In Virginia, birth parents may place their child directly for adoption with any family they choose, subject to legal procedures designed to ensure that the placement is in the best interests of the child. This type of adoption is often called either private adoption or independent adoption. However, the correct name is parental placement adoption, because the parents are making the placement, not an agency.
A licensed Virginia Adoption Agency is still required, because a Home Study Investigation must be conducted on the prospective adoptive parents in order to ensure that they are suitable to adopt. But the role of the agency is limited to that investigation and report; they do not decide whether or not the adoptive placement should be made.
In Parental Placement Adoptions, the role of the Adoption Attorney is greater, because he or she must guide the process through the courts. It is wise to consult an Adoption Attorney as early as possible if considering a Parental Placement Adoption.
What is the Parental Placement Adoption Process?
When a birth parent, usually the birth mother, indicates her desire to place her child with prospective adoptive parents, a great deal of planning needs to take place quickly.
First, plans must be made with the hospital where the delivery is going to occur. Usually, it is possible to arrange for the birth mother to give the hospital authorization shortly after birth. This way the adoptive parents have access to the child in the nursery and can take the child directly home with them from the hospital.
Second, it is necessary to contact the birth father as soon as possible to ensure his willingness to consent. Often, it is necessary to resolve the issue of his parental rights in another way. Determining the best way to do that is a complicated legal decision which requires competent counsel from a qualified adoption attorney.
Third, it is necessary to schedule a Consent Hearing in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court. The law requires the birth mother to appear in person and give her consent in front of a judge. The child must be at least three days old before this occurs. However, because of scheduling, the hearing is more likely to occur ten to fourteen days after the birth.
The court will appoint an attorney to serve at the hearing as Guardian Ad Litem for the child. The Guardian Ad Litem makes an independent recommendation as to whether the adoption appears to be in the best interests of the child.
The Home Study Report must also be completed prior to the hearing so the judge and the Guardian can review it. The judge will then enter an order giving legal custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents. Ordinarily, the birth mother's parental rights are terminated seven days after the hearing. She may revoke her consent up to that time.
Lastly, the adoption itself is then filed in the Circuit Court and an Interlocutory Order of Adoption is quickly entered. This means that the adoption is granted subject to a probationary period of approximately six months, during which time the same social worker who prepared the report visits the home three times in order to ensure that all is well. The Final Order of Adoption is entered and the new birth certificate is issued after that period.
Are Parental Placement Adoptions Closed?
They are unless the parties enter into a Post Adoption Contact and Communication Agreement, which can be incorporated into the Final Order of Adoption and thereby made both modifiable and enforceable.
What are the Costs of a Parental Placement Adoption?
This type of adoption can be the least expensive form of adoption, other than step parent adoptions. The total costs usually run between $7,500.00 and $10,000.00.
What are the Advantages of Parental Placement Adoption?
The greatest advantage is that prospective adoptive parents are not subject to the decision of an adoption agency whether or not to place a child with them. Also, the short term contact between the birth mother and the adoptive parents can be rewarding and can give perspective to the adoptive parents of the child's family history. From the birth mother's perspective, the primary advantage is that she makes the decision who to place her child with and has the satisfaction of knowing that she did the right thing.
What are the disadvantages of Parental Placement Adoption?
There is some risk involved. The birth mother may change her mind up to a certain point and the rights of the birth father must be addressed. Usually, however, if proper guidance is received from a qualified adoption attorney, these risks can be made very minimal.
How do Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents find each other?
The most common way is by word of mouth. If a couple decide that they want to pursue Parental Placement Adoption, they should let as many people as possible know about it. Also, a large number of connections are made through internet advertising.
If you have Questions about Parental Placement Adoption, please send me an e-mail at [email protected] and I would be happy to try to address your questions. Of if you prefer, please call my office to schedule either an office or telephone consultation.