South Carolina: An OBC to get a driver’s license?

I want to preface this blog by saying that I am no expert on the South Carolina situation.  I am pretty sure, though, that I have interpreted the law correctly.

I’m posting this entry as a smaller part of the big picture of sealed adoption records in the age of the national security state. While our battle  is always about equal treatment under law and due process, in the restoration of our right to our original birth certificates,  there are serous practical and political consequences that grow out of our lack of access.

Last night, Anne Piper Boyd, one of Bastard Nation’s Facebook friends posted a section from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles homepage regarding application identification requirements to obtain a driver’s license in the state.  It seems if you are adopted, the BMV–at least in theory– demands proof! 

The following  is an identification requirement  posted on  the BMV website  for  residents (native-born and new)  to obtain a South Carolina driver’s license (my emphasis)
If your name has changed since birth, you must provide all legal documents (adoption records, marriage certificate, certificate of naturalization, court ordered name change) supporting all name changes from birth to present. For more information about documents you will need to get a S.C. license, see Accepted Forms of Identification.
This got me curious about South Carolina’s OBC access law.  Well, surprise!  There is pretty much NO ACCESS.  South Carolina in fact, makes Missouri look like Oregon.

The activist group down there, South Carolina Adoptee Rights (SCAR–how appropriate!) tells us:

Adoption Records have been closed since 1963 in South Carolina.
The state only has records of adoptions that went thru the Department of Social Services.

What does this mean to adoptees?  How does an adoptee get their current medical information? What if the adoption was not done by DSS. 

Department of Social Services of S C will only reunite the adoptee and birth parent are registered with the state.  Other Agencies  have their own registries and both parties have to register an affidavit of consent at the discretion of the chief executive officer of the agency.  What if the other party is deceased?   How do we get current medical?

When an agency or attorney closes their business, there is not a statute that the files be retained or turned over to the state or how long the file has to be kept by the attorney or agency as the state only keeps records for the adoptions they handle. 

It is unclear if SCAR is including OBC release in its description, so I went a little farther:  to the HHS Child Welfare Information Gateway since it has a portal for OBC and identity access laws that is quicker than slogging through the state code. I found this for South Carolina.

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-780

The adoption agency may furnish nonidentifying information to adoptive parents, birth parents, or adoptees when, in the sole discretion of the chief executive officer of the agency, the information would serve the best interests of the persons concerned. Nonidentifying information includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • The health and medical histories of the birth parents
  • The health and medical history of the adoptee
  • The adoptee’s general family background without name references or geographical designations
  • The length of time the adoptee has been in the care and custody of the adoptive parent
Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-780
The public adoption agency responsible for the placement shall furnish to an adoptee the identity of the adoptee’s birth parents and siblings and to the birth parents and siblings the identity of the adoptee under the following conditions:
  • The adoptee is age 21 or older, and the applicants apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information.
  • The agency has a current file containing affidavits from the adoptee and the birth parents and siblings that they are willing to have their identities revealed to each other.
  • The agency has established and maintained a confidential register that contains the names and addresses of the adoptee and birth parents and siblings who have filed affidavits.
  • The adoptee and his or her birth parents and siblings have undergone 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.

No disclosure may be made within 30 days after compliance with these conditions. The director of the adoption agency may waive the 30-day period in extreme circumstances. The agency may delay disclosure for 20 days from the expiration of the 30-day period to allow time to apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin the disclosure for good cause shown. 

 Access to Original Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Code § 44-63-140
The original birth certificate is placed in a special sealed file by the State Registrar. The statute does not specify a procedure for access to the original certificate.

No procedure?
 I then went to the  SC Vital Stats webpage.  There is NOTHING about adoption. Presumably that Registrar’s sealed file–that is, South Carolina’s entire adopted population– is so secret its existence can’t even be acknowledged on the Registrar’s own public information site.  SC’s Vital Statistics  gives Class Bastard a whole new meaning.
Finally I checked the South Carolina Code just to verify that these summaries and comments are correct.  Unfortunately, they are. There is also a  $500 fine and/or imprisonment for up to six months for anyone in an official capacity who “disseminates”  information to the undocumented pariah.
So this takes us back to the BMV’s requirement.
How is the adoptee supposed to comply with South Carolina BMV regulations if she (1) has no idea what her original name is; (2) has no access to that information and required documents; or (3) doesn’t know she’s adopted?

In fact, if the amended birth certificate is the forever birth certificate for the forever Baby Bumble, is the pre-adoption information necessary?  As adopta tradition goes: You didn’t exist before you were adopted.

I don’t know what a SC birth certificate looks like, but I’m guessing, due to the rabid secrecy surrounding adoption and adoptees in the state, an amended bc might not be detectable to the untrained eye. But it also seems, if you read the BMV’s description of its  extraordinary technological  snooping  identity verification process, adoptees won’t come out suspicion free.
What is really astounding, even to to me who should know better, is that the adoption system in SC is so closed and controlled  that the directors of DSS and private adoption agencies  have the “discretion” to release non-identifying information based on what they perceive as the “best interests” of the adult adoptee and adult first family.  What are these “best interests” and why should these busybody social drones have the authority to define and decide our business–especially since other states such as Ohio, simply release it upon request, and have done so for years?
Identifying information?  Privately run registries?  Counseling? (Maybe BMV gets a cut!) We can smell the cash manure here in Ohio.    If the agency is defunct, tough.  Your records are dumpsterized. There isn’t even a recourse in current state law.
The entire SC “system” is arcane and corrupt.  In effect, the state has no mechanism to release OBCs, and any other way of getting personal information is through an adoption industry gatekeeper who may have a lot to hide. Or a new carpet to pay for. And to top it off, it forces search and reunion when only information may be desired.
Taking this to its logical conclusion, a South Carolina adoptee can be stopped from getting a driver’s license because some adoption industry bigwig doesn’t think it’s somebody’s  “best interest” to drive a car in South Carolina.

And that is just about as absurd as we can get.

7 Replies to “South Carolina: An OBC to get a driver’s license?”

  1. This is Anne, I am moving to SC from AL, where I have held a valid license since 1984. Are these clowns really telling me that I have to dig up 44 year old adoption records from Virginia? Are they really telling me that to **transfer a valid license from AL to SC*** I have to magically procure documents that the powers that be don’t believe that I am entitled to?

    THANK YOU for blogging this!

  2. To Anne (moving from AL):

    I can’t speak to all possible differences regarding adoptees – but I moved to SC from GA in 2004, and didn’t have to show a birth certificate, original or otherwise, to get a SC drivers license. I had to surrender my
    GA license, and show proof of address (typically, bank statement, utility bill, lease, etc.)

    I have no idea what happens if you move here and don’t have a current drivers license.

    (Completely different issue – are you keeping up with the Baby Jessica case here in SC, where a couple adopted a baby from Oklahoma 2 years ago; biological father filed for custody 4 months later; SC court ruled in favor of the bio-father and now he has the child; now it’s going to SC Supreme Court)?

  3. I was born and adopted in SC in 1976. My adoption was private through attorneys. Those same attorneys told me when I came looking that they kept my file 7 years and then destroyed it. My adoption was also finalized 3 days after birth on the word of my adoptive parents’ priest. No home studies, no background checks. I was also adopted by an out of state couple which is supposed to be against SC code but my birth mom told me that she was simply told where to sign and nothing was ever explained to her and she specifically remembers wondering why they wanted her to sign a paper saying it was okay to take me out of the state of SC when she was told my adoptive parents were from SC. The attorneys also told my parents that I could get my OBC when I turned 18, knowing full well that they were lying. The ABC that I have does not look suspicious – except that they noted my father’s occupation as a CPA. He did not become a CPA until I was about 6 or 7 years old and I even remember the day he got his credentials. I am lucky that my parents saved any and all paperwork regarding my adoption; meaning that I have the final decree which I can show as proof of how my name changed. However, my mother’s name was carefully omitted from everything. Not blacked out – just never even typed! Everything refers to her as the “minor mother” or the “natural mother”. And all mentions of me are as Baby Girl Roe until the last section of the final decree where the court orders my name to be changed to what my adoptive parents wanted. (And no, Roe was no my birth name. This is apparently what SC does in regards to children placed for adoption. We’re all Baby Girl or Baby Boy Roe.) Everything in this article is true because I learned it all back in the 90s when trying to find my birth mom.

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