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Doe v. Clark

457 S.E.2d 336 (1995)

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Doe v. Clark

South Carolina Supreme Court

457 S.E.2d 336 (1995)

Facts

On January 25, 1994, Wylanda Clark (defendant), who was unmarried, signed a consent-and-relinquish form to release her parental rights over her child. Clark originally signed the form so that the child could be adopted by the Does (plaintiff). On January 30, Clark gave birth. The next day, before Clark left the hospital, she signed a second form provided by the hospital, consenting to the adoption and authorizing the hospital to release the baby to the Does’ attorney. On February 1, the Does and their attorney arrived at the hospital to pick up the baby. However, the hospital staff informed the Does and their attorney that Clark wished to take home the baby. In response, the Does filed a suit in family court to be declared the child’s legal parents. Clark argued that the consent-and-relinquish form was void on the ground that by passing South Carolina’s Adoption Act, which governs consent-and-relinquish forms, the legislature implicitly required that the form be signed after the birth of the child. Clark’s allegation was based on the fact that the act required information on the form that could only be obtained after the birth, such as the baby’s birth date, race, and sex. Additionally, Clark argued that the form she signed was void because it did not include all of the statutorily required information. The family-court judge concluded that the consent-and-relinquish form was valid and that Clark had reaffirmed her consent by signing the hospital’s form. Therefore, the judge ruled in the Does’ favor. The matter was appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Finney, J.)

Dissent (Waller, J.)

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