Adoption isn’t scary…well, maybe a little


This week may be the only time of year when it’s acceptable to scare people; it may even be encouraged. Child-sized ghosts, goblins and witches will likely roam your streets this coming Friday in attempt—albeit imaginary—to instill fear in their neighbors in exchange for a sweet treat.


So, in the spirit of this “fear-filled” holiday, let’s embrace the emotion when it comes to adoption. Because, if you’re considering adopting a child from foster care, you’re probably already a little nervous…and rightfully so! Navigating the child welfare system, birth parents and the sometimes challenging behaviors of adopted children can be overwhelming. Here are some common adoption-related fears:


You may be scared of your home-study appointment. One prospective mother posted this on an online adoption forum:


“I have spent countless hours scrubbing down the house, setting up ournursery, and prepping our dogs for the children we hope to someday help. But no matter how many books I read, articles I highlight or calls to our agency, I can’t get the stress to stop. What if I forgot something from the inspection checklist? What if our dogs are too hyper for our inspector? What if the apartment is too small?” 


Or, you may have fears about how to tell your friends and family, such this adoptive mother:


“I can’t seem to imagine calling my mom on the phone and telling her ‘Hey mom, how’s the weather?  Really, that’s great.  By the way, we just started the process to become adoptive parents.  And we’re adopting an older child, not a baby.  So, how’s work?’” 


Our—and this may be the toughest fear to admit—you may even be scared of your own feelings toward your adoptive child. But, you wouldn’t be the first, as expressed by this prospective parent:

“My biggest concern is…looking at my child and thinking “That’s not really my child.” I’m scared I’m going to compare my adoptive child to biological nieces and nephews and think that he/she is really not part of the family. I am scared of watching my child do something and thinking “He/she gets that from me…but not really because he/she isn’t mine.”


Regardless of what you’re afraid about adopting, know that your feelings and emotions are normal. Countless of other prospective adoptive parents before you have had the same concerns. After all, you’re bringing a new person into your family—someone with their own feelings, beliefs and personality. It’s a scary thing! But, it’s also a pretty awesome and beautiful thing at the same time.


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 Power of Video

If you’ve been following our blog or Facebook page for a while now, you’ve probably already seen some of the individual child profile videos that we’re creating. Yes, they’re fun. They are also heartwarming and powerful—mainly because the children in foster care in our state are so awesome.


But our decision to move into videos was strategic for other reasons as well. Here’s some of the research behind why the SC Heart Gallery Foundation videos have been so successful:


In a Forbes article last year, Brent Weinstein, Head of Digital Media at United Talent Agency, explained the increasing influence of digital video creators in spaces such as YouTube.


“The leverage they have with audiences is something we’ve never seen before. It’s a medium we’ve never seen before, in terms of quality, how it extracts response from its audience, and the power that the individual creator wields,” Weinstein said.


The article notes that on 2012, one hour of YouTube video was uploaded every second. In 2013, 72 hours of online video was uploaded to YouTube every minute. People are making and consuming videos en masse, making YouTube a media powerhouse.


Another article by Richard Tiland, CEO of New Evolution Video, in Forbes in June 2014 reinforced that video is “The Premier Communications Tool Of Today.”


“The use of video is so ubiquitous in our everyday lives, it has become part of our subconscious.  We don’t even realize how much we know and learn from vide,” Tiland wrote.


“Since video appeals to both sight and sound in a quick burst of stimulation, it captures the attention of the viewer immediately and makes a lasting impression.  The messaging is concise and easy to understand, reaching people of all demographics.”


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 Adoption Process – Part 2

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.


Last week we posted part 1 of this series; you can find it here, where we covered:


  1. Inquiry/Intake:  An interested family or individual inquires about adoption in general or a specific child.
  2. Application:  The family or individual completes an application, and the regional DSS Adoption Division assigns a Family Worker.
  3. Training:  The family attends two days of training and one day of adoption-specific training.
  4. Home Study/Pre-placement Investigation:  A Certified Adoption Investigator schedules a minimum of two home visits.


This week, we finish it off with part 2:


  1. Selection: A selection committee—made up of the adoption specialist and supervisor, the foster care worker and supervisor, and potentially other appropriate parties—reviews the merits of each family 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.


  1. 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 the 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.


  1. 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.


  1. Adoption Preservation: Adoption is a lifelong process. After finalization, counseling, referral services, and other assistance may be available upon request by the adoptive family.


How are families matched? After approval (step 4), families are actively considered for placements (step 5) based upon their specific interests, including 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. Adoption Specialists or Heart Gallery Recruitment Specialists share general information regarding whether the family can be considered for placement of specified children.