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Understanding Virginia Adoption Laws

If you or a loved one is considering adoption in Virginia, it’s important to understand Virginia adoption laws so that you are prepared, know what to expect and can avoid complications. Hiring an adoption attorney can be helpful throughout the process. Read on for additional information on adoption laws in Virginia.

Virginia Adoption Eligibility & Consent Requirements

Those who are eligible to adopt in Virginia include any natural person who resides in Virginia or any person who has custody of a child placed by a Virginia child-placing agency. This includes unmarried individuals and married couples, whether male and female or same-sex. Persons convicted of sexually violent offenses or offenses requiring registration under Section 9.1-902 of the Virginia Code are not allowed to adopt children in Virginia.

In a parental placement adoption, Virginia law requires consent from the child’s birth mother and by any man who is an acknowledged father, an adjudicated father, a presumed father or who has registered with the Putative Father Registry. If the child is under the legal guardianship of an agency, the agency must consent to the adoption. If a child’s birth father revokes his paternity in writing and under oath, then his consent is not required.

If the child is 14 years of age or older, the child is also required to give consent unless a court determines the adoption is in the child’s best interest and a judge deems the consent unnecessary.

Virginia Adoption Home Study

In order to adopt a child in Virginia, in most cases, prospective adoptive parents must undergo a home study completed by a social worker from a licensed child placement agency. Before undergoing a home study, prospective adoptive parents must attend an orientation meeting to learn about the state’s adoption process and to submit a formal application. A social worker will then be assigned to the case. Contact an adoption attorney to determine the extent of the legal documentation and personal information required to submit an application and to proceed with the home study evaluation.

A home study is an evaluation of the prospective adoptive family’s lifestyle, habits and readiness to adopt. The evaluation includes providing documentation, interviews with the adoptive parents, an assessment of the financial, moral, physical and mental stability of the adoptive parents and a physical inspection of the home. The home study required for adoption is valid for 36 months.

Selection and Adoption Expenses

For an agency adoption, when prospective adoptive parents have successfully completed a home study, typically the adoption agency will contact the parents when the agency identifies a child it believes to be suitable for placement. Official visits will be scheduled to meet and get to know the child before the child is placed in the home. For a parental placement adoption, prospective adoptive parents may locate a child that needs placement via means such as the internet, social media, word of mouth, adoption attorneys or churches.

When it comes to adopting a child in Virginia, adoptive parents are required to pay certain legal expenses as well as adoption and birth parent medical expenses (if applicable). This includes the cost of the home study, as well as any fees or expenses charged by a licensed adoption agency, including any post-placement supervision costs. Furthermore, additional expenses for the birth parent may include legal attorney fees, medical expenses, hospitalization for the birth or reimbursement for adoption-related court appearances.

Virginia Adoption Finalization

Once parental rights have been terminated, or the required consents have been executed or waived, a petition for adoption is filed in the appropriate circuit court. Typically, between the time when a child is placed in the prospective adoptive parents’ home and the final adoption, a child-placing agency must conduct three visits to the home, with no fewer than 90 days between the first and third visits. The agency will then file a report of visitation with the court. The adoption is finalized when a final order of adoption is entered by the circuit court, and the required reporting forms are completed.

Adopting a child is incredibly rewarding, but it’s easy to feel discouraged by the length of the adoption proceedings or the complexities of the process. An adoption attorney can assist you with the proper legal documentation and paperwork required every step of the way.

Overall, the adoption process in Virginia has many legal requirements, and while not all-encompassing, this blog post outlines some of the most important legal steps along this journey. It is important to stay informed and aware of your obligations and requirements as prospective adoptive parents. Adoption lawyers can help you understand the Virginia adoption laws more clearly through proper guidance and support. Contact Hite Kaminsky Family Law today for assistance navigating the adoption process today!