed to Become a Foster Parent in the State of South Carolina?
South Carolina has several requirements for people who want to become foster parents. Foster parents must be 21 years or older, complete and submit the foster parent application, and submit fingerprints. Every adult in the home needs to have their background checked and gain child abuse clearances. There is also a pre-service training and fire safety inspection of the foster parent’s home. The foster parent will need to provide character references and complete a medical evaluation.
Do Foster Parents Get Financial Assistance?
People who agree to act as foster parents in South Carolina receive a monthly board rate for each child. The board rate is based on the child’s age and whether they have special needs. As of 2019, board rates ranged from $500 per month for children up to age 5 to $589 per month for children between the ages of 13 and 20.
Is Financial Assistance Available for Adopted Children?
South Carolina offers subsidies to parents who adopt children who have special needs. Children can be considered to have special needs due to any of the following:
- Their age: African-American or mixed-race children over age 6 and Caucasian children over age 10 qualify as special needs.
- Their sibling status: Children who are in sibling groups often qualify as special needs based on their age and race.
- Disability: Children with emotional, physical or mental disabilities or children who are in a sibling group with a child who has a disability qualify as special needs. Children who could potentially develop a disability are also considered special needs.
The adoption subsidy for children with special needs is the same as the subsidy for foster children, ranging from $500 to $589 per month based on the child’s age.
Does South Carolina Have an Adoption Tax Credit?
South Carolina doesn’t have a tax credit for adoption, but parents who adopt in the state are eligible for the national adoption tax credit. The tax credit can be up to $14,300 per child, as of 2020. Costs that can be covered by the tax credit include travel expenses, adoption fees and attorneys’ fees. Children need to be under age 18 to qualify or need to be adults who are physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
In South Carolina Infant Adoptions, How Are Birth Parents’ Expenses Regulated?
Under South Carolina law, adoptive families can pay an expectant mother’s medical costs and her living expenses, within reason, for herself and the child. All of these expenses are subject to court approval. The court requires that all of the expenses paid must be kept on record and filed with the court upon the last finalization hearing.
Laws Important for Expectant Parents: Placing an Adoption in South Carolina
If you are caring for a child and considering adoption, it is necessary for you to understand South Carolina adoption laws and to be aware of your rights throughout the process. The most important thing is to understand the consent and relinquishment process. As well, be very aware of revocation and birth father rights.
In a South Carolina Adoption, Who Is Required to Consent?
For a child born to a married couple, both of the parents must give consent for the adoption. Only the mother needs to consent to the adoption for a child born outside of marriage. The father’s consent is only needed in a couple of situations. If the child was given up for adoption more than six months past birth, and the father did provide a substantial and long-term relationship with the child, the father’s consent would be needed.
Also if the child was given up for adoption within six months of birth, plus the father lived with the child or the child’s mom and claimed to pay for the care and support of the child, the father’s consent would be needed. Once a child being adopted is 14 years or older and is mentally stable to consent, then they must also consent to the adoption.
If both of the birth parents are deceased or have lost their rights, any legal guardian, state children’s agency or a legal custodian will need to consent to the adoption. Consent may be given at any moment after the child’s birth, but it is usually about the time the mother is being discharged from the hospital.
How Does a Birth Parent Legally Prove Consent?
It is necessary that consent be given by a sworn document signed within the presence of two witnesses. One of the witnesses must be a state-licensed attorney who is not representing the family adopting, a judge or a person that has been allowed to obtain consents. Each of the witnesses must sign and attach their statement that the provisions of consent were discussed along with the birth parent, and in turn, that the consent was not forced — it was given voluntarily, without any dispute or coercion.
Is It Possible for a Birth Parent to Revoke Consent?
Once the documents of consent have been signed, consent cannot be revoked. The only way it can be revoked, is if the court finds that consent was not voluntarily and revocation would be what is in the best interests of the child. Once the final decree is stated, consent is then permanent and cannot be revoked.
Is a Notice of an Expectant Mother’s Adoption Plan Within the Rights of a Potential Birth Father?
An unwed father who wants to receive notice of a specific adoption proceeding is required to file a claim of paternity with the Responsible Father Registry within a specified time frame. If the father fails to file appropriately or within the proper time constraints, then their right to a notice of adoption proceedings is waived.
How Are International Adoptions Different From Domestic Adoptions?
Adoptive parents in South Carolina can adopt children from other countries. International adoptions can be a bit more complicated than domestic adoptions, as the adoption needs to meet the requirements of the U.S. as well as the requirements of the child’s birth country. After adopting a child from another country, you will either need to domesticate the adoption or finalize the adoption in South Carolina, depending on the type of visa your child has.
If your child was given an IH-4 visa, you will need to finalize the adoption in South Carolina. If the child has an IH-3 visa, their adoption was finalized in their birth country. In that case, your child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen.
What Do You Need to Do After Adopting a Child Internationally?
Children who receive an IH-4 visa enter the U.S. on a guardianship. Their adoption was not legally finalized in their birth country. When you return to South Carolina with your child, you’ll need to complete paperwork and attend a court hearing to finalize the adoption within the state.
No legal action is required when you return to South Carolina with a child who has an IH-3 visa. Their adoption is already final, and they are a citizen of the U.S. Although you don’t need to finalize the adoption in this case, it’s a good idea to domesticate the adoption.
During the domestication of the foreign adoption process, the court reviews the adoption paperwork and determines whether it meets requirements or not. It’s a simple paperwork review process that lets you get a U.S. birth certificate for your adopted child. With a U.S. birth certificate, your child may have an easier time applying for a driver’s license or passport when the time comes. It can also make it easier for you to enroll your child in school. You can change an adopted child’s name more easily with a U.S. birth certificate if you want to do so.
You don’t have to attend a court hearing to complete the domestication of the adoption process. Once you complete the paperwork and the court issues approval, you’ll get the child’s new birth certificate and Social Security number.
South Carolina divorce attorney Lauren Taylor practices family law in Charleston and Greenville. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for more than ten years.
Since the firm’s inception in 2012, Mrs. Taylor has helped hundreds of people navigate the uncertainties surrounding the family and criminal court process.
She has cultivated a team that ensures each case has a strategy crafted specifically to the clients needs and desires.
Her commitment to top notch service has led her to open two additional offices in the low country where she now resides with her husband Michael and her golden retriever, Buster.