Frequent Asked Questions

Adoption | Assisted Reproductive Technology | Grandparents | Veterans Benefits

Adoption

In South Carolina, can a birth mother revoke her consent or is there a waiting period for revoking consent after the document is signed?

In South Carolina a birth parent cannot revoke their consent except under limited circumstances and the burden to prove those limited circumstances is high. It is best to speak with an attorney before signing a consent to terminate parental rights and consent to adoption.

What is the adoption tax credit?

For 2013, the maximum adoption credit and exclusion is $12,970 per child. The credit will begin to phase out for a family with modified adjusted gross income above $194,580 and the credit will go away completely for a family with income around $234,580. The adoption credit is calculated on Form 8839 Qualified Adoption Expenses.

What is a home study?

State law dictates whether an individual social worker, a private licensed child placing agency, or a public social service agency may perform the home study. The process is designed to evaluate the adoptive parents to assure that there is nothing in their homes or background which would be contrary to the best interests of the child. It is an independent investigation to verify one’s suitability as an adoptive parent and includes criminal and child abuse history searches.

What are the types of domestic adoption?

There are three types of domestic adoptions: Private Agency, Public Agency and Independent (sometimes called private or parental placement).

How long will private adoption take?

There is a wide variety of waiting periods dependent upon a host of controllable and non-controllable factors. Generally, the average waiting period to be matched with a birth mother expecting a child is 12 – 24 months. Waits can be dramatically shorter or longer depending on individual situations and client’s specified parameters for adoption such as gender preference, race, age of adoptive parent, number of children in family, financial limitations, and state of residence of adoptive parents and birth parents.

What is Agency Adoption?

Agency adoption is an adoption that is facilitated by a licensed child placing agency in the State where you reside. Agency Adoptions are conducted through either public or private agencies. Residents of South Carolina may work with public and private agencies located in South Carolina or anywhere in the United States. In Agency adoptions, the birth parents are placing the child with the Agency, which then places the child with the adoptive couple. The birth parents can still select the adoptive parents or they can request that the Agency select a family.

Where do we begin?

The first step to building your family through adoption or assisted reproduction technology is to sit down with an experienced attorney who can explain all of your options and answer your questions.

How much does Adoption cost?

The type of adoption pursued determines the cost of an adoption. Public Agency adoptions tend to be the least expensive and sometimes do not cost the adoptive parents anything after subsidies, tax benefits and other factors. A private agency or independent adoption can cost between $10,000 and $40,000. Some of the factors that impact the cost of an adoption are whether the birth mother has medical insurance, where the adoption is being finalized, interstate requirements and the role of the birth father.

What information is provided to an expectant parent about me?

The birth mother, and sometimes the birth father compile a lengthy family, social and medical history. Following a match, adoptive parents may obtain medical records from the OB/GYN and from the hospital as soon as practical given the doctor or hospital’s cooperation. If requested and authorized by the birth family, criminal records or other third party document may be obtained. No one can guarantee the health or medical history of a baby.

Does a surrogate have to consent to an adoption?

Depending on the type of surrogate used, one or both intended parents may need to proceed with an adoption and obtain the surrogate’s consent.

Assisted Reproductive Technology

Why do I need an attorney for my donation or surrogacy plans?

When families plan to have children through the Assisted Reproduction process, such situations allow families to be formed with the assistance of physicians and fertility clinics. Typically, the medical technology has developed faster than the laws in most states, and when the medical process is complete and a child is born, it’s critically important to make certain that the legal rights and status of all parties is clear. The ones who intended to be parents of the child need to be recognized as parents, and donors and surrogates, who wanted to help but had no intention of being a parent, need to be certain they have no such parental responsibilities. Each state and jurisdiction varies a great deal on how legal parentage is established in the intended parents, and how a donor and a surrogate insure that he or she have no parental obligations or responsibilities for any child born through the assisted reproduction procedure.

For these reasons, most medical clinics that assist families with ART procedures require a legal agreement between the parties to outline their intent as to who will be the parent or parents of a child born as the result of the medical procedures, who will have the rights and responsibilities as parents of the child, and who will not have such rights. It is important to clearly state each party’s rights and responsibilities in a contract.

Will our surrogate have medical insurance?

Usually insurance will cover pregnancy and delivery, with relevant deductions or co-pays. You will know when matched with a surrogate what type of insurance, if any, she has. There are many insurance plans that now exclude a surrogate pregnancy. The good news is that there are also plans exclusively for a surrogacy arrangement that will insure coverage.

What is difference between traditional and gestational surrogate?

A gestational carrier or gestational surrogate is a woman who carries a child conceived through the process of in-vitro fertilization utilizing the egg and sperm of the intended parents, an egg donor, and/or a sperm donor. This is different from a traditional surrogate who supplies the egg and is the biological mother of the child she carries and delivers. In the latter case, pregnancy is usually achieved utilizing the intrauterine insemination.

What is third party reproduction?

Third party reproduction enables an individual the chance to have a child that would otherwise be impossible. Third party reproduction can include donor sperm, donor eggs, donor embryo, surrogacy, and/or a gestational carrier.

Can we be placed on the birth certificate if using a Surrogate?

This will completely depend on the state in which you live and/or the state where the surrogate delivers, as well as the type of Surrogacy involved (traditional or gestational). Your attorney should advise you what will happen with the birth certificate and what procedure is involved at the time you are matched with your surrogate.

Does a surrogate have to consent to an adoption?

Depending on the type of surrogate used, one or both intended parents may need to proceed with an adoption and obtain the surrogate’s consent.

Grandparents

Do I have a right to visitation with my grandchildren?

There is a single "right" answer to this question. Each family situation is different and the circumstances may or may not warrant petitioning the Court for visitation. The Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution grants parents a protected liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of their children. However, there is a South Carolina statute that addresses grandparent visitation that aims to meet the constitutional requirements while giving the court the ability to award grandparent visitation. 

Can I get custody of my grandchild?

There are some situations in which grandparents may seek custody of their grandchild. If grandparents can show by "clear and convincing evidence" they are the "de facto" custodians of the minor child, there is some chance the court would grant them custody of the minor child. To show they are "de facto" custodians, grandparents need to show they are the primary caregiver and financial supporter of the child for a certain amount of time. The time period varies depending on the age of the child. Grandparents must also show the parents are unfit or that other compelling circumstances exist. There are numerous factors the court considers and like any case involving custody, the court will always consider the child's best interest paramount. Grandparent custody can be complicated and it is recommended you consult with a licensed attorney before seeking custody.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) removed my grandchildren from their parents' home. Can my grandchildren live with me instead of a foster home?

There's a possibility the grandchildren could live with the grandparents but it's not a guaranteed right. An attorney who's handled cases with DSS before can advise you about the possibility of grandchildren living with grandparents instead of a foster home. 

Veterans Benefits

How do I apply for veterans benefits?

To file for the veterans benefits you need, you can:

What information do I need when applying for veterans benefits?

When applying for veterans disability benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs requires that you document the following in your application:

  • Dependency records (marriage and children’s birth certificates)
  • Discharge and separation papers (DD-214 or equivalent)
  • Employment history (W-2, or other documentation)
  • Medical evidence supporting your disability (doctor and hospital records)

What benefits are available to veterans?

As a veteran, a veteran’s survivor, or a veteran’s dependent, you may be eligible for a variety of veterans disability benefits, including:

How do I get veterans benefits?

To get veterans benefits, you must meet the VA’s strict guidelines for eligibility. The VA will consider you or your family members as qualified recipients of veterans disability if you are a:

  • Veteran
    As a veteran, you may be eligible for compensation, pension, or other benefits if you have a service-related disability and you were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
  • Veteran’s dependent
    Your spouse, former non-remarried spouse, children, and parents may be considered beneficiaries of certain veterans benefits.
  • Veteran’s survivor
    The surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased veteran may be considered eligible for survivor benefits, which include burial benefits, death pension, death gratuity payment, dependency and indemnity compensation, and other dependent’s benefits.

Why should I file an appeal?

No matter why you were denied by the VA, you have the right to request that the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) review the decision on your claim. You can file an appeal for any reason; however, most people file an appeal because they were either:

  • denied benefits for disabilities they believe began in service,
  • or they believe their disabilities are more severe than the VA rated them.