The following information is adapted from the post-adoption support files here at Carolina Hope. Note that this information is directly applicable only to SC residents who have adopted from overseas. The information provided here should not be construed as legal advice, for which you should see a qualified attorney.
Once you are home with your child, it is important to get a State-issued birth certificate for him or her. Here in South Carolina you have a choice between doing a domestication of the adoption -- which you can do without an attorney -- or readoption, which requires the help of an attorney. Both domestication and readoption will give you a South Carolina-issued birth certificate.
If you came home on an IR-3 visa, your child became a U.S. citizen as soon as your plane landed in the States. So why choose readoption rather than domestication? The main reason is that readoption terminates under South Carolina law any rights of your child's birth parents over your child. Carolina Hope has had more than one incident in which an overseas orphanage was shut down, and the orders of adoption for children from that orphanage were nullified. While this is not common, it is a very serious thing, and readopting your child here in the U.S. will strongly affirm the legality of your child's adoption and help prevent its being called into question.
What are the advantages of a South Carolina-issued birth certificate over a foreign-issued birth certificate? The South Carolina birth certificate will have your child's American name. This will avoid awkwardness for your child when she has to present a birth certificate to sign up for soccer or enter kindergarten. Also, you can replace an American birth certificate if the original is lost or destroyed, while you probably will not be able to replace a foreign birth certificate if it is lost.
Furthermore, in our post-9/11 environment, the U.S. federal government and individual state governments are less understanding about an immigrant's unique circumstances. An adopted non-Caucasian person with a South Carolina-issued birth certificate can avoid problems that may arise for an adopted person with only a foreign birth certificate and a Certificate of Citizenship.
If you choose to domesticate your child's adoption, copies of the guidelines and the forms to be used in the domestication may be obtained from any South Carolina County Family Court Clerk of Court's Office or at the Central Office of the Department of Health and Environmental Control. For more information, please contact:
Attn: Adoption Clerk
Division of Vital Registry/Foreign Adoptions
SC Department of Health and Environmental Control
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29201
For a very detailed discussion of this and other legal issues, read this Word document, "Full Protection under the Law: Wills, Guardianship, Life Insurance, Re-adoption, Citizenship," from the website of EMK Press.
In a situation as serious as choosing between domestication of the adoption and readoption, we recommend that you contact an adoption attorney (see www.adoptionattorneys.com) who has experience in international adoption to discuss your options. Your family attorney most likely will not have the expertise to help you with the specialized area of adoption law. It is wise to contact two or three attorneys to compare their services and their fees.