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Grandparents, Foster Care, & Adoption: What rights?

DSS has a "policy", not a mandate. The adoption laws say nothing! Judges make assumptions because family court has no mandate. Many children lose everything, including their extended family!

Grandparents have NO rights in adoption proceedings

Lets use another "example" family.  In this example we have both sets of grandparents available, and willing to take on the responsibility of a child.  The mother and father are losing their parental rights, the reason is not important in this example.  There is one child who is under 10 years old.

Because something happened that caused a DSS case to be opened, the child has been removed from the mother and father's care is in DSS custody.  DSS "policy", is to place children with family when possible, so the child is temporarily placed with one set of grandparents who happen to live close by.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Problems begin later.

First, it should be noted at this point, the child is in DSS custody, and on paper is in a category that allows DSS to receive Federal funding to pay for the child's care.  At the same time DSS will ask the family court for child support from the parents.  The child support is actually paid to the grandparents who are caring for him, but who gets those Federal dollars?  That would be DSS.  Due to the tremendous backlog of cases like this, the usual time frame allowed for resolution is nearly always extended.  While all this is going on, it is very easy for the case worker to say or do things, or perhaps disagree with the family on how the child should be cared for, any small detail can be a cause.  Because the case worker, an agent of DSS has total control of every aspect of the case, and the life of the family, things can change with no notice. The worker has the power to take the child from the grandparents and place him in a foster home at any time.  If that happens, the grandparents can, and usually are denied any further contact, even if they are good people and did nothing wrong.  This further traumatizes the child.

At some point, this case is decided in family court.  In our example, the parents rights are being terminated, so what happens to the child?  This was said during a hearing by the judge.  I am paraphrasing this but it is essentially what was said.  I was there, and I heard it myself:

When we terminate the rights of the parents, we terminate the rights of the whole rest of the family right along with them.  That is the law in South Carolina.

This is totally contrary to common sense.  After doing a lot of research, it is evident that this is not actually accurate.  There is nothing in the adoption law that says this, in fact, grandparents or other close family members (of the child) are hardly mentioned at all, and certainly not in the sense described by this statement.  Apparently because there is an ABSENCE of law defining what must be done, assumptions are made to the effect "because the law doesn't say grandparents must be considered, they must not have to be considered, and therefore have no rights".

During the last legislative session, a bill was introduced to correct this inequity in the law. H3225 (the Grandparents Rights Amendment) was introduced last January.  The bill has a total of 19 sponsors and co-sponsors in the South Carolina House of Representatives. Here is a ink to the actual bill so you can read it for yourself. H3225 on SC House website

Essentially, this bill adds one paragraph to the existing Adoption statutes that would MANDATE the family court to give grandparents "priority consideration" for permanent placement or adoption of children when the parents rights are being terminated.  This would minimize the trauma a child suffers during this process, and would keep the child with family who love him even if his parents are not able, for whatever reason to care for him.

Apparently, in today's world, common sense must be legislated!  I know there are some cases where a child SHOULD be protected from a whole family, but that is a very small number compared to the total number of children who end up never seeing anyone from their family again, just because the parents made bad choices.

The CHILDREN should have a right to their birth family.  Why would we as a society deny that right?  Do not condemn a whole family just because a parent made bad choices.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Judy September 27, 2011 at 05:08 PM
WOW we had a grandchildren for 10 months and had to fight for them against DYFS all along they would change workers all the time to go against us. After the children were given back to the parents the same life style continue and no matter what I told them they would ignore it. So to get back at us for reporting the mother started to hollar molestation which was a total made up story and we had to get a attorney who found out so but DYFS did not even press charges on her. She was found gulity of drug abuse, neglect and child abuse not one charge was pressed and they sealed the records. The schools had called 27 times onthis mother the older children were released to their father. But my grandchildren are still living in a mess and damage it has done to them. So what does she do move off to Florida with our son and grandchildren so we cannot see them. CPS are involved but never do anything about the way she is with these children or her lifesytle they have become her buddy and continue to bad mouth the grandparents. When CPS is called in Florida she calls her supervisor from NJ to talk with them and then everything is okay. Why Why our poor grandchildren in this horrible system
Jennifer Thompson November 30, 2011 at 07:06 PM
I just happened to find this. I was a worker for DSS in SC for 6 years and your article contains some inaccuracies. If a child is in the custody of the state ("foster care"), they MUST be placed in a licensed facility (a foster home or residential care facility). So, unless grandparents or other relatives are licensed foster parents, a child in the custody of the state should never be placed in their home in the first place. Family should always be assessed first when it is determined that a child cannot remained in their home, but there isn't always time. Sometimes law enforcement or the judge makes the decision to remove without consulting DSS first and will not take the time to look at relatives). Don't always jump right to blaming DSS. If a child has to come into state custody and into a foster home, a family member would have to be given custody of that child during a family court hearing in order for the child to be placed with the family member. In SC, court hearings take place 72 hours after removal and 35 days after. I also would not agree with you that it is a "very small number" of extended family that children should also be protected from. The majority of families I encountered had generations of the same problems that the parents were experiencing and caused their children to come into care. I do think children should be placed with relatives when it is in their best interests. That should always be the paramount concern.
stacy wood December 06, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I have a good friend her 3 grandkids went into foster care, then she got them, even tho she is in a different state, she done her foster care classes and home studies and everthing they said it all looked good, and then after they were there 10 months dss came and removed them again and put them in another foster home, she wanting her grandkids, and they work everyday and didn't ask dss for nothing.Dss said the dicission was final and couldn't be changed, but they never had a court hearing, and a lawyer costs to much to take the case...Does she have any rights or grounds to stand on?
stacy wood December 06, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Yes this is a South Carolina case, it's Anderson County, i talked to one lawyer he said she could sue them, but he wanted $5000.00 up front. Thank you.
stacy wood December 06, 2012 at 07:05 PM
John, i can't find my note, sorry new to this site..

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