A. Agency adoption in Virginia is conducted through either public child placing agencies (e.g. county department of social services) or private agencies (licensed childplacing agencies privately owned and operated). Residents of Virginia may work with public and private agencies located in Virginia or operating outside of the state.
B. In an agency adoption, a birth parent relinquishes his or her parental rights to the adoption agency by executing a consent in favor of the agency. The agency then proceeds to terminate the parental rights of the placing birth parent(s). The agency places the child for adoption with adoptive parents selected by either the birth parent(s) or the agency.
Following a required post-placement supervision period, the agency gives its consent to the adoption to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents proceed to finalize their adoption by filing a petition for adoption in the circuit court in the county where they reside.
During the period of post-placement supervision following the placement of the child, the agency retains legal custody of the child while the adoptive parents retain physical custody. In the majority of agency adoption placements, either public or private, the child is placed directly with the adoptive parents following his or her birth. However, a newborn child may be placed in foster care during the period of time that the parental rights of the birth parent(s) are being terminated.
C. The adoption of children who have been placed in foster care is conducted as an agency adoption. In those cases, the county department of social services acts in its capacity as a public child placing agency and works to terminate the parental rights of the biologic parents. The agency may then place the child for adoption with an existing foster family or another family selected to adopt the child.
D. The legal procedures for carrying out an agency adoption are found in the Virginia Code.
A birth parent wishing to place a child for adoption through an adoption agency must execute an entrustment agreement which provides for the termination of all parental rights and responsibilities.
An entrustment agreement terminating parental rights may be revoked by a birth parent up to the time the child has reached the age of 10 days and 7 days have elapsed from the date of execution of the agreement. Additionally an entrustment agreement is revocable prior to the entry of a final order of adoption upon a showing of fraud or duress.
A birth parent’s revocation of an entrustment agreement to an agency must be in writing and signed by the birth parent.
E. Adoptive parents who receive a child through a Virginia adoption agency will file a petition for adoption in the circuit court in their county of residence after (a) the child has resided in their home for at least 6 months and (b) they have been visited by their agency three times within that 6-month period.
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