Adoption Law South Dakota


The adoption laws of South Dakota are governed by title 25 'Domestic Relation' of the South Dakota Statute. As per the law of the state any minor child may be adopted by any adult person. However, the person adopting the child must be at least ten years older than the person adopted.

In an adoption proceeding or in any proceeding that challenges an order of adoption or order terminating parental rights, the court shall give due consideration to the interests of the parties to the proceedings, but shall give paramount consideration to the best interests of the child.


The circuit court is vested with the jurisdiction to hear, try, and determine all matters relative to the adoption of children, subject to the right of appeal in the same form and manner as appeals are taken from the circuit court.

The circuit court for the county of the child's legal residence or of the adopting parent's legal residence according to where petition is first filed shall have the original jurisdiction.


The father of an illegitimate child by publicly acknowledging it as his own and with the consent of his wife if he is married and may adopt such child. The other provisions of law relating to adoption shall not apply in such cases.


Child's Parents

A child may not be adopted without the consent of the child's parents. However, if it is in the best interest of the child, the court may waive consent from a parent or putative father who:

  1. Has been convicted of any crime punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary for a period that, in the opinion of the court, will deprive the child of the parent's companionship for a critical period of time;
  2. Has, by clear and convincing evidence, abandoned the child for six months or more immediately prior to the filing of the petition;
  3. Has substantially and continuously or repeatedly neglected the child and refused to give the child necessary parental care and protection;
  4. Being financially able, has willfully neglected to provide the child with the necessary subsistence, education, or other care necessary for the child's health, morals, or welfare or has neglected to pay for such subsistence, education, or other care if legal custody of the child is lodged with others and such payment ordered by the court;
  5. Is unfit by reason of habitual abuse of intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs;
  6. Has been judicially deprived of the custody of the child, if the adjudication is final on appeal to the court of last resort or the time for an appeal has expired; or
  7. Does not appear personally or by counsel at the hearing to terminate parental rights after notice, which was received at least thirty days prior to the hearing.

The consent of the child, if over the age of twelve years, is necessary to its adoption.

Consent of spouse

A married man not lawfully separated from his wife cannot adopt a child without the consent of his wife, nor can a married woman, not thus separated from her husband, without his consent, provided the husband or wife not consenting is capable of giving such consent.


A person may not place a child in a home for adoption until a home study report has been completed by a licensed child placement agency, the Department of Social Services, or a certified social worker eligible to engage in private independent practice and the report has been filed with the Department of Social Services.

A home study shall include a criminal record check completed by the Division of Criminal Investigation and a central registry screening completed by the Department of Social Services.


An adult may adopt another adult by filing a petition requesting such adoption with the judge of the circuit court, together with an agreement in writing that the person being adopted shall be treated in all respects as a natural child of the petitioner.

Written consent of the adopted person shall also be required. It shall be a further prerequisite that the person being adopted shall have lived in the home of the adoptive parent during his minority for a period of at least six months, and this fact shall appear in the petition.


A person, or a husband and wife jointly, petition the circuit court for leave to adopt a minor child. The petition may be filed with the circuit court before the six-month period elapse from the date the child is brought to the proposed foster home.

The judge of the circuit court thereafter fixes a time for hearing not less than ten days from the filing of such petition.

The Circuit Court may, in the case of a stepparent adopting a stepchild, and shall in all other cases, direct a court services officer or other officer of the court or an agent of the Department of Social Services or some other discreet and competent person to make a careful and thorough investigation of the matter and report such findings in writing to the court. A history of any previous child support obligations of each prospective adoptive parent shall be included in the investigative report.

Examination of witnesses

The Circuit judge after examination of all persons appearing separately and if satisfied from such examination and the report of the investigation that

  1. the child is suitable for adoption and
  2. the petitioning foster parent or parents financially able and morally fit to have the care and training of such child,
  3. that all requirements of the law have been met and that interests of the child will be promoted by the adoption

he must make an order declaring that the child thenceforth shall be the adopted child of the person adopting and shall be regarded and treated in all respects as the child of such person; and which order, among other things, shall contain the following:

  1. The full adoptive name, date of birth, sex, color or race, and place of birth, of the adopted child; and
  2. The full name, date of birth, citizenship, residence, color or race, birthplace, and occupation of both adoptive persons.


The natural parents of an adopted child are from the time of the adoption, relieved of all parental duties towards, and of all responsibility for the child so adopted, and have no right over it.

The natural parents of an adopted child shall retain no rights or privileges to have visitation or other post-adoption contact with the child, except in cases where a natural parent consents to the adoption of a child by the child's stepfather or stepmother who is the present spouse of the natural parent or in cases of voluntary termination where there is a written pre-adoption agreement between the natural parent or parents and the adoptive parents.