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 Application: If you are a resident of South Carolina, you may call, email or submit an inquiry from our website to learn about the adoption process or about a specific featured child. Once you are ready to complete an adoption intake application, contact the SC Heart Gallery to inform us. We will contact you by phone to gather basic information about you and your family then submit the completed application to the SC Department of Social Services (SCDSS).
- Orientation: After reviewing your application, SCDSS will invite you and your family to a parent orientation where you are given a packet with instructions and additional paperwork to complete. DSS 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 will also complete sanitation and safety inspections of your home.
- Training: An adoption specialist from SCDSS will invite you to attend two days of Foster/Adopt training through Heartfelt Calling (a division of the SC Foster Parent Association) and one day of adoption-specific training.
- Home Study/Pre-placement Investigation: Once training and home inspections are successfully completed, a certified adoption investigator (CI) schedules a minimum of two home visits to interview all family members, review your application documents, and assess your family’s acceptance of background factors and readiness to adopt. The CI completes a home study and submits to the regional SCDSS Adoption Division to determine if your study is approved or denied.
- Screening and Matching:If your home study is approved, your family and other approved in-state and out-of-state families are actively considered for placements based upon your specific interests, including the age, gender, number of children and which special needs you 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. While waiting, the regional SCDSS Adoption Division may invite approved families to recruitment events. Families can also search the SCDSS, SC Heart Gallery, AdoptUSkids or other websites for available children and submit inquiries through the website or through their family worker.
- Selection:A selection committee, including the adoption specialist and supervisor, and the child’s 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. The selected family is notified and invited to a presentation of the child’s background information and given time to decide if 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. The regional DSS Adoption Division provides supervisory assistance during an adjustment period of several months or more, depending on the legal status and adjustment of child and family to the placement. Finalization occurs once the child and family are ready, as assessed by and recommended by the agency.
- Finalization: Adoption is a lifelong process. After finalization, counseling, referral services, and other assistance may be available upon request from the adoptive family.
- Adoption Preservation:Adoption is a lifelong process. After finalization, counseling, referral services, and other assistance may be available upon request from the adoptive family.
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 approved home study so that we may submit it to the SC Department of Social Services for screening and consideration.