How to Adopt a Baby in West Virginia
Step 1: Decide if Adoption is the Right Option for Your Family
Before committing to adoption in West Virginia, you must first decide if a West Virginia adoption is the best option for growing you family. Before you begin the West Virginia adoption process, you must be sure that it is something you are financial and emotionally prepared to do.
Often times when people pursue adoption, it is after struggling with infertility, which can include fertility treatments, miscarriage, or loss of a child. Understandably, this can have a lasting impact on your emotional wellbeing. For this reason, it is important to allow yourself to grieve such a loss before considering adoption in West Virginia.
Early in the adoption process, your American Adoptions specialist will examine your motivations for adopting a child and your commitment to the adoption process. If you choose to pursue adoption in West Virginia, you will need to leave behind the dream of conceiving a biological child in order to realize your dream of adoption.
Step 2: Decide Which Type of Adoption is Right for Your Family
Once you’ve decided to pursue adoption, you will need to determine which type of adoption is best for your family. While American Adoptions specializes in the domestic adoption of infants across the U.S., there are many ways to adopt a child in West Virginia.
Domestic adoption typically refers to the adoption of newborn babies born in the U.S. Domestic adoption agencies can provide all services needed to complete an adoption, including counseling and support for pregnant women, birth parents and adoptive parents. In addition to these services, American Adoptions also provides financial protection should you experience an adoption disruption.
Who Should Choose Domestic Adoption: Those looking for one agency to complete all aspects of the adoption process, those hoping for a shorter wait time, and those looking to adopt an infant in West Virginia.
When a child placed in foster care cannot be reunited with his/her parents, they become eligible for adoption. These children typically range in age from one year old to teenage. Oftentimes, they come from an unstable home environment and are in desperate need of loving parents to care for them and help them reach their potential. Learn more about adopting a child through West Virginia foster care adoption here.
Who Should Choose Foster-to-Adopt: Those who wish to adopt West Virginia kids older than one year and those who are comfortable adopting “special needs” children. In adoption, “special needs” refers to children who are part of a sibling group, older children, or children with special physical, mental, developmental or emotional needs. Such circumstances often make it less likely for these children to be adopted.
As the name suggests, international adoption refers to the adoption of children from foreign countries. The requirements to adopt and the adoption process can be very different depending on the country from which you are adopting. It is important that you work with an experienced and reputable international adoption agency to ensure the legality of your adoption.
Who Should Choose International Adoption: Those who wish to adopt from another culture and who are prepared to provide their child with connections to their cultural heritage. Those who are comfortable adopting children older than newborns and who are prepared for a longer wait before bringing their child home.
Step 3: Choose a West Virginia Adoption Professional
Choosing an adoption professional in West Virginia is one of the most important decisions you will make in your adoption journey. Your choice of adoption professional will determine the course and success of your adoption.
When searching for an adoption professional, it is vital that you compare them not only by price, but also by services provided, financial protections, and average length of wait. Although you may be paying less by pursuing adoption without an agency, you could potentially be putting yourself at risk for adoption fraud and financial loss.
The most common types of adoption professionals include:
Adoption Facilitators are typically unlicensed intermediaries that act on behalf of prospective birth or adoptive parents to facilitate the adoption of a child. They often use different forms of advertising in order to connect a potential birth parent with an adoptive family. Though adoption facilitators are often a less expensive choice, they typically use controversial methods that have been deemed predatory and unethical. Many states, including West Virginia, prohibit or strictly regulate the use of facilitators.
Adoption Law Centers work in much the same way as an adoption facilitator by helping birth parents and adoptive parents find each other. However, they aren’t typically monitored by the state and, therefore, may not be properly certified. This can jeopardize the legality of the adoption and often leads to fraud, putting both birth and adoptive families at risk. Though an adoption law center can provide matching services, they are not able to complete the adoption. Once a match has been made, adoptive families will need to seek another adoption professional to complete the legal work.
Adoption Law Firms, unlike adoption law centers, are often well-versed in adoption laws and are able to see WV adoptions through to completion. In fact, many adoption law firms work in conjunction with adoption agencies to provide clients with a wider variety of services. Generally, an adoption law firm cannot provide matching services for its clients, making it an ideal choice for an independent adoption.
Local Adoption Agencies are fully licensed and regulated by the state and provide all services necessary to adopt a baby in West Virginia. Local adoption agencies typically have a smaller staff and work only with birth and adoptive families within a specific geographic area. While working with a local agency allows for more face-to-face interactions with your adoption specialists, a limited service area typically translates to longer wait times for adopting WV children.
National Adoption Agencies complete adoptions across all 50 states and are, therefore, fully licensed and regulated not just at a state level, but at a national level as well. Like local adoption agencies, national agencies provide a wide variety of services to both birth and adoptive parents. While a national adoption agency can’t always provide face-to-face services, they do offer shorter wait times and lower financial risk. American Adoptions is a national adoption agency that offers such benefits by working with a broader range of birth and adoptive families across the U.S. You can find a full list of the advantages of working with a national adoption agency like American Adoptions here.
Step 4: Become a Waiting Adoptive Family
Before beginning the process of adopting a WV child, you must first determine what your ideal adoption scenario would look like. Early in the adoption process, you will work with your American Adoptions specialist to complete an Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ). You will answer questions that will help us pair you with expectant mothers whose adoption plans align with yours.
Another important step to complete before becoming an active waiting family is completing your adoption home study. There are several requirements to adopt in West Virginia, and your homes study will ensure that you have met these requirements and are able to provide a child with a safe and loving home.
Lastly, should you choose to work with American Adoptions, you will also complete an adoptive family profile. This will provide potential birth parents with a “snapshot” of your lives, which allows them to get to know your family better before choosing to pursue an adoption opportunity.
Step 5: Find an Adoption Opportunity
One of the biggest concerns for hopeful adoptive parents is how long the West Virginia adoption process will take. Typically, most of our families have a child placed in their home within 1 to 12 months of becoming an active waiting family. Though we cannot guarantee a shorter wait time, we do encourage our adoptive families to be open to many different types of adoption situations.
Once you’ve become an active waiting family, your profile will be shown to expectant mothers whose APQ matches your own. Being open to a wider range of potential adoption situations will increase the likelihood of your profile being shown to a potential birth mother. Areas where you might consider adjusting your APQ include, race, medical history, and post-placement contact.
If an expectant mother likes your profile, and your adoption specialist thinks it will be a good fit, you will be presented with the adoption opportunity. You will then get the chance to know each other better through a conference call facilitated by the American Adoptions specialists.
If the expectant mother wishes to move forward with the situation, communication will continue to evolve throughout the pregnancy. Amount of contact will depend on what both parties are comfortable with. Open communication can help alleviate any fears or tensions, help you get to know one another better, and help you build a strong foundation that will last a lifetime.
Step 6: Finalize Your Adoption in West Virginia
West Virginia adoption law requires that prospective birth mothers wait at least 72 hours after birth before signing any adoption consent papers. Once these consent papers are signed, the child will be placed in your care and the birth parents will voluntarily terminate their parental rights.
If you adopt a child outside of West Virginia, you will need to ensure that your adoption adheres to the rules and regulations set forth by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). This process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks, during which you will need to remain in the state where you child was born. However, if you adopt a child born in West Virginia, ICPC will not apply to you.
Upon returning home with your child, your West Virginia home study professional will complete a series of post-placement in-home visits to ensure you and your child are adjusting well to your new lives.
Typically, adoptions are finalized about six months after placement. To finalize your adoption, you will appear in court with your adoption attorney and the judge will review your adoption and officially grant you parental rights over the child.
Step 7: Life After Finalization
Finalization is often a huge weight off of an adoptive parent’s shoulders. The adoption process is complete, and everything has been legalized. You can finally return to “normal” life. But this is not the end of your adoption story, it is only the beginning.
As your child grows, it is important that he or she understands the role adoption has in their life. We encourage all of our adoptive families to read age-appropriate stories about adoption with their children, to re-tell their adoption story often and to maintain communication with their birth family.
The amount of post-placement contact you have with your child’s birth parents will depend on your desires and comfort level. Post-placement communication can include pictures and letters sent via American Adoptions, phone calls, emails, or even visits. American Adoptions will continue to facilitate post-placement contact for 18 years following your adoption.
Ready to begin the process to adopt a child in West Virginia? Call 1-800-ADOPTION or request free information online today.
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