The Department of Social Services says 2019 was a record year for adoptions in the state of South Carolina. Last year, 571 children were adopted which is 23% more than the number of adoptions in 2018. This is the highest number of adoptions the state has seen in 5 years!

While these numbers are encouraging and it’s exciting to see so many new families being brought together through adoption, there is still a long way to go. Hundreds of children in South Carolina are still in need of loving homes and families.

Michael Leach, State Director of the DSS says “We have children in the state who don’t have anybody…They may be sibling groups, they may be teenagers. And we need to make sure they get into a family-like setting; a family, a stable, connected, caring adult who wants to make sure that they grow and develop and become strong, young adults.”

If you are considering adoption in South Carolina, you could make a huge difference in the life of a child! You don’t have to be perfect to be a great parent! You just have to be willing to offer love and support for a child, like Carl and Mary Brown. This South Carolina couple is a perfect example of how foster care can change lives and not just for the kids.

The Browns, now in their late 70s, have fostered over 200 children and invited 7 into their large family through adoption. And they’re still actively fostering! They hope that by sharing their story, they can inspire more families to open their hearts and their homes to children in need.

“God has really blessed us,” says Mary. “People ask when we will quit. I say I don’t feel like I need to quit right now. Even when we became foster parents, the word ‘adoption’ had never entered our minds. It’s taken us places and to people we would never have dreamed we would come in contact with. It’s been an amazing journey, and we’re still on it.”

The South Carolina Department of Social Services is an excellent starting place if you are inspired to learn more about beginning the adoption process in the state of South Carolina. The DSS offers resources on how to adopt, adoption terminology, financial assistance, plus frequently asked questions.

The DSS has the following advice to adults considering becoming adoptive or foster parents:

“You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. You don’t need to own your own home, have children already, or be young, wealthy, or a stay-at-home parent to adopt.”

Meet the Kids

It’s hard to read about the waiting children of South Carolina without falling in love.

Ten-year-old Maxwell “enjoys participating in hockey and football-related activities. He is often found in his free time playing with Legos, watching TV, or playing on his tablet. Maxwell loves to eat nachos and enjoys candy. He enjoys asking questions to other people and telling jokes to make others laugh.”

Fourteen-year-old Jordan “states that he enjoys reading and informs [us] that the Percy Jackson books are a recent splurge. He enjoys football, and his favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings. He also likes to play football as well.”

Twelve-year-old Brooklyn “is a bright, young lady with a distinct personality all her own! Brooklynn loves to read and watch movies. She is a phenomenal student who strives to make the honor roll and prides herself in having perfect attendance. She is very crafty and especially loves anything with glitter.”

These kids are smart, funny, silly, athletic, and artistic. They’re just like many other children all over the U.S. The only difference is they need consistent, caring adults in their lives to provide stability and love. They deserve to be loved, and the DSS is hopeful they can help these children find the right families in 2020.

Adopting from Foster Care

Not from South Carolina? Adoption from foster care is a need in every state! There are over 440,000 children in foster care in the United States, and approximately 69,000 of these children are currently waiting to be adopted. This means that their parents’ rights have been terminated, and these children are in need of loving families to not just foster but adopt them permanently.

Many of these children may be considered special needs. This can mean anything from trauma-induced developmental delays to sibling groups to older teens or severe mental and physical disabilities. It is important to educate yourself on the requirements for caring for a child with these special cases.

Adopting can be overwhelming and intimidating, and many people don’t know where to start. If you are considering adopting (through foster care or private adoption), don’t be afraid to ask questions. Finding a community is easier now more than ever to find today thanks to the Internet. There are adoptive parent support groups on Facebook, blogs, and videos created specifically for recruiting qualified parents and foster parents!

Check out this great guide for adopting through foster care. This in-depth resource answers many of the common questions that may come up when considering adoption. It starts with this great advice: “Successful adoptive parents come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. They are straight and gay, married and single, rich and ‘just getting by.’ If you are willing to open up your home—and heart—to a child (and don’t have a serious criminal history), chances are you’re qualified to adopt.”

About the Children

“Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” -Rita F. Pierson

The top priority of foster care is reunification. To keep families intact is always the ultimate goal, but in many cases, that option simply isn’t available. There are thousands of children in foster care whose parents have had their parental rights terminated. These kids are often considered the most vulnerable. They may be older teens, sibling groups, or have special health needs. But the one thing they all need is someone to love and support them!

A great resource for getting started on your adoption journey is this article: “How To Adopt A Child Guide.” This comprehensive guide walks you through the steps from deciding whether or not adoption is right for you, to financial options, to finalization.

Getting Started with Foster Care Adoption

Before you get started with foster care adoption, it is important to educate yourself on the effects of trauma on child development. Children who have experienced abuse and neglect will reach developmental milestones at different times than other children. That’s okay, but they will need the support of a loving adult and likely trained professionals like teachers, counselors, or therapists as well.

You can reach out to a local foster care agency to speak with a social worker when you’re ready to begin the process of becoming a foster parent or adoptive parent. They will be able to offer state-specific laws and requirements as well as training classes and resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to adopt from foster care? 

“I can’t afford to adopt” is a common misconception. While private adoption fees can be anywhere from $30,000-$50,000 or more, most adoptions through U.S. foster care cost very little or nothing at all. The state covers many of the fees required for foster care adoptions, but if any costs are incurred, there are many loans, grants, and other options available for affording adoption. Adoption assistance also includes reimbursement for nonrecurring adoption expenses, monthly adoption subsidies, and Medicaid (federal medical coverage).

Do I have to be married? 

No! Foster parents and adoptive parents can be married or single, wealthy or earning an average income, gay or straight, and a wide range of ages. The primary concern is whether or not you are able to care for a child and have the desire to be a safe and loving caregiver. Caregivers are required to be a minimum age of 21 and able to pass a medical exam that confirms you are healthy enough to care for a child.

Will I make a good parent? 

Becoming a parent is a highly personal decision. One that only you can make! Give yourself time to do your research and consider the type of parent you want to become. Ask yourself why you want to be a parent, read lots of books, ask other parents and adoptive parents about their experiences. Offering to do respite care for families with foster children is a great way to be around kids, make a difference in their life as an adult mentor, and offer support to current parents! Take time to reflect on why you want to be a parent and how your life would change if you were to have children.

What is a legal risk placement? 

“This term refers to an adoption program that is only available in some states, where prospective adoptive parents are allowed to become foster parents to children before they become legally available for adoption. If the parental rights of the biological parents of these foster children are able to be terminated, then the foster parents are allowed to adopt the children. If the parental rights of the biological parents of the child are not terminated, then the foster parents are not allowed to adopt the child. This is the ‘legal risk’ that the foster parents know about in advance and which they are willing to assume in exchange for the possibility that they may ultimately be able to adopt the child. In some cases, a termination of parental rights will be intentionally delayed until a specific adoptive family has been identified that can meet the specialized needs of the child.” -Adoption.com

Do I have to be a stay-at-home parent? 

No! Again, staying home with your child full-time is a very personal decision. Some parents find that they are able to bond easier being at home full-time. If finances allow for this, it can be a great option. But, many parents either prefer to continue working or simply can’t afford to leave their jobs. There are plenty of ways to form meaningful and long-lasting bonds with your child regardless of your work schedule. Many families are able to form strong bonds and trust with their adopted children while also maintaining full-time careers.

How do I know if I’m ready? 

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” -Lemony Snicket 

I’ll let Karly, an experienced foster and adoptive mom, answer this one: “You’ll never be ready… So my advice to you? You’re going to make mistakes on your foster care journey. Do it anyway.”

Seek out resources, listen to stories from other parents who have more experience, and create or join communities that can support you on your journey. But if becoming a parent to vulnerable children is on your heart, don’t let fear stop you. You don’t have to be perfect!

South Carolina is well on their way to finding a safe and loving home for every child, but they need more help to reach this goal. Imagine another 23% jump in adoptions in 2020! Remember what Mary says: “every child needs to feel safe and loved and secure, and I feel like foster parents can give a child that.”