Q: What is adoption?
A: Adoption is the legal and permanent placement of a child with people who will raise the child as their own. The child becomes part of the family with full rights to inheritance and a lifetime family relationship.
Q: Do I have to make a decision about adoption before I can work with your agency?
A: No. We can provide counseling about your options to help you make a plan for your baby, including parenting or making an adoption plan.
Q: Is adoption a selfish act, the easy way out for me?
A: No. Thinking about what is best for your child ahead of your own feelings is a true act of love. This is hard love, hard to decide, hard to do, and truly caring.
Q: Do children belong with their birthparents?
A: Sometimes expectant parents are just not ready or able to parent their child. A child needs to be cared for day in and day out, year after year. Adoptive parents may be better able to provide a stable home for the child. There are many prospective adoptive parents who are unable to have children biologically and who are approved for adoption, just waiting to love and raise a child.
Q: Are birthparents likely to feel sadness after adoption?
A: Yes, though feeling sad does not mean that you made a bad decision. Sadness is a natural part of grieving and grieving is a natural response to a loss in one’s life. The grieving must be worked through, and will not last forever. The hope for your child’s happiness, and the knowledge that you helped give your child a sure start in life can be a source of strength to you. It takes courage, and you can be proud of yourself for giving the baby life, and then making a wonderful plan for his or her future.
Q: Will people think badly of me for choosing adoption?
A: Some may. There are different attitudes about adoption today. Counseling will help you deal with the issues and understand their thinking. It takes strength and courage to do what you believe to be the right thing for your child. Selecting adoption may be the most loving option you can choose. It is your decision.
Q: Will I be able to see my baby in the hospital?
A: Yes, you may decide whether or not you would like to see, visit with, hold and/or feed your baby in the hospital. Your adoption counselor will help you to develop a hospital plan stating your wishes. This plan will help you and the hospital staff to prepare for your time in the hospital, though you can change your mind about any of your wishes during your hospital stay.
Q: May I have a picture of my baby?
A: Absolutely! If you wish you may take pictures at the hospital or at the agency, or we will take pictures for you if you do not have a camera. Our agency also requires the adoptive parents to send pictures of the baby several times throughout the first year after placement. If you feel uncomfortable about receiving pictures, that is alright too. They will be kept in your file in case you want to see them at a later date.
Q: May I write a letter to the adoptive parents explaining to them the reasons for placing my child for adoption?
A: Yes. In fact, we will encourage you to write a letter to the adoptive parents and a letter to your child which can be read when he or she reaches an appropriate age. The adoptive parents greatly appreciate letters from birthmothers and birthfathers because the letters help them to understand the love you have for your child, and will help guide them as they answer questions that your child may have about you as he or she is growing up.
Q: May I give my child a gift?
A: Along with the letters, birthmothers are encouraged to send a gift for their child. This could be an outfit for the baby to wear when they leave the hospital, a toy, a blanket, a Bible, a special book, or whatever you wish. You may write a card or letter to your baby telling about yourself and why you chose the gift you sent. We educate adoptive families to help them understand the importance of such gifts, and these items are usually treasured by both the adoptive parents and by the child as a token of your love.
Q: Can I get financial help with the cost of childbirth? If the adoptive parents help with my expenses, what would that include?
A: South Carolina law allows adoptive parents to pay “reasonable” living expenses and medical expenses not covered by insurance or Medicaid. Reasonable living expenses can include things such as groceries, maternity clothes, rent, utilities, or transportation costs for the birthmother only, and only if there are no other available resources. This help continues four to six weeks after your baby is born.
Q: How much can I be involved in choosing the couple for my child?
A: You can be completely involved in choosing the adoptive family for your child. You may select a family from our adoptive parent profiles and scrapbooks. After they are selected, you may talk with them on the phone, meet them, write letters, exchange pictures, and be involved in any way you feel comfortable. These are all options for you to decide according to what best fits your needs. If you do not want to choose a family, we will choose one for you.
Q: What qualifications must a family meet before they are accepted as clients at Christian Family Services?
A: Each adoptive family must have a home study completed and approved by a Certified Adoption Investigator or child-placing agency licensed by their state of residence. This assures us that the parents are emotionally, physically, and financially prepared to adopt. They must also be married for at least two years, be professing and practicing Christians, and be members of the same church. They must also have criminal record, child abuse registry, and sexual offender registry clearances.
Q: What is the difference between an open adoption and a closed adoption? What does the phrase ‘degree of openness’ mean?
A: Openness refers to the contact between the biological family and the adoptive family. Openness ranges in degrees from closed to open. A fully closed adoption is one in which there is no contact or communication between the birthmother and the family at any time before, during, or after the birth of the baby. A fully open adoption is one in which there is direct contact and the exchange of identifying information. “Degree of openness” refers to how much and what kind of contact takes place between the birth family and the adoptive family. Adoptions in the past were usually closed, but there are many choices available today. Because there are varying degrees of openness, we will work with you and with the adoptive parents to help you agree upon a level of openness with which you are both comfortable.
Q: How much will I know about the adoptive parents?
A: You may know basic non-identifying information that is shared in the adoptive parents’ profile and scrapbook, and in the “Dear Birthmother” letters that the adoptive parents write to you. These letters explain who they are, what their lives are like, and why they would like children in their lives. Other information may be shared according to the degree of openness that you choose.
Q: How much does the adoptive family need to know about me?
A: The Adoption Law requires that your medical history be shared. This is very important, and it will benefit your baby for the pediatrician to know your medical history. Last names and addresses remain confidential. Also, the adoptive parents would like to know about your personality, schooling, hobbies, and interests (called a social history), which will help them get to know you and the baby better. You will have the option of providing any additional information that you feel is important, even after the placement of your child with the adoptive family.
Q: What information, if any, is needed from the birthfather?
A: If possible, we would like to meet and counsel with the birthfather so that we can get the same background information from him, and to acknowledge his consent to the adoption. He can be as much a part of the adoption planning as the birthmother.
Q: How soon after the baby is born can he/she be placed in his/her new home? Will my child need to go into foster care before placement?
A: Most often the baby can be placed directly with the adoptive parents the day that he or she leaves the hospital. Occasionally, the adoptive family may live further away and needs extra time to get here, or may need to complete some paperwork. In these cases, the baby is placed with one of our loving, Christian interim families until the adoptive parents arrive, or until their paperwork is complete.
Q: When do I have to sign the adoption papers?
A: You will probably sign before leaving the hospital if you give birth in South Carolina. If you do not feel that you are ready at that time, you may place your baby with one of our interim families for a few days until you are ready to sign, or until you have made your final decision about whether to parent your child or to place your child for adoption.
If you give birth in a hospital outside the state of South Carolina, you will need to come with your baby to South Carolina to sign, and to release the baby. The baby will be released to you at the hospital and we will help you get from the hospital to South Carolina and back home.
Q: Once I sign the adoption papers, can I change my mind?
A: The South Carolina Adoption Law states that once you sign the adoption papers, called the Consent or Relinquishment of Child for Adoption, it is final and you cannot change your mind.
Q: After the adoption papers are signed, will I need to have, or can I have any further contact with the agency?
A: We are available for counseling and support as long as you need us. We encourage you to keep in touch with us at least until you feel that your needs have been met, your grieving has ended, and your life is stable again.
Q: Will my child and I be able to find each other if either of us decides to search for the other?
A: You and your child will be able to search for each other when your child matures, usually when he or she reaches adulthood. This can be done by contacting our agency directly or by going through an independent search consultant, private investigator, or adoption registry. In order for you and your child to meet again at that time, the agency would first make sure that both of you agree to meeting and are comfortable with it.
If you have any other questions or if you would like to discuss any of these questions further, please call us toll free at 1-800-489-6030 or (803) 328-BABY (2229) to talk to us or to make an appointment with one of our counselors. We are here to help you in any way we can.
Q: What are certified adoption investigators?
A: The state certifies individuals as knowledgeable in adoption matters. They are credentialed to conduct adoptive home studies, compile background summaries on children being placed for adoption, and witness relinquishments for adoption given by birthparent(s). CFS can use home studies done by certified investigators who are in private practice, or who work for other agencies.
Q: What are the ways to adopt in South Carolina?
A: Through the State Agency: South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) is the state adoption agency. Most of the children placed by DSS have come into foster care due to child abuse or neglect. Most have special needs such as being school age or older, being part of a sibling group, or having, or being at risk for having emotional, learning, or medical problems.
Through a Licensed Child Placing Agency: Adoption agencies like Christian Family Services (CFS) offer services to women with unplanned pregnancies. If, through counseling, the woman chooses adoption as her plan, the agency places the child with a family who has an approved adoptive home study on file with the agency.
Through an Attorney: Many attorneys facilitate adoptions, operating in a fashion similar to an adoption agency. The attorney procures the services of Certified Investigators in Adoption Matters to provide social work services.
Through an Identified Adoption: By networking with friends and family, or through advertising in sources such as the Internet or in newspapers, a family can identify a birthmother with whom to make an adoption plan. The adoptive family does not necessarily have to have direct contact with the birthmother, but uses an adoption agency or attorney to mediate the adoption.
Through an International Adoption: Across the country there are agencies that place children internationally. The adoptive family locates a local licensed child- placing agency or a Certified Investigator to conduct the adoptive home study. The international agency mediates the adoption with the foreign country.
Through an Embryo Adoption: Through embryo adoption/donation, the family who has achieved their goal of a family who still has embryos in storage donates the embryos to an infertile family to carry to term and parent. The process is much like in vitro fertilization, except that the embryos are donated by another family.
Q: What Factors Should We Consider in Adopting?
A: Background Factors: A child may have known problems, or may be at risk for developing problems due to his history or genetic background. The child may have known problems, such as prematurity, but what about limited or no background information?
Openness: How much and what kind of contact will there be between the adoptive parents and the birthparent(s) before and following the adoption? Letters, pictures, videos, telephone calls, and face-to-face meetings are to be considered.
Legal Risk: What is the risk that the birthparent(s)’ rights will not be terminated either voluntarily or by the court? In private adoptions, the birthmother’s rights are voluntarily relinquished before the child is placed for adoption. However, the birthfather and possibly legal father have rights that must be addressed as well. If the father(s) has not relinquished his rights, there is legal risk in the adoption.
Cost: What are the fees and costs related to the adoption? There are no fees related to adopting a child with special needs from DSS, and financial assistance is available. Adoption agencies and attorneys charge fees for their services, and the birthmother may have living or medical expenses. International adoption is usually more expensive, due to the travel and multiple services provided.
Q: What documents are required for an adoption to be granted?
A: Pre-placement Investigation: The adoptive home study or adoptive family assessment which also includes preparation and training
Background Investigation: Summary of the child’s background and history
Proof that the Child is Legally Free for Adoption: Consent, relinquishment, or other document that severs the legal relationship between the child and birthparent(s)
Post-placement Investigation: Report of the supervisory visit(s) in the home following the child’s adoptive placement
Q: What documents and information are needed for an adoptive home study?
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage License
- Divorce Petitions and Decrees
- Military Discharge Documents
- Verification of Income
- Autobiographical information, such as family history, childhood, education, employment history,
- personality, interests
- FBI fingerprinting
- State criminal record clearances
- Child abuse registry clearances
- State sexual offender registry clearances
- Medical examination reports
- Financial statement, verification of income, and insurance information
Q: Where can we get additional information?
Directory of licensed adoption agencies and certified adoption investigators: https://dss.sc.gov/content/customers/adoptions/cid.aspx
Directory of members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys: http://www.adoptionattorneys.org/aaaa-page/home
Adoptive Families Magazine: https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/
Building Your Family, produced by Adoptive Families Magazine: http://buildingyourfamily.com/
Creating a Family, an adoption & infertility education organization: https://creatingafamily.org/