The Requirements for Adopting a Child in South Carolina

There are almost 438,000 children currently in the U.S. foster care system. Deciding to adopt is a big deal, but the fact that you are considering taking one kid from that number and placing them in a loving home is fantastic.

The adoption process, on the other hand, can frequently be frustrating and discouraging. While the South Carolinian requirements for adopting a child are in place for a reason, they can be complicated to navigate on your own

So, what do you need to adopt a child, exactly? We can help. Read on for all the answers to your burning adoption questions! 

Basic Requirements for Adopting a Child in South Carolina

You must be a South Carolina citizen to adopt in most cases, but there are a few cases in which nonresidents can adopt. For instance, nonresidents can adopt in SC if:

  • They are relatives of the child
  • The child is legally up for adoption, no resident has been found as an adoptive parent, and they’ve been under foster care for six months 
  • One parent is a military member stationed in South Carolina 
  • The child has special needs 
  • Extenuating circumstances determine that placing the child out of state is the best option for the child  

You are also required to complete at least two interviews with all members of the household, in addition to separate, individual interviews. The home study is one of the most critical parts of the adoption process, as the home is one of the best indicators of the right fit for a child.

An agency will evaluate your home’s location and your financial situation. They will make sure all members of the household undergo physical examinations and call any arrest or conviction records into question. They’ll assess the parents’ mental health, as well, along with their motivation to adopt.

Do You Have to Be Married to Adopt?

South Carolina law says that you do not need to be married to adopt. If you are married, though, both of you are legally required to consent to the adoption.

Keep in mind, though, that some adoption agencies have individual requirements. Some will require marriage to adopt. Some will even require you to be married for a certain number of years before you’re eligible. 

Same-sex couples are legally allowed to adopt in South Carolina, too!

Can I Adopt a Child from Another State?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that the process is a lot more complicated that in-state adoption. 

Each state has their own adoption laws. When you adopt a child from another state, the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children, or ICPC, becomes involved.

The ICPC is responsible for upholding standards of a suitable home that is a good fit for the child when the line is not clear on which state is responsible for doing so.

Do You Have to Pay to Adopt a Child?

Adopting a child can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $40,000, depending on the circumstance. 

Adopting a relative tends to be the least expensive adoption process, while international adoption can cost up to $40,000 in foreign adoption agency fees. If you adopt a child in foster care, there is no fee. Do not forget that legal fees will still amount to around $3,000 though.

The cost of your adoption will also depend on how long the process takes. If your situation is complex, legal proceedings may take longer, therefore racking up the legal fees. 

Your New Family 

There are indeed a ton of requirements for adopting a child, but with the right lawyer’s help, you can be on your way to welcoming your new child into your family in no time.

At Indigo Family Law, we have intimate experience with the South Carolina adoption process. We have gone through it ourselves. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help demystify the process for you! 

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How Long Does Adoption Take in South Carolina?

How long does adoption take in South Carolina?  The answer to this question usually depends on the type of adoption you are seeking.

The three main types of adoptions are domestic infant adoptions, international infant adoptions, and foster care adoptions.

Read on as we examine these three adoptions. We’ll look at the steps involved and the timeframe for each style of adoption.

Domestic Infant Adoption

If you want to adopt a domestic infant in South Carolina, your wait time will largely depend on how long it takes for a birth mother to choose you.

The first step, though, is complete a background screening and home education program. This process usually takes two to three months.

You will then be ready to be matched with a birth mother. Placement of the infant will depend on how far along the birth mother is in her pregnancy.

Once the baby is placed with you, you will wait for the adoption to become finalized in court. This process usually takes about six months from the date of placement.

Domestic infant adoption takes about a year to complete. Sometimes the process can take a little longer if you were matched with a mother early in her pregnancy.

International Infant Adoption

The timeline to adopt an infant child internationally will depend on the country of the child you choose to adopt.

The first step is to submit dossier documents. These are the necessary background documents required by the country of origin. You will also likely need to complete a home study course. This process can take between two to five months.

At that point, you’ll be waiting to be matched with a birth mother. The wait time will depend on several factors, such as:

  • the age and gender of the child
  • if the child has any special needs
  • the adoption laws of the country you’re adopting from

The wait time for placement varies widely depending on the country of origin. For example, the average wait time for a child from Mexico may be three to six months.  Whereas placements from China might take much longer, maybe even four to five years wait time.

Compare the challenges of foreign adoption and international adoption to determine which is best for you.

Foster Care Adoption in South Carolina

You may wish to adopt a foster child through the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. 114,556 of these children cannot return to their families.

The wait time to be placed with a foster child may be faster than the other adoption types because many children in foster care are already available for adoption. After placement, the adoption still needs to be legally finalized, which can take up to six months.

Remember, the foster care system wants to reunite children with their legal parents. If you choose to adopt a foster child who is not currently available for adoption, be prepared for unpredictable wait times for placement. Ultimately, the child may also reunite with their birth parents.

This waiting period can be avoided by choosing to adopt a child whose parents have terminated their legal rights under South Carolina law. Foster parents in the state also have the right to file for termination of parental rights (TPR).

How Long Does Adoption Take to Adopt: Wrapping It Up

How long does adoption take in South Carolina? The average time is about one year, although as we have outlined, the process could take longer.

To make things go as fast as possible, it is clearly important to return documents in a timely manner and to know what is required at every step of the adoption.  These requirements and the desire to not stumble along the way is why a lot of families rely on an excellent adoption attorney for assistance.

If you are planning to adopt a child, or are working your way through the process on your own, contact us for help!

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Why Is Adoption so Expensive?

Over 135,000 children are adopted in America every year.

Couples decide to adopt for many different reasons. They may not be able to have children on their own, or they want to help a child in need. Whatever the reason, prospective parents need to know the cost of adoption.

You may research the process and ask yourself: “why is adoption so expensive?”

There are several factors that make adoption a pricey endeavor. Here’s your guide to why it costs so much money.

Why is Adoption so Expensive?

While adoption costs vary from couple to couple, it’s considered a costly process. Laws also vary from state to state. South Carolina has a separate legal code for adoptive parents that may impact cost.

Total fees may range from $20,000 to $50,000 depending on your personal circumstances. This will be based on certain services and legal expenses.

Hiring help for adopting is always a recommended first step. A lawyer will help you understand future costs and types of adoption.

Parents may adopt an infant or an older child. They may choose an open or closed adoption. These factors will all influence the cost of the process.

Here are the main reasons why adoption is expensive.

International vs. Domestic Adoption

Expenses will be heavily influenced by your decision to adopt a child from a domestic or international agency. In general, an international adoption will cost you more. This is because of government and travel fees.

For international adoptions, different fees arise depending on the specific circumstances. Traveling and working with an international adoption agency are some examples. Obtaining U.S. and foreign documentation is also a costly process.

While domestic adoption may be less expensive, there are still a series of fees to consider.

Birth Mother Expenses

If you’re adopting an infant from a birth mother, there will be various fees involved. Expenses vary from state to state.

In general, birth mothers require financial assistance to have their baby. These will include legal, medical, and living expenses. Some birth mothers may also need counseling services following the adoption.

Adoption Agency Fees

An adoption agency helps parents with the process, which will factor into the cost. Hiring an agency of any kind will come with financial costs.

Working with an agency may require various overhead fees. These may include services such as advertising to find a birth mother. Classified ads or websites are some examples of agency marketing.

Legal Fees

Adopting is a legal process which means there are various government and legal fees that add up. An adoption attorney is one expense you can expect. Other forms of documentation, contracts, and court costs are also some potential fees.

Learn More

The answer to “why is adoption so expensive?” is no simple matter. As you can see, many factors determine the cost of adopting a child. But this basic outline will give you a sense of where your money is going.

To learn more about the adoption process, be sure to visit our blog.

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The 5 Adoption Requirements Agencies Look for in Couples

The 5 Adoption Requirements Agencies Look for in Couples

You’ve dreamt of finally holding your baby boy in your arms for the first time following a strenuous process of fighting to bring him here.

In this way, you’re like many mothers-to-be who are eager to see their children. But unlike many of these mothers, your strenuous process isn’t hours of labor or a Cesarean section.

It’s the process of adoption.

Research shows that more than 57,000 children were adopted in 2016 in the United States with public agency involvement, and more than 250,000 left foster care that year as well.

Like childbirth, the adoption process is filled with highs and lows. However, the more prepared you are, the easier the process may be.

Adoption laws vary from state to state and by type of adoption. Here’s a rundown on five adoption requirements that agencies look for in a couple.

Let’s get started!

1. Adoption Requirements Involving Education

Sometimes adoption agencies may ask you and your partner to complete an education program designed specifically for prospective adoptive parents.

This type of education covers the lifelong consequences of adoption on both the family and the child. You can also expect to learn about attachment and bonding, closed or open adoptions, academic issues, medical issues, and developmental and emotional issues.

2. Requirements for the Home Environment

You’ll also have to take part in a home study, which will determine if your home is safe and secure enough to house a child. You might even have to provide proof that you own the home being evaluated as part of the study.

3. Residency Requirements

You may also have to meet adoptive parent residency requirements in your state before you can move forward with the adoption process. For instance, you may have to have lived in the state for 60 days or even one year.

Be sure to also inquire about residency requirements specifically for military personnel or those adopting children with special needs if you fall into any of these categories.

4. Financial Requirements

You likely won’t face specific income requirements. But you can expect to be evaluated to determine if you and your partner have the necessary resources for rearing a child.

As part of the assessment, you’ll need to submit information about your assets and income, along with proof that you have medical insurance.

In addition, you’ll need to have enough funds on hand to cover adoption professional service fees, birth mom expenses, and travel expenses.

5. Marital Requirements

Sometimes adoption professionals will require you and your partner to be married to move forward with a private newborn adoption in the United States.

However, you don’t need to be married to adopt a child in foster care in the United States. Meanwhile, marriage requirements for international adoption vary by country.

How We Can Help

We offer legal guidance during the adoption process, putting our years of experience to use for your benefit.

Get in touch with us to find out more about South Carolina’s adoption requirements and how we can help you to turn your dream of becoming a parent into a reality.

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Domestic Adoption vs. Foreign Adoption, Compare The Challenges

Domestic Adoption vs. Foreign Adoption, Compare The Challenges

The idea of adoption and the reality often surprises and confuses people.  

First, there are two different basic types of adoption, domestic adoption, and foreign adoption.  

For these types of adoption, there are different rules based upon state, and even country of origin as well as the good ole’ USA.  

In this article, we compare the challenges to both domestic and foreign adoption and discuss the pros and cons of each. 

Definition: What is Domestic adoption?

If you are adopting from the United States, (and assuming you’re a citizen and residing in the United States), then it is considered a domestic adoption. 

There are two main types of domestic adoption:

  • Agency Adoption: An agency completes the entire process of finding a child for you to helping you complete the adoption process.
  • Independent Adoption: This is typically done when adopting a baby. You are responsible for finding a pregnant mother who is wanting to place her child with a family permanently.  You then use an adoption agency or lawyer to complete the adoption legally. 

Definition: What is foreign Adoption?

Foreign adoption means you are adopting a child from another country.  A large portion of these children have grown up in orphanages due to their parents being unable to support them.

The top ten countries of international adoptions in 2016 according to are:

  •  China
  • Congo 
  • Ukraine 
  • S. Korea 
  • India 
  • Haiti 
  • Ethiopia
  • Uganda 
  • Philippines
  • Bulgaria 


In most cases, the requirements for domestic adoption are the same throughout the United States, though there are some occasional exceptions. 

Any adult or married couple that completes and passes the required home studies may legally adopt a child.  Some agencies have other requirements that are not legally binding.  

For example, a particular agency may not work with a couple over a certain age, or they may not work with single parents trying to adopt.  There are no laws against either of these but rather just a preference of the agency. 

Foreign adoption requirements depend entirely on the laws of the county you choose to adopt the child from and whether or not they are a Hague Convention country.  Some countries have stricter requirements than domestic adoption. For example, a country may require a couple to be married a certain number of years before being eligible to adopt. 

Adoption Costs: Overview

Many people believe that foreign adoption will cost significantly more than domestic adoption.  This is not necessarily the case, however.  Both foreign adoption and domestic adoption typically range from $25,000 to $50,000, but each has their own unique costs. 

Costs: Domestic Adoption

According to Adoptive Family Magazine in 2016-2017:

U.S. Newborn (Agency) – Average Cost Breakdown

Home study fee


Document preparation & authentication


Adoption agency application & program fees


Adoption consultant fees


Attorney fees




Birth family counseling


Birth mother expenses


Foster/interim care


Travel expenses


Post-placement expenses


All other expenses




Average represents total costs before claiming the Adoption Tax Credit.

Costs: Foreign Adoption

The cost of foreign adoption entirely depends on the country you are adopting from.  According to the Adoptive Family Magazine in 2016-2017 South Korea fees were $48,329 whereas Ukraine was $35,000.  Since there is such a difference, we will list the breakdown for South Korea alone.

South Korea – Average Cost Breakdown

Home study fee


Adoption agency application & program fees


All other document preparation & paperwork fees


In-country adoption expenses


Child’s passport, visa, medical exam, and other fees


Major travel expenses


In-country travel expenses


Post-adoption expenses


All other expenses




Average represents total costs before claiming the Adoption Tax Credit.

Foreign adoptions also come with additional costs such as a visa for your child, travel expenses for you and/or your spouse (airfare, hotel stay, passport, etc.), and travel expenses to return back to the US with your child.

Timing: Comparing Foreign & Domestic Adoption

Another big factor that needs to be considered is the amount of time it will take to adopt a child through domestic adoption vs. foreign adoption. Typically, domestic adoptions take from 1 to 12 months.  A foreign adoption may take anywhere from 1 to 4 years, or even more. 

Once you decide to adopt, there is a process you’ll become familiar with.  The basics here – you will be looking at pre-placement and post-placement issues. 

Pre-placement typically lasts anywhere from a couple of months to seven years depending on if the child is special needs or a typically developed/developing, healthy child. During pre-placement, there will be home studies done to ensure you and your home are ready for a child to be placed with you.   

Post-placement is usually no less than six months from the time of placement and is a legally mandated time period before the adoption can be finalized.  During post-placement, your agency will supervise your family to make sure it continues to be a good fit for the child. 

Factors that determine wait times in adoption:

  • The health of the child being placed; Special needs children are typically placed more quickly
  • Pre-placement and home study times
  • Post-placement time
  • What type of child you want to adopt and their availability (e. race, age, etc.)

Medical Background and Social History

When going with a domestic adoption, all medical records are made available to you for the children you may consider adopting.  Some agencies even include the medical background and social history of the biological parents before the match so you can take that into consideration before choosing a child. 

Some things that may be included in a social history synopsis include a medical history of the biological parents and potentially their exposure to or use of drugs or alcohol while the child was in the womb. 

When choosing a foreign adoption, the medical records may be very limited, if they exist at all.  In fact, you may not receive any social or medical history of the biological parents. 

Moreover, adopting a child from a foreign country comes with the risk of the child having a detachment disorder as the result of not having ever experienced a consistent caregiver.  This is especially the case in adopting an older child from a foreign country. 

Children Available

Typically, in a domestic adoption, it is newborns or infants who get adopted (unless it is a foster adoption).  This isn’t a hard and fast rule, just an observation – certainly, older children are adopted too.

In a foreign adoption, most children adopted are between 1 to 2 years of age.  This is likely due to the long process of being placed with a family. 



In domestic-baby adoptions, you might typically travel to the birth mother’s location a minimum of 2 times.  Once before the birth to meet her and a second time after the baby is born.  If she lives in a different state than you, you will have to remain in her home state for 7-10 business days after the baby’s birth to allow for interstate placement clearances to be processed.

If you choose to do a foreign adoption, then there will much more travel involved.  You will have to travel to the child’s home country at least twice with each trip lasting from one to four weeks. 

Which to Choose

One of the first things to look at is where your child is from. If you choose foreign adoption, you’ll need to work through potential immigration issues in addition to the adoption process.

If you’re looking to adopt a domestic born infant, you may have to be on a long waiting list. There are, of course, many other factors to consider when choosing where your child will be from.

What you decide needs to be based on what is going to work best for your family and the child you decide to adopt. 

Do You Need More Help With Adoption?  Contact Us!

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Avoiding Roadblocks in the Path to Adoption

Avoiding Roadblocks in the Path to Adoption


The path to adoption can be long and filled with anticipation.

Each adoption situation is different so we wanted to cover some of the more common roadblocks you might (or may already) face. 


Legal Issues

It doesn’t matter if you’re working your way through a domestic adoption or a foreign adoption, there will always be some sort of legal hoops you will have to jump through. 

For domestic adoptions, there is the fact that each state has its own laws regarding adoption.  One state can have a completely different set of laws from another state governing the relinquishment of a parent’s rights, how to deal with unknown fathers who can adopt, and what laws need to be followed when the child leaves state lines. 

With a foreign adoption, there is a whole set of laws for each country involved.  Moreover, your foreign adoption will also be impacted by whether the county of origin of the child is a signatory of the Hague Convention

Marital Status

In the United States, your marital status may affect your ability to adopt, depending on the state.  Some states require that if you are separated (but not divorced) from your spouse, you will need his consent to adopt.  Other states will not allow unmarried couples to adopt and other states will not allow same-sex couples to adopt (married or not).  Hiring an attorney or agency is your best bet to work through this roadblock for domestic adoption.

Other countries often require you to be a married couple (not same-sex) to adopt.  Some countries such as Thailand require you to be married for at least two years to be eligible for a foreign adoption.  Before choosing a country to adopt from, you (or your attorney) need to check into their marital status requirements to make sure you qualify.


Neither domestic adoption or foreign adoption is cheap. On average, either adoption could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on what agency you choose, what lawyer you choose, and what type of adoption you choose.  Things that are a part of the cost may include:

  • Court and legal fees
  • Passports
  • Travel
  • Visas
  • The birth mother’s expenses
  • And more

Costs vary by state and country, so again, hiring an experienced lawyer or agency can help you with this.  There may also be grants, tax credits, and subsidies that will help you pay for your adoption.  Some employers also will help.

You can get more information here.

Wait Time

The typical adoption time can take anywhere from 12 months to 7 years, depending on the type of adoption.  Other factors affecting the timeline of adoption include the country you are adopting from and what characteristics (age, gender, background) of child you are looking for.

For example, healthy newborns typically have a long list of those wanting to adopt, than those with special needs. 

Wanting to adopt from a specific country may also affect your wait time. 

Regarding reducing a protracted wait time, if you are not particular about age or what country your child comes from, this can greatly reduce your wait time.  Likewise, if you are interested in a special needs child or a child from foster care.  Being willing to do an open adoption will increase your chances of a smaller wait time.

Birth Parents

There are (more than) a few different scenarios where the birth parents can become a roadblock:

Birth Mother Not Honest

In this case either the birth mother was never pregnant or she did not intend to give up the baby in the first place.  Most often this happens when you choose to do the adoption on your own and find your own birth mother.  You can possibly avoid this by having a good lawyer or agency helping you.  Unfortunately, if this happens to you, there is no compensation for your time, money, or emotional investment.

Birth Parents Back Out

Unfortunately, birth parents do have the right to back out of the deal.  Most states require a waiting period between the birth of the child and when the paperwork can be finalized (usually 3 days).  In some states, though, the parents can change their minds even after the paperwork is signed and finalized. Having a good lawyer to fight for you is your best recourse in this situation.

Resources for consent and state statue laws can be found here.

Untrustworthy Agency

Unfortunately, hiring an agency that is not trustworthy is a possibility.  They may not follow through or tell you they have a child for you even though they do not.  Listening to your gut and doing your research will help you avoid this adoption roadblock.  Having an attorney in your corner certainly helps too!

Avoiding most of these roadblocks can be done by having an experienced legal team on your side to help guide you through the adoption process. 

More Information:

The Child Welfare Information Gateway

State Statute Search

Directory of public and state-licensed private agencies

U.S. State Department’s database

Contact Us Today About Adoption Help

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Breaking Down Different Types of Adoption

Breaking Down Different Types of Adoption

There are many types of adoption available for parents and children.

Choosing the one that fits your family is important.

Let’s look at some of the most common types of adoption.

Adoption Within the Family

  • Step-Parent Adoption– Step-parent adoptions are one of the most common types of adoption.  When a parent gets remarried, their spouse can legally adopt the children.  The hardest part of this type of adoption is that the other parent will need to sign their parental rights away.  This can be tricky depending on the relationship between the parents and how involved the other parent wants to be with their children.
  • Grandparent Adoption– Today many grandparents are the “parents” of their grandchildren for a variety of reasons.  Most of the reasons include the death of both parents, or the parents are unable to care for the children due to being in jail or abusing drugs.  In most cases, South Carolina law provides a method to make this emotional relationship legal.
  • Other Family Member – Another common type of adoption is that of another family member. The adoption can be done by an Aunt and Uncle, Cousin, Sister, Brother, etc.  Again this is done because both parents have died or are unable to care for their children.

Adoption Outside of the Family

  • Domestic Foreign – One of the first things to look at is where your child is from. If you choose foreign adoption, you’ll need to work through potential immigration issues in addition to the adoption process. If you’re looking to adopt a domestic born infant, you may have to be on a long waiting list. There are, of course, many factors to consider when choosing where your child will be from. With either type of adoption, you can either do an independent adoption or use an agency that will place you with a child.
  • Infant vs. Older Child– Another important area of consideration is the age of the child. Infants are typically more ‘in demand,’ which can result in a lengthy delay. Adopting older children may have other legal difficulties such as working with an existing family, or the foster care system.
  • Single or Multiple Children– Are you looking to adopt a single child, or would you consider adopting siblings that need parents? If you choose to adopt a single child that has siblings being adopted by someone else, you may also have to work with their adoptive parents to keep the siblings in contact with each other.
  • Open or Closed Adoption– A closed adoption is one in which the biological parents will not have any information about who adopted their child.  This also means that unless you choose to later, there will be no contact between the biological parents and the child you adopt.  A growing number of people are adopting children with a legal agreement that the biological mother (and possibly father) will be able to have certain rights. This could be as simple as getting occasional updates from the adoptive parents or setting up a visitation schedule of some type. This is considered an open adoption.

We Will Help You Figure This Out

No matter what type of adoption you choose, or need, we will help you sort out all of the legal parts. 

Contact us today to set up a consultation.

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