What are the different types of adoptions that are available in SC?
If you considering adopting a child in SC, there are many different options available. Whether you are a couple who is willing to make the commitment to provide a child in need with a stable home or a stepparent who wants to go the extra mile and adopt your stepchildren, your adoption attorney on the Axelrod team can answer your questions and help you to make your dream of adopting a reality.
In this article, you will learn about the types of adoptions in SC, including:
- Adoptions through private and public adoption agencies,
- Direct placement adoptions,
- Open and closed adoptions, and
- Relative adoptions.
Types of Adoptions: Adoption Agencies in SC
Types of adoption agencies in SC include private adoption agencies, public adoption agencies, and international adoption agencies. Regardless of the type of adoption agency, a home study will be required before you can complete the process.
First, let’s look at private adoption agencies in SC.
Private Adoption Agencies
Private adoption agencies connect adoptive parents with birth mothers.
Private agencies each have their own set of requirements, procedures, and rules for choosing prospective adoptive parents and home studies prior to placement, and it is important that you understand not only the requirements for the agency that you choose but also the legal issues that may arise during the adoption process.
Your adoption attorney at Axelrod and Associates can help you to understand the different types of programs that are available and choose one that fits your family’s needs.
Direct Placement Adoptions
Direct placement, or independent adoptions, may cost less than an adoption through a private adoption agency, but it will still cost significantly more than adoption through foster care or relative adoption.
In a direct placement adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth mother usually find each other without the assistance of an adoption agency, prepare an adoption plan, and finalize the adoption process with the assistance of their adoption attorneys (the birth parents and the adoptive parents should have separate attorneys due to the potential for conflicts).
Foster Care Adoption Agencies
There are hundreds of children in our state who need the love, support, and stability of a family. When a child’s parents are unable or unwilling to care for them, DSS steps in and the child may live in foster care for a time.
Reunification is the goal for children who are in foster care. If reunification with the birth family is not possible, however, your family may be able to adopt and help them to live a normal life again.
DSS in SC has four regional adoption offices. Foster care adoptions are typically less expensive than adoptions through a private agency, and government subsidies may be available to help with the costs.
International Adoption Agencies
International adoptions can be the most expensive type of adoption and the most complex. There are many considerations, including:
- Finding a Hague-accredited international adoption agency,
- Communicating with the government of the country from which you are adopting,
- International travel to meet the child prior to adoption,
- Potential inaccessibility of the birth parents if you have questions later,
- Preparing documents for international travel and to allow you to bring the child home,
- Obtaining visas and citizenship for the child, and
- Complying with international home study requirements.
Home Studies for Adoptions
All adoptions that are completed through adoption agencies or direct placement will require a favorable home study through a licensed home study provider which may include:
- Background checks,
- Home inspections,
- Interviews with a social worker, and
- Providing detailed information on your health and finances.
Open v. Closed Adoptions
Closed adoptions involve situations where the adoptive parents are not permitted to contact the birth parent, the child may never know who their birth parents were, and the adoption file is sealed by the court.
Closed adoptions are not as common as they once were, although they are still common in international adoptions. In some cases, the adoptive parents may be able to access information about the birth mother for purposes of obtaining health information, while in other cases there is no contact or information available.
Open adoptions are more common in domestic adoptions. This is where the adoptive parents (and possibly the child) know who the birth mother is and may even stay in contact with one another. Adoption agencies may offer different levels of “openness” depending on the needs and wishes of the birth mother and adoptive parents.
Types of Adoptions: Relative Adoptions
Relative adoptions may be less costly and complex than adoptions through an agency, depending on the circumstances.
There are many different reasons for relative adoptions – a parent may have died, a parent may be unable to care for the child, or a relative who has been raising and caring for a child may want to give them the stability and financial security of adoption.
In other cases, a stepparent may want to adopt their spouse’s child from a previous marriage – a situation which may have additional considerations.
If the birth parents are alive, the parent’s parental rights must be terminated before a relative can adopt the child. In many cases, this is done by consent. If the birth parent does not consent, however, we will need to help you to serve the parent with notice of the proceedings and ask the Court to terminate their parental rights.
What are the benefits of adoption by a relative?
- No home study is required unless the Court orders one;
- There is no requirement for accounting and financial disclosures such as would be necessary when adopting through an agency;
- The adoption process may be faster than it would have been if you had adopted a non-relative; and
- There is already a preexisting relationship between the adoptive parent and the child.
No matter which type of adoption you are considering, there will be legal issues that you will need help navigating to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Your SC adoption attorney at Axelrod and Associates will help you at every step of the process from your initial decision to the final hearing in the family court.