South Carolina Department of Social Services  
P O Box 1520 Columbia, SC 29202-1520  
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Funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Adoption Opportunities Grant - "Linking Children With Families: the New Millennium Challenge."

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Frequently Asked Questions

Adoption, both a legal act and a social service, is the method provided by law to establish the legal relationship between parent and child. Adoption creates a new family and gives adopted children the same rights and benefits as if they had been born into the family.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services provides adoption services to children whose parents either have voluntarily given up their parental rights or whose rights have been terminated by the courts. Most of the children live with foster parents while waiting for an adoptive home. Some are members of sibling groups, and many are emotionally, physically or mentally challenged.

Here are some questions often asked by potential adoptive parents.

What are adoption services?
Adoption services are the array of professional services offered and coordinated by an agency to not only place a child into an adoptive family but to also strengthen and preserve the family during the adoption process. Adoption services are provided statewide in South Carolina through regional adoption offices. There also are a number of private adoption agencies offering adoption services.

Does it take a lot of money to adopt children?
Not really. You do not have to be rich or have a high income. However, you should be able to manage on the income you earn. The child may be eligible for financial assistance.

Do I have to own my home?
No, you can rent your home and still adopt. The primary concern is that there is adequate space for the child. Living arrangements should ensure the health, safety and well-being of your family and the child you wish to adopt.

What about marital status?
Both married and single persons are encouraged to adopt.

Can you work outside the home?
The fact that a primary caretaker works outside the home does not exclude her or him from being an adoptive parent. Each situation is decided on the parents' ability to meet the child's needs. Child care plans, working hours and family schedules are evaluated.

Are adoptive homes needed only for infants?
DSS places children of all ages; however, an urgent need exists for adoptive homes for older children.

Are older children more difficult to parent?
Children are children. Most feel vulnerable in making yet another move while wanting, at the same time, to do well in a new family. Many children have good reason not to trust adults, and it will take time for them to learn to trust. It is true that children develop personality traits and behavior patterns early in life, but all people change over time, even when they are adults. Are we the same people now we were five years ago? The secret is to enjoy the qualities that the child brings to your family while working out compromises regarding other issues.

Are the people who adopt older children special people?
Most families who adopt children who are older or handicapped are just plain people. They do feel something special about children who need parents. What makes them different is a willingness to work harder at becoming a parent to a child with special problems.

Does DSS share all information with adopting families?
All non-identifying information the agency has about the child is shared with the adopting family.

If I do not accept the first child offered, will I be considered again?
You decide if a specific child will blend into your family. To refuse a child will not hurt your chances to consider other children.

Do adoption specialists pry into my private business?
You and your adoption specialist share a particular responsibility to look at those things that will help or hinder an adoption. If you think the specialist is prying too much, then say so, and ask the reasons why certain things are discussed.

After a child is placed, am I left on my own? What's next?
DSS works closely with the family and the child to increase understanding of the changes that are occurring. Adoption specialists provide services before, during and after placement.

May we request financial assistance if we cannot meet all the costs of parenting a child with special needs?
In some circumstances, a family adopting a child with special-needs may apply for assistance with legal fees, monthly cash benefits, health coverage or medical subsidy. Your adoption specialist will assist you with this information.

What are special needs factors and conditions?
Special needs factors and conditions include:

  • a white child 10 or older;
  • a black or mixed-race child 6 or older;
  • a physically, mentally or emotionally handicapped child or a child at risk for physical, mental or emotional handicaps;
  • a member of a white sibling group of three or more children placed together, one of whom is at least 6, or a sibling group of four or more white children of any age placed together;
  • a member of a black or mixed-race sibling group of two or more children placed together, one of whom is at least 6, or a sibling group of three or more black or mixed-race children of any age placed together; and/or
  • a member of a sibling group of two or more children placed together, one of whom is a special needs child.

What about age . . . mine?
One must be of legal age to complete an adoption. Persons older than 40 are encouraged to apply, and they are given consideration for older children and children with special-needs.

What about health?
Your physical health, life expectancy and your emotional health are important. There are no restrictions regarding handicapped persons unless their handicap would hinder fulfilling their parental role.

And religion?
Adoptive applicants are not required to claim certain religious faiths. The main concern is the provision of a wholesome environment in which the child is accepted and nurtured.

If I accept a child and the placement does not work, will I be considered for other children?
Realistically, some placements do not work and an adoption may disrupt. If a disruption occurs, all factors that contributed to the disruption will be considered. If the family needs time to sort through the previous experience, they may request that their case be placed on hold until they are ready to be considered again.

Do I need to be a South Carolina resident or U. S. citizen?
You may adopt if you live within the state or live elsewhere. United States citizenship is not required, but the status of non-citizen applicants is investigated. If you live in another state, South Carolina adheres to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. You must have a home study approved by an agency licensed by your state. This agency must agree to provide post placement supervision in the event a child is placed with you.

What if I want to adopt a particular South Carolina child that I identify in the LINK photo album of waiting children on the Internet?
A particular child cannot be promised. The photo listings reflect the types of children that are available for adoption. It is possible that a match might be made between your family and a particular child that you identify on the Internet, however, your family may match the needs of another child more realistically and appropriately. Remember that your home study includes a child factors check list that you have completed acknowledging what you find appropriate or not appropriate. Sincere effort will be made to ensure a good match.

Can children be placed outside South Carolina before they are legally free?
Children cannot be placed outside South Carolina unless parental rights have been terminated, however, there are circumstances that on occasion create exception to this rule.

For more information on adoption in South Carolina, please call 1-888-CARE-4-US.

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