West Virginia Adoption Guide

Everything you need to know about adoption in West Virginia.

Kenneth Knudson July 20, 2016

Welcome, West Virginians! This West Virginia guide was written to provide you with a single place to find information about adoption in West Virginia. It will walk you through everything from laws that will impact your adoption in West Virginia to reviews of adoption service providers.

We’ve divided this West Virginia guide into five parts:

first, general information about adopting in West Virginia, then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (slide 6), foster adoption (slide 19), international adoption (slide 28), and stepparent adoption (slide 32). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful West Virginia adoption resources (slide 34).

Please Note
1. Please Note

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions. Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption.

The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Adoption.com is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall Adoption.com be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

Did You Know?
2. Did You Know?

The longest steel arch bridge in the world (1,700 feet) is in West Virginia. Every October on national bridge day the New River Gorge Bridge attracts 100,000 visitors as thrill seekers parachute or bungee cord jump 876 feet off the bridge.

SOURCE: 50States.com

Adoption in West Virginia at a Glance
3. Adoption in West Virginia at a Glance

Kids in foster care available for adoption in 2014: 1,100

Foster adoptions completed in 2014: 852

International adoptions completed in 2014: 27

SOURCE:travel.state.gov

Can I Adopt in West Virginia
4. Can I Adopt in West Virginia

Adoption requirements in the state of West Virginia are as follows:

Age: 21
Marital Status: Married or single
Income: Stable and secure
Housing: Home that passes safety and fire inspection, adequate food, and access to school
Work: Any stable job that provides enough income for the family
Personality: Healthy enough to raise a child
Experience: Ability to commit to a child, stable family relationships
Other state requirements: Potential adoptive parents must attend a pre-service orientation and follow all guidelines posted by the adoption agency of their choosing

Disqualifying Crimes: Child abuse/neglect or spousal abuse

Developing a Support System
5. Developing a Support System

It’s essential to have a good network of family, friends, and neighbors to support you through your adoption process.

It’s also important to connect with other adoptive parents. You can begin making these connections in our adoption forums. You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

Domestic Infant Adoption in West Virginia
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in West Virginia

Before you get started, click here to learn more about the overall process of adopting an infant in the United States. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back to get the details about adoption in West Virginia.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help
7. Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help

In West Virginia adoption agencies and adoption attorneys help those interested to complete the adoption process. Whether you choose to adopt with the help of an agency or an attorney, make sure they hold a valid license in West Virginia.

For a list of adoption service providers in West Virginia click here.

For more information about picking an adoption agency, learn about the Top Fifteen Things to Look for In An Adoption Agency.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study
9. Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study

Once an adoption agency is chosen the agency sends a caseworker to complete a home study. This is different than a single home visit. In a home study the caseworker may visit multiple times in order to write a report culminating in approval for adoption.

Some of the things a caseworker will look for in an interview include personal health, motivation for adoption, and how the family handles stress.

For a more complete list on laws affecting the home study process in West Virginia click here.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word

One of the most important things you can do while waiting for an adoption match is to let everyone know about your hope to adopt. Many adoption connections are made through word-of-mouth referrals.

NOTE: While West Virginia law does not specifically address the use of advertising any person besides a licensed adoption agency/attorney who gives or receives money in connection with child placement is guilty of a felony.

SOURCE: adoption.com/wiki

Domestic Infant Adoption: Parent Profiles
11. Domestic Infant Adoption: Parent Profiles

Creating a Parent Profile is a great way to get the word out about your adoption hopes. Creating a profile on Adoption.com Parent Profiles allows you to easily share your story with those considering placing their child for adoption. Features like videos and photos, posts, Pinterest-like favorites, and recommendations and endorsements make it easy to create a profile as unique as you are, increasing the likelihood that you will stand out and connect with that right person.

Rich communication options like video chat and instant messaging make connecting easy. A mobile-responsive design means that you will never be out of reach.
What’s more, Adoption.com receives over 650,000 monthly visits, which means your profile will receive unparalleled exposure. You can even view and monitor your progress through a detailed statistics page.

Ready to get started? Visit our Parent Profiles page.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

Relinquishment of parental rights in West Virginia must occur before one of the following parties:

a judge
a person who a judge designates to take consent in court
a commissioned officer on active duty if birth parents are in the military
a consular officer for the United States in another country if birth parents live in that country

Birth parents must wait at least 72 hours from the time the baby is born in order to relinquish their rights. They must relinquish their parental right voluntarily and give consent to the adoption. In certain cases the court determines grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights. For more information on these cases click here. The termination of parental rights in West Virginia is final upon signature. Revocation of consent can only occur when both the birth and adoptive parents come to a mutual agreement to revoke consent.

SOURCE: childadoptionlaws.com
findlaw.com

Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights
13. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights

A birth father must consent to the adoption if he is married to the mother or if he has taken steps prior to marriage to establish paternity. Revocation of consent is not addressed in West Virginia statues. There is no putative father registry in the state of West Virginia.

SOURCE: childwelfare.gov

Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses
14. Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents and/or an adoption agency may provide legal and living expenses for an expectant mother. There are, however, laws governing such support.

Allowable Expenses
Medical, hospital, or other expenses in connection with the pregnancy, birth, and adoption proceedings are legal under West Virginia law. Any fees authorized by the court in connection with the adoption are also legal.

Banned Expenses
Any expense not approved by the law or by the court is strictly prohibited.

SOURCE: Code §61-2-14h

Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adopton Contact Agreements
15. Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adopton Contact Agreements

Post-adoption contact agreements regulate the amount of contact between birth and adoptive families after the adoption.

While West Virginia law does not address what or who may be included in the agreement, birth parents or prospective adoptive parents may petition the court to enforce the agreement.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in West Virginia from Out-of-State
16. Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in West Virginia from Out-of-State

With domestic infant adoptions it is always possible to adopt a child within West Virginia, even if you live in a different state.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another sate, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. The ICPC will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

PHOTO: Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to West Virginia from Out-of-State
17. Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to West Virginia from Out-of-State

There are plenty of sites to see when visiting West Virginia. Chief among them is the New River Gorge River, which boasts some of the nations best white water rapids.

History buffs flock to Harpers Ferry, a hotspot during the Civil War era.

SOURCE: planetware.com

Foster Adoption in West Virginia
18. Foster Adoption in West Virginia

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of adopting children through foster care. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about foster adoption in West Virginia.

Foster Adoption: Children Available for Foster Adoption in West Virginia
19. Foster Adoption: Children Available for Foster Adoption in West Virginia

There are 4,300 children in the foster care system as of November 12th, 2014. You can find a photolisting of waiting children in West Virginia by clicking here.

Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help
20. Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help

In West Virginia parents register with the Department of Health and Human Resources to become a foster parent.

To find adoption agencies in West Virginia and to read reviews click here.

Becoming Part of the Foster Care System
21. Becoming Part of the Foster Care System

In West Virginia, a child may be placed with hopeful adoptive parents before their birth parents' rights are terminated. This is called a legal risk placement, meaning that the child may still return to live with their birth parents before the adoption is final.

This situation occurs due to the following:

-The birth mother has voluntarily relinquished her rights, but the birth father is unknown or unavailable.
-An infant had been abandoned and a petition for adoption had been filed
-Guardianship has been granted without parental consent and the birth parents are likely to appeal the court's decision

After 6 months of a legal risk placement hopeful adoptive parents can petition for adoption.

SOURCE: onetruegift.com
Adoption Policy, Department of Health and Human Resources, Section 6.6

Post Adoption Contact Agreements
22. Post Adoption Contact Agreements

Post adoption contact agreements determine how much contact the birth family and the adopted family have after the adoption.

In the case of involuntary termination of parental rights, courts may modify agreements if the modification is in the adoptee's best interest. Post adoption contact agreements can become legally enforceable if the judge decides the agreement is in the best interest for the adopted child. However, broken contact agreements are not grounds to nullify the adoption.

SOURCE: Ann. Code §48-22-704

Adoption Assistance
23. Adoption Assistance

Many programs exist in the state of West Virginia to help unite hopeful adoptive parents with foster children.

The Federal (Title IV-E) and state (often referred to as non-IV-E) programs were created to give hopeful adoptive parents the means to support special needs children. This does not necessarily mean a child with a mental disability.

The state of West Virginia uses the following criteria to determine a special needs child who may need financial assistance for adoption:

• 8 years of age, but under the age of 18
• Is a member of a minority group, older than age 3
• Member of sibling group where two or more are adopted together
• Has emotional, physical, or mental disability

Even if the child meets none of the following four criteria, as long as the adoptee is legally free for adoption and a dependent of a licensed agency or the Department of Health and Human Resources they still may qualify for aid.

The maximum monthly payment is $600. Under exceptional needs (determined case by case) the maximum is $764.

SOURCE: nacac.org

Foster Adoption: Adopting in West Virginia from Out-of-State
24. Foster Adoption: Adopting in West Virginia from Out-of-State

It's always possible to adopt a child from West Virginia, even if you live in a different state.

If you are adopting a child from a state different from the one in which you reside, the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. The ICPC will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC here.

For more information about the ICPC in West Virginia click here.

Foster Adoption: Traveling to West Virginia from Out-of-State
25. Foster Adoption: Traveling to West Virginia from Out-of-State

Hotel prices in West Virginia average around $100 a night.

There are plenty of sites to see when visiting West Virginia. Chief among them is the New River Gorge River, which boasts some of nations best white water rapids. Aside from rafting portions of the river are great for kayaks and canoes.

History buffs flock to Harpers Ferry, a hotspot during the Civil War era.

International Adoption in West Virginia
26. International Adoption in West Virginia

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of international adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about international adoption in West Virginia.

International Adoption: Photolisting
27. International Adoption: Photolisting

There are millions of beautiful children across the world who are hoping to find a forever family.

Click here to meet some of them through our Photolisting.

International Adoption: Get Professional Help
28. International Adoption: Get Professional Help

With international adoptions, your only choice is to complete your adoption through an agency.

Because of the Universal Accreditation Act, all adoption agencies completing international adoptions are required to be credentialed according to federal standards. Make sure to check with any agency before working with them to ensure they have this accreditation in place!

In selecting an international adoption agency, there are Four Essential Criteria you should probably consider. Click here to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in West Virginia.

In order to be approved to adopt internationally, you will need to complete an international adoption-specific home study.

International Adoption: Post Adoption Requirements
29. International Adoption: Post Adoption Requirements

Hopeful adoptive parents in West Virginia can generally take two different routes when adopting a child from another country. In the first scenario the child comes to the U.S. with the parents under an adoption decree from their country. ‘Readoption’ in this case is completed and the adoption is recognized by the state of West Virginia after the hopeful adoptive parents file a “Petition of Recognition of Foreign Adoption Decree” with the courts.

In the second scenario the child comes home with the hopeful adoptive parents under guardianship status and the parents have to file under the domestic adoption statue because there is no international decree to be recognized. This process is generally much longer and requires the assistance of an adoption attorney.

You will also need to request a U.S. birth certificate for your child.

Read more about post-adoption requirements here:  

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

SOURCE: wvadoptionlawyer.com

Stepparent Adoption in West Virginia
30. Stepparent Adoption in West Virginia

In West Virginia, a stepparent along with their spouse has the ability to adopt a stepchild. Consent must be given from the spouse, the child, (if older than 12) and the biological parent who is terminating parental rights to complete the adoption.

If the biological parent refuses to relinquish his/her parental rights, hopeful adoptive parents may still prove in court that the biological parent has abandoned their child for more than 6 months. If this is the case consent from the biological parent is unnecessary.

SOURCE: McPhillaw.com

Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt
31. Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt

After the termination of parental rights, hopeful adoptive parents must attend a court hearing in order to make the adoption official.

The hopeful adoptive parents will testify about their bond with the stepchild, the stability of their marriage and home, and their desire to be the legal guardians to the child. The court has the final say on whether or not to allow the adoption to happen.

You will generally not be required to complete a background check or home study as part of the stepparent adoption process.

Adoption Resources
32. Adoption Resources

Link to Adoption Forums

Link to West Virginia Wiki     

Link to Parent Profiles

Adoption Stories

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Kenneth Knudson


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