In the important 2011 case of Copeland v. Todd, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the constitutionality of Section 63.2-1205 of the Code of Virginia, which sets out the standards which a court must consider in making the determination that the consents of birth parents to a proposed adoption are being withheld contrary to the best interests of the child.
In Copeland v. Todd, the Supreme Court of Virginia pointed out that the standards of proof in contested adoption cases must be read along with eight other factors which the Department of Social Services, or private agency, must investigate and report upon pursuant to Code Section 63.2-1208. Those factors are the following:
The Constitutional Rights of Birth Parents are extremely important. Parental Rights are recognized as fundamental rights under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United State Constitution. Whenever a Court must consider whether the best interests of a child require an adoption which is objected to by a birth parent, this would appear to conflict with those important constitutional rights. For this reason, the standards of proof which a court must consider before it can grant an adoption over the objection of a birth parent are very important.
Some people ask why adoption is necessary. Why, they ask, cannot there be some continuing visitation with birthparents? The answer is that there can be in some situations and not in others, and that the decision should be made by the adoptive parents, who are the only ones sufficiently attuned to the individual needs of the child to be able to make that decision in a manner which is responsive to the particular needs of the particular child. Judges usually cannot adequately make that determination.
If the child has not developed a healthy attachment during the critical first five years of life, then it has been conclusively shown that the child will suffer from irreversible developmental consequences, such as reduced intelligence and increased aggression. The condition known as "Reactive Attachment Disorder" will most likely result. This condition comes in two forms, one which causes indiscriminate and dangerous relationshiops and one which prevents any relationships at all.