Adoption in South Carolina has a rich history deeply intertwined with the state’s cultural and legal landscape. From its early beginnings to modern-day practices, adoption has played a significant role in shaping families and communities across the Palmetto State. Let’s delve into the history of adoption, explore the processes for adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees, discuss adoption terms and positive language, and highlight some inspiring adoption stories from South Carolina.

History of Adoption in South Carolina

Adoption in South Carolina dates back centuries, with informal arrangements often occurring within extended families or through community networks. Formal adoption laws began to emerge in the early 20th century, establishing legal procedures for adoption and recognizing the rights of adoptive parents and children. Over the years, South Carolina has made significant strides in modernizing adoption practices, prioritizing the best interests of the child and promoting ethical adoption standards.

For Adoptive Parents

Prospective adoptive parents in South Carolina have several avenues to explore when considering adoption. Whether pursuing domestic adoption, international adoption, or foster care adoption, it’s essential to understand the process and requirements involved. Adoptive parents can work with adoption agencies, attorneys, or foster care agencies to navigate the adoption journey, complete home studies, and prepare for the arrival of their child. South Carolina offers resources and support services to assist adoptive families every step of the way.

The Adoption Process for Hopeful Adoptive Parents:

  • Research and Preparation:
    • Research different types of adoption (domestic, international, foster care) to determine the best fit for your family.
    • Educate yourself about the adoption process, including legal requirements and financial considerations.
    • Prepare emotionally and mentally for the adoption journey ahead.
  • Choose an Adoption Agency or Attorney:
    • Select a reputable adoption agency or attorney to guide you through the adoption process.
    • Attend informational sessions or consultations to learn more about their services and fees.
    • Consider factors such as the agency’s track record, communication style, and support services offered.
  • Complete Pre-Adoption Requirements:
    • Undergo a home study conducted by a licensed social worker to assess your suitability to adopt.
    • Complete background checks, medical exams, and provide references as required by the adoption agency or state regulations.
    • Attend adoption education and training sessions to prepare for parenthood and learn about the unique needs of adopted children.
  • Create an Adoption Profile:
    • Develop a compelling adoption profile that showcases your family, values, and lifestyle.
    • Include photos, letters, and other personal information to share with expectant parents considering adoption.
  • Match with an Expectant Parent or Child:
    • Wait to be matched with an expectant parent considering adoption or a child in need of adoption.
    • Review potential matches and communicate openly with the expectant parent or adoption agency to ensure compatibility and mutual understanding.
  • Finalize the Adoption:
    • Work with legal professionals to finalize the adoption process, including legal paperwork and court hearings.
    • Attend adoption hearings and comply with any post-placement requirements outlined by the adoption agency or court.
  • Transition and Adjustment:
    • Welcome the child into your home and help them adjust to their new environment.
    • Provide ongoing support, love, and guidance as your family grows through adoption.
    • Stay connected with the adoption agency or support groups for continued assistance and resources as needed throughout the adoption journey.

For Birth Parents

Birth parents facing unplanned pregnancies in South Carolina have options and support available to them. Counseling services and adoption agencies can provide information about adoption, including open adoption arrangements that allow birth parents to maintain contact with their child and the adoptive family. Birth parents have the right to make informed decisions about their child’s future, and South Carolina’s adoption laws ensure that their rights are respected throughout the adoption process.

  • Explore Adoption Options:
    • Research different types of adoption (open, semi-open, closed) to determine the best option for you and your child.
    • Consider your circumstances, emotions, and long-term goals when making decisions about adoption.
  • Seek Counseling and Support:
    • Reach out to adoption agencies, counselors, or support groups for guidance and emotional support throughout the adoption process.
    • Take time to explore your feelings, fears, and concerns about adoption and parenting.
  • Choose an Adoption Plan:
    • Work with an adoption agency or attorney to create a personalized adoption plan that meets your needs and preferences.
    • Decide on the level of contact you want with the adoptive family and your child after the adoption is finalized.
  • Select an Adoptive Family:
    • Review profiles of prospective adoptive families to find the right match for your child.
    • Consider factors such as the family’s values, lifestyle, and parenting approach when making your decision.
  • Legal Process:
    • Understand your rights and responsibilities as a birth parent under South Carolina adoption laws.
    • Work with legal professionals (typically through your chosen adoption agency) to navigate the legal requirements and procedures involved in placing your child for adoption.
    • Consent to the adoption and participate in any court hearings or legal proceedings as required by law.
  • Post-Placement Support:
    • Receive ongoing support and counseling before, during, and after the adoption process.
    • Stay connected with the adoptive family if you choose an open or semi-open adoption, and communicate your needs and boundaries as they evolve over time.
  • Grieve and Heal:
    • Allow yourself to grieve the loss of parenting your child while also acknowledging the love and selflessness it took to make an adoption plan.
    • Seek support from friends, family, or professional counselors to help you navigate the emotions of placing your child for adoption and to heal from the experience.

Adoption Processes

The adoption process in South Carolina varies depending on the type of adoption chosen. Domestic adoption typically involves home studies, background checks, and legal proceedings to finalize the adoption. International adoption requires compliance with regulations from both the United States and the child’s country of origin. Foster care adoption involves working with the Department of Social Services to become licensed foster parents and eventually adopt children in state custody.

Adoption Terms and Positive Language

Understanding adoption terminology and using positive language is essential for promoting respect and sensitivity towards all members of the adoption triad. Terms like “birth parent” and “adoptive parent” are preferred over outdated terminology like “real parent” or “natural parent.” Positive adoption language acknowledges the unique experiences and contributions of everyone involved in the adoption process, fostering a culture of inclusivity and understanding.

Adoption Stories from South Carolina

Every adoption journey is unique, and South Carolina is home to countless inspiring adoption stories. From families formed through domestic adoption to reunions between adoptees and birth families, these stories highlight the transformative power of love and perseverance. Sharing adoption stories not only celebrates the diversity of adoptive families but also raises awareness and promotes acceptance within the community.

National Adoption Day

In a heartwarming celebration of National Adoption Day, 74 children in foster care found their forever homes across four counties in South Carolina. Authorized by South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty, judges presided over Adoption Day proceedings in Greenville, Charleston, Horry, and Sumter County. Families, working closely with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS), were matched with children based on the best interests and needs of each child. SCDSS, aiming to finalize over 600 adoptions for the calendar year, celebrated the addition of 74 new families. Among them was Bridget Webster, who, inspired by her own experience in foster care, joyously welcomed four-year-old Tyrone into her family after he spent time in the foster care system since he was 10 months old. Despite the misconception that children in foster care are automatically available for adoption, SCDSS emphasized the importance of reunifying families when possible, ensuring that adoption is pursued only when it meets the child’s needs. Now, the Websters embark on a new chapter as a complete family (“Children find their forever home on South Carolina’s statewide adoption day,” Bayer, 2023).

Foster Care Awareness

A new partnership between the South Carolina Heart Gallery and the Columbiana Centre was unveiled, aiming to assist children in foster care in finding permanent homes. The initiative, announced at the Columbiana Centre in Columbia, showcases portraits of foster children, providing visibility until they are adopted by loving families. State Child Advocate and Director Amanda Whittle emphasized the children’s eagerness for adoption and a fresh start with their new families. With an average of 1500 children awaiting adoption annually in South Carolina, the most sought-after age group for adoption is between 2 to 4 years old, with fewer adoptions occurring after the age of 17. The longer children remain in foster care, the greater the likelihood of multiple placements or foster homes. Senator Katrina Shealy, alongside Amanda Whittle, Christina Grant, and Claude Cumbee, highlighted the importance of raising awareness about adoption and the process for prospective adoptive parents. Concerns persist about the shortage of foster homes, leading to overcrowding in certain departments. Claude Cumbee, who found his forever home, expressed his commitment to helping other foster children find theirs by capturing their portraits. This partnership and advocacy efforts exemplify how awareness and support can positively impact the lives of children in foster care (“New partnership aims to find ‘forever homes’ for South Carolina foster kids,” Mattei, 2023).

Learn More About Foster Adoption

Adoption in South Carolina is a journey of love, compassion, and hope. Whether you’re an adoptive parent, birth parent, or adoptee, know that you’re not alone. South Carolina offers resources, support, and legal protections to ensure that every adoption is conducted ethically and with the best interests of the child at heart. Together, we can build stronger families and communities through the gift of adoption.