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).

 

A Consent and Relinquishment is invalid if the attorney-witness fails to be present when the birth mother (or father) signed the document and both witnesses failed to observe the statutorily-required discussion of the provisions of the Consent and Relinquishment.

Practice Point: Make sure both witnesses are in the room with the birth mother or father when the provisions of the Consent and Relinquishment are being discussed and when the Consent and Relinquishment is being executed.

Case Law

Almost any time that you have a multistate adoption, you trigger the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. One way to determine if ICPC is triggered is to determine if the Sending Agency sent, brought, or caused to be sent or brought any child to another party state for the purposes of adoption.

Sending Agency means a party state, officer or employee thereof, a subdivision of a party state, or officer or employee thereof, a court of a party state, a person, corporation, association, charitable agency or other entity which sends, brings, or causes to be sent or brought any child to another state.

Unfortunately, even a birth mother is deemed a Sending Agency if she places the child with adoptive parents in another state; thus, triggering the ICPC process.

The South Carolina ICPC statutes are Sections 63-9-2200 thru 63-9-2290 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended.

The definition of Sending Agency is found in Section 63-9-2200(1)(b).

Below is a checklist required for Horry and Georgetown Counties. I use this checklist with all my adoption files. The checklist is simple to use and covers most requirements of the court. One suggestion before attempting an adoption in a county you are not familiar with is to contact the administrative judge’s office for local rules and contact an attorney that practices in the county you are seeking to file an adoption action in.
ADOPTION CHECKLIST

Plaintiffs vs. Defendants

20____-DR-____-_____

ADOPTION CHECKLIST

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:
_______Summons
_______Complaint
_______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.)

Date:________________

________________________________________
Attorney for Plaintiffs

In Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the United States Supreme Court, in essence, says that an absentee Indian cannot rely on ICWA to challenge an adoption. The Court said that the heightened standard outlined in ICWA does not apply to a parent that has not either had physical or legal custody of the child. The essence of the ICWA is to preserve the bonds within the Indian community, and in this case the child was never in the custody of the Indian father. 

PRESS RELEASE
Indian Child Welfare Act Panel to be Held at University of South Carolina School of Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2013
MEDIA CONTACTS:
Victoria Middleton
Executive Director,
ACLU of SC
843-720-1424
aclu_sc@aclusouthcarolina.org
 

Dr. Marcia Zug
Professor, University of
South Carolina School of
Law
803-777-3615
zug@law.sc.edu
 

Chief Bill Harris
Catawba Indian Nation
(803) 366-4792
bill.harris@catawbaindian.net
 

Nicole Adams
National Indian Child
Welfare Association
O (503) 222-4044 ext. 133
C (503)754-0466
nicole@nicwa.org
 

Columbia, SC—The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs is hosting a town-hall style
educational panel discussion on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) at the University of South Carolina-School of Law’s Auditorium on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 from 10:00am until 12:30pm. Media are invited to attend starting at 10:00am. The event is free and open to the public.
Panelists will give testimonies regarding their personal experiences with the Act, explaining the need for the Act and its significance to Native American Indian people. Panelists include: Dr. Marcia Zug-USC Law School, Chief Bill Harris-Catawba Indian Nation, Ms. Susan Dunn-ACLU-SC, Ms. Linda Love-Catawba Indian Nation, Ms. Jacqueline Davis-Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and others.
ICWA was enacted in 1978 by Congress in direct response to state adoption policies that were draining Indian tribes of their future citizens. The Act gives states guidance regarding adoption and custody issues of Federally Recognized Native American Indians allowing for Tribal and family intervention to keep children within their culture and communities when possible.
 

The Supreme Court will hear the case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl on April 16, 2013 which involves a South Carolina couple seeking review of a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in an attempt to force Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, to give his daughter Veronica up for adoption. Mr. Brown, who is now raising Veronica at their home in Oklahoma, has prevailed in every court that has considered this matter, including the South Carolina Family Court and the South Carolina Supreme Court.
 

The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs-Native American Affairs Initiative serves as the State’s official Native American Affairs agency working with Native American Indians to address issues of poverty and socio-economic deprivation through collaboration with government and private partners.

For more information about the event, please contact:
Marcy L. Hayden, Native American Affairs Coordinator, SC Commission for Minority Affairs
(803) 832-8169 or (803) 402-2336
mhayden@cfma.sc.gov