Adoption Process in Virginia
Learn How You Can Adopt a Child in the State of Virginia
The purpose of adoption is to place a child who has been legally and permanently separated from their birth parents with a new family. Adoption gives the new parents the same legal rights and obligations as biological parents. Only two types of adoptive placements are allowed in the State of Virginia: agency placements and non-agency placements. Agency placements are placements that occur through local departments of social services or licensed child-placing agencies. When a child is in an agency placement situation, all parental rights have been terminated, the agency is granted custody, and the agency consents the child's adoption.
In a non-agency adoption, a child is not in the custody of an adoption agency. The child's birth parents or legal guardians consent to the child's adoption and their rights are terminated by the entry of the final order of adoption. Regardless of the type of adoptive placement, all individuals and couples interested in adopting a child must undergo the adoption process. If you are interested in adoption or need assistance during the adoption process, please contact the Virginia adoption lawyer at ShounBach.
Adoption Home Study Process
Every state in the United States requires that prospective adoptive parents participate in a home study. The point of a home study is to educate and prepare the adoptive family, gather information about the family that can help a social worker match a child with a family who can meet their needs, and evaluate the overall family for an adoption. While many prospective adoptive parents worry about not being "perfect" enough to pass a home study, you must keep in mind that agencies are looking for individuals or couples who are capable to parent children. There is not set formula that adoption agencies use to conduct home studies, but most of them include:
- Home visits
- Various forms of statements
- Background check
A majority of adoption agencies require that prospective adoptive parents undergo training so they can better understand the needs of children who are waiting for families, as well as determine what type of child or children the family can best parent. The prospective parent or parents will also be interviewed several times by a social worker. To ensure that prospective parents' homes meet state licensing standards, home visits will also be necessary during the home study process. Statements such as health statements, income statements, autobiographical statements, references, and background checks are needed so the adoption agency can ensure you are fit to adopt a child.
Once these items have been collected and interviews and trainings have occurred, the results are put in a home study report. Home study reports can introduce your family to other adoption agencies and adoption exchanges to help match your family with a waiting child. The home study process is a very time-consuming process, but is an extremely important part of the adoption process. Once you have completed and passed a home study, you will be eligible to adopt a child.
What happens after the home study process?
After the home study process is complete, you can continue the process of finding a child to adopt. This may take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on your openness to race and disabilities. You may wish to start searching for funding that can help you pay for the necessary fees related to adoption. Once you receive a child, they must be in your home for a minimum of six months before your social worker will submit a recommendation for approval. A judge will then finalize the adoption by giving you all legal rights and responsibilities. A Virginia adoption attorney can help with the adoption process by explaining the adoption process, explaining your rights as adoptive parents, review and negotiate adoption agency contracts, and draft an agreement that protects both your and the child's interests for post-placement purposes. Contact a Virginia adoptive lawyer at ShounBach by calling (703) 988-7627.