The Berdeen Law Firm assists clients with adoptions, including stepparent adoptions, parental placement adoptions and agency adoptions. It would be our pleasure to assist you with adding a new family member through adoption.
Stepparent adoption is the most common type of adoption. These adoptions take place when a parent desires for his or her child to be adopted by his or her spouse, who consents to the adoption. The parent and stepparent must jointly file a petition for adoption with the appropriate Circuit Court. Generally, if sufficient evidence is submitted showing that the other birth parent of the child consents to the adoption, is deceased, or otherwise has relinquished rights to the child, the court may finalize the adoption without requiring a hearing. If the other birth parent does not consent or his or her location is unknown, among other possibilities, then additional proceedings are required before the court can make a final ruling. The court has discretion to require evaluations in all cases, including through a guardian ad litem, to determine the best interest of the child.
Parental Placement Adoptions
Subject to various requirements and exceptions, Virginia law allows a birth parent or legal guardian of a child to place his or her child directly with the adoptive parents of his or her choice.
While parental placement adoptions occur under a variety of circumstances, they typically involve the birth mother placing her child with adoptive parents. In such cases, after the parties exchange required background information and agree to proceed with the adoption, a pre-placement home study of the adoptive parents is performed by an authorized child-placement agency.
The adoptive parents must then file a petition with the appropriate Virginia Juvenile & Domestic Relations (“JDR”) Court seeking legal custody of the child. In determining whether the adoption would be in the best interest of the child, the court considers the home study report and confirms that the birth mother consents to the adoption. The court also considers the position of the birth father. Similar to the stepparent adoption process summarized above, if the other parent (the father in this example) does not consent to the adoption, or his location is unknown, among other scenarios, then further proceedings are required.
Assuming the JDR Court grants legal custody to the adoptive parents, the adoption must be completed through the Circuit Court, which typically issues a temporary order allowing for three post-placement visits by the child-placement agency. Once the agency issues a final report based on those visits (usually within six months of the temporary order), the Court may enter a final order of adoption.
Agency adoptions involve the situation where an agency has obtained legal custody over the child, often through voluntary or involuntary termination of the birth parents’ legal rights. These cases involve working with the agency and seeking a final adoption order from the appropriate Circuit Court.
If you are in need of an experienced adoption lawyer, contact the Berdeen Law Firm.