Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - South Carolina

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

An investigation must be made of the prospective adoptive parent(s).

In regulation: Each member of the household must be included in the adoption study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-4980

The child-placing agency shall conduct the adoptive study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-60

Any South Carolina resident may petition the court to adopt a child. Any nonresident of South Carolina may petition the court to adopt a child in the following circumstances only:

  • The child is a special needs child.
  • The child is to be placed for adoption with a relative related biologically or by marriage.
  • At least one of the adoptive parents is in the military service stationed in South Carolina.
  • There are unusual or exceptional circumstances such that the best interests of the child would be served by placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State.
  • The child has been in foster care for at least 6 months after having been legally freed for adoption, and no South Carolina resident has been identified as a prospective adoptive home.
  • All persons required to give consent to the adoption have specifically consented to the adoption by the nonresident.
  • The Department of Social Services or any agency under contract with the department has placed the child with the nonresident for purposes of adoption.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

Preplacement investigations must answer all the following:

  • Whether the home of the prospective adoptive parents is suitable
  • How the emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, and any other relevant characteristics of the prospective adoptive parents affect their ability to provide a child with an adequate environment
  • Whether a prospective parent has ever been involved in any proceeding concerning allegedly neglected, abandoned, abused, or delinquent children
  • Whether the prospective parent has completed a course or counseling in preparation for adoption
  • Whether the prospective parent is approved for placement of a child for the purposes of adoption

In regulation: The child-placing agency should include in any home study at least two face-to-face interviews. Separate face-to-face interviews with each member of the household must be conducted.

The child-placing agency also shall study the following areas:

  • Motivation for adoption
  • Strengths and weaknesses of each household member
  • Attitudes and feelings of the family toward accepting adoptive children
  • The applicant's plan for discussing adoption with the child
  • Record of arrests and criminal convictions and checks with the child abuse central registry
  • Adjustment of birth children, foster children, or previously adopted children
  • A report of a physical examination for household members within 6 months of the study that verifies that each person suffers no communicable disease, specific illness, or disabilities that would interfere with the family's ability to parent a child
  • Ability to provide financially for the adoptee with or without agency financial assistance through an adoption subsidy
  • Personal and community character references
  • Religious orientation, if any
  • Location and physical environment of the home
  • Plan for child care, if the parent(s) work

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-4980

The child-placing agency shall notify applicant(s) in writing within 30 days of completion of the adoption investigation of the acceptance or denial of their application. When applicant(s) are not accepted, the child-placing agency shall inform them of the reasons why the application is denied.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520

Before the placement of any child by any agency or by any person with a prospective adoptive parent, a preplacement investigation, a background investigation, and reports of these investigations must be completed.

If the waiting period for an adoptive placement exceeds 1 year from the date the preplacement investigation report is completed, the report must be updated before the placement of a child to determine any change in circumstances.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must be completed after the filing of the adoption petition. Copies of this report must be provided to the adoption petitioner and must be filed with the court at the final hearing on the adoption. A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must achieve the following:

  • Answer all the following:
    • The race, sex, and age of the adoptee and whether the child is a suitable child for adoption by the prospective adoptive parent
    • The reason for the adoptee's placement away from the biological parents
    • Whether the adoptee, if of appropriate age and mental capacity, desires to be adopted
  • Review and, where indicated, investigate the allegations of the adoption petition and its attachments and of the accounting of disbursements required under § 63-9-740
  • Evaluate the progress of the placement of the adoptee
  • Determine whether adoption by the petitioner is in the best interests of the adoptee

In regulation: The caseworker shall be in contact with the adoptive family at least monthly after the placement of a child prior to the final decree. Information obtained from the contact shall be used in making recommendations for the finalization of the adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-1110

Any person may adopt his or her spouse's child, and any person may adopt a child to whom he or she is related by blood or marriage. In the adoption of these children, the following provisions apply:

  • No investigation or report is required, unless otherwise directed by the court.
  • No accounting by the petitioner of all disbursements is required unless the accounting is ordered by the court.
  • Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement that the final hearing must not be held before 90 days after the filing of the adoption petition.
  • Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement of the appointment of independent counsel for an indigent parent.
  • Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement that the adoption proceeding must be finalized in this State.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-9-60; 63-9-2200

Before a child is placed within or outside the boundaries of this State for adoption with nonresidents of this State, compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is required, and a judicial determination must be made in this State that one of the circumstances in § 63-9-60(B)(1)(a)-(g) applies, whether or not the adoption proceedings are instituted in this State.

Neither the department nor its contractors may delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption by a nonresident if that nonresident has been approved for adoption of the child by another State authorized to approve such placements pursuant to the ICPC. The department shall provide an opportunity for a hearing, in accordance with the department€™s fair hearing procedures, to a nonresident who believes that the department, in violation of this section, has delayed or denied placement of a child for adoption.

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the ICPC. The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

Foster parents may apply to adopt a foster child. Foster families who have been approved for adoption will be given first consideration for the adoption of a foster child under the following conditions:

  • The child has been in the same foster home for a consecutive 6 months or more.
  • The child is legally free for adoption.
  • Placement for adoption with the foster family is deemed to be in the best interests of the child by the department or the child-placing agency.

Links to Resources

Resources from the South Carolina Department of Social Services: