Adoption in Virginia is similar to adoption in any other state, but that doesn't make the process any simpler. Here are some tips.

6 Things You Should Know About Adoption in Virginia

If you are an expectant parent living in Virginia, you might already know the ins and outs of how adoption works in Virginia, but some of you may not, especially if your pregnancy was unplanned, you are a teenage birth mother, or you are not in a position to raise a baby. Know that there are options. Some look into abortion and decide it is not for them, whereas others look at raising their baby even if it is by themselves. Some opt for adoption, which is what we’re looking at today.

#1: Fun and Interesting Facts about Virginia

Before we get into the different aspects of adoption, let’s look at some interesting facts about this great state. 

  • Hampton was settled in 1610 and remains the oldest settlement where people still live today. 
  • It is where the Supreme Court got its start.
  • Earth Day began in this awesome state. 
  • Pocahontas Island is deemed a historical site.
  • Tangier Islanders have a different way of speaking than anywhere else in the nation, making it their dialect.
  • Virginia is the birthplace of bourbon.
  • Many of the battles of the Civil War were fought in Virginia, making several areas historical sites because of this.
  • The biggest naval base in the world is located here.
  • 544 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through Virginia.

#2: The Definition of Adoption

Whether you are an expectant parent or a prospective adoptive parent, you may not know what adoption is until you do some research. To help in this respect, adoption means, “the act of legally taking a child to be taken care of as your own.” This means that anyone can place a baby or child for adoption and can be certain that there is a family out there that wants to adopt. 

#3: Reasons an Expectant Parent Might Look into Adoption

  • You might be a young teenager who is still in high school and wants to graduate, but you know you cannot while raising a baby.
  • You might be a college student who is aware that providing for yourself is difficult since you must work, go to classes, and complete endless amounts of homework and studying, and you know that it would not be fair to a baby.
  • You might be just out of college and want to see your career take off before thinking about having a child.
  • You might not want to rush into starting a family.
  • You might be in addiction recovery and you do not think you can raise a baby at this particular point in your life.

#4: Types of Adoption 

When deciding if adoption is right for you, knowing the different types of adoption is important. You will create an adoption plan after you have met the couple and are certain that they are who you want to parent your baby in Virginia. The adoption plan is something you will decide with the prospective adoptive parents. The different types of plans include the following:

Closed adoption

Sometimes this type is the easiest because, after the baby is born, the birth mother signs her parental rights away and does not have anything to do with her baby after he or she is placed with the prospective adoptive parents. This can also be the most difficult type for the birth mother or birth parents because of the same reason. The hardest part is, most of the time, the records are sealed, which makes it almost impossible for children in this kind of adoption to find anything out about themselves other than what they’ve been told by the adoptive parents. There are times that the judge will unseal the adoption records, allowing the child to find out who he or she is but the child must wait until adulthood for this to happen. 

Open adoption

This type began its hype in the 1990s when it became apparent that it is sometimes in the best interest of both the child and the birth parents to have contact arranged by the adoptive parents. Generally, when the adoption is finalized, the judge sets forth a visitation schedule. This allows the birth mother and the child to be a part of each others’ lives, so the child does not wonder who he or she is and why he or she was placed for adoption. This contact can be through letters, photos, social media, videos, and visits, but no matter what form it takes, the children in this type of adoption get to know everything about who they are. They get to know that they are loved a whole bunch by a lot of people and that they were placed because of their birth parent’s best intentions. 

Semi-open adoption

An even newer type of adoption is the semi-open adoption. This type has parts of both closed and open adoption, where the birth parents receive updates based on what the adoptive parents deem appropriate for their child. This could be either more closed than open or more open than closed, depending on the adoptive parents’ preference. 

#5: How Adoption Agencies Help

Adoption agencies can be a great help during this time in your life. One of the things that they provide right off the bat if you are in need is shelter. A lot of agencies have dorms where pregnant girls/women are housed together, which can be the support you need. Once you are settled, they assist you in finding a counselor or therapist because you may have feelings and emotions that you are not prepared for. They also provide financial assistance in some areas. 

One thing the adoption agency or therapist will most likely tell you is that you will go through the grieving process, and not necessarily in order. There are five stages:

  • Denial: At first, you might find yourself rejecting the idea that you are pregnant. But, even after that becomes reality, you might deny that you cannot take care of the baby and do everything, including school and work, by yourself. This is an extremely real feeling.  Coming to the realization that you are not only expecting, but placing your baby for adoption in Virginia, is a hard pill to swallow
  • Bargaining: You might try to bargain with a higher power, maybe promising abstinence if he can turn back the clock. Unfortunately, this does not work and you still have the feelings and emotions that go along with grief.
  • Anger: There are many people you could find yourself angry with: yourself, the birth father for not being careful (or having sex in the first place), your parents or others because you never wanted to make this difficult decision and now you have to. You might even find yourself angry at the baby you carry because you feel he/she turned your life upside down. You could be angry at God for allowing you to become pregnant. This stage comes in phases and you will find yourself returning to it often, especially after you have placed your baby.
  • Depression/Isolation: It is normal to feel like you are alone and no one could ever understand what you are going through. You might find yourself pulling away from family and friends as you grapple with the notion of being pregnant and placing your baby with strangers. 
  • Acceptance: This stage can take the longest to reach, and some never get there.  As you make your decision to place your baby in Virginia, talking with your therapist when feelings come up will aid you in reaching acceptance.

You may want to look into an adoption attorney who specializes in the legal aspects of placing a baby for adoption. He or she will make certain everything is completed as Virginia laws state. 

#6: Steps to Adoption for Expectant Parent

There are many facets in the decision to place your baby for adoption in VA, but the process is generally the same as in other states. As you, the expectant parent, are faced with many options, there are a few things to consider, including support from family and friends, ability to care for a small human being (babies and children take a lot of patience, work, love, and attention), financial stability, and shelter. When it’s found out that they are expecting, some expectant parents (especially young teens) end up alone in every sense of the word. You may find this checklist reassuring if you feel lost and alone right now.

  1. The first thing you must do is decide whether placing your baby for adoption in Virginia is the correct choice for you and your baby. You might have others telling you that this is your best choice, and it may very well be, but in the end, it’s your choice to make and yours alone. You have good instincts and will make the best decision in the long run.
  1. If you decide to place your baby for adoption—which may be the most selfless, loving, and difficult decision you will ever have to make—you will want to find an adoption agency that fits your needs because they will be the ones who aid you in the adoption process. One agency that is not based in Virginia but helps birth mothers and parents all around the world is the Gladney Center for Adoption. They are a great place to start, and if they are not the fit that you need, they will gladly assist you in finding the right agency for you. 
  1. Finding a family for your baby used to be exceptionally hard because, before 1990, you had to sift through file after paper file until you found someone that you thought was a good fit. Nowadays, there is a technological advancement called photolisting where you, the birth parent, can look through thousands of families within a fairly short amount of time. You want to take your time, though, because you are looking for a family, couple, or individual that will be your baby’s forever family. 
  1. Meeting the couple or individual you chose can be nerve-wracking and anxiety-ridden. Since communication is the most important aspect of your relationship at this point, one of the ways you can help break the ice is to come up with some questions that help you get to know the couple.  Here are a few to get you started:
  • How did you meet? (Hopefully, this will have a funny aspect to it.)
  • How old were you when you met?
  • What was it about each other that drew you in?
  • Did you know right away that you were meant to be together?
  • What kinds of family traditions do you have?
  • Are there any new traditions you are thinking of adding?

Many birth parents have specific criteria that they want the prospective adoptive parents to meet, such as length of their marriage, religion, or family dynamics—things that make the birth parents feel more comfortable by knowing that their baby will be well-cared-for and loved unconditionally. 

  1. If you are the birth mother, developing a hospital plan is important because it allows you to decide who is present when you are in labor. Some birth mothers only want the birth father there so they can share these last moments making the memories that they take with them. Some birth mothers want members of their support system to be there, whether it be their own mothers or even their best friends. Others like to involve the adoptive mother, so she can be a part of the experience as much as she can. In the end, this is your decision. You want to make the best one for you and your baby. 
  1. Last but not least, decide what will you do after your life settles back down. It will not be normal ever again. You will need to get used to your “new normal,” and one of the best ways to accomplish this is to continue therapy because you may find yourself going through the stages of grief all over again. You might find yourself in a different space regarding friendships and other connections. There are adoption support groups in Virginia that might help because you get to know other birth moms who have been where you are.  

Making the decision to give your baby a better life than you can provide is never easy, but having the capacity to love a child that much and knowing what you can or cannot provide is commendable. In the end, only you, the birth parent, can make that decision. 

DISCLAIMER: Although this article was written to aid birth mothers in their quest that is adoption, it does not take the place of an adoption agency or an adoption attorney. Please get advice from them when faced with such a decision.

Are you ready to take the next steps on your adoption journey? Visit The Gladney Center for Adoption to learn more.

Jenn Martin-Wright

Jenn Martin-Wright is a cowboy, jean wearing, country music, and rock lovin’ cowgirl who loves books and jewelry. She was born three months too early with a disability that should’ve taken any semblance of a normal life from her. Her mom made sure Jenn did everything she was capable of.

Coming from a big family, it was either keep up or get left in the dust. Jenn graduated high school, then on to getting married, having kids, and receiving a BS in Social Work.

Jenn lives in Idaho with her kids and a Maltese named Oakley who has become her writing ‘helper’ as she writes novels under an alias of different genres.