Virginia does not require that an attorney be retained to represent the birth parents. It is not unusual for a parental placement adoption to proceed without one. It is recommended, however, that the adoptive parents retain an attorney to represent the birth parents. Independent legal counsel is the best method we have to ensure that persons enter into commitments in an informed and fair manner. Also, the very presence of an attorney for the birth parents adds security to the adoption itself.
This is because there are only two ways in which an adoption can be set aside after it has occurred. The first reason is that fraud has occurred. The second reason is that the birth parents were under duress at the time they consented. It is virtually impossible that either case could ever be made if the birth parents were represented by competent counsel during the process. It is therefore well worth the cost to the adoptive parents of paying for such counsel.
Some adoptive parents think that if they hire a lawyer for the birth mother, he may talk the mother out of going through with the placement. However, no competent and ethical adoption attorney would ever do that. If the birth mother does change her mind after consulting with the lawyer, then she was not sure of her decision to begin with. No adoption should go forward unless the birth mother is confident that she is doing the right thing and is sure of her decision. If she is not, the sooner everyone knows that the better.