Original Birth Certificates. South Carolina is a Restricted State. State law seals the original birth certificate and makes it unavailable to anyone, including the adulted adopted person, except by court order. While current law may allow an adopted person at age 18 to request and obtain the original birth certificate, it applies only to adoptions finalized after July 1, 2019, and also requires consent of birthparents to release the record.
Pending Discriminatory Law. South Carolina enacted two laws in 2019 and 2022. Together, they make the release of the original birth record dependent on consent of any listed birthparents. The 2019 law applies only to adoptions finalized after July 1, 2019. The 2022 law is not effective until May 16, 2023, though it will apply to all adoptions no matter the date of finalization. It will still require birthparent permission to release the record but it will require redaction of birthparent names if two birthparents are listed on the birth record but only one gives permission to release the record. The record will be released unredacted if all birthparents listed on the birth record are deceased.
Court Records. Court records in adoptions are sealed and may only be released by court order. No person may obtain the court records in an adoption without establishing good cause for the court order.
Identifying Information. For adoptions finalized through the state’s public adoption agency, identifying information may be released through a state-administered adoption reunion registry if 1) the adoptee is 21 years of age; 2) all parties consent in writing; and 3) the parties “undergo counseling by the adoption agency concerning the effects of the disclosure.” South Carolina law in 2017 expanded the list of people who may obtain or request identifying information from the state’s public agency to include birth grandparents and birth siblings. The adoption reunion registry service is not available for people whose placements and adoptions involved a private child-placing agency.
Descendant Rights. Descendants of South Carolina-born adopted people have no specific rights to obtain the adopted person’s original birth record, or any other records, except by court order. Current and pending law in South Carolina does not change that.
Nuts! Petitioners in South Carolina adoptions may use fictitious names to hide actual names “where necessary to avoid disclosure of identities of parties or persons.”
Adult Adoption. South Carolina law provides for the adoption of adults. Consent of the adult adoptee is required, as is the spouse of the proposed adoptive parent if the adopting parent is considered the “sole” adoptive parent.
South Carolina Law: Vital Records and Birth Certificates
Relevant parts of South Carolina vital records law. The entire South Carolina vital records statute is available here.
Section 44-63-140. Supplementary or amended birth certificates for adopted children or adults
Upon receipt of a certified Certificate of Adoption pursuant to Section 63-9-790:
(1)(a) For a person born in this State, the state registrar shall prepare a supplementary Certificate of Birth in the name of the adoptee, free of any reference to or indication of the fact that the child was adopted and showing the adoptive parents as the parents, except that an adoption of an adult must display the words ‘By Adoption’ on the face of the amended certificate.
(b) Note: this paragraph is effective until May 16, 2023, and applies only to adoptions finalized after July 1, 2019. The original birth certificate and the evidence of adoption are not subject to inspection, except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction. However, a person eighteen years of age or older who was born in the State of South Carolina and who has had his original certificate of birth sealed due to an adoption may, upon written request to the state registrar, receive a copy of his original birth certificate and any evidence of the adoption held with the original record if the biological parent has completed a form consenting to the release of the original birth certificate. The form also must allow for the biological parent to indicate contact preference and to consent to release of medical history pursuant to item (1)(c). The copy of the original birth certificate must be in a form that clearly indicates it is not a certified copy and that it may not be used for legal purposes. All procedures, fees, and waiting periods applicable to nonadopted citizens born in the State of South Carolina seeking copies of certificates of birth apply.
New Law Effective May 16, 2023
The following provisions become effective on May 16, 2023 and apply to all adoptions, no matter the date of finalization. The provisions replace paragraph (b) above.
(b)(i) The original birth certificate and the evidence of adoption are not subject to inspection, except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction or as provided in this subitem.
(ii) A person eighteen years of age or older who was born in the State of South Carolina and who has had his original certificate of birth sealed due to an adoption may, upon written request to the state registrar, receive a copy of his original birth certificate and any evidence of the adoption held with the original record, regardless of the date on which the adoption was finalized, if:
(A) a biological parent has completed a form consenting to the release of the original birth certificate or has provided notarized written consent to the release of the original birth certificate; or
(B) the adoptee brings to the department a certification from the department or an office of vital records in another jurisdiction certifying that a biological parent is deceased.
This provision allows adoptees who have reached the age of eighteen to access a copy of their original birth certificate and accompanying evidence of adoption with the consent of a biological parent, or if a biological parent is deceased, and applies retroactively, regardless of the date on which the adoption was finalized.
(iii) The form referenced in subitem (b)(ii) also must allow for a biological parent to indicate contact preference and to consent to release of medical history pursuant to item (1)(c). The copy of the original birth certificate must be in a form that clearly indicates it is not a certified copy and that it may not be used for legal purposes. All procedures, fees, and waiting periods applicable to nonadopted citizens born in the State of South Carolina seeking copies of certificates of birth apply.
(iv) Whenever an adoptee who has reached the age of eighteen applies for a copy of his original birth certificate and accompanying evidence of adoption, the department shall redact from the copy all information as to any biological parent that has not given consent in accordance with this section, unless certified as deceased.
(c) The department shall develop a contact preference form and a medical history form to provide to a biological parent upon request to be completed at his option. Upon completion, a contact preference form and a medical history form must be filed with the state registrar and accompany an original sealed birth certificate issued to an adoptee pursuant to subitem (b).
(d) The contact preference form must allow the biological parent to indicate whether he has completed or updated a medical history form and must allow the biological parent to choose one of the following contact options and provide contact information as appropriate:
(1) I would like to be contacted.
(2) I would prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary.
(3) I prefer not to be contacted at this time. If I decide later that I would like to be contacted, I will submit an updated contact preference form to the state registrar.
Only department staff authorized to process applications made pursuant to subitem (b) may process contact preference and medical history forms.
(e) The medical history form and contact preference form are confidential communications from the biological parent to the person named on the sealed birth certificate and must be placed in a sealed file upon receipt from the biological parent in the file containing the sealed original birth certificate. The sealed file containing the contact preference form and medical history form must be released to an adoptee requesting the adoptee’s own original birth certificate pursuant to subitem (b). The contact preference form and medical history form are private communications from the biological parent to the adoptee named on the sealed birth certificate, and the state registrar shall retain a copy of the forms upon release to the adoptee.
(2) When adoption is decreed by a family court in this State of a person born in a foreign country who was not a United States citizen at birth and evidence of the date and place of birth submitted to the court and the court order setting forth the date and place of birth are attached to the Certificate of Adoption, the state registrar, when directed by the court order, shall prepare a “Certificate of Foreign Birth”. The certificate, and any issued copy of the certificate, must be labeled “Certificate of Foreign Birth” and must show the actual country of birth. A statement also must be included on the certificate, and any issued copy of the certificate, that it is not evidence of United States citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.
(3) If the person was born in a foreign country and was a United States citizen at the time of birth, the state registrar may not prepare a “Certificate of Foreign Birth” but shall notify the adoptive parents of the procedure for obtaining a revised birth certificate for their child through the United States Department of State.
(4) For a person born in another state in the United States, the state registrar shall transmit the certified Certificate of Adoption to the state registrar in the state of birth.
(5) When adoption is decreed in a foreign country of a person born in that country and the procedures set forth in Section 63-9-910 are followed, upon receipt of the court order with its findings and the certificate of adoption, the state registrar shall prepare a “Certificate of Foreign Birth”. The certificate, and any issued copy of the certificate, must be labeled “Certificate of Foreign Birth” and must state the actual country of birth. A statement also must be included on the certificate, and any issued copy of the certificate, that it is not evidence of United States’ citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.
Section 44-63-80. Certified copies of birth certificates; to whom issued; “South Carolina Family Respect” pamphlet to be included with certified copies
Except as otherwise provided, certified copies of the original birth certificate or any new or amendatory certificate, exclusive of that portion containing confidential information, must be issued only by the state registrar and only to the registrant, if of legal age, his parent or guardian, or other legal representative, and upon request to the Department of Social Services or its designee for the purpose of establishing paternity or establishing, modifying, or enforcing a child support obligation. The registrar shall include a copy of the pamphlet “South Carolina Family Respect”, as provided in Section 20-1-720, when it mails or sends the certified copy of the birth certificate. However, the certified copy of the birth certificate may not disclose the name of the father in any illegitimate birth unless the name of the father is entered on the certificate pursuant to Section 44-63-163 or Section 44-63-165. The short form certificate or birth card may be furnished only to the registrant, his parent or guardian, or other legal representative by the state or county registrar.
When one hundred years have elapsed after the date of birth, these records must be made available in photographic or other suitable format for public viewing.
South Carolina Law: Court Records and Information
Excerpts from South Carolina’s adoption law related to court records and information. The entire South Carolina adoption statute is available here.
Section 63-9-80. Biological parent medical history; disclosure to prospective adoptive parent and adoptee
(A) Prior to and at the time the department places a child with a prospective adoptive parent for purposes of adoption, the department shall disclose to the prospective adoptive parent all information known by the person making the placement or reasonably accessible to the person making the placement that is necessary to provide adequate care and supervision for the child and to protect the health and safety of the child and the prospective adoptive parent’s family. The information that must be disclosed to the prospective adoptive parent pursuant to this section includes, but is not limited to, medical and mental health conditions and history of the child, the nature of abuse or neglect to which the child has been subjected, behavioral strengths and challenges, and matters related to the child’s educational needs. If the department does not have this information at the time of making the placement, a member of the child’s casework team or the child’s caseworker shall contact the prospective adoptive parent and provide the information known to the casework team or reasonably accessible during the first working day following the placement. The child’s caseworker shall research the child’s record and shall supplement the information provided to the prospective adoptive parent no later than the end of the first week of placement if additional information is found. When the child’s caseworker acquires new information which is likely to affect either the ability of the prospective adoptive parent to provide adequate care and supervision for the child or is likely to place the health and safety of the child or the prospective adoptive parent’s family at risk, the department shall disclose that information to the prospective adoptive parent. The obligation to provide this information continues until the adoption is finalized.
(B)(1) In addition to the information disclosed to the prospective adoptive parent in subsection (A), a medical history of the adoptee’s biological parents also shall be disclosed if the biological parents elected to provide that information as provided in item (2).
(2) At the time that consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is given by a person required to do so pursuant to Section 63-9-310(A)(2)-(5), the person giving consent or relinquishment may provide a medical history of the adoptee’s biological parents. The medical history must be in a form that does not disclose any personally identifiable information of the biological parents.
(3) If a medical history is disclosed pursuant to item (1), then the medical history may be disclosed to the adoptee upon reaching the age of majority or under circumstances prior to the adoptee reaching the age of majority for good cause shown.
Section 63-9-780. Confidentiality of hearings and records
(A) Unless the court otherwise orders, all hearings held in proceedings under this article and Article 7 are confidential and must be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than those persons involved in the proceedings and their counsel.
(B) All papers and records pertaining to the adoption and filed with the clerk of court are confidential from the time of filing and upon entry of the final adoption decree must be sealed and kept as a permanent record of the court and withheld from inspection. No person may have access to the records except for good cause shown by order of the judge of the court in which the decree of adoption was entered.
(C) All files and records pertaining to the adoption proceedings in the State Department of Social Services, or in any authorized agency, or maintained by any person certified by the department under the provisions of Section 63-9-360, are confidential and must be withheld from inspection except upon court order for good cause shown.
(D) The provisions of this section must not be construed to prevent any adoption agency from furnishing to adoptive parents, biological parents, biological grandparents, biological siblings, or adoptees nonidentifying information when in the sole discretion of the chief executive officer of the agency the information would serve the best interests of the persons concerned either during the period of placement or at a subsequent time nor must the provisions of this article and Article 7 be construed to prevent giving nonidentifying information to any other person, party, or agency who in the discretion of the chief executive officer of the agency has established a sufficient reason justifying the release of that nonidentifying information. As used in this subsection ‘nonidentifying information’ includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) the health and medical histories of the biological parents, biological grandparents, or biological siblings;
(2) the health and medical history of the adoptee;
(3) the adoptee’s general family background without name references or geographical designations; and
(4) the length of time the adoptee has been in the care and custody of the adoptive parent.
(E)(1) The public adoption agency responsible for the placement shall furnish to an adoptee the identity of the adoptee’s biological parents, biological grandparents, and biological siblings and to the biological parents, biological grandparents, and biological siblings the identity of the adoptee under the following conditions:
(a) for an adoptee applying for identifying information about a biological parent or biological grandparent:
(i) the adoptee must be twenty-one years of age or older, and must apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information; and
(ii) the adoption agency must have a current file containing affidavits from the adoptee and the biological parent or biological grandparent, as applicable, agreeing to the disclosure of their identity to each other. The affidavit also must include a statement releasing the agency from any liability due to the disclosure. It is the responsibility of the person furnishing the affidavit to advise the agency of a change in his status, name, and address;
(b) for an adoptee applying for identifying information about a biological sibling:
(i) the adoptee and the biological sibling must be twenty-one years of age or older, and the adoptee must apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information; and
(ii) the adoption agency must have a current file containing affidavits from the adoptee and the biological sibling agreeing to the disclosure of their identity to each other. The affidavit also must include a statement releasing the agency from any liability due to the disclosure. It is the responsibility of the person furnishing the affidavit to advise the agency of a change in his status, name, and address;
(c) for a biological parent or biological grandparent applying for identifying information about an adoptee:
(i) the adoptee must be twenty-one years of age or older, and the biological parent or biological grandparent must apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information; and
(ii) the adoption agency must have a current file containing affidavits from the adoptee and the biological parent or biological grandparent, as applicable, agreeing to the disclosure of their identity to each other. The affidavit also must include a statement releasing the agency from any liability due to the disclosure. It is the responsibility of the person furnishing the affidavit to advise the agency of a change in his status, name, and address; and
(d) for a biological sibling applying for identifying information about an adoptee:
(i) the biological sibling and adoptee must be twenty-one years of age or older, and the biological sibling must apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information; and
(ii) the adoption agency must have a current file containing affidavits from the adoptee and the biological sibling, agreeing to the disclosure of their identity to each other. The affidavit also must include a statement releasing the agency from any liability due to the disclosure. It is the responsibility of the person furnishing the affidavit to advise the agency of a change in his status, name, and address.
(2) The adoption agency shall establish and maintain a confidential register containing the names and addresses of the adoptees and the biological parents, biological grandparents, and biological siblings who have filed affidavits. It is the responsibility of a person whose name and address are in the register to provide the agency with his current name and address. The adoption agency shall release the identifying information requested pursuant to this subsection of only those adoptees, biological parents, biological grandparents, and biological siblings who have provided an affidavit pursuant to item (1).
(3) The adoptee and the biological parent, biological grandparent, or biological sibling, as applicable, shall undergo counseling by the adoption agency concerning the effects of the disclosure. The adoption agency may charge a fee for the services, but services must not be denied because of inability to pay.
(4) No disclosure may be made within thirty days after compliance with these conditions. The director of the adoption agency may waive the thirty-day period in extreme circumstances.
(5) The adoption agency may delay disclosure for twenty days from the expiration of the thirty-day period to allow time to apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin the disclosure for good cause shown.
(F)(1) It is unlawful for a person having custody of or access to the papers, records, or files described in subsection (B) or (C) to disseminate or permit dissemination of information contained in them except as otherwise authorized in this section.
(2) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
Section 63-9-790. Amended birth certificates
(A) For each adoption handled through a child placing agency as defined in Section 63-9-30, the attorney for the petitioner shall, within fifteen days of the filing of the final decree, transmit to the appropriate agency a certified copy of the adoption decree and a Certificate of Adoption with Part II completed and verified by the adoptive parent and Part III certified by the clerk of court. The agency shall complete Part I of the Certificate of Adoption and transmit the form to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics within thirty days of the filing of the final decree.
(B) For other adoptions, the attorney for the petitioner shall complete Parts I and II of the Certificate of Adoption form provided by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics and file with the clerk of court at the time of filing of the final decree. The clerk of court shall certify Part III of the Certificate of Adoption and transmit the form to the State Registrar within thirty days of the filing of the final decree.
(C) In the case of a person who was born in a foreign country and who was not a United States citizen at birth, the court shall require evidence from sources determined to be reliable by the court as to the date and place of birth of the person and shall set forth in the order of the court the date and place of birth as established by the evidence. The court order and evidence submitted to the court must be attached to the Certificate of Adoption and transmitted to the State Registrar.
(D) The Certificate of Adoption form provided by the State Registrar must not be used in conjunction with any legal procedure affecting a birth certificate other than adoption.
(E) The State Registrar, upon receipt of a certified Certificate of Adoption, shall take action as provided by Section 44-63-140 with respect to the issuance and filing of an amended certificate.
Relevant South Carolina Law: Adoption Generally
Excerpts from South Carolina’s adoption law. The entire South Carolina adoption statute is available here.
Section 63-9-50. Children who may be adopted
Any child present within this State at the time the petition for adoption is filed, irrespective of place of birth or place of residence, may be adopted.
Section 63-9-60. Persons who may adopt
(A) Any South Carolina resident may petition the court to adopt a child.
(B)(1) Any nonresident of South Carolina may petition the court to adopt a child in the following circumstances only:
(a) the child is a special needs child, as defined by Section 63-9-30;
(b) the child is to be placed for adoption with a relative related biologically or by marriage;
(c) at least one of the adoptive parents is in the military service stationed in South Carolina;
(d) there are unusual or exceptional circumstances such that the best interests of the child would be served by placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State;
(e) the child has been in foster care for at least six months after having been legally freed for adoption and no South Carolina resident has been identified as a prospective adoptive home;
(f) all persons required to give consent to the adoption pursuant to Section 63-9-310 have specifically consented to the adoption by the nonresident; or
g) the department or any agency under contract with the department has placed the child with the nonresident for purposes of adoption.
(2) A person who files a petition pursuant to subsections (A) and (B) shall not use public notoriety concerning a child or child’s family to support or to evidence his petition to adopt a child.
(3) Before a child is placed within or outside the boundaries of this State for adoption with nonresidents of this State, compliance with Article 11 (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) is required, and a judicial determination must be made in this State that one of the circumstances in subsection (B)(1)(a)-(g) applies, whether or not the adoption proceedings are instituted in this State. Additionally, in order to determine if any of the circumstances in subsection (B)(1)(a)-(g) apply so as to permit placement with a nonresident for the purpose of adoption or adoption by a nonresident, a petition may be brought for the determination before the birth of the child or before placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents. In ruling on this question the court must include in its order specific findings of fact as to the circumstances allowing the placement of a child with a nonresident or the adoption of a child by a nonresident. The court also must analyze the facts against the objective criteria established in Sections 16-3-1060 and 63-9-310(F) and make specific findings in accordance with the pertinent law and evidence presented. The order resulting from this action does not prohibit or waive the right to refuse to consent to a release of rights or relinquish rights at a later time or to withdraw a consent or relinquish at a later time as provided in this article. The order must be merged with and made a part of any subsequent adoption proceeding, which must be initiated and finalized in this State.
(4) Neither the department nor its contractors may delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption by a nonresident if that nonresident has been approved for adoption of the child by another state authorized to approve such placements pursuant to the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children. The department shall provide an opportunity for a hearing, in accordance with the department’s fair hearing procedures, to a nonresident who believes that the department, in violation of this section, has delayed or denied placement of a child for adoption.
(C) A petition for adoption of a child may be filed pursuant to this section regardless of which individual or entity has custody of the child. When the department has custody of a child, the rights granted herein to South Carolina residents and nonresidents shall not be diminished, invalidated or negatively affected in any way.
Section 63-9-710. Petition for adoption; use of fictitious names
(A) A petition for adoption shall specify:
(1) the full name, age, address, and place of residence of each petitioner, and, if married, the place and date of the marriage;
(2) when the petitioner acquired, or intends to acquire, custody or placement of the child and from what person or agency;
(3) the date and place of birth of the child, if known;
(4) the name used for the child in the proceeding, and if a change in name is desired, the new name;
(5) that it is the desire of the petitioner to establish the relationship of parent and child between the petitioner and the child, and that the petitioner is a fit and proper person and able to care for the child and to provide for the child’s welfare;
(6) a full description and statement of value of all real property and of any personal property of value owned or possessed by the child;
(7) facts, if any, which excuse consent on the part of a parent to the adoption or which excuse notice of the adoption proceedings to a parent;
(8) facts, if any, which may permit placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State, pursuant to Section 63-9-60;
(9) the existence and nature of any prior court orders known to the petitioner which affect the custody, support, or visitation of the child;
(10) the relationship, if any, of each petitioner to the child; and
(11) the name and address of the child placing agency or the person facilitating placement of the child for adoption, if any.
(B) The petition must be filed within sixty days of the date the adoptee is placed for the purpose of adoption in the home of the petitioner.
(C) All of the following must be filed at the time the adoption petition is filed or, after the filing, upon good cause shown:
(1) any consent or relinquishment required by Section 63-9-310;
(2) the preplacement investigation report;
(3) the background investigation report;
(4) a statement of all payments of money or anything of value made within the past five years or agreed to be made in the future by or on behalf of the petitioner to any person, agency, or organization connected with the adoption that is not a disbursement made and reported pursuant to Section 63-9-740.
(D) For purposes of this article, the petitioner may employ the use of fictitious names where necessary to avoid disclosure of identities of parties or persons, so long as service of process or notice is considered sufficient by the court.
Section 63-9-720. Appointment of guardian ad litem
Before any hearing is held on the adoption or any matter related to the adoption, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the adoptee as in other family court actions, and the adoptee must be served with a copy of the pleadings. However, if the adoptee is fourteen years of age or younger, the child may be served by service upon his guardian ad litem or other person with whom he resides.
Section 63-9-760. Effect of final decree
(A) After the final decree of adoption is entered, the relationship of parent and child and all the rights, duties, and other legal consequences of the natural relationship of parent and child exist between the adoptee, the adoptive parent, and the kindred of the adoptive parent.
(B) After a final decree of adoption is entered, the biological parents of the adoptee are relieved of all parental responsibilities and have no rights over the adoptee.
(C) Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary in this section, the adoption of a child by an adoptive parent does not in any way change the legal relationship between the child and either biological parent of the child whose parental responsibilities and rights are not expressly affected by the final decree.
(D) The validity of the final decree of adoption is not affected by an agreement entered into before the adoption between adoptive parents and biological parents concerning visitation, exchange of information, or other interaction between the child and any other person. Such an agreement does not preserve any parental rights with the biological parents and does not give to them any rights enforceable in the courts of this State.
Section 63-9-770. Attacks on final orders; appeals
(A) Except as provided in subsection (B), after the final order, judgment, or decree of adoption is entered, no party to an adoption proceeding, and no one claiming under a party, may question the validity of the adoption because of any defect or irregularity, jurisdictional or otherwise, in the proceeding, and a party, and anyone claiming under a party, is fully bound by the order. No adoption may be attacked either directly or collaterally because of any procedural or other defect by anyone who was not a party to the adoption. The failure on the part of the court or an agency to perform duties or acts within the time required by this article does not affect the validity of any adoption proceeding.
(B) A party to an adoption proceeding may appeal a final order, judgment, or decree of adoption in the manner provided for appeals from the court in other family court matters. In addition, this section may not be construed to preclude a court’s inherent authority to grant collateral relief from a judgment on the ground of extrinsic fraud. For purposes of this subsection, “extrinsic fraud” is fraud that induces a person not to present a case or deprives a person of the opportunity to be heard. However, a court is under no obligation to grant a person relief from a judgment based upon extrinsic fraud if the person might have prevented the judgment by the exercise of proper diligence.
Relevant South Carolina Law: Intercountry Adoption
Section 63-9-910. Foreign adoptions
(A) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 63-9-790(A) and (B), in the case of a child born in a foreign country who was not a United States citizen at birth and whose adoption was finalized in a foreign country, the court shall review the documentation as required by this section and, if it finds the documentation to be satisfactory, shall issue an order stating that the documentation required by this section has been submitted and is satisfactory and that the foreign adoption must be recognized and domesticated in South Carolina. The court shall transmit the order and the certificate of adoption to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics without the necessity of a hearing unless the court finds the documentation submitted pursuant to subsection (B) is unsatisfactory and such finding is stated in the order resulting from the hearing.
(B) Documentation required to be submitted to the court includes, but is not limited to:
(1) a verified petition seeking domestication of the foreign adoption;
(2) a post foreign adoption home study completed by a person certified pursuant to Section 63-9-360 which evaluates the adjustment and progress of the child and family since adoption;
(3) naturalization papers, if available;
(4) other documentation as the court may request as stated in materials developed pursuant to subsection (C).
(C) Court administration in consultation with the Department of Health and Environmental Control shall develop petition forms, including documentation required to be filed with the petition, and guidelines for obtaining the domestication of a foreign adoption. These forms and guidelines must be available to the public upon request at all county clerks of court offices and at Department of Health and Environmental Control offices.
(D) The state registrar, upon receipt of the order and certificate of adoption shall take action as provided in Section 44-63-140 with respect to the issuance and filing of an amended certificate of birth.
Section 63-9-920. Effect of foreign decrees of adoption
When the relationship of parent and child has been created by a decree of adoption of a court of any other state or nation, the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State must be determined by Section 63-9-760.
Relevant South Carolina Law: Adult Adoption
Section 63-9-1120. Adult adoption
An adult person may be adopted by another adult person with the consent of the person to be adopted or his guardian and with the consent of the spouse, if any, of a sole adoptive parent, filed in writing with the court. The provisions of Section 62-2-109 and Sections 63-9-30 through 63-9-760, excluding Section 63-9-740, do not apply to the adoption of an adult person. A petition for the adoption must be filed with the family court in the county where the adoptive parents reside. After a hearing on the petition and after those investigations as the court considers advisable, if the court finds that it is in the best interests of the persons involved, a decree of adoption may be entered which has the legal consequences stated in Section 62-2-109.
Emily Mason says
Sept 1 1955 my brother was born in Knoxville Tn. Around 1957 he was put up for adoption. In SC. I would appreciate and help in how to find him.
Gregory D. Luce says
I don’t really help with searches—my focus is on the law related to adoptee rights, such as access to an original birth certificate or other information. In your case, most records will likely be in Tennessee, particularly the original birth certificate. Adoption agency records may also be in South Carolina.
Tennessee is a compromised state, meaning there are some restrictions in obtaining an original birth certificate (most notably the cost and a potential “contact veto”), but most Tennessee adoptees (and potentially their siblings and immediate descendants) are able to request and obtain an original birth certificate. Our summary of Tennessee law is here.
Johnny Blalock for William says
Greg looking for a miracle! My dad was born in Edgefield, SC on 5/5/1915 and most likely an illegitimate birth. He was placed in adoption and I’ve been trying to find his mothers name. Went to following resources vital stats, and the archives unsuccessful. In cutting through the chase should I get legal representation to petition court to obtain a copy of birth certificate or is there a resource you can direct me to? I`m most sure his mom was Caucasian so a mixed birth. Me the fifth son a Vietnam disabled vet hoping for a miracle b/4 I reach Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Any direction you give is appreciated – Thanks, Greg
Gregory D. Luce says
Thanks for the comment. First, I’d say the likelihood of finding the name of the father on the original birth certificate or even in court records would be very slim, especially with an out-of-wedlock birth. Your best bet, honestly, is to complete a DNA test if you have not already and try to work with a search angel who is skilled at interpreting DNA results and building trees. I will email you separately about DNA, as I run a small project that will donate DNA kits to those who may need them.
Linda K Outlaw says
My friend was born in SC in 1949 and placed for adoption at age 6 months. The adoption took place in SC. The mother was 15 when my friend was born, and from information given by the people handling the adoption, she probably did not know who the father was. Through Ancestry DNA testing, I was able to determine who her biological mother was; she died in 2015. The father is still unknown. Is there any way that she can get access to her original birth certificate or have the adoption records opened?
Gregory D. Luce says
It’s unlikely in South Carolina currently without a court order. Even then, it’s my understanding that they may not even give your friend a copy of the original birth certificate—at least one adoptee has reported that, once he got a court order, he was only allowed to go into a room at vital records and “view” the OBC, but not obtain a copy.
John Joseph Thompson - Freeman says
I was born in Iowa in 1946. I am currently 71 years old.
Both of my parents, biological and adoptive are deceased.
I was adopted in Columbia, SC in 1960 by the man who had raised me since a young child.
My parents all passed away as mentioned, but I have no copy of my adoption papers.
Who to I write or call (or email) in SC to obtain a certified copy of same?
Elizabeth Willman says
Try contacting South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control at http://www.scdhec.gov. Go to vital records-adoptions and read and fill out the forms. Hope you get somewhere.
Kim Britt says
My husband was born in South Carolina and adopted within six months of age. His birth certificate was “sealed”, and at the age of 50 both adopted parents are deceased. Would he be able to obtain his original, maternal birth certificate if signing he would not pursue any disclosure regarding his maternal parent?
Gregory D. Luce says
Unlikely. In South Carolina it’s extremely difficult to get the original birth certificate. I’ve heard of only 1-2 people who have, and one was only able to look at it and not touch or copy it.
Erieona West says
My siblings and I were born in Chicago and the youngest was born in Charleston SC. We were adopted in South Carolina and our adopted parents changed our birth middle and last names and our birth certificates. We know our real parents and their names. We are still in contact with my biological mother and my father passed when I was 10. Is there any way we could get our original birth certificates as well as any of those adoption decree information about us? Are any records of our adoption available for us? We are all over 18 now. My youngest sibling is 23.
S. Heather says
How does one even begin to petition the court to get a court order to view an original birth certificate in South Carolina? Specifically, Horry County. Any and all information would be appreciated.
Noel French says
I am 58, and was adopted in Charleston in 1960. My parents have passed, and my birth mom as well. Ive spent a few hundred on 23&me DNA to no avail. Now Im wondering how much it will cost to go through the courts and what my percentage for success is that I will be able to view or receive s copy of obc?
Upload your 23 & Me results to Gedmatch and My Heritage. Also test with Ancestry.
Amy Hooks says
I was adopted age 9 months, I have no information about my biological parents, I was born in 1970, Manning SC, the attorney who handled the adoption is now deceased, where should I start in trying to locate/ unseal original birth certificate
Brenda j Jones says
I am 72 years old and was adopted at age 9 by my half brother in florida. I was born in Beaufort s.c. and lived with my birth dad until his death in 1956. How can I get my original birth certificate from s.c. Or is there a lawyer that I can contact to do this for me.
Kathryn Cross says
Thank you for all you do for Adoptees. I’m representing the man that I love (rather he is the adoptee). His adopted parents are both deceased. I’d love to try to find if his biological parents/siblings want to be found. I’ve subscribed to Adopted.com, purchased DNA kits from 23 & Me & Ancestry but I want to explore all avenues. The following I have in my possession and wondering which direction you can point me in:
Adoptive BC states born in 1972 in Beaufort, SC Naval Hospital.
Petition & Court Order allowing “Baby Adam” (my love) from Aiken County, SC Dept. of Soc. Services to be adopted by his parents,
Receipt of sale for clothing and adoption fee
SC Dept of Public Welfare to place child in home
Name of Delivery Doctor
Witness at Birth
Is it possible that the place of birth is incorrect since it’s not the OBC?
My birth mother passed away in 2003, I was born in Virginia in 1991, but I was adopted in South Carolina, sometime during 1995-1996, where do I need to go to get my adoption records?
Teresa martin says
I need my Adoption papers from Columbia SC
Austin James says
I was born in 2001, put in foster care a few years later. Was adopted in 2012. I’d like to know the names of my birth parents out of curiosity. I never knew the names of my birth parents. And I’d like to know if they’re currently deceased or alive.
cye smith says
my son found me with the angel named angie
I am over 50 years old. Was born in SC to my mom who came from another state to place me for adoption. I was then adopted by parents in SC and raised here. However, both adoptive parents have now died and also both my birth parents. I did get to know both of my birth parents, (located one through Ancestry.com)… so there would now be no conflict for my birth parents with my getting my original birth certificate and supporting documents at this time. However, SC does not allow birth/adoption records to be unsealed. A new law in 2019 allows any adult adoptee to have his/her original birth certificate, but it only applies to adoptions that also took place after the 2019 law was implemented. Therefore, it is useless, apparently, to those adoptees like me who were born many years ago and now live searching for answers, or having found them, still unable to have the right to our own legal documents like other citizens do. It is ridiculous, to say the least, that adult adoptee rights are not equal to everyone else’s.
Correction…. SC does allow adoption records to be ‘unsealed’, but only through court order and those instances, I believe, are quite rare.