“The family court may order the termination of parental rights upon a finding of one or more of the following grounds and a finding that termination is in the best interest of the child:

(2) The child has been removed from the parent pursuant to subarticle 3 or Section 63-7-1660 and has been out of the home for a period of six months following the adoption of a placement plan by court order or by agreement between the department and the parent and the parent has not remedied the conditions which caused the removal.”

Most clients I have had the opportunity to represent tend to take longer than six months to remedy the conditions which caused the removal of the child. Fortunately, if my client is making progress on a treatment plan, the Department of Social Services general gives him or her more time to finish it.

This new list of priorities was established by Order of Supereme Court of South Carolina with Appellate Case No. 2015-001725 signed on 20 January 2016.

In the event an attorney of record is called to appear simultaneously in actions pending in two or more tribunals of this State, the following list shall establish the priority of his obligations to those tribunals:

(1) The Supreme Court.

(2) The Court of Appeals.

(3) The Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Commission on Lawyer Conduct, and the Committee on Character and Fitness.

(4) The Family Court – merits hearings involving child abuse, child neglect, and termination of parental rights; juvenile criminal hearings where the juvenile is in detention or otherwise in state custody.

(5) The Circuit Court – General Sessions.

(6) The Circuit Court – Common Pleas, Jury Term.

(7) The Family Court – all cases not referenced in (4) above.

(8) The Circuit Court – Common Pleas, Non-Jury Term.

(9) The Administrative Law Court.

(10) Alternative Dispute Resolution Conferences conducted pursuant to the SC Court-Annexed ADR Rules.

(11) The Probate Court.

(12) Magistrates and Municipal Courts.

(13) Other Administrative Bodies or Officials.

Even the simplest of adoptions require a person to have the knowledge of the processes and procedures needed to terminate the rights of the parent or parents and then establish the rights of the adoptive parent or parents. Each adoption process has many steps involved. I am often asked whether it is possible to do an adoption without an attorney. I respond that it is. I then tell them that it is also possible for me to run a marathon. Adoptions like marathons require a substantial amount of training to be done to completion and to be done correctly. I will not be running a marathon anytime soon because I am unwilling to put the time in to train to the level necessary to complete the marathon.

A local TV station interviewed me concerning a website that offered forms for step-parent adoptions for $325.00. A woman purchased the forms to facilitate the adoption and was unable to complete the adoption for one reason or another. I stated in the interview that, “Ultimately you’re getting a form, you’re not getting the advice of an attorney and that’s the part people don’t understand.” The advice of an attorney often cost more money than folks are willing to pay. The results of almost all the adoption I have been a part of as an attorney or as a GAL with an attorney representing the adoptive parents has been the approval of the adoption. Which was more costly, the failed adoption or the advice of an attorney? I guess it depends on your perspective.

Interview with WBTW.

Artificial Insemination is mentioned one time in the South Carolina adoption statutes under the Responsible Father Registry statute.  The implication is that a father who consents to artificial insemination continues to have rights to the child and may preserve those rights by filing with the Responsible Father Registry. Section 63-9-820(L) of the South Carolina Code of Laws reads:

An unmarried biological father’s failure to file a claim of paternity with the registry is deemed to be a lack of proper diligence under Section 63-9-770(B). An unmarried biological father’s lack of knowledge of the biological mother’s pregnancy does not excuse an unmarried biological father’s failure to file a claim of paternity pursuant to this chapter. An unmarried biological father’s sexual intercourse or his consent to artificial insemination with the biological mother is deemed to be notice to the unmarried biological father of the biological mother’s pregnancy.

The parent/parents that use artificial insemination with the sperm of a third party to expanded their family will need to terminate the parental rights of the biological father to ensure that his rights to the child are severed.

The service of the petition for termination of the parental rights must be served on a child if the child is fourteen years of age or older; and it must be served on the child’s guardian if the child is under the age of fourteen.

The direct service on the child that is fourteen years of age or older seems to correlate with the requirement that a child that is fourteen years of age or older is required to consent to his or her adoption.

“Withdrawal of any consent and relinquishment is not permitted except by order of the court after notice and opportunity to be heard is given to all persons concerned, and except when the court finds that the withdrawal is in the best interest of the child and that the consent or relinquishment was not given voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion. Any person attempting to withdraw consent or relinquishment shall file the reasons for withdrawal with the family court. The entry of the final decree of adoption renders any consent or relinquishment irrevocable.” Section 63-9-350 of South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended

The long and short of signing a consent and relinquishment is that once signed, withdrawing it is very difficult. The burden is on the person withdrawing the consent to show the court that the withdrawal is in the best interest of the child and that it was not given voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion. To help you understand the legal definition of duress, please review this blog post and this case.

I place this checklist in all my adoption files.

This Adoption is:

Step-parent adoption or adoption related by blood or marriage

Non-relative adoption


The following documents have been filed with the Clerk of Court:



Order appointing GAL

Proper service of Order appointing GAL on the GAL

Answer of GAL


Proof of service of Summons and Complaint on:

Biological parents (if no consent/relinquishment or TPR)

Child to be adopted (if 14 years or older)

GAL or child (if 13 years or younger)


Proof of Service by Publication (if served by Publication)

Notice to named biological father

Responsible Father Registry Search Results

Mother’s Consent Relinquishment (if given)

Father’s Consent Relinquishment (if given)

Consent of Child if age 14 or older

Pre-placement Investigation signed within one year of date of placement (not required if step-parent adoption or related by blood or marriage)

Post-Placement Investigation (not required if step-parent adoption or related by blood or marriage)

Medical & Social History (not required if step-parent adoption or related by blood or marriage)

Itemized Accounting (not required if step-parent adoption or related by blood or marriage)

Adoption Placement Certificate (if DSS placement)

Answer of DSS (if DSS placement)

Service of Summons and Complaint on DSS (if DSS placement)

Notice of Hearing to DSS (if DSS placement)

Interstate Compact Approval (if child is placed out of state or placed in S.C. from another state)

Order of Exceptional Circumstances (if child is placed in another State from S.C.)


Section 63-7-40 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amend, provides distressed young women and men an opportunity to surrender a new born child without being prosecuted for abandoning the child.

The above section provides that a person who leaves an infant at a  safe haven or directs another person to do so must not be prosecuted for any criminal offense on account of such action if:

(1) the person is a parent of the infant or is acting at the direction of a parent;

(2) the person leaves the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or an employee of the safe haven; and

(3) the infant is not more than thirty days old or the infant is reasonably determined by the hospital or hospital outpatient facility to be not more than thirty days old.
Safe haven as defined by statute means a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, a law enforcement agency, a fire station, an emergency medical services station, or any staffed house of worship during hours when the facility is staffed.
Please note that you must leave the child with a staff member or an employee of the safe haven and no one else. Please also note that this law protects you from prosecution for leaving the child as outlined above; it does not protect your from any other abuse or neglect that may have occurred to the child prior to you surrendering the child.

Surrendering your child is conclusive evidence that the legal requirements for terminating your parental rights have been satisfied, and you essentially lose all your parental rights. This only applies to the person who left the child at the safe haven or the person who instructed someone else to do so for her.

South Carolina Department of Social Services provides a brochure concerning Daniel’s Law at https://dss.sc.gov/content/library/forms/files/2493.pdf. This brochure provides another explanation of Daniel’s Law.

Remember you are protected if you follow the law when surrendering your child; if you do not follow the law then you forgo your statutory protection.


In South Carolina, all adoptions of minors require a guardian ad litem to be appointed to represent the interest of the minor. In Horry County, the guardian ad litem is an Attorney.

The purpose of the guardian ad litem is to perform an investigation to determine if the adoption is in the best interest of the child.

In all the adoptions I have been been a part of to date, the guardian ad litem has found that the adoption is in the child’s best interest. To help this occur, I review the facts of the case and the applicable law thoroughly to look for any possible shortcomings in the case. After I review the fact and law, I ask myself one simple question. “Is this adoption in the child’s best interest?” If I can answer “yes,” I will move forward with the case. If I cannot, I won’t take the case.

A parent’s rights may be terminated if the parent abandons the child. Abandonment of a child is when a parent wilfully deserts a child or wilfully surrenders physical possession of a child without making adequate arrangements for the child’s needs or the continuing care of the child.

Section 63-7-20(1) of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended, defines “Abandonment of Child.”

Section 63-7-2570(7) of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended  (Termination of Parent: Abandonment).