Overview of Virginia Laws

Can non-residents adopt?

  • Yes, if the birth parents are Virginia residents.

Is independent (non-agency) adoption legal in Virginia?

  • Yes.

Is advertising permitted?

  • Yes.

Can a paid intermediary such as an attorney locate a child for the adoptive parent?

  • No.1

What expenses can be paid?

  • Legal fees and medical expenses,2 food, lodging, and maternity clothes.3

Is a pre-placement home study required?

  • Yes.4

Are the adoptive parents required to disclose their identities to the birth parents?

  • No.

Can a birth parent sign a consent prior to the birth?

  • A birth mother cannot sign before the birth, but a birth father can.

How long must a birth mother wait after the birth before signing a consent?

  • 3 days.

Where does a birth parent sign the consent?

  • In court.5

When does a consent become irrevocable?

  • Seven days after the consent is signed but that revocation period can be waived once 10 days from the child’s birth have elapsed.

Do adoptive parents normally receive the child directly from the hospital?

  • Yes.

What is required to facilitate the child’s discharge from the hospital?

  • Depends on individual hospital policy.

When can the adoption be finalized?

  • Usually takes at least 4 to 6 months.

Is it a requirement that a separate attorney represent the birth parents?

  • No.6

Are any extra steps required when the child is born in a state other than the one in which the adoptive parents reside?

  • Yes.7

For more information about adoption in Virginia, click to view one of the following pages:

Footnotes

1. For example, an attorney who is being paid for representing either the adoptive parents or the birth parents cannot refer the birth parents and the adoptive parents to each other or engage in such activities as showing a birth parent resumes of adoptive parents.

2. The cost of psychological/social work counseling for the birth parents is considered to be a medical expense.

3. Effective 7/1/93, Virginia law was expanded to permit payment of food, lodging, and maternity clothes in reasonable amounts as long as the birth mother has a statement from a physician which establishes that the birth mother is unable to support herself due to the pregnancy.

4. While Virginia law does not technically require a pre-placement home study before the adoptive parents take physical custody of the child, the birth parents cannot sign the adoption consent and the adoptive parents cannot obtain a legal custody order until the home study is finished. Consequently, there is a strong incentive for Virginia adoptive parents to complete a home study either before or immediately after the child’s birth.

5. In Virginia, a birth father is allowed to sign his consent outside of court.

6. Although not required by law, the better practice is to always insist that the birth parents have an attorney separate from the attorney representing the adoptive parents. Ethics rules prevent one attorney from representing both sides in an adoption. To proceed with only one attorney and assert that the attorney only represents the adoptive parents is a dangerous fiction. Someone needs to explain the process to the birth parents and advise them of their rights. If the person giving the advice is the attorney who represents the adoptive parents, a potentially fatal defect has been built into the adoption. Under those circumstances, a birth parent could seek to overturn the adoption long after the placement based upon duress relating to the attorney’s conflict of interest.

7. The ICPC provides that a child cannot be taken across state lines for purposes of adoption unless ICPC approval is obtained. Experience shows that the adoptive parents can expect to remain in the other state with the newborn child for 3 to 14 days or more after the birth while the adoptive parents’ attorney attempts to obtain ICPC approval. The ICPC process and the extra attorney services are not required if the birth occurs in the state where the adoptive parents reside.

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