Recent South Carolina Case Gives Some Rights to Foster Parents but Maybe Not Enough

Imagine that you have been the foster parents of two children for years. You’ve filed a motion to have the parental rights of their biological parents terminated so that you can adopt the children. They’ve lived with you for quite some time and you think it’s about time you adopt them. The next thing you know, DSS is coming to your home and tells you that the kids are being taken away. Instead of adopting these children you’ve come to love, you find out they’re being placed with the biological mother’s aunt instead. This is what happened to two couples in South Carolina this past year.

In early November, the Supreme Court of South Carolina heard the case, Cooper v SCDSS. In this case, two sets of parents who had served as foster parents to three siblings filed a petition with the family courts regarding the care of the children. They claimed that DSS had removed their foster children from their homes and placed them with a family member of the biological mother. DSS was looking to start the reunification process with the children’s biological mother.

The parents objected that they should have been allowed to have a say in these proceedings. In addition, they had filed motions to adopt as well. The Supreme Court held that the cases should be remanded to the family courts to decide. They also determined that the foster parents did have the opportunity to ask to intervene in the case. However, they also said these were permissive rights and not mandatory. This means that, while they may be allowed to have a say in the process, this right wasn’t absolute or guaranteed.

If you’re dealing with issues as a foster parent in South Carolina, call our adoption attorneys right away.