In an adoption case, extremely important rights and responsibilities are being determined. The parental rights of the birth parents are being terminated. A new parent child relationship is being recognized. And most importantly, the entire direction of the child’s life is being altered. All of the various laws Virginia has established to govern adoption procedures are intended to recognize these serious matters and to make every effort to ensure that the adults understand exactly what they are doing. It is the intent of the law to make sure that the adoptive parents and the birth parents take these important legal steps in an informed and uncoerced manner soley because they believe it to be in the right thing to do for the child and for themselves.
It is a fundamental concept of due process that parties to important legal proceedings have independent legal counsel. This means that they have the opportunity to meet privately with an attorney whose sole interest is to look after that person’s rights, to explain all applicable legal concepts, to answer all questions privately and to offer any appropriate legal advice; as well as to represent them in court.
It is importnt not to look at the legal process of adoption as merely some steps a single attorney may be hired to take. Because of the extreme importance of what is going on, various aspects of the case will be carefully reviewed by at least two, and probably three attorneys, by the judge, and by the social worker making the investigation and report. In addition to this, the Commisioner of Public Welfare will review all reports filed.
Each attorney involved has a separate role.