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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Adoption1. What Types of Adoptions are Recognized in Virginia?
Adoptions in Virginia are governed by the applicable statutes of the Virginia Code (statutes enacted by the Virginia General Assembly). These laws provide for the following primary types of adoption:
Agency Placement - where a licensed child-placing agency accepts custody of a child and places the child with a suitable adoptive family or parent.
Direct/Parental Placement - where the child's parent or legal guardian places the child in a family home.
Stepparent Adoption - where the spouse of the birth parent of a child seeks to adopt the child.
The laws of Virginia also provide for adult adoptions, interstate adoptions, international adoptions, foster care placement adoptions, and special needs adoptions.
2. What Steps are Involved in Adoption of a Minor Child?
Adoption in Virginia generally requires involvement of both the juvenile and domestic relations court as well as the circuit court in the appropriate jurisdiction. The following is an overview of the steps which vary depending on the type of adoption and whether the birth parents consent.
a. Home Study - In most cases, a social worker must conduct a home study (detailed background check on the family) to make sure the placement is suitable.
b. Identification of a Child - In the case of an agency placement adoption where the child is not previously identified, the agency and prospective parents begin locating a child.
c. Termination of Parental Rights - Before any adoption can take place, the rights of the birth parents must be terminated - either voluntarily or involuntarily. In general, the juvenile and domestic relations court has jurisdiction over the termination of parental rights.
d. Filing of Petition - A petition for adoption is filed in the appropriate jurisdiction in circuit court.
e. Decree of Reference - In most adoptions, the circuit court will enter an order directing the placement agency or social worker to complete an investigative report. In stepparent adoptions, the court may omit the decree of reference and proceed directly to a final order where the other (noncustodial) birth parent has died or has consented in writing, or where the birth mother swears under oath in writing that the father's identity is unknown.
f. Final Order - The adoption is final upon entry of a final order. This order terminates the rights of the birth parents and grants the adoptive parents the appropriate legal rights and authority over the child.
3. Can a Final Order of Adoption be Rescinded?
After the expiration of six months from the date of entry of the final order of adoption, it cannot be rescinded. That means it is not subject to attack for any reason.
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