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South Carolina Adoption Laws

Adoptions make up some of the happiest moments in a family. However, there are several legal obstacles that can make the process complicated. The adoption process, including rules for who may adopt, is governed by state laws. Read on to learn more about South Carolina adoption law including who may be adopted, who may adopt them, and other important statutory requirements for adopting a child in the state of South Carolina.

South Carolina Adoption

The table below outlines the main South Carolina adoption laws.

Code Section

South Carolina Code Title 63: Children's Code, Chapter 9: Adoptions

Who May Be Adopted

Any child in the state at the time the adoption petition is filed (wherever they may have been born or resided) and any adult can be adopted.

Who May Adopt

Any South Carolina resident may petition the family court to adopt a child. Non-residents may apply in exceptional circumstances, including:
  • The child is a relative by blood or marriage
  • The child has special needs (sibling groups, mixed racial heritage, six years old or older, or children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities)
  • One or both adopted parents are in the military stationed in South Carolina
  • There are unusual or exceptional circumstances such that the best interest of the child would be served by placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State
  • The child has been in foster care for at least six months after being legally adoptable
  • All persons required to give consent to the adoption have specifically consented to the adoption by the non-resident
  • The department or any agency under contract with the department has placed the child with the nonresident for purposes of adoption

Age that Child's Consent Needed

A child 14 years and older must consent to the adoption unless the child doesn't have the mental capacity to give consent.

Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption

The adoptee must live with the petitioner for at least 90 days before the final hearing on the adoption.

State Agency

The South Carolina Department of Social Services is the state agency responsible for providing adoption services to parents considering relinquishing their children for adoption, persons who want to adopt, and adoptees, adopted families, or birth parents interested in reunion registry to find biological relatives.


The courts in South Carolina with that hear adoption cases are the local family courts.

Statute of Limitations to Challenge

After an adoption decree is entered no party to the adoption or other person may question its validity due to irregularity, jurisdiction, or other reasons. However, relief may be granted after the adoption decree in the case of extrinsic fraud that induces a person not to present a case or deprives a person of the opportunity to be heard.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Related Resources

Get Legal Help With an Adoption

Adoption can be a complicated process. There are many state and federal laws that govern adoption. An attorney will help you navigate these laws. They will review your case, provide helpful legal advice, and advocate for you and your future child.

If you would like legal assistance with an adoption case, you can find an experienced South Carolina adoption attorney in your area to schedule a consultation.

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