Sc dss adoption registry

Sc dss adoption registry DEFAULT

In South Carolina, we have hundreds of children waiting to be adopted. Many of whom are older youth and sibling groups. A child, or children, in South Carolina may be waiting for you to be their forever family. 

You can view a gallery of waiting children at the DSS Adoption webpage, or by visiting the Heart Gallery or Adopt US Kids.

The DSS adoption page features all children in South Carolina with the plan of Adoption, who do not have an identified forever home.

The Heart Gallery page features South Carolina’s legally-free children.

Adopt US Kids is the nation’s only federally funded photo listing service that connects waiting children and families. Children from all over the nation are featured on this page.

All families must have an approved adoptive home study in order to adopt for a South Carolina foster child. If you do not yet have an approved home study and would like to learn more, or begin the process, please click here.


 Adoption is a beautiful way to provide a family for a child in need. There are children of all ages in need of a forever home. Making sure children are in safe, loving and permanent families is an important way DSS strengthens families in South Carolina.

There are hundreds of children in South Carolina in need of a forever home. That’s hundreds of conversations over breakfast, hundreds of birthday parties and hundreds of goodnight hugs that could take shape around hundreds of new friends. When reunification is not possible, adoption is a beautiful way to provide a family for a child in need. Making sure children are in safe, loving and permanent families is an important way DSS strengthens families in South Carolina.

You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.

You don’t need to own your own home, have children already, or be young, wealthy, or a stay-at-home parent to adopt. Marital status, age, income, and sexual orientation will not automatically disqualify someone from adopting a child. Essentially, if you are stable and can provide a child with the love, as well as the support he or she needs, you may be a candidate to become an adoptive parent.

Click here to watch in Spanish

Click here to watch in Spanish

View Children Eligible for Adoption

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Post Adoption Records Request

If you were adopted through The Department of Social Services and are over the age of 21, you are eligible to request a copy of your adoption file that will have redacted information.  Please see the attached Adoption Records Request forms that will need to be completed to start the process.  Since South Carolina is a closed adoption state, the records will not provide biological names, locations, or full dates.  Please note that we cannot provide original birth certificates.  An intake form will be completed in order to initiate the search.  After the intake form is completed, you will be sent a letter that outlines the fees for service and HIPAA guidelines along with an application packet, HIPAA Release Form, and information about the Reunion Registry.  South Carolina Department of Social Services does not have private adoption records.

Reunion Registry

If your child has been adopted through SCDSS or you are an adoptee who is 21 years or older, you may contact DSS to begin the process to request that your name be entered onto the registry.  You will be sent a form to complete, please note that it must be notarized, and send back. If a match is made, you will be contacted with guidance on how to proceed.


Adoption Reunion Registry Brochure

HIPPA form

Application for Post Legal Services

Adoption Reunion Register – Adult Adoptee

Adoption Reunion Register – Bio Parent

Adoption Reunion Register – Sibling


South Carolina Adoption Research

Finding Early Adoption Records, Before s[edit | edit source]

  • Check out the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county the adoption took place for early adoption records. A Wiki page for the county will give contact information. Ask for searches of probate records and guardianship records.
  • Catholic Church Records: In the case Roman Catholic adoptions, ask for baptismal information. Sacramental records are available to involved parties and sometimes contain identifying information on birth family members.
  • Maternity Home Records: Records were created if a birth mother lived in a maternity home. A maternity home, girls’ home, or work home was a place for pregnant women to live and sometimes work. Many unmarried women were sent away from home during their pregnancies to avoid a hometown’s prying eyes. Check local and state historical societies and archives to see if maternity home records are preserved.
  • Search for orphanage records in the Census & Voter Lists index of If you’re looking for orphanage records and know the child’s original name, try searching census records with the name and using keywords “orphan” or “orphanage.” This can turn up the name of the orphanage at which the child lived. In older censuses, children who lived at orphanages may have been referred to as “inmates.”

Finding Recent Adoption Records, ss[edit | edit source]

Assembling Information and Documents[edit | edit source]

  • Adoptive parents knowledge: Discuss the details of the adoption with the adoptive parents or other close relatives.
    • Adoption agency: Determine the name and contact information of any adoption agency the adoptive parents used. You may request the non-identifying information from the agency.
    • Hospital: See if family members know the hospital where the child was born. They may have received the child at the hospital.
    • Attorney: If the adoption was arranged by an attorney, ask for his name and get his contact information.
  • Documents: Gather any documents the family has about the birth.
    • Amended birth certificate
An amended birth certificate, created after an adoption is finished, lists the names of the adoptive parents just as if the child had been born to them originally.
Many people will have an amended birth certificate, with no access to the original. About half of the states allow adults to have access to their original birth certificates. See Adult Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates
An original birth certificate may be obtained through a court petition.
  • Hospital records: Hospitals often retain birth registers and occasionally have medical information on children born there. Medical records regarding the person you are searching for may sometimes be obtained.

Researching Relevant State Laws[edit | edit source]

Understand the difference between identifying and nonidentifying information.[edit | edit source]

You will want to research and understand South Carolina statutes about the release of these two different levels of information.

Nonidentifying information: Nonidentifying information includes the health, behavioral health, developmental, educational, and social histories of the child and the child's parents and other birth relatives. Nearly all states allow an adult adoptee to access nonidentifying information about birth relatives, generally upon written request. Usually, the adoptee must be at least age 18 before he or she may access this information. Information may include:

  • Date and place of the adoptee's birth
  • Age of the birth parents and general physical description, such as eye and hair color
  • Race, ethnicity, religion, and medical history of the birth parents
  • Educational level of the birth parents and their occupations at the time of the adoption
  • Reason for placing the child for adoption
  • Existence of other children born to each birth parent

Identifying information: Identifying information is information from the disclosure of adoption records or elsewhere that may lead to the positive identification of birth parents, the adult adoptee, or other birth relatives. Identifying information may include current or past names of the person, addresses, employment, or other similar records or information.

  • Statutes in nearly all states permit the release of identifying information when the person whose information is sought has consented to the release.
  • If consent is not on file with the appropriate entity, the information may not be released without a court order documenting good cause to release the information. A person seeking a court order must be able to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that there is a compelling reason for disclosure that outweighs maintaining the confidentiality of a party to an adoption.
  • Access to information is not always restricted to birth parents and adoptees. Approximately 37 states allow birth siblings of the adoptee to seek and release identifying information upon mutual consent.[1]

Study the laws specific to South Carolina.[edit | edit source]

Use these links to learn about the statutes governing an adoption in South Carolina.

Select "South Carolina" in the drop-down menu.
Then check the box for "Access to Adoption Records" under the "Adoption" list.
Click "Go!".

Filing Court Petitions[edit | edit source]

  • If you were adopted, you may petition the court to open sealed adoption records. Whether this is successful may depend on the state, the judge, the reason given for the request, and other factors. Medical necessity will be the most successful reason used. If the birth parents are deceased, petitions are usually successful.
  • Petitioning the court does not require an attorney’s services, although attorneys may be helpful.
  • Depending on state laws, the judge may
    • agree to release only nonidentifying information (which should be available by asking any agency),
    • agree to release a summary of information,
    • deny the petition completely,
    • appoint an intermediary, such as the original adoption agency or a professional searcher, to locate the birth parents and determine whether they want to release information or be reunited (in some states).[2]

How to File[edit | edit source]

Contact the county clerk where the adoption took place and ask for a petition form. File the completed form with the county court. A judge will review the petition and may require an interview. Attorney services are not required.

Getting Help[edit | edit source]

This is a service available in all states. It consists of individuals who have experience conducting searches for birth relatives and will conduct adoption searches free of charge. Search angels are not private detectives or paid professional searchers. They can also be found on adoption search blogs, social networking sites, search support groups, and other online forums.
  • Adoptee Search Support Groups: There are nonprofit organizations that help teach methods for searching.
Click on National Foster Care & Adoption Directory Search.
Select "South Carolina".
Check the box "Birth Family and Adoptee Search Support Groups" under "Support Groups".
Click: "GO".
  • Hiring a Professional Researcher:
    • Professional searchers include certified independent search consultants, licensed private investigators who may or may not have adoption experience, nonprofit organizations that train in adoption searching, and experts in a field who may or may not have a certification (e.g., confidential intermediaries).
    • If you choose to hire a professional searcher, you should research the reputation of the searcher or company before obtaining their services.
    • Reputable professional searchers will always respect your pacing and boundaries. These professionals will not move beyond search into reunion unless you request this step.
    • Support groups and online forums can be a ready source of information about professional searchers.[3]

Making Contact With Relatives[edit | edit source]

Mutual Consent Registries[edit | edit source]

  • South Carolina has a mutual consent registry. A mutual consent registry is a means for individuals directly involved in adoptions to indicate their willingness or unwillingness to have their identifying information disclosed.
  • Most registries require consent of at least one birth parent and an adoptee over the age of 18 or 21, or of adoptive parents if the adoptee is a minor, in order to release identifying information.
  • Most states that have registries require the parties seeking to exchange information to file affidavits consenting to the release of their personal information.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

For a more detailed understanding or answers to other questions you may hove, consult these excellent articles:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ↑"Access to Adoption Records", Child Welfare Information Gateway,, accessed 11 September
  2. ↑"Searching for Birth Relatives", Child Welfare Information Gateway,, accessed 11 September
  3. ↑"Searching for Birth Relatives: Hiring a Professional Researcher", Child Welfare Information Gateway,, accessed 11 September

Adoption sc registry dss

Responsible Father Registry

The Responsible Father Registry gives a man who has fathered a child with a woman to whom he is not married to the right to be notified when an adoption or a termination of parental rights action occurs. Please see the Responsible Father Registry


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Division of Individual and Provider Rights

The Division of Individual and Provider Rights is comprised of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) The OAH is responsible for hearing cases on…

Contact DSS

To report known or suspected abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult, call: HR Abuse & Neglect Reporting Hotline: CARE4US or Click Here To Report Abuse/Neglect Online County Office Locations …

COVID Information

REPORTING CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT Recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect is critical. Please click here for important information for Mandated Reporters. (Spanish version) FOR PARENTS & CAREGIVERS Questions & Answers to Ask…

Office of Inspector General (OIG)

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) ensures Departmental transparency in its activities and the actions of its employees. The OIG conducts independent reviews and investigations to promote unbiased adherence to statutes and regulations, and…

Establishing Paternity

Establishing a legal father benefits everyone involved It helps children… Feel good about themselves because they know they are wanted Feel secure in knowing they are part of a family with two parents who care Know about both families’ medical…

Parents Links and Resources

Responsible Father Registry If you think that you may have fathered a child, you may register with the Responsible Father Registry to protect your rights should the child be placed for adoption.   Application for Services  How to…


If you are providing kinship care for a child who is involved with SCDSS, you can expect to see these forms:  The Safety Plan (DSS Form ) This is a voluntary written agreement signed by parents, the kinship caregiver and SCDSS.…

How to Adopt

On this page, you’ll learn more about the requirements and the process of adopting a child who is in the full custody of the state of South Carolina. We hope this page will help answer preliminary questions you may have. Then, be sure to read the…

SC Foster or Adopt a Child


Please sign the petition for release of the original birth certificate
Get involved - SC Adoption Reform - Click Here
Let us know your opinion - Sign the Petition

Adoptee's Bill of Rights

Obtaining Non-Identifying Information: An adopted adult, birth parents and adoptive parents can receive information at the discretion of the CEO of the adoption agency.    If the state has an adoption record of the adoption, they can release background info - currently the wait may be over a year.  SC Department of Social Services will provide non-identifying information on the adoptions that were done thru their agency as well as the Children's Bureau.  When the Children's Bureau closed those records were turned over to the state.    The state charges $35 for this service (you can asked that it can be waived)

Obtaining Identifying Information: An adopted adult age 21 or older can receive information on the birth parents and birth siblings, and birth parents and birth siblings can receive information regarding the adopted adult if affidavits with consent to release information have been filed with an agency. The agency must maintain a registry containing the affidavits of consent. All who register must go through counseling with the agency

Using the State Adoption Registry: The following persons may use the adoption registry provided by the state: adopted adults, birth parents and birth siblings either through the agency or State. Only if the state of SC - DSS has a record of the adoption will they allow someone to register.  If the adoption was handled privately (attorney or other agency) you can not register.

What type of information will I need for the State Adoption Registry?    
A Birthparent will need to provide:
Name of Child at Birth, Date of Birth, Sex of Child, Name of Birth Mother at time of birth, and you agree to the registry requirements and have it notarized and return.

An Adoptee will need to provide:
Adopted Name, Date of Birth, Sex, Name of Adopted Parents (include maiden name of the adopted mother) and agree to the registry requirements and have it notarized and return.

Example: The registry requirements are that you sign: (subject to change)   the state charges $10 to register with them (you can ask that this be waived)

I understand that:
.Completing and returning this affidavit enters my name on the Register.
.This affidavit will remain on file unless I send a written request to have it removed.
.It is my responsibility to update this registration, in writing, if there is a change of name, address or telephone number.
.When a match occurs, the agency will contact me, using the latest information that I have provided, to schedule the required counseling.
.After the counseling is completed, the law requires a day waiting period.
.At the end of the waiting period, I will receive notification of name, address and telephone number of the other party and I am at liberty to pursue the actual reunion in a mutually acceptable manner.

PERSONALLY APPEARS the undersigned party, who being duly sworn, deposes and says that as the biological parent/adoptee of the child named above, I am willing to have my identity, address and telephone number, shown below, revealed to this child, now an adult; that I freely and voluntarily release and hold harmless the State of South Carolina and its adoption agencies and all employees thereof from any liability which may accrue by reason of the release and disclosure of this information.

South Carolina Department of Social Services has records for adoptions that were handled by Children's Bureau, Dept of Public Welfare and Dept of Social Services only. If the adoption was handled by another private agency or attorney they do not have any records. Background information may be obtained by the birth parent or the adoptee only at this time. The cost is $25 for the background info and $10 to be placed in the registry maintained by the state. This background info and registry only applies for adoptions that were handled by the Children's Bureau, Dept of Public Welfare and Dept of Social Services.

For your initial call to DSS contact:
Donna Cooper or
Email: Donna Cooper
Follow-up calls contact:
Cheryl Sherring, Cathy Fitz, or Debra Kent

Adoption Reunion Registry
PO Box
Columbia, SC

Obtaining an Original Birth Certificate: An adoptee must petition the court in which the adoption was finalized.

For other agencies in S.C. click here


How to make contact -  good article to read

Did the adoption go thru Tender Loving Care Adoption Agency-PTL (now closed) click here for info 

IMPORTANT !!!!!!!!!!!!!  If you use a paid searcher/investigator, do not pay  any money up front, make sure they are licensed by the state and get the license number,  S.C. state law required that an investigator licensed in S.C. to provide a contract to the client that states total cost, information to be provided to the client, how often you will get a follow-up, etc.   We have been told of several searchers/companies that people paid money up front and did not get a completed search.


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Reuniting families separated by adoption. If the birth or adoption was in South Carolina you are in the right place!

Fundamental right to know: Judge Wade S. Weatherford, Jr., Seventh Judicial Circuit Court, SC, said in a ruling on an adoptee’s petition to gain access to adoption records: "Mankind is possessed of no greater urge than to try to understand the age-old question: ’Who am I?’ ’Why am I?’ Those emotions and anxieties that generate our thirst to know the past are not superficial and whimsical. They are real and they are ’good cause’ under the law of man and God."Judge Weatherford, Jr - 

Adoption Laws are exercised by individual state law - and not a federal law. The state law that applies to an adoption is where the adoption took place which is usually where the adoption parents resided or filed the adoption decree. In S.C. we have found adoptions that went thru the state where the parents were not a full resident at the time. The law applies to the state where the adoption took place which is usually where the adopted parents lived at the time the adoptee was placed in their home.

Registry -  Don't forget to enter your information.  Search the Registry
Will be adding new items, articles, information and search posts   
           Open  Records - Why it is an issue

Facebook Group - South Carolina Adoption Reunion Registry

Please complete a registry form, for membership to this group


Confidentiality in Adoption

Confidentiality in adoption means that those who are separated DO NOT and  CAN NOT know each other. 
In most states there are a minimum of seven ways people CAN and DO find and know each other without having an original birth certificate., 

Everyone has the right to refuse contact. 
That is the ONLY degree of confidentiality that exits, and it exists whether you do or do not have your original birth certificate. 

Several ways adult adoptees and birth parents can find each other under the sealed birth certificate system in most states

  • GOOD CAUSE  - Under the law in most states, all sealed birth certificates may be  accessed with  a showing  of good cause.  The birth certificate accessed could be the one that locates the one birth parent or adoptee who does not want to be found. 

  • SUPPORT GROUPS - Support groups have a very good reputation for helping triad members  access birth information and locate birth relatives.  The relative they find may be the one 
    birth parent or adoptee that does not want to be found. 

  • BLACK MARKET - For a price, most people can be found if the information has not  been falsified,.Those with means can find; those without cannot

  • AGENCY SEARCHES  - Finding one member of the birth family gives possible access to all  members of the  birth family.  Access to any member may lead to the one birth parent who does not want to be found

  • INTERNET - Finding on the internet is rapidly becoming a science.  This can lead to the one  birth parent or adoptee who does not want to be found.

  • IDENTIFYING INFORMATION  - given to adoptive parents or keeping the adoptee's original  birth name could locate that one birth parent or adoptee who does not want to be found. 

  • PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS - can find the one birth parent or adoptee who does not want to found. 

Sealed birth certificates are a symbol of a confidentiality that does not exist -  Not when people can and do find each other daily. Unsealed birth certificates are a symbol of an adoptee's identity and their civil rights as a citizen.


South Carolina Adoption Reunion Registry on Facebook



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