Adoption is a way to establish a legal bond between adoptive parents and the children they are adopting. This relationship is intended to be permanent and ideally will provide the child with a meaningful connection that will last a lifetime. However, the adoption process is a lot more than just choosing a child and signing the paperwork. The custodial agency of the child must thoroughly evaluate the prospective family to ensure that they will be able to meet the child’s needs and provide a safe and loving environment for the child.
Steps to adoption in Virginia
In Virginia, there are generally nine steps in the adoption process, starting with the initial contact and ending with the final order of adoption. Prospective adopting parents should be prepared for the following:
- Initial contact – If you are interested in adoption, the first step will be calling the Adoption Resource Exchange of Virginia, and after answering a few questions, you will be directed to a local department of social services or to a private child placement agency.
- Orientation – You will then attend a meeting to learn more about the process and have your questions answered.
- Training – You will have to complete 28 to 30 hours of training with those who have experience with the adoption process. Trained adoptive/foster parents, adoption workers, therapists, and other professionals may all be involved in the training process.
- Application – You will also have to fill out an application at the beginning of the training or at the end, depending on the agency.
- Home study – The next step will involve an adoption worker meeting with you and your family multiple times to discuss the adoptive parenting. At the end of the home study, you and your adoption worker will decide whether you can adopt a child and what type of child you and your family could best care for.
- Selection – If you and your adoption worker decide to continue with the process, you will review the profiles of available children to find one that your family is right for.
- Placement – You and your family will then meet with the child to prepare the child for potential placement in your home. The number of meetings will depend on the specific child’s needs. The adoption worker will determine when the child is ready and make arrangements to place the child in their new home.
- Supervision – Once the child has moved in, the adoption worker will visit the home post-placement to check on the child and address any issues or concerns you may have.
- Finalizing the adoption – Under Virginia law, a child must live in your home for at least six months and an adoption worker must visit at least three times before the adoption can be made official. Once it is time to finalize the adoption, your attorney will file a petition with the court. After reviewing a report from the agency, the judge will enter the final order of adoption.
Adoption may seem like a straightforward process but is oftentimes more complicated than you may expect. Prospective adopting parents may benefit from advice and guidance from an attorney who specializes in adoption issues.