Virginia Adoption Attorney
Adopting a child or placing a child up for adoption can be an extremely emotional process. If you are looking to adopt a child in Virginia, our Glen Allen adoption lawyer can help guide you through this complex and confusing process. If you’re pregnant and considering adoption, we can also assist you in locating services and navigating the Virginia adoption process.
An adoption in Virginia is a process through which a child moves permanently from one family to another. The parental rights of the original family are terminated, and the new parents are given full rights as parents. The adoptive parents have the same obligations and legal rights as biological parents.
Types of Adoption in Virginia
Only two types of adoptions are possible according to the laws in the state of Virginia: those made through an authorized agency and those made by birth parents or a legal guardian.
An agency placement adoption is one that takes place through either a public social services department or a private licensed child placement agency. In these cases, the rights of the birth parents are terminated, and the agency is granted the authority to place the child in an adoptive home.
A non-agency adoption occurs when the child is not in the custody of any type of agency. The birth parents will be asked to consent to the adoption, with their parental rights being terminated upon entry of the final order. The different types of non-agency adoptions are:
- Parental Placement Adoptions. A parental placement adoption occurs when the child’s parent directly chooses the adopting family.
- Stepparent Adoptions. Sometimes, the spouse of a birth or adoptive parent wants to become the “official” parent of the child, which requires an adoption petition with the courts.
- Adult Adoptions. An adult adoption is the legal adoption of anyone who is age 18 or over at the time the petition for adoption is filed.
Parental Placement Adoptions
When both sets of parents cooperate on an adoption proceeding without the use of an agency, you have a parental placement adoption. The birth parents might seek out an adoptive family or individual parent to adopt their child. Sometimes, it is just the biological mother that is involved in the process and the father is either not identified or can’t be located.
As this type of case moves forward, the courts have certain requirements for all of the parties in the adoption. Both the biological parents and the adoptive parents must receive counseling and learn about adoption alternatives. The courts require assurances that no party in the adoption is being coerced into the agreement or receiving financial compensation above reimbursement of certain expenses.
The requirements in Virginia for a parental placement adoption are strict. Once the court has been satisfied and a six-month supervisory period met, the Circuit Court will enter a final order of adoption. Virginia law also gives a window in which the birth parents can revoke their adoption consent. According to Virginia Code Section 63.2-1234, a birth parent can revoke consent for adoption for any reason for up to seven days. However, this right to revoke consent can be waived in writing as long as the child is at least ten days old. If there are two birth parents, the case of one parent waiving rights does not affect the rights of the other parent. Any party to the adoption can also revoke consent before the final order is signed if there is proof of fraud or duress or upon written agreement of all the parties to the adoption.
Adoptions by stepparents are the most common form of adoption today. When a parent remarries, the stepparent often takes on a crucial role in the lives of children in an expanded family. At times, the stepparent becomes more of a fixture in the life of the child than a biological parent and may wish to adopt the child.
Depending on the status of the biological parent, these adoptions can be either simple or complex. If the child has not had the biological parent in their life for at least six months, then a document can be prepared which allows that parent to relinquish rights and consent to the stepparent adoption. In other cases, a court order can be a substitute for the biological parent’s consent.
An increasingly common choice today is to adopt a child from another country. In some cases, these types of adoptions are handled through an agency that specializes in international adoptions. The process for these adoptions is complex because the parents need to comply with three sets of laws. The adoption must adhere to the laws of the state of Virginia as well as U.S. federal adoption laws and any rules governing adoption in the child’s home country.
Since the child isn’t a U.S. citizen, the parents will also need to apply for a visa in order to bring the child into the country. Because of the complexities of international adoptions, it’s more important than ever that you have a knowledgeable adoption attorney in your corner to help you navigate this arduous process.
With few exceptions, most adoptions in the state of Virginia will require a home study. This is a systematic review of the person that wants to adopt a child, and it is quite intensive. An accredited business or organization will investigate both the adoptive parents and anyone else living in the home.
A home study will include a review of the family’s history, its reasons for wanting to adopt, the parent(s) work histories and educational background, a criminal background check, and a review of financial records. This in-depth process generally takes up to nine weeks to complete. Your Glen Allen adoption attorney can both guide you through the process and refer you to a reputable agency that can complete your home study.
If you are seeking to adopt a child or place a child up for adoption in the state of Virginia, it’s important that you understand the process so that you make the right decisions for both the child and your family. Our experienced and compassionate Virginia adoption attorney can explain your options and help guide you through this emotional process. Contact the Glen Allen office of Farmer Legal to at (804) 325-1441 to schedule a free consultation.