Adoption finalization is the last legal step in the South Carolina adoption process. Once finalization is complete, your child is a legal and permanent part of your family.
After your child is placed with you and before the final decree of adoption is issued through adoption finalization in South Carolina, the following steps will need to take place:
A child’s biological parents will need to terminate their parental rights in accordance with South Carolina adoption consent laws. This consent can be given at any point after the child is born in the presence of two witnesses, one of which should be the birth parent’s attorney (American Adoptions provides birth and adoptive parents with separate legal counsel for this reason). At the adoption finalization hearing, the parental rights will be granted to the adoptive parents.
When applicable in an adoption, adoptive parents must abide by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and/or the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) before they may return to their home state with their child.
A South Carolina-licensed adoption home study provider must meet with the adoptive family to complete all post-placement requirements before finalization may occur.
Once you’ve completed the above steps, your adoption attorney will contact you to tell you when your South Carolina adoption finalization hearing has been scheduled. This hearing usually occurs several months following placement and will take place at your local family court, which has jurisdiction over adoptions in South Carolina.
The adoption finalization hearing is fairly straightforward and brief, lasting only about twenty minutes to an hour. The judge will issue the final decree of adoption, which legally ends the South Carolina adoption process.
At your South Carolina adoption finalization hearing, you can expect the following:
You and your adoption attorney will be sworn in before the judge and the court.
The judge will likely ask you a series of questions, including why you wanted to adopt and your capability to give your child a safe and stable home.
The judge may ask your social worker or adoption attorney some additional questions about the adoption, and then they’ll sign the final decree of adoption.
A final decree of adoption signifies the last step of your child’s adoption in South Carolina.
With the South Carolina adoption finalization completed, you’re now able to file for your child’s amended birth certificate as well as their social security card.
Adoption doesn’t really end with finalization — it’s an ongoing journey that lasts a lifetime for everyone involved. For adoptive parents, birth parents and especially for adoptees, keeping an open dialogue about adoption is an important way to continue to grow and explore your history as a family.
If you ever have questions, need help communicating with your child’s birth family, need educational resources, support, or anything else, you can always contact American Adoptions for help in the future.
Call 1-800-ADOPTION now to learn more about how to finalize an adoption in South Carolina.
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