As National Adoption Month begins, 140 children in the state’s foster care system are legally free for adoption and waiting for a permanent place to call home – a “forever family.” The SC Department of Social Services reports that nearly 100 of these youth are ages 10-17.
All year long, SCDSS works diligently with community partners to find families that best match the unique needs of every child awaiting adoption. November offers the chance to join the USDHHS Children’s Bureau’s efforts to increase awareness and bring attention to the need for permanent families for children and youth in foster care. This year’s national theme, “Youth Voices: Why Family Matters,” emphasizes the need to secure safe and stable family connections for older youth and teens.
“Every child deserves the chance to grow up in a home where they feel safe, loved and protected and many would benefit from adoption,” DSS State Director Michael Leach said. “It’s a fact that fewer families adopt older youth, who linger in foster care and are most likely to age out of the system without the support and safety net they need. As an agency, we want to change that and help youth secure stable connections to become independent, productive adults. We all benefit when that happens.”
To highlight the significance of the month, Gov. Henry McMaster issued a proclamation declaring November as Adoption Month and acknowledging Nov. 25th as Adoption Day in South Carolina – a day SC Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty has set aside for day-long hearings to finalize adoptions in four judicial circuits. Eighty (80) children are scheduled to be adopted by 60 families and in family courts in Anderson, Charleston, Horry, and Sumter Counties.
“There are currently 140 young people in foster care in South Carolina who are in need of permanent families,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “A loving home can make all the difference to a child’s future. Our state is filled with caring, and compassionate people who want the best for their neighbors, and I ask that everyone consider whether adoption is an option for your family.”
“Adoption is a great sacrifice, but an even greater gift that has blessed so many children and families in our state,” Leach said. “I urge families to consider the joy an older youth can add to your life and the chance to make a life-changing difference in theirs.”
Here are key steps in becoming a forever family for a young person:
· Make the call to Heartfelt Calling, (888) 828-3555, and fill out an application or visit www.heartfeltcalling.org
· Attend training to help identify what makes your family the best fit for a waiting young person.
· Meet with an adoption specialist for interviews in your home. Submit medical forms and references. Complete your home’s fire and sanitation inspections.
· A selection committee matches a young person with your family and shares their full background and unique needs.
· Meet the young person and begin getting to know each other with visits and overnight stays. You are now on the way to your final adoption day!
Families interested in adoption can view online profiles of South Carolina’s waiting children at SCDSS Adoptions, the SC Heart Gallery, and AdoptUSKids. SCDSS has improved services and timeframes by creating a new system that responds to families within three days of an initial inquiry. Now, families already approved to adopt are notified within two weeks if they are a potential match with a child and final selection from all potential matches are made within 30 days.