Once you have made the decision to expand your family, you may find that adopting a child is the best choice for you. The adoption process can be daunting, but an experienced attorney can help handle any legal matters that arise and ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Under Chapter 12 of the Virginia Code, there are two types of adoptions: agency and non-agency.
Agency adoption placements require that:
- The child is currently in the custody of social services or licensed child-placing agency.
- The birth parents’ parental rights are terminated.
- The agency is granted custody with the authority to place the child for adoption.
- The agency consents to the child’s adoption.
Many adoptions occur after a child is placed in foster care. In foster care situations, the LDSS, or local department of social services, will work to return the child back to their family of origin within one year. However, if they find that the child must be adopted, LDSS will attempt to finalize the child’s adoption with 2 years of the child entering foster care.
Non-agency adoptions involve the following situations:
- International – An adoption of a child from another country.
- Step-parent – One biological parent’s rights were terminated and a step-parent (often times, the spouse of the other biological parent) choose to adopt the child.
- Close relative – A close relative of the child (grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.) agrees to adopt the child.
- Parental placement – Child’s birth parents choose to place the child with selected adoptive parents.
- Adult adoption – An adult over the age of 18 is adopted (LDSS is rarely involved in this process).
Once the adoption is finalized, the adopted child will officially be a part of your family and will be treated just as any biological child would be treated under the law.