Adoption Lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC

Daniel A. Selwa, Attorney at Law, is an adoption lawyer located in Surfside Beach, SC who accepts adoption cases in Horry County, Georgetown County, and the surrounding areas.

We help families to understand and navigate the complex process of adopting a child, whether you are seeking to adopt a step-child, a grandchild, or a foster child, or are using an adoption agency to locate and adopt the next member of your family.

There are few things more important than giving a permanent home and stability to a child, and you need to get an experienced adoption lawyer on board as soon as possible to ensure that the process goes smoothly.

Helping with adoptions in Horry County and Georgetown County, SC, is one of the parts of our job that makes everything worthwhile. This is one aspect of family law when everyone in the courtroom knows they are making a difference in a child’s life, and few experiences in the practice of law are more rewarding than seeing the smile on a child’s face at the end of their adoption hearing.

Your Horry County adoption attorney will be there with you at every step of the adoption process, answering your questions, researching legal issues that arise, speaking on your behalf to the courts and other parties, and making sure that, as much as possible, 1) your adoption process goes smoothly and 2) there are no grounds for third parties to challenge the adoption later.

Adoption Attorneys Who Care

At the Surfside Beach, SC, adoption law firm of Daniel A. Selwa, Attorney at Law, we help our clients to plan and finalize all types of adoptions.

Parents in Myrtle Beach, Horry County, and the surrounding area turn to us when they need someone to trust with their family’s future stability. Your adoption lawyer should be someone who cares – not just an attorney looking for a paycheck.

When you call our office for help planning or finalizing your adoption, we will:

  • Answer your questions and help you to determine if adoption is the right answer for you and your child,
  • Help you to identify and connect with an adoption agency when appropriate,
  • Help you to get a home study done when necessary,
  • Determine the type of adoption that fits your circumstances,
  • Draft and file your legal pleadings for adoption,
  • Identify, locate, and serve the pleadings on all parties to the action,
  • Obtain voluntary consent to adoption from each party whenever possible,
  • Initiate termination of parental rights proceedings through the family court when appropriate, and
  • Follow through to obtain a final adoption from the family court, remaining available to answer your questions after the proceedings are complete.
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Learn About SC Adoption Laws

Who Can Adopt a Child in SC?

Any person who is “fit” to raise a child can adopt, although 1) the adoption must be in the child’s best interest and 2) in some types of adoptions, the prospective parent must pass a home study.

The most common adoptive parents include:

  • Prospective parents who are biologically unable to have children of their own,
  • Foster parents,
  • Relatives like stepparents or grandparents, or
  • Any person who is actively involved in a child’s life who wants to give the child the stability of a legal and permanent home and family.

What are the Different Types of Adoption in SC?

There are many kinds of adoptions in South Carolina, including:

  • Relative adoptions by a stepparent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or another relative who is raising the child,
  • Foster care adoptions,
  • Direct placement adoptions that are arranged between the birth mother and adoptive parent or parents,
  • Adoptions arranged through adoption agencies,
  • Open adoptions where the birth parent is identified and available to be contacted,
  • Closed adoptions where the birth parent is not identified and cannot be contacted, and
  • International adoptions that are arranged through specialized adoption agencies.

When is Termination of Parental Rights Necessary?

The law does not permit a child to have more than two parents; therefore, it may be necessary to terminate a biological parent’s parental rights before the court will finalize the adoption.

For example, if a stepfather wants to adopt his new wife’s children, 1) the biological father must consent to termination of parental rights (TPR), 2) the court must terminate the biological father’s parental rights, or 3) the biological father must be deceased.

Your adoption lawyer will help you to determine whether termination of parental rights is necessary, whether it can be accomplished by consent, and what you will need to prove in court to clear the way for your adoption.

Who Must Consent to an Adoption in SC?

When you are planning and initiating adoption proceedings, your adoption lawyer must identify all persons who must consent to the adoption, minimizing any risk of 1) the adoption not getting approved or 2) someone challenging the adoption later.

SC Code Section 63-9-310 says the following people must give consent or relinquishment before an adoption can be finalized:

  • The adoptee (if they are older than 14),
  • The mother,
  • The father, and
  • If the parents are deceased or parental rights have been terminated, the legal guardian, legal custodian, or child placement agency.

FAQ for Horry County Adoption Lawyers

Do I Need an Adoption Lawyer to Adopt a Child in SC?

As with most legal proceedings in South Carolina, you are not required to retain an adoption attorney.

As with most legal proceedings in South Carolina, however, you do need to retain an adoption lawyer if you want to ensure that the process runs smoothly, and you don’t run into problems in court or later on down the road.

Your adoption attorney will help you to:

  • Draft and file the appropriate documents in the appropriate venue, ensuring that your pleadings contain the necessary facts to support your adoption petition,
  • Communicate on your behalf with the court, clerk, DSS, adoption agencies, and other parties to the action,
  • Assist you in obtaining a home study when necessary,
  • Identify and serve all parties in interest,
  • Obtain consent and relinquishment from all parties,
  • Obtain termination of parental rights from the family court when necessary, and
  • Follow through to ensure that your adoption is finalized.

What are the Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights?

If the biological parent does not consent, your attorney may need to ask the family court to terminate their parental rights. SC Code § 63-7-2570 lists 12 statutory grounds for termination of parental rights:

  1. Abuse or neglect under circumstances where the home cannot be made safe within 12 months,
  2. The child has been removed from the home for at least six months, and the reason for the removal has not been corrected by the parent,
  3. The child has lived outside of the home for at least six months, and the parent has willfully failed to visit the child,
  4. The child has lived outside of the home for at least six months, and the parent has willfully failed to financially support the child,
  5. The presumptive legal father is not the biological father, and it is in the child’s best interests to terminate his parental rights,
  6. The parent is unable to provide minimally acceptable care for the child due to a diagnosable condition (including addiction to alcohol or drugs), the parent fails to complete treatment, and the condition is not likely to change within a reasonable time,
  7. Abandonment,
  8. The child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months,
  9. Physical abuse of another child in the parent’s care that resulted in death or hospitalization,
  10. One parent murders the other parent,
  11. The child’s birth was the result of rape (not including statutory rape when the parents are between the ages of 14 and 18), and
  12. The parent is convicted of murder, homicide by child abuse, or voluntary manslaughter of the other parent.

What is a “Relative Adoption?”

“Relative adoptions” are the most common type of adoption that we see, including situations where a grandparent, stepparent, or another relative is already raising the child and wants to provide the child with the permanency and stability of adoption.

A relative may wish to adopt a child for many reasons, including allowing the child to inherit from the adoptive parent, allowing the adoptive parent to make important decisions on the child’s behalf, providing the child with a sense of stability and security, and “making it legal” when the child already sees the adoptive parent as “mom” or “dad.”

Can I “Undo” an Adoption?

An adoptive parent’s parental rights can be terminated just as a biological parent’s parental rights can be terminated, but this is an uncommon and extreme remedy – for all practical purposes, adoptions are permanent and final.

Before deciding to adopt a child, the prospective parents should carefully consider whether they are prepared for the long-term commitment of having a new child that they must support, provide for, and love unconditionally.

Before deciding to adopt, consider whether:

  • Adoption is in the child’s best interests,
  • You are emotionally and financially equipped to care for the child,
  • It is in the child’s best interests to terminate the parental rights of the biological parent, and
  • Pre-adoption counseling and training may be helpful.
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