South Carolina Adoption Statute--Records Sections
SECTION 20-7-1780. Hearings and records confidential; access to records;
furnishing nonidentifying information; violations; penalties.
(A) Unless the court otherwise orders, all hearings held in
proceedings under Subarticles 7 and 9 of Article 11 of Chapter 7
of Title 20 are confidential and must be held in closed court
without admittance of any person other than those persons
involved in the proceedings and their counsel.
(B) All papers and records pertaining to the adoption and filed
with the clerk of court are confidential from the time of filing
and upon entry of the final adoption decree must be sealed and
kept as a permanent record of the court and withheld from
inspection. No person may have access to the records except for
good cause shown by order of the judge of the court in which the
decree of adoption was entered.
(C) All files and records pertaining to the adoption
proceedings in the State Department of Social Services, or in any
authorized agency, or maintained by any person certified by the
department under the provisions of Section 20-7-1750, are
confidential and must be withheld from inspection except upon
court order for good cause shown.
(D) The provisions of this section must not be construed to
prevent any adoption agency from furnishing to adoptive parents,
biological parents, or adoptees nonidentifying information when
in the sole discretion of the chief executive officer of the
agency the information would serve the best interests of the
persons concerned either during the period of placement or at a
subsequent time nor must the provisions of Subarticles 7 and 9 of
Article 11 of Chapter 7 of Title 20 be construed to prevent
giving nonidentifying information to any other person, party, or
agency who in the discretion of the chief executive officer of
the agency has established a sufficient reason justifying the
release of that nonidentifying information. As used in this
subsection "nonidentifying information" includes but is not
limited to the following:
(1) the health and medical histories of the biological
(2) the health and medical history of the adoptee;
(3) the adoptee's general family background without name
references or geographical designations; and
(4) the length of time the adoptee has been in the care and
custody of the adoptive parent.
(E)(1) The public adoption agencies responsible for the
placement shall furnish to an adoptee the identity of the
adoptee's biological parents and siblings and to the biological
parents and siblings the identity of the adoptee under the
(a) The adoptee must be twenty-one years of age or older,
and the applicants shall apply in writing to the adoption agency
for the information.
(b) The adoption agency must have a current file containing
affidavits from the adoptee and the biological parents and
siblings that they are willing to have their identities revealed
to each other. The affidavit also must include a statement
releasing the agency from any liability due to the disclosure. It
is the responsibility of the person furnishing the affidavit to
advise the agency of a change in his status, name, and address.
(c) The adoption agency shall establish and maintain a
confidential register containing the names and addresses of the
adoptees and biological parents and siblings who have filed
affidavits. It is the responsibility of a person whose name and
address are in the register to provide the agency with his
current name and address.
(d) The adoptee and his biological parents and siblings
shall undergo counseling by the adoption agency concerning the
effects of the disclosure. The adoption agency may charge a fee
for the services, but services must not be denied because of
inability to pay.
(2) No disclosure may be made within thirty days after
compliance with these conditions. The director of the adoption
agency may waive the thirty-day period in extreme circumstances.
(3) The adoption agency may delay disclosure for twenty days
from the expiration of the thirty-day period to allow time to
apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin the
disclosure for good cause shown.
(F)(1) It is unlawful for a person having custody, of or access
to the papers, records, or files described in subsections (B) or
(C) to disseminate or permit dissemination of information
contained in them except as otherwise authorized in this section.
(2) A person who violates the provisions of this section is
guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not
more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than
six months, or both.
HISTORY: 1985 Act No. 158, Section 1, eff June 21, 1985; 1986 Act
No. 464 Section 2, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor
(Approved June 3, 1986); 1986 Act No. 525, Section 3, eff
February 25, 1987; 1987 Act No. 144 Section 2, eff June 4, 1987;
1988 Act No. 653, Section 17, eff June 7, 1988; 1990 Act No. 567,
Section 1, eff June 11, 1990; 1992 Act No. 261, Section 1, eff February
SECTION 20-7-1790. Issuance and filing of amended birth certificates.
(A) For each adoption handled through a child placing agency as
defined in Section 20-7-1650, the attorney for the petitioner
shall, within fifteen days of the filing of the final decree,
transmit to the appropriate agency a certified copy of the
adoption decree and a Certificate of Adoption with Part II
completed and verified by the adoptive parent and Part III
certified by the clerk of court. The agency shall complete Part I
of the Certificate of Adoption and transmit the form to the State
Registrar of Vital Statistics within thirty days of the filing of
the final decree.
(B) For other adoptions, the attorney for the petitioner shall
complete Parts I and II of the Certificate of Adoption form
provided by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics and file with
the clerk of court at the time of filing of the final decree. The
clerk of court shall certify Part III of the Certificate of
Adoption and transmit the form to the State Registrar within
thirty days of the filing of the final decree.
(C) In the case of a person who was born in a foreign country
and who was not a United States citizen at birth, the court shall
require evidence from sources determined to be reliable by the
court as to the date and place of birth of the person and shall
set forth in the order of the court the date and place of birth
as established by the evidence. The court order and evidence
submitted to the court must be attached to the Certificate of
Adoption and transmitted to the State Registrar.
(D) The Certificate of Adoption form provided by the State
Registrar must not be used in conjunction with any legal
procedure affecting a birth certificate other than adoption.
(E) The State Registrar, upon receipt of a certified
Certificate of Adoption, shall take action as provided by Section
44-63-140 with respect to the issuance and filing of an amended
HISTORY: 1986 Act No. 464 Section 2, eff 6 months after approval
by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); 1987 Act No. 87 Section
1, eff July 1, 1987.
SECTION 44-63-140. Supplementary or amended birth certificates for
adopted children or adults.
Upon receipt of a certified Certificate of Adoption pursuant to
(1) For a person born in this State, the state registrar
shall prepare a supplementary Certificate of Birth in the name of
the adoptee, free of any reference to or indication of the fact
that the child was adopted and showing the adoptive parents as
the real parents, except that an adoption of an adult must
display the words "By Adoption" on the face of the amended
The state registrar shall furnish a copy of the amended
certificate to the county registrar who shall file the amended
certificate in lieu of the copy of the original birth
certificate. The state registrar shall require the county
registrar to return the copy of the original certificate recorded
at the county office to the state office to be placed in the
special sealed file. Periodically, the state registrar shall
transmit copies of amendatory certificates to the county
registrar in the county of birth.
(2) When adoption is decreed by a family court in this State
of a person born in a foreign country who was not a United States
citizen at birth and evidence of the date and place of birth
submitted to the court and the court order setting forth the date
and place of birth are attached to the Certificate of Adoption,
the state registrar, when directed by the court order, shall
prepare a "Certificate of Foreign Birth". The certificate, and
any issued copy of the certificate, must be labeled "Certificate
of Foreign Birth" and must show the actual country of birth. A
statement also must be included on the certificate, and any
issued copy of the certificate, that it is not evidence of United
States citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.
(3) If the person was born in a foreign country and was a
United States citizen at the time of birth, the state registrar
may not prepare a "Certificate of Foreign Birth" but shall notify
the adoptive parents of the procedure for obtaining a revised
birth certificate for their child through the United States
Department of State.
(4) For a person born in another state in the United States,
the state registrar shall transmit the certified Certificate of
Adoption to the state registrar in the state of birth.
HISTORY: 1987 Act No. 87 Section 2, eff July 1, 1987; 1988 Act
No. 341, Section 1, eff February 24, 1988.
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