Adopting a child can be the experience of a lifetime for both the child and their new family. However, the process can be challenging for prospective parents. An attorney specializing in adoption matters can help you determine if you meet the requirements necessary to adopt a child in the state of Virginia, as well as help you through each step of the adoption process.
Who can adopt in Virginia?
Both single and married adults who are at least 18 years of age can adopt a child in the state of Virginia.
What is an agency adoption?
There are two adoption options available, depending on your situation. Agency adoptions involve a child in custody of local department of social services (LDSS) or licensed child-placing agency.
Non-agency adoptions, on the other hand, are for children who are not in the custody of LDSS or other agency (includes parental placement adoption, step-parent adoption, close relative adoption, and adult adoptions).
What is the agency adoption process?
Adoptions require a great deal of patience and hard work. Here is generally how the agency adoption process works.
Orientation and training
The process will begin when you call the Adoption Resource Exchange of Virginia (1-800-DO-ADOPT). You will be referred to the LDSS or child placing agency for orientation, which is intended to give you a better understanding of adoption in general. You will then be required to undergo 28 to 30 hours of training with adoption workers and other professionals.
Application and assessment
You will then complete the application and return it to the agency. After a home study, where an adoption worker evaluates you, if the worker determines you are ready to adopt a child, the selection process will begin.
Selection and placement
You will review possible options and select a child. Once it has been determined that your family would be a good fit for the child you have chosen, you will have multiple visits with the child. When the adoption worker determines that the child and your family are both ready, the child will be placed in your home.
Finalizing the adoption
The adoption worker will continue to visit after the child is placed, and the adoption will only be finalized after a minimum of six months and a minimum of three visits.
For the final step of the adoption process, your attorney will file a petition with the court, and after reviewing a report from the agency, the judge will enter the final order of adoption.
An adoption attorney can do more than just finalize your adoption. If you have decided to adopt, you can consult with an attorney to help you with each stage of the process.