The process for opening confidential adoption records in South Dakota may vary from county to county.
1. Call the Dept. of Social Services (DSS-Division of Child Protection) in Pierre, SD, 1-605-773-3227 – Ask for the Adoption Office. Tell them you would like to get a COURT ORDER to access your adoption records. They will go over the petition process with you. They will send you some paperwork including an acknowledgement form that you will need to sign before a notary and a sample petition. If you use the sample petition they send, be sure to check the boxes for all the places you can get records from, including Clerk of Court for that county, Department of Social Services (DSS), Dept. of Health Vital Records, Adoption Agency (LSS), and other (ie. hospital).
2. Call the Clerk of Courts office in the county where your adoption was finalized (usually the county in which your adoptive parents lived when you were placed with them) to be sure they have your court records.
3. Take (or mail) the Petition, Acknowledgement, and Waiver forms to the Clerk of Courts Office. If mailing you should include a cover letter explaining why you want these records, and where you plan on sending the COURT ORDERS to, such as LSS, DSS, and Vital Records. Tell them you want three or four original Certified COURT ORDERS, as you will need one for each place you want to send (you can send for your original Birth Certificate at Vital Records [$15 fee with a Court Order and application], DSS [no fee], LSS [$200 fee], Courthouse records, hospital, or anywhere else). This may take a week or two depending on how busy the Judge is. Give them your phone number to call when ready or include a large self-addressed stamped return envelope.
4. When you receive the COURT ORDERS, send an original Certified COURT ORDER to the offices above and/or: Post Legal Adoption Services, Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, 621 E. Presentation Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57104 with the payment of $200, so LSS can process and prepare your adoption records for you. Please allow 2-3 weeks from the date we receive your Court Order and payment.
Please recognize that this is the usual process, but the county in which your adoption was completed may require different steps. If you have any questions or if LSS can be of further assistance, please feel free to call 605-221-2392 or email Joyce.Twite@LssSD.org .
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