Deciding to expand your family through adoption is a big decision. Understanding the various steps, regulations, and requirements to pursue an adoption in Virginia is important as you begin your process. Adopting in Virginia is similar to adopting in many other states, and understanding what options you and your family have will help you take this next step as a family.
Adoption in Virginia starts with understanding whether you would like to adopt a child from foster care, pursue a private adoption of a newborn, or pursue adoption internationally. Researching your options, speaking with a social worker or adoption service provider on the options available to your family, and understanding the timelines, costs, and steps involved will help you take this first step.
Adoption in Virginia through Foster Care
Virginia Department of Social Services does an excellent job of explaining the steps to adopting from Virginia a child who is available through the Virginia Foster Care system. Adoption in Virginia from foster care consists of specific steps:
1. Call the Adoption Resource Exchange at 1-800-DO-ADOPT where you will answer a few questions before being referred to a local department of social services.
2. Participate in an orientation on adoption in Virginia from foster care. This may be a group meeting with other interested prospective adoptive parents or a one-on-one meeting with a social worker.
3. Prospective adoptive parents then participate in 28 to 30 hours of training that is required of every individual interested in adoption in Virginia. Several consecutive weeks of training are offered with adoption workers and trained foster/adoptive parents as instructors.
4. Prospective parents then apply to adopt a child from the Virginia foster care system. Some agencies offer this application at the beginning of training, and others do so at the end.
5. The home study process is necessary for any adoption in Virginia, whether you choose to adopt from foster care, privately, or internationally.
6. After the home study is complete and approved, your social worker will show you photos of children currently available for adoption in Virginia.
7. The placement process then begins between the family and the child. There will be a certain number of visits before the child is placed with your family when the social worker feels the time is right. Virginia adoption law requires that the child is with your family in your home for six months, with at least three visits from the social worker, before the adoption is finalized.
8. The final step is finalizing the adoption. Many parents utilize an adoption attorney to help in this process.
Children available for adoption in Virginia can be viewed on the Adoption.com photo listing page.
Domestic Adoption in Virginia
Although infants and very young children (as well as wonderful older children) are available for adoption in Virginia through the foster care system, some families choose to adopt privately through infant adoption. Similarly to adoption in Virginia through foster care, you will need to complete a home study. The process is different through each adoption agency or adoption attorney you decide to utilize to help you complete your adoption of an infant in Virginia. A listing of adoption service providers in Virginia can be found on the directory page.
A domestic infant adoption in Virginia can happen in one of three ways: First, it can happen through a parental placement. This means that the birth parent or parents can decide to place their baby with the adoptive family directly. An attorney often will still help finalize the adoption; however, the agency does not take custody of the child before the placement.
Second, a Virginia social service or adoption agency can have custody of the child or children who are being placed for adoption. The prospective adoptive parents accept the child from the custody of the agency. The prospective adoptive parents and birth parents may meet, or they may choose to meet but not identify one another, or they may exchange identifying information but not meet. In an open adoption, the adoptive parents may share letters and pictures with the birth family regularly or on a timeline agreed upon. They may also meet at certain times throughout the year or in the child’s life or might have the agency or adoption attorney act as an intermediary to pass information, updates, and photos.
Third, an adoption in Virginia can happen through a family/relative adoption. The adoption agency or social service provider may finalize the home study for the adoptive parents as well as counseling services and support to the birth parents.
Intercountry Adoption in Virginia
Prospective adoptive parents who prefer to adopt internationally will also need to follow various steps with their adoption service provider. It will be important to do your research to decide from what country you wish to adopt. This will help you narrow down agencies that have programs in that country. You don’t need to utilize an agency in Virginia to complete and facilitate your adoption of a child internationally. However, you will need to use a licensed home study provider within the state of Virginia to complete your home study. Some prospective adoptive parents use one agency for their adoption and another agency or service provider to complete the home study in Virginia. It will be important to discuss with your agency what providers they recommend. You can also do your own research. Adoption.com has a wonderful list of current Virginia home study providers.
Can I Adopt in Virginia?
After deciding what type of adoption you wish to pursue, it is important to understand if you can adopt in Virginia. Currently, prospective adoptive parents must be 18 years old. You may be single, married, or divorced to pursue adoption in Virginia. Nevertheless, you must complete a home study. There are separate and specific regulations for adoption in Virginia which may pertain to your specific adoption. It is important to review these with your adoption attorney or home study provider.
How long does the adoption process take?
The process to adopt differs from family to family. Oftentimes, it depends on how long it takes a family to complete the home study and application process for a domestic or foster care adoption. It can take much longer for international adoption. Even then, the wait times vary greatly in international adoption from country to country and can be dependent on the age and gender of the child, and if the child has special needs.
In terms of domestic adoption, it also can vary based on your family, whether you are adopting an infant through a placing agency or family/relative adoption. It can be difficult to even give an exact range since it varies so greatly. It is important to speak to your social worker, agency professional, home study provider, or adoption attorney to get a better idea of long this process will take for your family specifically. After the child is placed in your home, regardless of whether it is foster care or domestic adoption, there is a minimum of six months before you can finalize.
How Much Does it Cost to Complete an Adoption in Virginia?
Adoption costs vary from adoption to adoption and between adoption service providers. There is no charge when you adopt a special needs child in foster care in Virginia. Further, adoption assistance, also called subsidized adoption, is a means of providing a money payment and/or services to adoptive parents on behalf of a child with special needs from foster care in Virginia. Parents can be eligible based on the needs of the child; however, most children who have special needs can receive some adoption assistance. Currently, this is an average amount of $450-$690 a month in Virginia. More information can be found at NACAC.
The cost to adopt through international adoption in Virginia can vary as well. Country costs differ between countries if you are pursuing intercountry adoption. Home studies usually range from around $1,000 to 3,000 dollars depending on various factors like the number of visits, how many homes need to be visited, and the number of interviews needed. The total cost depending on the country and other factors can total between $20,000 and $40,000. This is relatively constant state by state.
The cost to complete a domestic adoption in Virginia can vary tremendously too. Fees can total from $20,000 to nearly $40,000 regardless of whether it is an independent private adoption or domestic adoption through an adoption agency. These fees include legal fees, birth mother expenses, advertising, and agency fees.
Adoption in Virginia is similar to many other states. It is helpful to research all of your options and also understand the nuances of adoption in Virginia whether you are adopting a child from foster care, a child domestically through private adoption, or through international adoption.
Once you decide on what is best for your family, you will begin a journey that will change you and a child’s life forever. You will be a forever family.