Adoption is a wonderful way to grow a family. Through adoption, Virginia residents who want to be parents are connected to children in need of a family, benefiting all involved. It is truly one of the happier aspects of family law.
In Virginia most adoptions are through the foster care system, although other types of adoptions including adoption by relatives, stepparents or overseas adoptions are also options. Per the Code of Virginia Chapter 12, there are two ways a child can be placed with parents: agency placements and non-agency placements.
In an agency placement, the local department of social services (LDSS) or a licensed child-placement agency initially has custody over the child. When the agency is authorized to place the child with adoptive parents, the parental rights of the child's biological parents are terminated. The agency that has custody over the child must agree to the child's adoption. LDSS will try to place the child back with his or her family of origin, or if that is not possible or appropriate, it will seek to have the child adopted.
Non-agency placements do not involve the LDSS. Licensed Child Placing Agencies administer these types of adoptions. The child's biological parents must give their permission for their child to be adopted, which will terminate their parental rights. Adoptions by close relatives, stepparents and unrelated prospective adoptive parents are all types of non-agency placements.
Children need a loving parent to nurture them and raise them in safety and security. Unfortunately, sometimes the child's biological parents are unable to fulfill this role. When that happens, adoption can be the answer to ensuring a child in need becomes part of a loving family. It is a legal proceeding, however, that vests prospective parents with legal responsibilities and devests biological parents of their parental rights. Therefore, any party contemplating adoption may benefit from seeking legal guidance before proceeding.