Everything to Know About Adopting a Foster Child in South Carolina

With much of his practice focused on adopting children from foster care, Rick Corley works hard every day to achieve permanency for the families he represents. For him, there are few moments more rewarding than being in the court room when the judge grants a foster care adoption.

Whether you are adopting an older child from the South Carolina foster system or through an interstate placement, learn how Rick can help you legally finalize your foster care adoption.

The Process to Adopt a Foster Child in South Carolina

For any parents interested in adopting a child from foster care, the first step is to find the child that is meant to be a part of their family. Before contacting Rick, you should be approved to adopt one of the following:

  • A foster child who is currently in your care and has been legally freed for adoption
  • A waiting child from the South Carolina foster system
  • A waiting child from another state

Once you have found an adoption opportunity, Rick can provide all of the education, guidance and legal services you need to make a foster child a permanent member of your family. When you are ready to finalize the adoption of a foster child in South Carolina, Rick will:

  • Meet with you for an initial consultation: Rick will meet with you to discuss your adoption plans and gather the information he needs to open your case. He will continue to provide case management services and legal advice throughout the adoption finalization process.
  • Coordinate with the Department of Social Services: Rick will let the state department know that he is representing your family through the adoption process and will gather any information he needs from them.
  • Inform you of available financial assistance: Foster care adoption costs are often subsidized to help make the process more affordable for families. Rick will help you determine whether your family is eligible to receive state funding and complete the steps necessary to obtain that financial assistance.
  • Complete the legal paperwork: Once Rick has the information he needs from your family and the Department of Social Services, he will file an adoption petition to initiate the legal adoption process. He will also help you complete other legal paperwork necessary to finalize the adoption.
  • Arrange the finalization hearing: Rick will schedule a court hearing to finalize your adoption and notify you when it is time to appear in court. At the hearing, the judge will sign the final adoption decree and the legal adoption process will be complete.
  • Apply for a new birth certificate: After you have been awarded the final adoption decree, Rick will help you obtain a new birth certificate for your child, which will include the child’s new last name and list you as his or her legal parents.

For a foster child to be eligible for adoption, his or her biological parents’ rights must be terminated by the court. Once a child has been legally freed for adoption, Rick can provide the legal services you need to make them a permanent member of your family. He can complete most in-state foster care adoptions very quickly — often within 30 days of your first phone call.

Interstate Foster Care Adoptions

In addition to his in-state foster care adoption services, Rick can help South Carolina families adopt waiting children from around the country. Through his unique partnerships with local agency Adoption Advocacy, Rick helps complete adoptions for children who have been matched to South Carolina families from out-of-state foster systems. Rick can provide all of the services necessary to finalize these adoptions, from filing the adoption petition to scheduling the finalization hearing and applying for a new birth certificate.

If you are a South Carolina family interested in adopting a foster child from another state, contact Adoption Advocacy to learn more.

About Foster Care Adoption

Foster care is designed to be a temporary solution for children who are removed from their homes. Reunification is the primary goal of the foster care system, and most children who enter foster care will return to their biological families.

However, if the court determines that it is not in the child’s best interests to return to his or her biological family, the court may terminate the biological parents’ rights to the child, and he or she will become legally freed for adoption. When a South Carolina child becomes available for adoption, he or she may be adopted by:

  • A relative, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle or adult sibling
  • A foster family who has cared for the child or is currently caring for the child
  • An adoptive family who is interested in adopting a child from foster care and has been approved to adopt from the state foster system

When a child becomes available for adoption in South Carolina, relatives are often given first consideration as potential adoptive families. If a relative placement cannot be found, the child’s foster family is often given the opportunity to adopt the child in a foster-to-adopt placement.

Foster to Adopt in South Carolina

Fostering to adopt is one option for families who are interested in adopting a kid from the foster system. Foster parents who have already been licensed by the state and who have provided foster care for the child for at least six months may be given first consideration to adopt their foster child.

Because the foster family has already met state licensing requirements and completed the South Carolina home study, the adoption only needs to be legally finalized in court. Rick can provide the legal services and advice you need to quickly finalize your foster-to-adopt placement in South Carolina.

However, there is some uncertainty involved in foster-to-adopt placements. Most foster children remain in the system temporarily before being returned to their biological families. It is uncertain when, if ever, a child will become legally freed for adoption, and foster parents should always be prepared for the possibility of reunification.

Adopting a Waiting Child from Foster Care

Alternatively, a family that is looking to add to their family permanently may choose to forego the foster care licensing process and apply to adopt a child who is already freed for adoption and waiting for a permanent family.

To be considered as an adoptive family for a child in the South Carolina foster system, prospective parents must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Submit an application to the regional office serving your county
  • Complete fingerprinting and child abuse registry checks for all adult members of the household
  • Attend 14 hours of pre-service training
  • Complete home safety inspections
  • Participate in home visits and pre-placement interviews with an adoption specialist
  • Provide three or four references
  • Complete medical evaluations for all family members
  • Provide copies of important social documents, such as birth certificates and marriage licenses

There are many children in the foster system who have been legally freed for adoption and are hoping to find a permanent home. You can meet South Carolina’s waiting kids through the South Carolina Heart Gallery.

Families interested in adopting a waiting child from the foster system should contact the South Carolina Department of Social Services for more information about requirements and processes. Once you have been matched with a waiting child, Rick can provide all of the services you need to legally finalize the adoption.

Final Thoughts

Adopting a kid from the foster system can be one of the most rewarding ways to build a family. Whether you choose to adopt a waiting child or a child that is currently in your care, foster care adoption is one of the most cost-effective ways to add to your family and provide a child with a permanent, loving home.

If you are ready to finalize your foster care adoption in South Carolina, contact Rick to discuss your family’s situation and legal needs.