The Legal Summary of Adoption
The Code of Virginia in Title 63.2 covers adoption rules in Virginia.
- Who can place children for adoption?
- a licensed child placing agency;
- a local board;
- the child’s parent or legal guardian;
- an authorized agency outside the Commonwealth of Virginia
- Filed in Circuit Court where the petitioner resides; in the city where the child-placing agency is located; or in the city where the birth-parent executed a consent pursuant to statute.
Consent to Adopt:
A petition for adoption will only be granted if it’s accompanied by written consent. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court will accept a birth parent’s consent after the adoptive child is at least three days old. This is done in front of the prospective adoptive parents.
The judge only accepts the consent if:
- The birth parent(s) are aware of alternatives to adoption, adoption procedures, and opportunities for placement with other adoptive families, and that the birth parents’ consent is informed and not forced.
- A licensed or authorized child-placing agency has counseled the prospective adoptive parents with regard to alternatives to adoption, adoption procedures. This counseling should include the need to address the parental rights of birth parents, the procedures for terminating such rights, and opportunities for adoption of other children. The agency will determine if the prospective adoptive parents’ made an informed decision decision rather than forced, and that the parents plan to file an adoption petition and proceed toward a final order of adoption.
- The birth parent(s) and adoptive parents have exchanged identifying information including but not limited to full names, addresses, physical, mental, social and psychological information and any other information necessary to promote the welfare of the child. The parties may waive in writing the disclosure of full names and addresses.
- Any financial agreement or exchange of property among the parties and any fees charged or paid for services related to the placement or adoption of the child is disclosed to the court. All parties must understand that no binding contract regarding placement or adoption of the child exists.
- There have been no violation of the provisions of 63.2-1218 in connection with the placement; however, if it appears there has been a violation, the court won’t reject consent of the birth parent to the adoption for that reason alone but has to report the alleged violation as required by 63.2-1219.
- A licensed or authorized child-placing agency has conducted a home study of the prospective adoptive home in accordance with regulations established by the Board and has provided to the court a report of such home study. This report has to contain the agency’s recommendation regarding whether the placement is suitable. A married couple or an unmarried person is eligible to adopt a child.
- The birth parent(s) are informed of their opportunity to have a lawyer represent them.
What happens after the court accepts consent?
The court then transfers custody to the prospective adoptive parents pending notification to any non-consenting birth parents follows.
The birth father does not have to sign anything in court if he consents to the adoption in writing under oath.
If the putative father denies paternity in writing under oath then there is no consent requirement. If he doesn’t register with the Putative Father Registry then there is no consent requirement. You must verify compliance with the Registry to the court if the father’s identity is reasonably ascertainable.
If notice is required, then it must be given by certified mail. There is no consent requirement if there is no objection within 15 days of mailing.
The court can accept the father’s consent anytime after the time of conception.
Either parent can sign to give their consent in court.
The the court presumes a married woman’s husband to be the father of any children born during the marriage. Her husband has to consent to the adoption unless his consent is unobtainable or is against the child’s best interest.
- If both parents are dead, the court doesn’t need consent.
- A birth father may consent to adoption before the child is born.
- The birth parent doesn’t have to consent if they didn’t contact the child for the six months before the date of filing the petition. The parent can overcome this if they show a good reason for the lack of contact. This parent still has a right to receive notice.
When is Consent to Adopt Revocable?
Consent is revocable as follows:
- By either consenting birth parent for up to 10 days from when they sign to consent. Once the child is 10 days old, no signed consent can be taken back.
- Such revocation must be in writing, signed by the revoking party or their lawyer and must be filed with the clerk of the juvenile and domestic relations district court in which the petition was filed. This must occur within the time period specified by statute.
- Upon the filing of a valid revocation within the time period , the court will order that any consent given for the purpose of such placement is void and, if necessary, the court shall determine custody of the child as between the birth parents.
- By any party prior to the final order of adoption (i) upon proof of fraud or duress or (ii) after placement of the child in an adoptive home, upon written, mutual consent of the birth parents and prospective adoptive parents.
Prohibitions on Adoption:
No one may charge or pay anything of value in connection with a placement or adoption. There are two exceptions. The first exception is for any reasonable and customary services provided by a licensed or duty authorized child-placing agency. The second exception is for medical expenses and insurance premiums that directly relate to the birth mother’s pregnancy and the birth. This can also include heath counseling received by the birth mother or birth father related to the adoption.
Read more about the types of adoption.