Because of the important ethical concern that babies not be bought and sold, each state has adopted certain laws to govern what types of payments may be made in connection with an adoption.
In Virginia it is a felony to charge, pay, give, or agree to give or accept any money, property, service or other thing of value in connection with a placement or adoption, except for six specific things. The social worker who prepares the Home Study is required to report to the court all payments made by the adoptive parents. It is, therefore, extremely important to be sure that nothing is given to a birth mother or for her benefit without first seeking counsel from your adoption attorney. Any payment made in violation of the law may result in criminal prosecution and may result in voiding the adoptive placement.
The six allowable payments are as follows:
1. Adoption Agency Fees and Costs: Payment may be made for reasonable and customaary services provided by a licensed or duly authorized child-placing agency.
2. Medical Expenses: Payment may be made for medical expenses and insurance premiums that are directly related to the birth mother’s pregnancy and hospitalization for the birth of the child who is the subject of the adoption proceedings. These payments may include mental health counseling received by the birth mother or the birth father related to the adoption. They may also include expenses incurred for medical care for the child.
3. Food, Clothing and Shelter: Payment may be made for reasonable and necessary expenses for food, clothing and shelter. But these payments may only be made when the physician for the birth mother has stated in writing that she is unable to wrok or otherwise support herself due to medical reasons or complications associated with the pregnancy or birth of the child.
4. Travel to Attend the Consent Hearing: Payment may be made for reasonable expenses incurred incidental to any required court appearance. These may include transportation, food and lodging.
5. Legal Fees: Payment may be made for usual and customary fees for legal services in adoption proceedings.
6. Other Necessary Transportation: Payment may be made for transportation for any of the above five allowable purposes or for inter country placements.
After stating that the above are the only allowable payments, the statute ends with an additional prohibition: It is specifically prohibited to advertise or solicit to perform any activity in connection with an adoption which is not specifically allowed. This is one reason facilitation and similar services are illegal in Virginia.