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:
- Inquiry/Intake: An interested family or individual inquires about adoption in general or a specific child.
- Application: The family or individual completes an application, and the regional DSS Adoption Division assigns a Family Worker.
- Training: The family attends two days of training and one day of adoption-specific training.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.