Known as the birthplace of a nation, Virginia’s population is over eight million people. Like all states, it has requirements for adoption in Virginia that hopeful adoptive parents must abide by in order to become eligible to adopt your child. If you’re an expectant parent and would like to know about the steps for adoption in Virginia, read this article to find out the steps for adoption in Virginia.
So, what are the steps for an adoption in Virginia?
Step One: The Adoptive Parents Need to Work With An Adoption Professional in Virginia.
By the state Virginia law, the adoptive parents need to either work with an adoption agency through local social services departments, or through child-placing agencies in Virginia, or non-agency adoptions that consist of parental, stepparent, close relative, and intercounty placings. Whether working with an adoption agency or not, both you and the adoptive parents need to figure out the adoption laws–the rules, regulations, eligibility requirements, and qualifications in order to adopt a child in Virginia.
Step Two: Abide by the Virginia Adoption Laws.
So what are the adoption laws in Virginia, and why are the laws an important step of adoption?
It’s important to look at who can adopt in Virginia in order to legally adopt your child.
-A husband and wife adopting together.
-Parents who are wanting to adopt through a surrogate, and who have a surrogacy contract.
-A person who has gained custody of a child through an agency.
-A parent adopting a child who is of age to consent to an adoption.
In the state of Virginia, the adoptive parents must be of 18 years of age. There are no marriage requirements, and that means singles, divorcees, widows, same-sex couples can adopt your child, as long as each individual meets the requirements of the adoption professional the couples or individuals work with. The state of Virginia doesn’t discriminate against race, religion, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and marital status.
On the other hand, who can’t adopt a child in Virginia? The adoptive parents cannot adopt a child if couples or individuals has the following offenses:
-Manslaughter or murder
-Assault, whether physical or sexual.
-Harmful and hostile threats
-Stalking or violating a protective order
-Use of a weapon in a violent crime
-Involved in crimes that involve children
-Abuse and neglecting children
-Possession of child pornography
-Abuse and neglecting incapacitated adults
-The obscenity of offenses
-Delivering drugs to prisoners
In Virginia, the consent of the birth parents must be given by both of you. If your child’s age is 14 or older, his or her consent is required, unless the judge finds that the adoption is in the child’s best interest. If you’re a birth father, your consent is valid if:
-You’re acknowledged as the father.
-You’re the presumed father.
-You’re registered with Virginia’s Punitive Father’s Registry.
As the birth father, you can terminate your parental rights before the baby’s birth. However, if you’re placing directly, the child must be three days old before you both can consent to the adoption.
By Virginia law, the adoptive parents must pay some of the birth parents expenses including:
-Your pregnancy-related medical expenses and insurance.
-You being able to receive mental health counseling.
-Your food, shelter, and clothing expenses when you’re unable to work due to pregnancy.
-Your legal service fees.
-Your reimbursements for court appearances including food, lodging, and transportation.
Step Three: The Adoptive Parents Must Attend an Orientation and Go to Training.
The adoptive parents will go to an orientation to learn all about the types of children waiting to be adopted in Virginia. Couples will learn about the adoption process and will have meetings with an adoption social worker. The adoptive parents will also be required to go through training which lasts for about 28-30 hours and lasts for about 4-6 sessions. The training is constructive and is led by adoption social workers and by foster parents. Specialists such as adoption specialists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, and physical health clinicians will also be present to educate the hopeful adoptive parents of a variety of different topics.
Step Four: The Adoptive Parents Need to Fill Out an Adoption Application.
The application forms are different for each agency. Once the forms are completed and signed, the adoptive family will need to do the home study.
Step Five: The Adoptive Parents Need To Complete A Home Study
One of the most important parts of the adoption process is the initial home study. A home study is a required screening of the home and life of the prospective adoptive parents to allow the adoption to officially take place. The home study is an evaluation that an agency social worker or a family service specialist must conduct, and the documents are in three stages–the documentation phase, the home visit, and the home inspection.
This phase is the most time-consuming because it requires several documents that the adoptive parents and the members of the household must complete in order to adopt a child into the home. What documents need to be completed?
-Applicants must undergo a background check that includes criminal history records, FBI clearances, sexual assault, child abuse, and neglect clearances.
-Three references must be provided that can determine the adoptive parent’s character, and one of the references must be a non-related family member.
-Three face to face interviews with each applicant must occur.
-The adoptive parents must have a tuberculosis test and pass a physical that also notes the mental and physical condition to take care of a child.
-Couples need to take First Aid training and parenting classes.
-Financial information including employment paystubs, resources, obligations, debts, and other income qualifications must be provided.
-Copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc. should be made available.
What information is needed to be proven for the documents?
-The adoptive parent’s ages must be disclosed.
-The adoptive parents need to be knowledgeable and shown to be physically, mentally, and emotionally able to care for a child.
-Couples must express the right motivation to adopt a child.
-Couples or individuals can manage emergencies and make sure that the children are safe, cared for, and protected.
-Hopeful adoptive parents must show the right attitude and capability to love, care, and nurture a child.
-Couples need to demonstrate that each individual is stable, not just in character, but with relationships.
-Couples or individuals need to have the financial resources to provide the child’s needs.
The In-Home Visit
Before the home inspection, the social worker will interview the adoptive parents and the families by asking a variety of questions. The adoptive parents will be asked about daily routines, family life, childhood experiences, relationships, and thoughts about adoption. Social workers will also assess other information like parenting styles, general personalities, and the readiness to adopt.
The Home Inspection
The last stage of the home study process is the home inspection. The social worker will inspect the adoptive parents’ home to make sure the home is safe for a child to live in. The social worker will check safety precautions and educate the adoptive family on the areas in the home that need to be safe for the child. Once the social worker completes the home inspection, the adoptive family will receive a written report of the home study, and the home study stays complete for up to 36 months.
Step Six: The Adoptive Parents Look at Photos of Children, and Meet You.
The adoptive parents will be able to see pictures of children, and the adoption professional will tell the adoptive parents about each child that the couple is interested in adopting. When the adoptive family finds a child that the couple would like to adopt, the adoption professional will see if the child will be the right fit for the adoptive family.
The adoption professional will set up a time and a place in order for you to meet the hopeful adoptive family. Here are some great adoption questions to ask adoptive parents.
Step Seven: Review the Placement Process.
Once a child is chosen for adoption, visits between the child and family will be set up. When the child feels comfortable in the adoptive family home, and the adoption professional feels that both the child and adoptive family are ready, placement arrangements will be made.
Supervision After Placement
When the child is placed in the adoptive family home, placement supervision will be carried out by an adoption social worker. This is done to help both the adoptive parents and child to adapt to living in the adoptive family home, and helps the adoptive parents to adjust and ask questions about parenting. Virginia law says that the child must live in the adoptive parent’s home for up to six months after placement, and be visited up to three times or more before the finalization of the adoption.
This visit will also let the social worker know if the adoptive parents:
-Are physically and mentally capable to have a child live in the home.
-Are Financially capable to provide a safe home for the child.
-Have the mental and physical condition of the child.
-Paid the fees in the adoption process
-Received the medical history of the biological parents.
-Can legally adopt the child.
In regards to you as the biological parents, the social worker will want to know:
-Why you wanted to terminate your rights, and how you feel about the adoption.
-If you’re unfit to have custody of your child.
-What circumstances you have had to place your child for adoption.
Step Eight: Finalize the Adoption.
Before an adoption can be finalized, your revocation period has to come to a close, and you’ll have to sign over your parental rights. This isn’t an easy process but just think about the good that you’re doing for your child, and of the great life that the adoptive family can give your child.
Once the adoptive parents and the adoption professional have worked together to make sure all the paperwork and documents have been completed, it will be time for the adoption finalization hearing. The judge will review the required paperwork, and the adoptive family will be sworn into the courtroom once everything’s in order. The adoptive family will be asked to introduce themselves, and give the adoption testimony. If the child is of age to understand the adoption, the judge will ask about how he or she feels about being adopted, and that the adoption is a permanent thing. The adoptive family will be asked about intentions and motivations to adopt the child, and see if the couple can provide the child with a loving home. After the hearing wraps up, the judge will then see if the adoptive parents are fit to adopt. If the judge sees that the adoptive parents are permitted to adopt, and after the orders of payments of your pregnancy fees have been paid for and that the termination of your rights is legit, the judge will sign and issue an adoption decree to the adoptive parents. A new birth certificate will be issued, and instead of your names, the birth certificate will have the adoptive parents listed as the child’s mother and father respectively.
What Are The Steps For An Adoption in Virginia?
Now that we have gone through the details of the necessary steps, here is a short break down of the adoption process in Virginia.
Step One: The Adoptive Parents Need to Work With an Adoption Professional in Virginia
Here are some adoption agencies in Virginia.
Step Two: Abide By the Virginia Adoption Laws
Read about this Virginia adoption guide.
Step Three: The Adoptive Parents Must Attend an Orientation and Go To Training
Here’s an article about the necessary education adoptive parents must know before adopting.
Step Four: The Adoptive Parents Need to Fill Out an Adoption Application
This article talks more about the adoption paperwork.
Step Five: The Adoptive Parents Need to Complete a Home Study
Here’s some more information on what an adoption home study involves.
Step Six: The Adoptive Parents Look at Photos of Children Waiting to Be Adopted and Meet You
Step Seven: The Placement Process
Step Eight: Finalization of the Adoption
Here’s what to expect during adoption finalization.
If you’d like to know more information about adoption in Virginia, you can check out this article on Virginia adoption guide, and this one about adoption in Virginia. Click on this article for general steps of adoption.
Kandice Confer is an adopted twin, wife, and mother of two girls who loves spending time with her family and two rabbits. She loves reading and writing inspirational works of literature and loves telling stories.