Foster Care Adoption
There are many things to consider prior to making the decision to pursue adoption from U.S. foster care. It’s good to take your time and make sure this is the right fit for your family. In most cases, you may be able to adopt whether you’re married, single, or in a committed relationship. You don’t need to own your own home, have children already, be young, wealthy, or a stay-at-home parent to adopt.
Characteristics needed to be a good adoptive parent include:
- Being stable, mature, dependable, and flexible
- Having the ability to advocate for children
- Being a team player with your family or child welfare worker
Basic Steps to Adopt:
- Inquiry/Intake: The interested family or individual may call or email to learn about adoption in general or inquire about a specific featured child. Basic information about the family is gathered over the phone by an SCHG staff member, which is then submitted to DSS.
- Application: Once the family's application is reviewed, the regional DSS Adoption Division assigns a Family Worker, who invites the family to Orientation, where the family is given a comprehensive overview of the adoption process. At Orientation, the family receives a packet with instructions and additional paperwork that must be returned. General requirements include background checks, fingerprints, and Central Registry checks on all household members 18 or older; copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce petitions & decrees, military discharge papers; family history/background, household income & expenses, education/work history, current medical reports; and written references from non-relatives. DHEC and the Fire Marshal complete sanitation and safety inspections of the home.
- Training: The family attends 2 days of training provided by Heartfelt Calling (a division of the SC Foster Parent Association) and 1 day of adoption-specific training provided by the regional DSS Adoption Division.
- Home Study/Pre-placement Investigation: A Certified Adoption Investigator is assigned to the family. The CI schedules a minimum of two home visits to interview all family members, review the application documents, and assess the family’s acceptance of background factors and their readiness to adopt. The CI completes the home study and submits to the regional DSS Adoption Division; the family is notified of approval or denial. Upon approval a digital copy of the file is sent to State Office so that all SCDSS Adoption Specialists have the ability to review as a potential match.
- Selection: A selection committee through SCDSS, made up of the adoption specialist and supervisor, and the foster care worker and supervisor (may also include other appropriate parties), reviews the merits of each family to be considered to determine which approved family best meets the needs of the waiting child. Only the selected family is contacted. The selected family is notified and invited to a presentation of the child’s background information and given time to decide whether they are interested in placement. There may be exceptions to this, based on the legal status of the child.
- Placement: The selected family and child meet and begin pre-placement visits. When the child and family are ready, as assessed and agreed upon by the agency, placement occurs. Supervisory assistance is provided by the regional DSS Adoption Division during an adjustment period of several months or more depending on the legal status and adjustment of child and family to the placement. Once the child and family are ready, as assessed by and recommended by the agency, finalization occurs, contingent upon the legal status of the child.
- Finalization: A hearing is scheduled in the Family Court to legally finalize the adoption. The child will be issued a new birth certificate listing the adoptive parents and the child’s new name.
- Adoption Preservation: Adoption is a lifelong process. After finalization, counseling, referral services, and other assistance may be available upon request from the adoptive family.
- How are Families Matched? After approval, families are actively considered for placements based upon their specific interests, including the age, gender, number of children and which special needs they can accept in a child or sibling group. There is no way to estimate how long it may take before a family is matched with a child. Families are not contacted each time they are considered. While waiting, the approved family may be invited to recruitment events held by the regional DSS Adoption Division. The family can also search the DSS, SC Heart Gallery, AdoptUSkids or other websites for available children and make inquiries through the website or through their Family Worker. General information is shared by Adoption Specialists or Heart Gallery Recruitment Specialists regarding whether the family can be considered for placement of specified children.
Inquiring with SC Heart Gallery: Once we have received your inquiry for a child on our site whom you are interested in adopting, we will then request your home study (in addition to any supporting documents that may be necessary). Once your information is on file, our Adoption Recruitment Specialists will conduct a comprehensive screening to see if you are a potential match for the child you inquired about. You will be notified if you are a potential match. If you are a potential match -- your file will then be forwarded directly to the child's SCDSS Adoption Worker for further consideration. You will be notified if your family has been selected as the result of a *Placement Committee (*as referred to above, in "Step 5. Selection").