Virginia Parental Placement

A. Birth parents in Virginia may also place a child directly with adoptive parents. In a parental placement adoption, the birth parent consents directly to the adoption of his or her child by the chosen adoptive parents. Legal custody of the child passes directly from the birth parent(s) to the adoptive parents.

B. Parental placement adoption in Virginia is governed by the Virginia Code.

In Virginia, adoptive parents may learn of birth parents either through word-of-mouth contacts or newspaper advertisements.

If adoptive parents choose to pursue a parental placement adoption, they must undergo a home study by a licensed child-placing agency in Virginia.

In a parental placement adoption, the attorney representing the birth mother will often make arrangements with the hospital where the child is to be born so that (a) the adoptive parents will have access to the child in the nursery following birth and (b) the child will be discharged directly to the adoptive parents.

When the child to be adopted is at least 3 days old, the birth mother will execute her consent to the adoption before a judge of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and in the presence of the adoptive parents. The court may accept the consent of the birth mother only after making specific findings as set forth in the Virginia Code.

Prior to the court’s acceptance of the birth mother’s consent, the adoptive parents and the birth mother must participate in a joint counseling session conducted by the agency that prepared the home study.

Just like the birth mother, the birth father of the child to be adopted may participate in the consent process by (i) participating in the joint counseling, and (ii) appearing in court to execute his consent to the adoption. However, the consent of a birth father in court is not necessary if

(a) the birth father consents under oath and in writing to the adoption outside of court;

(b) the identity of the birth father is not reasonably ascertainable;

(c) the birth father’s whereabouts are unknown; or

(d) the birth father named by the birth mother denies paternity of the child under oath and in writing.

Upon the acceptance of the birth parent(s) consent(s), the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court will transfer legal custody of the child to the adoptive parents.

A birth parent executing his or her consent to an adoption may revoke that consent for any reason for up 7 days after the consent is signed, but that revocation period can be waived once the child is 10 days of age. A revocation must be in writing, signed by the revoking birth parent or attorney representing that birth parent and filed with the clerk of the court in which the consent petition was filed.

C. Adoptive parents who have received a child through a parental placement adoption will file a petition for adoption in the circuit court in the county where they reside.  The circuit court will enter an interlocutory order which triggers a probationary period. During that period, the adoptive parents must undergo three post-placement visits by the child-placing agency that conducted their home study. Following the completion of the visits, the agency will prepare a report of visitation which will be filed with the court. The court may then enter a final decree of adoption.

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