Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Private (Independent) Adoption in Virginia - How it Works

Adoptive parents in Virginia who choose to adopt a child through private (independent) adoption follow a long but rewarding path. Everything must fall into place just right, from picking an experienced adoption lawyer meeting and matching with the right birth parents and beyond. Becoming an adoptive parent takes commitment and persistence, but most of all, faith.

For a birth parent, understanding this long journey might help them understand that adoptive parents choose to take this path. They devote their time, their resources ... and indeed their lives to finding the right match. There's no way all of the steps on the path can be outlined in one little blog post, but a quick snapshot may help:

  • Adoptive parents decide to adopt - The reasons for the decision to adopt are many. For us, the decision came after two years of trying to have a biological child. The infertility process is difficult, even for the most devoted couples. We finally decided the Universe was trying to tell us something - that adoption is the right path for us.
  • Select an adoption attorney (lawyer) - Adoption laws are very targeted, and because of that, choosing an attorney who specializes in adoption is key. Alternately, if the birth parents who match with the adoptive couple don't have an attorney, they should select an adoption lawyer too. Adoption lawyers will know all the ins and outs of the adoption laws in a particular state.
  • Complete a home study - What can we say about the home study? The home study evaluates the potential adoptive parents for adoption readiness. Adoptive parents must be screened by the FBI, must have child abuse clearance in every state that they have lived in, be screened by a social worker and provide a huge amount of personal information, including financial information. The process can take months and months, and costs, on average, $2,000 to $3,000 to complete. 
  • Search for birth parents - Once a home study is approved, the adoptive parents who choose private adoption start looking for birth mothers who have chosen or are considering an adoption plan for their child. The search can include word of mouth, newspaper ads and social media networking.
  • The first meeting - Once a connection is made with a birth mother, or birth parents, the adoptive parents meet with them in a public place (such as a restaurant) to see if there is chemistry and to exchange important information. 
  • Birth parents retain lawyer - The birth parents are advised to retain the services of an attorney (lawyer). This attorney is separate from the adoptive parents' attorney and represents the interests of the birth parents and the child.
  • Medical release from birth parents - Adoptive parents ask the birth parents to release their medical records. This will help the adoptive parents understand the genetic gifts birth parents have passed on to their children. 
  • Make prenatal and hospital arrangements - The best gift a birth mother can give to her child is to take care of herself. That means taking prenatal vitamins and visiting an OB/GYN (a doctor who specializes in caring for women's gynecological needs and who can deliver a baby) on a regular basis to be sure the pregnancy is going well. 
  • Child is born - Enough said.
  • Birth parents give legal consent - In Virginia, birth parents can give legal consent three days after the birth of a child.
  • Obtain ICPC consent if the child is from out of state - ICPC stands for Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and is required if a child is adopted outside of the state in which the adoptive parents reside.
  • Adoption finalized by court - In Virginia, the adoption is usually finalized eight months. The consent from the birth parents cannot be revoked 10 days after a child is born.
As birth parents, did you ever think that adoptive parents had to do so much to adopt a child? It's my hope that this information will help you understand that adoption is a choice for adoptive parents, and that they walk this path because they desire to parent and love a child. It's a huge commitment, and one that demonstrates adoptive parents' devotion to the child they plan to adopt.  And of course, you are not alone on this journey either. There are so many resources available to you, if you choose an adoption plan for your child. Ask questions. Get as much information as possible. And make sure, most of all, that you take care of yourself.

Please note that we are not adoption professionals. The information provided in this blog is compiled from credible adoption resources but please be sure to talk with an adoption lawyer to get the facts on the laws and to know what's right for you. If you do not know an adoption lawyer, visit the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and look for one in your state.

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