Children in foster care meet with prospective families at adopti - - Columbia, South Carolina

Children in foster care meet with prospective families at adoption event


There have been a number of calls from inside the State House for Department of Social Services Director Lillian Koller to resign.

There are questions about child deaths and the agency's transparency. Adoptions have also drawn some attention too.

But on Saturday, DSS adoption workers tried to prove their critics wrong.

For 17-year-old "Jake" Saturday could be the day he finds a permanent home, a permanent family.

"If it wasn't for this newscast, and you were to see me on the street, you would have thought that I was in a regular, permanent home with my actual mom and dad," Jake said.

But when he was around 11 or 12, Jake became a foster child.

Under the guidance of the South Carolina Department of Social Services he said his behavior and outlook on life have changed drastically.

"All they want for us is to have a life," Jake said. "They want us to have as much of a normal life as possible."

In the comfort of an Irmo bowling alley, Jake and dozens of other foster children get to meet dozens of parents eager to adopt.

"It breaks the ice a little easier," Jake said. "It helps the kids open up."

DSS makes this possible.

"I don't think either one of us really has the perfect kid in mind, because we know that just doesn't exist," said Pam Lucas. "I think we're just looking for a child that has similar interests."

Dawn Barton is the regional adoption administrator.

Her agency has been in the headlines lately with some lawmakers even calling for the director to resign.

State leaders have even expressed concern over accusations that children were being pushed into permanent homes to meet agency goals.

"Although a lot of it appears to be targeted at the agency head or possibly the governor, we on the front lines doing the work, we take it personal," Barton said. "We take it very personal."

Barton said only four adoptions have been reversed since 2011.

Since then she said the adoption rate has gone up by 50 percent.

"Right at the moment, if DSS hadn't intervened, I could probably be in the back of a patrol car at the moment we speak," Jake said.

Jake, by the way, isn't too sure that adoption is for him since he's so close to turning 18.

He hopes to enlist with the Marine Corp.

For information on adoption, click here.

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