The S.C. House has given overwhelming support to new bills that seek to make it easier for children in foster care to move into permanent families through adoption. The legislation was referred to the S.C. Senate Judiciary Committee in early February.

“I have a passion for children who are most vulnerable to have permanent placement,” says S.C. Rep. Raye Felder (R-York). Felder is a co-sponsor of S.C. H. 3442, which passed 103 to 0, and H. 3465, which passed 99 to 1.

The way foster children currently are handled can lead to months or years of foster limbo, even when their birth families want them to be adopted. The adoption process is held up by red tape.

“The sooner a child can have family placement with continuity, then I think that child’s success is increased,” she says.

In recent years, state court decisions have created a situation where only DSS has the ability to place children for adoption, ignoring the desires of the birth parents, foster parents, and others, who might desire to petition to adopt.

Trey Ingram, an attorney at Smith Moore Leatherwood, has seen the foster system problems from the perspective of a lawyer working on behalf of birth parents and also as a foster parent. His family of six, including four daughters, has fostered infants. They have a foster baby now and, until December, had a toddler foster boy they had raised from infancy.

The foster boy’s mother chose the Ingrams to be her son’s parents, but because of the way the current foster laws are being interpreted, they were not able to ask the courts for the right to adopt the boy.

“The court was not even able to consider whether or not we should adopt him because we did not have standing because of the current interpretation [of the law],” Ingram says.

The child’s birth parent had no rights regarding where her son would end up, and that’s a situation that the legislation hopes to change, Ingram says.

“Until you walk in their shoes, you don’t know what it might be like to face the prospect of the state taking your child forever and your never knowing where the child goes,” Ingram explains.

“I’ve heard people say this is a foster parent-friendly bill because it will allow foster parents to adopt,” he adds. “Actually, everyone needs this bill: parents need it to select the parent of their choosing; grandparents need the bill. This bill clarifies [adoption] standing across the board, equally.”

Recently, Ingram spoke with a woman whose child was taken into foster care, and the parent wanted to relinquish her parental rights and place the child with a Christian adoption agency. She said she’d rather have her child placed with a Christian agency that would find a good home for her child than continue to fight DSS to have her child returned to her. But she quickly learned that she would not be able to suggest that her child be placed with the adoption agency, he explains.

“This bill would allow her to do that,” he says.

 

7 comments
  1. This bill, if made into law, would allow so many children to be placed into homes of the birth families’ choosing and save the State and taxpayers at least $20,000 per adoption that it is now costing DSS . In fact, no one knows the cost of each adoption here in SC or in the U.S.A., but about 20 years ago, it was known that it cost the State of SC at least $17,000 per adoption. That did not include monthly subsidies paid to foster and adoptive parents.

    A private adoption agency can allow a birth family to select a home study ready– and very well prepared adoptive family– that has had extensive training to adopt a child. This is instead of the relatives and sometimes friends of the birth family with whom DSS often places these children. These are not necessarily people with whom the child or the birth family has a real relationship And often these people have no training or even meet the requirements that are set for adoptive families. Instead, these people qualify because they have a blood or “friend of the family” relationship with the bio family. No wonder children in the “system” often have so many issues when they are placed with people who have no qualifications to meet these children’s special emotional needs.

    Why not give these birth parents the opportunity to make one very positive decision in their lives. Give these bio parents the right to select a qualified adoptive family with the right skill sets to adopt their children.

    1. Laura, as someone who is just finishing the foster care certification process and who has a little brother adopted through foster care I’m not sure where you are getting your information on foster parents not be trained before a child is placed with them? I have spent hours upon hours sitting through trainings and trying to get my home ready for it to be certifiably safe for the little ones coming into my home. Even if the state is placing the child with family members, the family members still have to go through the whole certification process as well. Just thought you might like to know, I know there are quite a lot of stigmas about foster families, they aren’t true! I know so many good foster families just trying to make better Homes for these poor kids. Wish you the best.

    2. Laura as you criticize people you know nothing about, please tell me what you’re doing for these children…

  2. Foster families should have standing after 6 months instead of 12. So many times judges don’t follow the law and give 6 month extension to parents who are choosing not to be clean or work their services and their rights still end up being terminated and children end up staying in fostercare longer.

  3. Foster families should have standing after 6 months instead of 12, Judges also not following procedure and giving parents longer who choose not to utilize their time by staying clean or doing their services, and end up terminating anyway keep children on care longer.

  4. I served on the SC Foster Care Review Board for years. Children in our state deserve a permanent home asap. Too many linger “in care” for years…..tragic as well as criminal!

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