South Carolina foster care and adoption guidelines

Those interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent may call 888-828-3555 or contact the regional adoption office in your county of residence. Adoption services are provided through the five state Department of Social Services regional adoption offices. Each office serves as many as 10 to 14 counties. On the department's website you can find local information.

Things you should know

Foster care and adoption licensing requirements

Criteria and steps for becoming an adoptive parent:

  • Applicants must be at least 21 years old.
  • Contact one of the regional offices to inquiry and receive application.
  • Complete and return application to the regional office which serves your resident county.
  • Complete SLED/ fingerprints and child abuse central register releases on all members of household 18 years and older.
  • Attend 14 hours of preparatory training to help with self-evaluation of the types of children which would fit into your family.
  • Fire and sanitation inspections completed on home by the Fire Marshal and DHEC.
  • Home visits: adoption specialist visits the home and completes interviews for pre-placement investigation.
  • Three to four references received and interviewed by adoption specialist.
  • Medicals are required on all family members.
  • Provide copies of birth certificates, marriage license, and divorce petitions and decrees if applicable.
  • During assessment family and agency assess qualifications and readiness to adopt.
  • Approval received and family considered for children along with other approved and waiting families.
  • Placement committee selects family and notifies family and family is presented full background on children for whom family is selected.
  • Family meets child and begins visitation with child.
  • Placement occurs when child and family are ready for move.
  • Postplacement period begins and can continue up to 12 months.
  • Finalization of the adoption in family court.
  • Adoption preservation services are available upon request after the finalization of the adoption. Adoption is a lifelong process, counseling and other referral services may be available to the family as needed and requested by the family.

Foster and adoption costs

The department does not charge a fee to become a licensed foster parent or adoptive parent. The family is required to show sufficient income to meet the needs of their family and any additional children placed in the home. Each family must complete a physical exam which is at the expense of the family. Should there be issues which prevent licensure identified in the fire and sanitation inspections, those repairs are at the expense of the applicant before proceeding with the study process.

An attorney is required at the time of the legal finalization of the adoption. If the child adopted is a special needs child, the family may be eligible to receive some reimbursement of those legal fees.

South Carolina also has private adoption agencies licensed to place children for adoption. Each agency sets their fee schedule.

Agency cntact and orientation information

Download the most recently submitted list of licensed private agencies in South Carolina (29 KB PDF).