Adoption Finalization in Virginia
Virginia Adoption Finalization Checklist
Taking your baby home from the hospital will undoubtedly be one of the best days of your life. However, you aren’t automatically issued a final decree of adoption when this happens. First, Virginia laws require that you meet the following criteria (when applicable):
In Virginia, the court requires an adoption agency to conduct an investigation after your child has been placed with you and an adoption petition has been filed. This investigation is to make sure everything in the adoption process has been completed legally and ethically and will determine:
- If the adoptive family is financially and physically healthy and able to provide a safe home for a child
- The child’s physical and mental condition
- Why the child’s biological parents are relinquishing custody and what their attitude is toward the adoption
- Whether the biological parents are unfit to have custody
- The circumstances under which the child came to be with the adoptive family
- Whether the child can legally be adopted by the adoptive family
- What fees the adoptive family has paid in the adoption process
- Whether the adoptive parents have received medical records from the biological parents as well as any records the child might have
The idea of a post-placement visit might be stressful to some, as the home study itself can be, but don’t worry. The social worker who did your home study will most likely be the one to come back to visit your home to make sure everyone’s adjusting well. He or she will walk you through the process, answer any questions you might have about raising an adopted child, and probably marvel over your newest family member!
Termination of Parental Rights:
Before you can adopt a child, the birth parents’ rights must be terminated. This can happen voluntarily if they consent to an adoption, or it could happen if a judge determines that adoption is in the child’s best interests (like in a foster care placement). In Virginia, the birth parents can voluntarily consent to their child’s adoption on the third day of the child’s life or after.
ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) Clearance:
If you live outside of Virginia and traveled to the state to adopt a child, you will be required to comply with ICPC regulations before you can bring your child home with you. Since different states have different laws regarding adoption, these regulations were established to ensure that all adoptions taking place across state borders are ethical and legal.
ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) Clearance:
If your child has any Native American heritage from a federally recognized tribe, you will also be required to comply with ICWA regulations before you can finalize his or her adoption. These regulations were enacted to protect Native American tribes and families.
The Virginia Final Decree of Adoption
Once you’ve worked with your adoption specialist to meet all post-placement requirements applicable in your adoption scenario, it will be time for your Virginia adoption finalization hearing. This is when your child becomes legally and officially yours, so don’t forget to bring a camera! Here’s how you can expect a Virginia adoption finalization hearing to proceed:
Attend the adoption hearing along with your adoption attorney and your child. The judge will swear you in, and your attorney will testify that the adoption should take place.
Confirm to the judge that you will provide this child with a permanent and loving home.
If there are no complications, the judge will sign the final decree of adoption, and your child is officially yours!
For more information about how to finalize a Virginia adoption, or to start the adoption process, call 1-800-ADOPTION or request free information here.
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