No matter what kind of adoption process you choose to pursue in South Carolina, there is one requirement you’ll likely need to complete: an adoption home study.
Because adoption can be a complicated process, South Carolina law requires every prospective adoptive family go through this background check — not only as a way to make sure a home is ready for an adopted child, but to make sure that all prospective adoptive families are financially, emotionally and physically prepared for the unique challenges and rewards of adoption.
Whether you’re just finding out about the need to complete a home study for adoption, or you’ve already done extensive research, an adoption home study can seem a bit overwhelming. To help you understand what to expect, we’ve laid out the basics of the adoption home study in South Carolina below.
1. Who Needs an Adoption Home Study in S.C.?
In South Carolina, any prospective adoptive parents pursuing a private domestic adoption or an adoption from foster care must undergo an adoption home study. Any additional members of their household must also be included in the home study.
If you are completing a stepparent or relative adoption, you will likely be exempt from the home study for adoption, unless otherwise warranted by the court. Likewise, if you are a foster parent looking to adopt a child who already resides in your home, your adoption home study requirements may be waived.
2. What is Included in an Adoption Home Study?
An adoption home study in South Carolina will not only include federal and state background checks, but also in-home visits to make sure a prospective adoptive family is ready to welcome an adopted child into their lives. These checks will be completed by your licensed home study provider, while the responsibility for collecting other important documents will be left to you.
Some of the documents you may need will be:
- Copies of vital records like birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees and more
- Statements from your physician verifying your physical health, completed within the last six months
- Verification of financial information, like pay stubs and tax returns
- Proof of insurance
- Personal and community letters of recommendation for adoption
- And more
When you work with your home study professional, they will likely provide you an adoption home study checklist to refer to throughout the process.
3. What Will the In-Home Visit Include?
As part of your adoption home study, your social worker will visit your home to determine whether it’s fit for an adopted child and to learn more about the environment an adopted child would be welcomed into. They’ll likely ask you questions about:
- Your motivation for adoption
- Attitudes and feelings of each family member toward accepting adopted children
- How you plan to talk about adoption with your child
- And more
They’ll also use this visit to discover the location and physical environment of your home and make sure your house will be safe for an infant or child.
But the in-home visit isn’t just an investigation into your lives; it’s also a chance for you to ask any questions you have about the adoption process and for the home study provider to offer you advice and suggestions on how to best prepare for a new adopted child in your home.
4. Where Can I Obtain an Adoption Home Study in S.C.?
While the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson can complete every other step of your adoption process, we do not complete adoption home studies. However, we can provide you references to trusted, licensed home study professionals to finish this step of your adoption. Contact us today for a referral for a home study provider in your area.
5. What Happens After My Adoption Home Study is Approved?
After your social worker completes your in-home assessment, interviews and background checks, they will determine whether you are fit to adopt a child — and, if so, what types of adoption situations would be a good fit for your family. They will file a written report detailing their findings.
Later in the South Carolina adoption process, once your child is at home with you, you will also need to complete a post-placement assessment. The number of post-placement assessments completed before finalization varies from state to state; South Carolina requires one post-placement visit. If you reside in another state, your home study provider can inform you of the number of visits required for your state. These assessments are typically more relaxed than the home study, as they’re just a way for your social worker to see that you and your adopted child are adjusting well to your new life together. The information gathered from these post-placement visits will be used in your final adoption hearing.
It’s also important to remember that a South Carolina adoption home study is only current for one year. Therefore, if a child is not placed with you within 12 months of your home study being completed, you will need to update your home study to keep yourself an active waiting family. In addition, if you go through any major life changes (like a job change, a move or an addition of a new family member), you will also need to update your home study.
No matter where you are in your adoption journey, the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson are here to help. By calling us at 864-573-5533, you can get detailed answers to questions you have about your adoption situation and what steps you’ll need to take to complete your adoption home study in South Carolina. Contact us today to learn more.