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.

 

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!

 

Behind the Scenes at a Photo Shoot

It was a typical summer’s day in the South—with heat and humidity that felt like a sauna. But the temperature didn’t hold us back. Today, it was all hands on deck for the SC Heart Gallery photo shoot in Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC.

 

Staff and volunteers showed up early to set out coolers of bottled water and juice and boxes cookies and chips for the children to enjoy during their time with us. Several volunteer photographers prepared their equipment and scouted various locations throughout the park where they would soon be photographing children. Likewise, our videographer set up under a tent in a quiet area away from the noise of the rest of the group.

 

One at a time, the children and their caseworkers began to arrive. Some were a little nervous, while others were just excited about the experience. It was obvious that each child had worn their favorite outfit; they wanted to look their best for the potential adoptive families who would be seeing these photographs.

 

Each child was assigned a photographer and a staff member to ask questions about their likes and preferences; their answers would be used in a profile to accompany their photos. What do they want to be when they grow up? What is their favorite subject in school? Who is their role model?

 

Before long, we were in full swing. The photographers hardly got a break—as soon as one session finished up, they started off with another child. Each child who was photographed was also interviewed on camera, capturing footage that would be used to create his or her own individual video. By 2pm, everyone was exhausted from the heat but—at the same time—uplifted and encouraged by the children we had met.

 

In total, 18 children participated in that SC Heart Gallery photo shoot in Greenville. This number is in addition to 94 children who were photographed and 70 who were videotaped by the Heart Gallery from January to June this year. The photos and videos captured during these sessions are gateways to adoption for these children—keys to permanent placement with a family of their own.

 

For the opportunity to serve children in this way is truly a blessing.

 

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.