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!

 

A Hidden Hero: Kim Holmes

The foster care/adoption world isn’t an easy one to navigate. It can be filled with frustration, heartbreak and tears just as often as it can success and joy. It takes exceptional individuals to navigate the system and fight day in and day out for these children. From caseworkers to non-profits to advocates, they passionately believe in a permanent family out there for every waiting child.

 

In honor of those who fight to match children with these families, this month the SC Heart Gallery Foundation blog is dedicated to these “hidden heroes”. This week, we are proud to recognize Kim Holmes, DSS Adoption Specialist with Region III Adoptions.

 

Holmes

After growing up in rural Johns Island, Kim studied pre-law in college and then found herself working at DSS which, which she says was only supposed to be for only a year or two. Today, Kim has been with DSS for 26 years.

 

A highlight of her career was the “Luggage Of Love” campaign with Region III Adoptions, in which luggage was donated and used to help children move as needed. Kim had the vision to start the initiative and enlisted the help of another adoption worker to help get it off the ground.

 

She explains, “When many of my children were being moved from a foster to adoptive homes, I grew tired of their belongings being handed to me in black garbage bags.”

 

“The result was overwhelming, as we now have several pieces of luggage for children as they transition from foster care to adoption,” she adds.

 

Kim says that she always found it particularly sad when a child didn’t have a family of their own—not only to the child but to their self esteem as well.

 

“I have a passion for older teens as they always feel as though their chance at a family is a lost cause and that no one will want them after a certain age,” Kim says. “Teens are no different than anyone else. They are at the critical stage where they need someone in their life before stepping into adulthood.”

 

Fitting to the name “hidden hero”, Kim is truly a selfless servant in her role with children.

 

She explains, “You have to have compassion for what you do and understand that sometimes your day will not perfectly end at 5pm…In the end, that child will appreciate what you do for them. The reward that I get is at the finalization hearing in the form of silent tears. It gives me joy to see children smiling and bonding with their new family. When we hug each other after the sound of the judge’s gavel hitting the bench, it merely means that I am passing the DSS torch to the new family with the understanding that they will continue to be the light in the eyes of these young souls and help them become responsible productive adults one day.”

 

Thank you, Kim, for your selfless service to South Carolina’s waiting children.

 

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.