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One of the most important decisions a family can make is to adopt a child or to place a child for adoption. For prospective adoptive parents, the hope of sharing your life with a new child should be a joyful time. However, the adoption process can be complicated if a person does not have legal guidance. All the parties, including the biological parents and adoptive parents, should understand their rights. The adoption process varies greatly depending on a family’s unique situation, and each case requires specific statutory procedures. An adoption attorney can help the family navigate the process so the final result is joyful for everyone, knowing that a child has been welcomed into a wonderful new family.

There are several different types of adoption in Virginia. Some of which are discussed below:


Agency Adoption


Many families go through an agency to adopt a child. In an agency adoption, the agency acts as the intermediary between the adoptive parent(s) and the biological parent(s). There are many licensed private agencies throughout the United States that help match birth parent(s) with prospective families.

There are also some circumstances where a child has been placed for adoption through an agency such as a local department of social services because the child has been a victim of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. In an agency adoption, the birth parent’s parental rights have already been terminated, and the agency has the authority to consent to the adoption.

Typically, the child can be placed with the prospective adoptive parents while the adoption is pending. The court requires that a prospective family submit to a home study by a licensed child-placing agency before the adoption can be finalized, and there are usually subsequent home visits during placement to ensure that the situation is a good fit.


Parental Placement Adoption


In a parental placement adoption, a birth parent(s) directly places the child with a prospective adoptive family. Birth parents are free to seek out either an individual or a couple to adopt the child. Like an agency adoption, the prospective adoptive parents must consent to a home study by a licensed child-placing agency before the adoption can be finalized. In a parental placement adoption, the child-placing agency also does counseling with the birth parent(s) and prospective family to make sure that the adoption is not the result of coercion or any inappropriate financial agreements. Once the counseling is complete, the biological mother must consent to the adoption in the presence of a judge and the prospective adoptive family. The consent of a birth father is required unless the whereabouts of the birth father are not reasonably ascertainable, the identity of the birth father is not known, or the birth father named by the birth mother denies paternity of the child under oath and in writing. Once the adoptive family has the birth parent(s) consent, the family may file a petition in the Circuit Court for adoption which can be finalized after the probationary period and the follow-up post-placement visits.


Step Parent Adoption


A step arent wishing to adopt his or her stepchild may file a Petition for Adoption in Circuit Court. Provided the birth parent consents to the adoption in writing or is deceased, the court may finalize the adoption without the necessity of a home study or further investigation.

If you are considering adoption for your family, contact the family law attorneys at Kelly & Crandall PLC. We will help you understand your rights and make sure that the child’s best interests are protected.