How to Adopt a Child in Foster Care

On this page, you’ll learn more about the requirements and the process of public adoption a child who is in the full custody of the state of South Carolina.

We hope this page will help answer preliminary questions you may have. Then, be sure to read the Adoption Frequently Asked Questions homepage.

Are you interested in public adoption? What is in your heart?

To become an adoptive parent you:

• Can be married, single or divorced.
• May or may not have other children.
• Can own your own home or rent.
• Can work full time.
• Must be at least 21.
• Must be a resident of the State of South Carolina.
• Must be able to meet the financial and emotional needs of your own family.

Essentially, if you are stable and can provide a child with the love, as well as the support he or she needs, you may be a candidate to become an adoptive parent.

Things to think about when considering public adoption:

• Am I secure and satisfied with my life and family as they are now?
• Do I have a good support system—friends and family that can help me out when I need it?
• Can I be flexible in coping with surprises and unexpected situations?
• Can I wait for a child to return my love?
• Can I feel comfortable with the fact that my child may want to talk with me about their biological parents, as well as others who have cared for them in the past?



Moving Toward Public Adoption

Step 1
If you are not already a licensed foster parent in the state of South Carolina, you must apply to become an adoptive parent through Heartfelt Calling.

Step 2
Attend a potential adoptive parent orientation through Heartfelt Calling where you will receive a lengthy packet of paperwork that will need to be completed prior to the adoption process being completed Please note: Prior to this orientation, you will have to complete a Consent to Release Information (Central Registry Check) and SLED check for anyone in the home over the age of 18. Everyone in your family will also need to complete a medical exam by a licensed physician and submit the supplemental paperwork.

Step 3
You and anyone in the home over the age of 18 will be sent for fingerprint checks. Once the fingerprints come back clear, you will be assigned an Adoption Specialist from the Department of Social Services who will help you navigate this process, all paperwork, and referrals.

Step 4
This worker will refer you to enroll in two Saturday, eight-hour Foster/Adopt Parent training sessions through SCFPA. Currently Virtual Only.

Step 5
The Adoption Specialist will then schedule an additional four-hour adoption training. Currently Virtual Only. South Carolina Foster Parent Association (SCFPA) completes this training virtual.

Step 6
The Adoption Specialist will come to your home, conduct a walk through to ensure your home is appropriate and no safety hazards are present, discuss the process, and the upcoming steps.

Step 7
Your Adoption Specialist will schedule a Fire and DHEC inspection of your home.

Step 8
Upon completion and passing of the Fire and DHEC inspection, your case will be passed to a Certified Adoption Investigator. This person will be responsible to evaluate the prospective adoptive parent(s) fitness for adoption as well as assess their family and home environment for safety. To learn more about the CI program, please click here.

Step 9
The CI submits your home study to the Region for approval or denial.

Step 10
If approved, your family can now be considered as we search for forever families for our children. 

Step 11
Once you are matched with a child, youth or sibling group, you will be given an opportunity to hear details related to the background of the child, youth or sibling group.  After reviewing background information, should you decide to proceed, an introductory visit between you and the child, youth or sibling group will be scheduled. Transitional visits will then be scheduled, these will vary depending on how the transition of the child, youth and sibling group is going. Once final adoptive placement occurs, there is a monitoring period and post placement reporting requirements prior to finalization.

Step 12
Finalize the adoption in Family Court!


Adoption Finalization Incentive Program

DSS provides private attorneys, representing prospective adoptive parents of children in foster care, a monetary incentive to finalize their adoptions in a timely manner. Learn more here.


Child Welfare Services Transformation

Best Outcomes for Children and Families

Do you have a complaint regarding services being provided to a child by a state agency? Please submit your complaint by phone (1-800-206-1957) or an electronic submission form here with the South Carolina Department of Children's Advocacy.