It used to be that most adoptions were agency adoptions. This was thought to be best for two reasons. First,it was thought that the decision regarding with whom to place a child should be made by trained social workers. Second, it was thought that adoptions should remain entirely confidential, so that the adoptive parents and birth parents did not know who eachother were. Adoptive prents frequently were afraid that birth parents might show up unannounced and want to see the child. Some imagined the birth mother hiding behind the hedge and looking in their windows. While this fear was almost never justified, it was common. Direct private placements were allowable, but usually only occurred in close family situations. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members adopted the child.
Gradually,people came to prefer private adoptions. In 1989, major changes to Virginia's private adoption laws were enacted. These changes for the first time laid out detailed procedures for Parental Placement Adoptions. Under the new laws, it was clarified that some direct contact between adoptive parents and birth parents was required, as was an exchange of substantial information.
Experience in the years since 1989 has shown that the new scheme for Parental Placement Adoptions has worked very well. In fact, Parental Placement Adoption is now the primary form of adoption in Virginia. In a true Parental Placement Adoption the birth mother chooses the family with whom she wishes to place her child. There is no placement decision made by an adoption agency. However, an agency is still required to prepare a Home Study Report and to provide limited counseling to both the birth parents and the adoptive parents. It is the Report which gives the Court the assurance that the placement is in the best interests of the child.