Aiken Adoption Lawyer

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Adoption offers an exciting opportunity for couples or families to grow their families. However, the adoption process is complicated and has many legal hurdles. The South Carolina Adoption Act (https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t63c009.php) has established the procedures of adoption are designed to cater to the needs of everyone involved, including the children in question, their biological parents and their adoptive parents, while prioritizing the children’s needs.

With many elements coming into play during the adoption process, families and couples in Aiken looking to adopt need professional advice and guidance. At Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer and Staggs, we help families interested in adding a new family through adoption understand the complicated laws and process while ensuring your adoption process adheres to all applicable South Carolina laws.

Do you need professional guidance in your adoption process? Look no further than JJWLS. Contact us today for legal guidance from experienced adoption lawyers at JJWLS.

Table of Contents

What is Adoption?

South Carolina law defines adoption as the judicial means of creating a legal relationship between a parent and a child. Adoption is the process whereby an adult formally becomes a child’s guardian, taking on the responsibility and obligations of a parent towards the child while also incurring the rights of a parent over the child.

Putting the definition of adoption aside, the significance of forming a permanent legal family relationship cannot be understated. Whatever the decision to add a new member to your family may be, it gives the child an opportunity to live a life that they would never experience. On the other hand, the family gains an opportunity to raise a child and guide them through life.

What Are the Different Types of Adoption?

If you’re looking to adopt a child, you have several options to consider based on your circumstances. Whether you’re looking to adopt internationally or simply a stepparent looking to go the extra mile and adopt your stepchildren, there is a type of adoption that can meet your specific needs. They include:

  • Domestic Adoption,
  • International Adoption,
  • Foster Care Adoption, and
  • Stepparent Adoption.

Whichever way you’re looking to adopt a child, your adoption attorney on the JJWLS team will be your guiding hand, taking away the confusion and stress that comes with adopting a child.

What is the Legal Process of Adoption in Aiken, South Carolina?

Initial Steps

The formative stages of the adoption process involve determining the adoption requirements in Aiken, SC. At this stage, you need to consult an experienced adoption attorney to take you through all of your options and the requirements you need to fulfill before being considered for adoption. Some of the requirements include:

  • Being 21 years or older,
  • A background check of everyone in the household,
  • Health status,
  • Marital status,
  • Financial status, and
  • Consent,

In some cases, you might be needed to undertake adoption education and training courses.

After acquainting yourself with the requirement, you must undertake the preplacement investigation (better known as home studies), whose report should show you tick all the boxes on the eligibility checklist.

If you’re just starting the adoption process, our team of lawyers at JJWLS is always on call and ready to help you understand your options, the rules and requirements of every option, and whether you’re eligible.

Home Study Process

To meet your requirements and become eligible for adoption, you must complete a state-mandated home study process. A home study is an evaluation meant to ensure you can provide a loving family for your adopted child. The home study evaluation process spans the preplacement and postplacement of the child and must be renewed annually before the adoption is finalized.

It typically involves at least two in-person interviews with the parents to evaluate the maturity and physical exam. The adoption professional also conducts individual interviews with all household members.

Aside from providing documentation that ascertains your current financial records and health, your background checks, personal references, and individual autobiographical statements, the home study has an element of home visits by adoption professionals to ascertain the safety of the home environment.

What Are the Legal Requirements for Adoption in Aiken, South Carolina?

Some of the legal requirements you need to meet to be eligible for adoption include:

  • Must be 21 years and older,
  • Must be a resident of South Carolina,
  • Must be able to care for and meet the needs (financial and emotional) of your own family,
  • Must attend 14 hours of adoption education and training courses,
  • Must have three to four references,
  • Must provide medical on all family members,
  • Must update your home study documentation when there is a significant change in your life,
  • Can work full-time,
  • Can own a home or rent, and
  • Can be married, divorced, or single.

How Long Can the Adoption Process Take?

There is no specific timeframe for the adoption process. It can vary greatly depending on the type of adoption you’re pursuing, the legal complexities involved, and the specific circumstances involved.

Case in point, the home study process can take anywhere between 2 to 6 months, depending on how fast you provide the necessary documents. If you have to wait for a match, you can wait between several months to several years. Adopting internationally is also known to take longer, from 1 to 5 years.

On the post-placement, supervision is generally predefined. South Carolina requires a post-placement supervision period of at least 90 days. Additionally, the finalization stage can take between a few weeks and a few years.

What Are the Types of Adoption?

Domestic Adoption

Domestic adoption is the adoption of a child within the U.S., regardless of whether they are interstate or intrastate. The process of adopting a child domestically in Southern Carolina is established by the Southern Carolina adoption law (https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t63c009.php), especially meeting the home studies requirements and receiving consent for adoption from the biological parents.

International Adoption

The complexities of adopting internationally are considerable as compared to domestic adoption. For starters, you need to find a Hague-accredited international adoption agency. You need to communicate with the U.S. government as well as the adoptee’s native country throughout the process. You also need to prepare international travel documents and obtain the child’s IH-4 visa and citizenship. Finally, you need to adhere to international home study requirements.

Foster Care Adoption

Foster care adoption is adopting a kid or kids under the foster care system. For the most part, it is similar to other types of adoption, except it involves a foster child. As such, there are additional steps to the adoption process, including selection by committee, meeting and visiting the child before placement, and a postplacement period before the adoption is finalized.

Stepparent Adoption

Adopting a stepchild isn’t as straightforward as you might think. The other parent needs to terminate their biological parental rights unless you’re a single mother or father with full physical and legal custody of the child.

After getting consent, you file a petition for adoption with the family court while attaching documentation regarding consent from your spouse, parental rights termination by the other biological parent, and consent from the child if they are at least 14. You will get a court hearing date, wherein the judge determines whether to approve or decline the adoption.

What Are the Challenges and Considerations in Adoption?

Legal Challenges

Obviously, there are legal hurdles to overcome when adopting. For starters, you need to prove you’re eligible to adopt a child by undertaking home studies, which can be a long and stressful process. The best way to navigate legal hurdles is to have an experienced attorney guiding you. This ensures you avoid making mistakes that might hinder you from getting placement or make the process long and stressful.

Emotional Considerations

The adoption process does have an emotional toll on everyone involved. Throughout the process, the adoptive parents and even the child can expect to experience anxiety, fear, happiness, and even relief. You need to prepare yourself emotionally. That said, as prepared as you might be, the adoption process might prove to be emotionally taxing.

Post-Adoption Support

It is essential to understand and appreciate that adoption is a process and not a stage. With this in mind, post-adoption services and resources are critical in helping the new family member, the parents, and other children navigate the unique challenges of adoption.

How Do We Navigate Open vs. Closed Adoptions?

Open vs. closed adoption describes how the adoptive parents and the biological mother (and sometimes the child) relate. In a closed adoption, the adoptive parents can contact the biological parent.

This is the traditional adoption as the parents and the child never know who the adoptive parent is, thereby safeguarding the privacy and removing boundary issues for all involved. However, not knowing who the biological parent is can affect the child’s emotional wellbeing in the long run.

In contrast, open adoption is a more modern take on adoption that allows the child and the adoptive parents to maintain some level of contact. For instance, it can potentially enable the child to know their birth parents and stay in contact with them, which can be beneficial for the child. However, it does create privacy and boundary issues for the parties involved, especially when the communication rules are unclear.

Why Hire an Adoption Attorney?

Adopting a child can do a world of good to the child. However, the process of adoption can be challenging and sometimes confusing. Hiring an adoption attorney is a great way to relieve yourself of the hassle and stress and hasten the process.

What Does an Adoption Attorney Do?

The role of an adoption attorney is to facilitate the legal process, especially creating a plan to secure placement and filing of the necessary documents. They help you understand the state and federal laws regarding adoption while ensuring your adoption process complies with state and federal laws. If needed, your attorney will represent you in court.

Adopting a child should not feel like a hassle. It shouldn’t be a stressful experience for you, your spouse, or your children. Our specialized adoption attorneys are here to help prospective Aiken adoptive parents begin their journey of adding a new member to their families. We will hold your hand and guide you through every step of the process.

Contact our offices today for any consultative meeting.