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What You Need to Know About Virginia’s Adoption Guidelines

In Virginia, there are two legal options for adoptive placements: agency and non-agency placements.

Agency placements are made through local social services departments or licensed agencies, usually after an agency takes custody of a child and the birth parents’ legal rights are terminated. The agency is granted custody, along with the right to find the child an adoptive home.

With a non-agency placement, the child’s birth parents or guardians give permission for the adoption to occur. The parental legal rights terminate before the adoption’s final order is completed. Although anyone is permitted to help the birth parents find a prospective family or to help adoptive parents locate a child, only birth parents or legal guardians may place the child for adoption.

A single person who resides in the state or has custody of a child placed by a Virginia agency may adopt through the courts. You do not have to be married to adopt. However, two unmarried people — whether a heterosexual or same-sex couple — are not legally allowed to adopt. Families considering adopting a child are encouraged to become resource families. A resource family takes in a child who has recently entered the foster care system and is willing to adopt if the child cannot be returned to the birth parents or guardians. Families may also choose to adopt a child who is already in another foster home.

If adoptive parents decide to pay a birth parent to adopt directly, there are limits on the amount that can be paid. Virginia law authorizes the adoptive parents to pay the birth parents’ medical expenses, insurance premiums, mental health counseling expenses, agency expenses, birth- or adoption-related travel expenses, and reasonable food, clothing and shelter costs.

If you or someone you know is considering adoption in the state of Virginia, it may be helpful to consult a Charlottesville adoption lawyer.

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