The philosophy of the Lee County Department of Social Services is that every child has a right to a permanent and stable family. To assure the child’s right to care and protection, the agency offers adoption services when birth parents are unable to assume or continue parental responsibilities. The primary purpose of the adoption service is to promote the best interest of the child while protecting the rights of his/her birth and adoptive parents.
The adoption program is geared to meet the needs of children and to fulfill the agency’s obligation to find families for all children – regardless of race, age, ethnic origin, mental or physical handicap. Based on the purpose and goals of the program, the Adoption Policy was developed.
Adoptive applicants should be at least 21 years of age. There are no specific requirements regarding the maximum age allowed.
To assure stability and allow couples adequate time for marital adjustment, it is recommended that the couple be married for one year before the home study is started. Common law relationships are not recognized. Verification of marital status and divorces are required.
No specific level of education is required, but applicants should be able to address the educational needs of the children in their home.
There are no specific income requirements. The adoptive applicant should have adequate income to maintain an adequate standard of living and provide reasonable economic security to the child. Assistance will be offered persons adopting children with special needs. Refer to Adoption Assistance section for financial resources that may be available to adopted children.
The adoptive applicants should have adequate space to accommodate additional family members. Owning your own home is not required and it is permissible to live in a mobile home.
There are no requirements regarding the religion of applicants. It is hoped that adoptive parents would afford the child the opportunity for religious affiliation. Older children having an established religious affiliation should have their beliefs respected by the adoptive parents.
Applicants will be accepted from Lee County resident. North Carolina law requires that adoption petitioners reside in the state for six months preceding the filing of the petition for adoption.
Medical evaluations are required as a part of the application process.
The pre-placement assessment will consist of 30 hours of pre-service training as well as joint and individual interviews. The process should help determine if the applicant does, in fact, wish to adopt, if they are ready to adopt, and what type of child would benefit from placement in their home.
Lee County Department of Social Services reviews local criminal records, as well as the Department of Corrections. As a part of the foster care licensing process, all applicants are required to have their fingerprints taken. From this, statewide and national criminal checks are conducted. Cleaned fingerprint checks are required for licensure.
The Adoption Committee is composed of a minimum of three persons, including a person from the agency in a management position in children’s services, the child’s social worker, and the adoption worker. The guardian ad litem will be invited to provide input, but shall not vote on the decision.
Four (4) criteria MUST be met:
Child has be removed from home by VPA or court order;
Child is/was in placement responsibility of NC agency authorized to place children for adoption;
It has been determined that the child cannot/should not return to parents.
Child has special needs that include at least one of the following conditions:
Ethnicity or race;
Membership in certain minority group;
Member of sibling group to be placed together;
Medical, physical, and/or emotional condition(s);
High risk for future disability due to documented predisposing factor;
Need for placement with a known and approved family.
*BIRTH PARENTS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE ADOPTION ASSISTANCE.*
Reimbursement for adoption related cost up to $2,000 for a special needs child.
a. Amount cannot exceed monthly foster care rate.
b. Payment is effective the month after Decree of Adoption is filed.
c. Parent’s incomes/resources do not affect amount of payment.
d. Basis monthly rates (same as Foster Care)
a. From birth through 5 yrs. of age
b. From 6 through 12 yrs. of age
c. From 13 through 18 yrs. of age
Children receiving SSI or IV-E benefits are automatically eligible.
Children with income that exceeds Medicaid limit are not eligible for benefits.
a. $2,400 allowed annually for medical, remedial and/or therapeutic services not covered by Medicaid or private insurance.
b. Payments made to providers or parent(s).
c. Payments not allowed for routine physical exams or illnesses or conditions not directly related to conditions that existed prior to the adoption.
d. Agency must obtain documents to support reimbursements.
Unfortunately, not all adoptive placements work out, even with the most careful planning. We, as an agency, hope to establish an open, honest relationship with our adoptive parents in hopes that they will share their feelings, both positive and negative. The possibility of disruption is openly discussed. It is the responsibility of the agency to make sure that both the family and the child have access to someone to talk with about what is happening to them.
As adoption is a lifelong process and questions or problems may present themselves long after the issuance of the Decree of Adoption, the agency remains committed to providing services to adoptive families. Post-adoptive services may be comprised of advising of current laws and the sharing and reviewing of pertinent information, counseling by assessing needs and offering referrals for additional assistance, and the continuance of adoption subsidy until the child is 18 years of age. Questions and concerns often surface during the teenage years. Unless resolved, these issues tend to resurface during other critical times in the adopted person’s life such as impending marriage or birth of a child and the death of an adoptive parent. Consultation with birth parents that are still experiencing difficulties concerning the loss/relinquishment of a child requires a sensitive approach in counseling.
Child Placement Services are provided for children for whom the agency holds custody. They include recruiting, licensing,
relicensing, and supervising foster homes for children for whom the agency holds placement responsibility. Also includes responsibility
for providing services to children whose permanent plan is reunification, relative placement, adoption, or independent living.
To get more information on Foster Care, click on the link below.
NC DSS Foster Care Program
Protective Services for Children are provided to children and their parents/caretakers in response to instances of actual or suspected child neglect, abuse, or exploitation. This includes investigating reports of neglect, abuse, dependency or exploitation; evaluating the degree of damage or risk to the child; cooperating with law enforcement agencies and initiating exploitation; evaluating the degree of damage or risk to the child; cooperating with law enforcement agencies and initiating court action when necessary; counseling and planning with the child’s family toward the solution and prevention of problems causing neglect, abuse, dependency, or exploitation; and arranging for the provisions of services such as foster care, day care, health and mental health services and in home aid services. These services are provided by an intake unit, investigative units, treatment units, and an extended duty unit. The extended duty social worker responds to emergency situations, which cannot be handled during regular office hours – nights, weekends, holidays, etc.
Reports may be made during regular business hours either by telephone contact (919-718-4690) or by a visit to the Department (106 Hillcrest Dr., Sanford, NC).
Night, holiday, and weekend reporting may be made through contact with the Sanford Police Department (919-775-8286) and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (919-718-4560). These agencies are always open and willing to contact our on-call worker. Our worker will contact you regarding your report
To get more information on Preventative Services, click the link below.
NC DSS Child Protective Services
Food and Nutrition
Work First Family Assistance
Child Support Enforcement
Social Services Useful Links