If you reside in Virginia or a neighboring state and are considering adoption as a means to grow your family, you may be wondering if there is anything unique or anything specific you should know about adoption in Virginia before you start the process. Adoption laws and requirements vary from state to state. Let’s take a look at what the requirements and laws surrounding adoption in Virginia entail.
There are certain laws establishing requirements for adoption in Virginia. They are explored below.
In Virginia, a state resident who meets any of the following adoption qualifications may adopt:
- A parent who is adopting a child who was subject to a consent proceeding
- Intended parents who have a surrogacy contract
- A husband and wife together
- A stepparent
- A person who has custody of a child that was placed by an adoption agency
These are the requirements you must satisfy in order to qualify for adoption in Virginia. If you are researching Virginia’s requirements for adopting a child because you have questions like, “How old do you have to be to adopt?” or “Do you have to be married to adopt?”, Virginia has no stipulations for either. There is no age requirement, nor is there a marriage requirement. Same-sex couples are also able to adopt, so if you’re an LGBT couple in Virginia, adoption could be a great way for you to grow your family. In addition to these requirements, all families seeking to adopt, either through a private agency or attorney or through foster care, must complete a home study.
These requirements are very similar to requirements in most states. The home study is an area that many new prospective adoptive parents have a great deal of anxiety about. They worry that having a home that looks like anything other than the picture of perfection is going to disqualify them from adopting, but this isn’t the case, in Virginia or anywhere else. The home study’s purpose is to make sure your home is safe for any child that might reside there, and also to help the social worker get to know you and your family better so he or she can help you in deciding what type of adoption to pursue, what special needs you would be willing or able to accommodate, and how many children you could consider adopting at once. If you are adopting through the foster care system, for example, and are open to the idea of adopting more that one child, you could end up adopting a sibling group. Your home study social worker is on your side and is your ally in this process. He is not looking to disqualify families for having a little bit of dust on their mantles. In fact, your social worker can be a great source of information and support throughout the process.
Adoptive parents should be in satisfactory physical and mental health to enable them to provide adequate care for the child. This is usually established not only by the interview, but by prospective adoptive parents providing a physician’s letter stating they are healthy to adopt.
Emotional and intellectual qualities they will be looking for include:
- The ability to assume responsibility for the care, guidance, and protection of other people
- The flexibility and ability to change in relation to the needs of others, including children
- The ability to cope with problems, disappointments, and frustrations, all of which may be present during the adoption process and during parenting
- The ability to accept normal hazards and risks
- The capacity to take responsibility for one’s own actions
- The capacity to accept and handle loss, specifically if the couple is dealing with infertility, to ensure they have fully grieved that loss before adopting
- The capacity to understand that adoption is a lifelong experience and that the family may need support over time
- The capacity to accept professional support
- The ability to realistically understand the needs and behaviors of children and the impact of adoption on the child and family
- The ability to love and nurture a child born to someone else
- Willingness to provide connections to the child’s birth family, which are so important in open adoption
- The capacity for feeling satisfaction from contributing to the development of a child
- The ability to understand and respond to changing developmental, health, and emotional needs of the child
- The financial ability to meet the basic needs of the child and family for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. You do not need to be wealthy, and you don’t even need to own your home. You just need to be able to support a child financially without assistance.
Once you have completed the home study, signed up with an agency or attorney, paid them any necessary fees, and completed their paperwork and requirements, you are able to be matched. If you are adopting an infant, you may be matched with an expectant mother prior to her delivery of the child. If you are adopting through foster care, you will be matched with the child or children. Every state is different in regards to how the adoption process unfolds after you have been matched with a child or an expectant mother.
The first law to consider is, after signing paperwork terminating parental rights, what the revocation period is. The revocation period is a period of time, which differs from state to state, where the birth parents can legally change their minds about placing their child for adoption. In some states, there is no revocation period, and termination of parental rights, commonly referred to as TPR, is irrevocable. In the state of Virginia, TPR cannot occur until 72 hours after birth, and the revocation period is 7 days.
Once the child is placed in the home, a Virginia adoption worker, most likely the same social worker who completed your home study, will visit you at least three times during the first six months of the child living in your home. Virginia adoption laws require the child to live in your home for at least six months and be visited at least three times before the Virginia adoption can be finalized.
Adoption in Virginia is a very similar process to many states, and the adoption laws in Virginia can be seen as equally protective and fair for both adoptive parents and birth parents. The home study and pre-adoption requirements are fairly consistent with other states and adoptions are finalized in 6 months, which is in the adoptive parents best interest. Overall, Virginia should be seen as a relatively adoption-friendly state.