Child draws family, awaits adoption.On January 5, 1961, the South Dakota Department of Public Welfare licensed Catholic Family Services, then known as Catholic Charities, as an adoption or child placement agency. The religious Sisters working in the Catholic hospitals alerted the Diocesan officials that the needs of unwed mothers and their children were not being met. The SD Catholic Hospital Association and pastors of churches also confirmed the need and recommended the establishment of a diocesan agency to meet these needs. Under the leadership of Bishop Lambert Hoch and Mr. Ed Ackerman, a social worker from the Archdiocese of Detroit, the diocese developed and licensed the agency. Since 1961 Catholic Family Services of South Dakota, as a licensed Child Placement Agency, has helped thousands of families seeking adoption support.

Adoption brings together two different families for the common good. It brings emotions of happiness, sadness, and excitement… often felt at the same time by both the couple and the birth parents.

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition” -1Samuel 1:27

For more information please contact Christy Vander Woude, MSW, LCSW
at (800) 700-7867 or email at


Adoption Requirements for Catholic Family Services Waiting Couple Program

Catholic Family Services, sponsored outreach ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, roots its ministries in the teachings and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, guided by Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium.  More specifically, Catholic social teachings provide a basic grounding for the ministries.

If you would like to explore this further, a summary is available from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Additional resources include the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Qualifications for adoptive applicants are the following:

Reside in the Diocese of Sioux Falls

At least one spouse is a practicing Catholic and registered in a Catholic Parish (in the Diocese of Sioux Falls)

Married at least three years and have a sacramental marriage recognized by the Catholic Church

Intend to raise the child Catholic

Must be at least 21 years of age and not over 45 at the time of application

Be in good physical and mental health

Are unable to conceive and bear children or have medical problems that may be complicated by a pregnancy .It is expected the couple consult a physician regarding their fertility problems prior to formal application.

If an applicant does not meet the qualifications, Catholic Family Services will provide in writing information advising the applicant of the Department of Social Services website and a list of licensed child-placement agencies with contact information

Additional Information for Adoption Process through Catholic Family Services

The number of applications to be processed may be limited or closed by CFS for a defined period when there are more applicants than are necessary to match a child with a family.

Applications for adoption shall not be accepted from any individuals who have another adoption action pending with either a state, agency, or private adoption.

CFS does not accept home studies conducted by private agencies or private social workers for an agency placement.  CFS will accept a current approved home study completed by the state of South Dakota at the rate of a domestic reapplication home study.

         The approval of an adoptive study does not commit CFS to placement of a child.


What fees are associated with adoption?

Domestic Placements/Adoptions:
Fees for Adoption Services are divided and collected as the various processes are started, namely, application, home study, placement and post placement. The placement fee is based upon the Adjusted Gross Income of the couple and is determined during the home study process. Through the sliding fee program, an adoption is affordable to most families.

Fees for Adoption Services offset expenses incurred, which include: adoption workers time and expenses, pregnancy counseling provided to the birth parents, legal services for termination of parental rights, reports to the court for finalization, legal consultation, background checks, preparation of legal documents and reports, travel, office and administrative expenses, etc.

Adoption Tax Credit:
Tax benefits for adoption include both a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. The credit is nonrefundable, which means it’s limited to your tax liability for the year. However, any credit in excess of your tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years. The maximum amount (dollar limit) for 2016 is $13,460 per child.

International and Private Adoptions
Costs are based upon the service provided. See below.

Are there different types of adoptions?

An open adoption is where birth parents choose the adoptive parents. They meet, exchange contact information, share pictures and letters and have occasional face-to-face contact
throughout the child’s life.

In a semi-open adoption, birth parents also choose the adoptive couple and meet with them on a first name basis. They talk, meet, and exchange letters and pictures through the agency after the adoption.

In a confidential adoption, birth parents may choose the adoptive family from profiles provided by the agency or may ask the agency to select the adoptive couple. The birth parents may or may not choose to meet the adoptive couple. Confidential adoptions make it possible for the birth parents to protect their identity from the adoptive family.

What if I choose a confidential or semi-open adoption and later would like more openness?
Arrangements can be made to increase the level of openness upon the mutual agreement of both birth parents and adoptive parents. This may happen as mutual trust develops.

What are the benefits to using a licensed agency?

For the birth parent you will…

  1. Work with a compassionate, experienced, licensed and well trained staff that is up to date on issues, regulations and laws.
  2. We provide all services and necessary paperwork in one place with an experienced social worker.
  3. Receive unlimited FREE counseling before and after the birth of the baby for as long as necessary.
  4. Receive education about parenting as well as adoption and be allowed to make your own decision.
  5. Have opportunities to choose and meet prospective adoptive families that have been screened and prepared for adoption.

For the adoptive families you will…

  1. Work with an agency that has more than 50 years of successful adoptive placements.
  2. Have the support of a compassionate, experienced, well trained and licensed staff that is abreast on issues.
  3. Work with an agency that has yearly licensure visits and supervision by the State of South Dakota to assure quality and compliance with state requirements.
  4. Receive ongoing parenting education and the opportunity to meet others who have placed children, adopted children, or who were adopted.
  5. Have frequent contact, support, and encouragement from staff and other waiting couples.

Can CFS help with an international adoption?

Catholic Family Services has worked with adoptions from many different countries. Couples wishing to pursue an International Adoption should call Catholic Family Services at (800) 700-7867 to discuss requirements, specific needs and the costs.

If I am pursuing a private adoption, what services can CFS provide?

A private adoption involves:

  1. A birth parent arranging to place the baby with a self-selected adoptive family and is not working with an agency.
  2. An adoptive couple working through a law firm to adopt a child.

Catholic Family Services may be able to provide the following services for couples pursuing a private adoption:

  1. Home Study
  2. Birth Parent Counseling and Reports for the Courts
  3. Adoption Education Training
  4. Post Placement Visits with Needed Reports

Individuals seeking the above services should call Catholic Family Services at (800)700-7867 to discuss the requirements as well as specific services needed for the adoption and therefore the costs.

Post Adoption/Search

Historically, adoption was done by merely recording the transfer of a child, similar to the registration of a deed. Protection became linked with secrecy. In the 1950’s, most states passed laws sealing adoption records to the public, the adoptive parents, the birth parents and adoptee. Later adoptees found this protection to be a hardship and left them with unanswered questions and missing pieces to their lives. An adoptee wants to know about his/her genetic ancestry, “why I was given up”, “did my birth parents love me”, “what were they like”, what did they look like”, and “what were their interests and personalities?”

These questions led adoptees to conduct searches for their birthparents so they might know the answers to these questions. Legislators enacted laws to permit adoptees 18 years of age or older to obtain a court order and open their files.

For more information on the post adoption search process, please call us at (800) 700-7867.