Adoptions Together opened its Virginia office in 2004. Each year, we provide counseling about adoption to more than 400 birth parents and adoptive families.
Overview of Virginia Adoption Law
In Virginia, children can be adopted either with the assistance of a licensed adoption agency or through a direct parental placement between a birth and adoptive family. Adoptions Together is a licensed, nonprofit, private child placement agency in Virginia, so we follow the law and procedures relating to adoption from a licensed adoption agency. A birth parent who wishes to place his or her child for adoption with the help of a licensed agency executes an entrustment agreement. The entrustment terminates the birth parents parental rights and authorizes the agency to place the child for adoption. Once the child has been placed with the adoptive parents for 6 months, the adoptive parents may petition the court to finalize the adoption and request that the agency give its consent to the finalization.
How long does a birth parent have to revoke an entrustment?
The entrustment may be revoked until the child is ten (10) days old and at least seven (7) days have passed since the entrustment was signed. In addition, an entrustment may be revoked until the agency places the child in the physical custody of the prospective adoptive parents, even if the entrustment was signed more than 7 days ago and the child is over 10 days old.
Do both parents have to sign the entrustment? What happens if one cannot be located?
If the birth parents are married to each other, both must sign the entrustment agreement. If the birth parents are not married and the identity of the birth father is not reasonably ascertainable or if the man alleged to be the birth father has denied paternity in writing, then the agreement must be signed only by the birth mother. Virginia operates a putative father registry that allows men who wish to be provided notice of their child’s planned adoption to register their interest in their child. If the birth father has not signed the entrustment, the agency will check the Virginia Putative Father registry to determine if any individual interested in the child is registered. If so, he must be provided notice of the entrustment.
What adoption expenses can adoptive parents expect or be required to pay in Virginia?
Usual or customary fees can be paid for the following expenses incurred in connection with the pregnancy, delivery and adoption:
- Medical expenses and insurance premiums
- Counseling for the birth mother and the birth father
- Reasonable and necessary expenses for food, clothing, and shelter when the birth mother is unable to work due to her pregnancy
- Reimbursement for expenses incurred incident to any court appearance, including, but not limited to, food, lodging, and transportation
- Fees for legal services
- Transportation to any of the services provided
- Child placement agency charges for services rendered
Are Open Adoption Agreements (i.e. agreements between birth parents and adoptive parents for post-adoption contact) enforceable in court?
Often, birth parents and adoptive parents enter into written agreements about what post adoption contact will take place with one another after an adoption is finalized. Open adoption agreements are legally enforceable in Virginia, although a final adoption cannot be set aside because of a breached post-adoption contact agreement.
Where can I learn more about adoption law in Virginia?
Adoption can be a complicated legal process that varies with every unique situation. It is impossible to provide enough information to cover every question through a website. You should consult an experienced adoption attorney with specific questions.