Adoptions are a wonderful way to start or expand a family. Each adoption is unique and exciting. Below is a short description of several categories or types of adoptions. Some adoptions fit neatly into one category or another while others are a hybrid. Your particular circumstances don’t have to fit into any particular category for us to be able to help.
In an “identified adoption” the adoptive family and the birth parents have identified each other and have agreed between themselves for the birth parents to relinquish their parental rights in favor of the adoptive family who will then become the legal parents of the child. These are uncontested adoptions where everyone involved in the child’s life or who has a legal claim to the child agrees that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. Identified adoptions can happen at any age but most often take place within the first six months to a year of the child’s life. Often the birth mother and the adoptive parents will have agreed to the adoption while the birth mother is still pregnant and then the child begins its life with the adoptive parents immediately after birth. Another type of uncontested adoption is where a child who is in the custody of DSS has become free for adoption. Once the child is free for adoption, DSS then identifies the family that they want to adopt the child. Once DSS and the adoptive parents agree to the adoption of the child, an uncontested adoption case is brought asking the Court to approve the adoption as agreed to by DSS and the adoptive parents.
Step-parent Adoptions and Relative Adoptions
Another frequent type of adoption case is a step-parent or relative adoption. In these cases someone who already has a relationship with the child is agreeing to adopt the child and be their legal parent from that time forward. In the case of a step-parent adoption, one parent is already the biological parent of the child and the purpose of the adoption is to replace the child’s other biological parent with the new spouse. In a relative adoption, a relative of the child, whether it be a grandparent, aunt and uncle or some other blood relative, wishes to adopt the child and raise them. For a relative adoption, it is necessary to replace one or both of the child’s biological parents with a relative or relatives. Step-parent and relative adoptions can either be contested or uncontested depending upon the position that the biological parents take. If these types of adoptions are uncontested, we work with all the parties involved to make sure that all the necessary documents are executed to relinquish the biological parents’ rights so that the relative or step-parent can then adopt. If they are contested, then we will help the adopting parent or parents attempt to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents and go forward with the adoption, even if the biological parent does not agree.
Contested adoptions are ones where the biological parents oppose or at least do not agree with allowing somebody else to adopt their biological child. Contested adoptions come in many different forms. The adoptive parents may be complete strangers to the biological parents, such as in the case of foster parents wishing to adopt the foster children who have been placed in their care by DSS. They may be known to the biological parents, such as in cases of relative adoptions or step-parent adoptions. The circumstances behind each of the contested adoptions tend to be different. Sometimes these are situations where the child came into the care of the hopeful adoptive parents when DSS placed them in their home as foster parents, or they may be relatives who obtained custody of the child voluntarily from the parents, or involuntarily through a private custody action in Family Court. Regardless of how the child came to be with the adoptive family, or the relationship between the adoptive parents and the birth parents, our first step is to help the adoptive family attempt to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents and the secondly, to convince a Family Court Judge that it is in the best interests of the child for the adoptive parents to become the legal and permanent parents of the child.
In cases where a child is born in one state and is being placed for adoption in another state, the transfer of the child over state lines must be approved in advance. Each state has a set of laws known as the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children which is administered by an office in their state that deals with nothing but the placement of children across state lines. There is a specific set of forms and procedures necessary to gain the approval for a child to move from one state to another in connection with an adoption. When a child that is born in the State of South Carolina will be placed with a family in another state for adoption, we have to complete 2 distinct but essential stages in South Carolina. First we have to obtain permission for the child to leave South Carolina. Second, we have to complete the adoption in South Carolina.
Call us at (864)990-3061 or use the contact form at the right of this page to schedule an appointment with Mr. Collins to talk about your situation.