2012 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 63 - South Carolina Children's Code
Chapter 9 - ADOPTIONS
Section 63-9-780 - Confidentiality of hearings and records.
(A) Unless the court otherwise orders, all hearings held in proceedings under this article and Article 7 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 63-9-360, 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 this article and Article 7 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 parents;
(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 following conditions:
(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 subsection (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: 2008 Act No. 361, Section 2.
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