The Adoption Process – Part 1

The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services. The S.C. Heart Gallery is dedicated to finding forever homes for children in foster care, and serving families who are interested in adoption from foster care.


Yet, the adoption process can be overwhelmingly daunting for any family—especially those navigating it for the first time. Background checks. Home studies. Paperwork. There is a lot to consider, and information can be hard to find. That is why our dedicated partners at the S.C. Heart Gallery have worked with adoption offices around the state to present the following steps of the adoption process.


Following is part 1 of this process:


  1. Inquiry/Intake: An interested family or individual inquires about adoption in general or a specific child, usually either by phone or email. Basic information about the family is gathered, the general process is discussed, and an application is mailed to the family.


  1. Application: After the family or individual returns the completed application, the regional DSS Adoption Division assigns a Family Worker, who invites the family to Orientation. At Orientation, the family receives a comprehensive overview of the adoption process and 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 and decrees, and military discharge papers
  • Family history/background, household income and expenses, education/work history, and current medical reports
  • Written references from non-relatives
  • Additionally, DHEC and the Fire Marshal must complete sanitation and safety inspections of the home.


  1. Training: The family attends two days of training provided by Heartfelt Calling (a division of the SC Foster Parent Association) and one day of adoption-specific training provided by the regional DSS Adoption Division.


  1. Home Study/Pre-placement Investigation: A Certified Adoption Investigator (CI) 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 it 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 the State Office so that all SCDSS Adoption Specialists have the ability to review it as a potential match.


Come visit us here on the blog again next week for part 2!


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