The Essential Guide to Adoption and Surrogacy Laws in Virginia

 

 

Whether you are considering adding to your family, making an adoption plan for your baby, or becoming a gestational surrogate, you likely have questions about family-building laws in Virginia. As an experienced attorney in both adoption and surrogacy, Peter Wiernicki’s job is to provide you with the answers you need to feel comfortable with each step of the legal adoption process.

Here, learn more about Virginia surrogacy and adoption laws for hopeful parents, expectant mothers and gestational carriers.

Laws to Adopt a Child in Virginia

Adopting a child can be a complicated legal process. From eligibility requirements to home study processes to finalization procedures, there are many Virginia adoption laws for hopeful adoptive parents to understand and follow.

As an experienced adoption attorney, Peter Wiernicki can guide you through each step of the legal adoption process and ensure you meet all legal requirements along the way. Here, learn more about laws for adoptive families in Virginia.

What are the legal requirements to adopt a child in Virginia?

Unmarried adult residents and married couples jointly may adopt in Virginia. Stepparents may adopt singly.

What are the legal requirements to become a foster parent in Virginia?

Prospective foster parents must be at least 18 years old and complete all approval requirements, including:

  • one-time orientation meeting
  • discussion of foster parenting with a foster family recruiter
  • mutual assessment and home study process
  • training

The Department of Social Services can provide additional information about becoming a foster parent in Virginia.

What are the legal requirements to finalize an international adoption in Virginia?

Depending on the type of visa your child received, you may need to legally finalize or re-adopt your child in Virginia following the international adoption process.

Even if you are not legally required to complete an international re-adoption, it is strongly recommended for every family who has adopted internationally. Peter can provide all of the services you need to complete your international re-adoption in Virginia.

What adoption expenses are adoptive parents responsible for in Virginia?

Adoptive families in Virginia may pay reasonable home study expenses and fess paid for customary services provided by a licensed adoption agency. In addition, the adoptive parents may pay the following birth parent expenses:

  • Pregnancy and hospital-related medical expenses and insurance premiums
  • Birth parent counseling services
  • Reasonable expenses for food, clothing and shelter when the expectant mother is unable to work due to pregnancy
  • Reimbursement for food, lodging and transportation expenses incurred in connection with a court appearance
  • Fees for legal services
  • Transportation to adoption and pregnancy-related service

How does the adoption home study work in Virginia?

Every hopeful adoptive family in Maryland must complete an approved home study before a child can be placed in their care. The home study will be performed by a licensed professional and will include all members of the household, including children when appropriate.

The Virginia home study process includes the following:

  • At least three interviews, including one in the adoptive home
  • At least one joint interview for married adoptive parents
  • At least one meeting between the birth parents, adoptive parents and a social worker
  • At least two nonrelative references
  • Criminal records and Child Protective Services registry checks
  • A physician’s health statement
  • A social assessment of the adoptive family

The home study will not be approved if an adoptive applicant has been convicted of child abuse or neglect, a sexually violent offense, an offense requiring registration as a sex offender, or certain other crimes.

The Virginia home study is valid for 36 months from the date of completion, though updated background checks may be required every 18 months. To learn more about the adoption home study process or to find a local home study provider, please visit 1-800-homestudy.com.

Laws to Place a Child for Adoption in Virginia

If you are considering adoption for your baby, you may feel overwhelmed by the legal adoption process in Virginia. As a compassionate and knowledgeable adoption attorney, Peter Wiernicki can provide the information and services you need to help you make the best legal decisions for yourself and your child.

Below, find answers to common birth parent questions about Virginia adoption laws.

Who is required to consent to an adoption in Virginia?

In Virginia, the following people must consent to the adoption:

  • The child’s mother
  • An acknowledged father, adjudicated father, presumed father, or a man who has registered with the Putative Father Registry
  • The agency having custody of the child
  • The child being adopted, if he or she is age 14 or older

Consent is not required of:

  • A birth father who denies his paternity in writing and under oath
  • A biological father convicted of rape, statutory rape or an equivalent offense
  • A parent whose rights have been terminated by the court
  • A parent who has not visited or contacted the child for a period of at least six months
  • A nonconsenting party who fails to appear at the adoption hearing after receiving proper notice

If you are uncertain whether your consent is required for adoption, you may contact Peter to discuss your specific circumstances.

When can a birth parent consent to the adoption?

The birth parents can execute consent three days after the child is born. A birth father may consent to have his parental rights terminated prior to the child’s birth.

How long do birth parents have to change their mind about the adoption?

Birth parents may change their mind and revoke their consent within 7 days of execution, unless they sign a waiver of the revocation period at the time of consent. Upon proof of fraud or duress, or upon written, mutual consent from the birth parents and adoptive family, consent may be revoked until the final order of adoption.

Does the birth father have to be involved in the adoption plan?

In Virginia, a man is presumed to be the father of a child, and therefore has certain rights in the adoption process, if:

  • he is or was married to the child’s mother and the child is or was born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
  • he and the child’s mother attempted to marry each other before the child’s birth, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
  • he has established a parent-child relationship through a scientifically reliable genetic test or a voluntary written statement with the child’s mother acknowledging his paternity

Any man who wishes to be notified of an adoption proceeding regarding a child he may have fathered should register with the Putative Father Registry before the child is born or within 10 days of the child’s birth. Failure to register waives all rights of the man to withhold consent to an adoption proceeding.

Birth father rights and responsibilities can vary significantly on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about the rights and role of the child’s birth father in your circumstances, contact Peter to learn more.

Surrogacy Laws in Virginia

Virginia surrogacy laws can be complex, but with the right assisted reproductive technology (ART) attorney, surrogacy can be a wonderful family-building option for hopeful parents. As an experienced ART attorney, Peter Wiernicki can provide the legal guidance intended parents and gestational carriers need to safely and legally complete the surrogacy process.

Here, find an overview of basic surrogacy laws in Virginia.

Is surrogacy permitted in Virginia?

Virginia statutes allow for gestational surrogacy contracts. This statute also states that egg and sperm donors are not legally recognized as parents of the resulting child.

Can surrogates be compensated in Virginia?

Surrogate compensation is limited to medical and ancillary expenses.

Do Virginia courts grant pre-birth parentage orders?

Virginia courts will not grant pre-birth parentage orders. Instead, a series of affidavits will be signed and filed three days after the baby’s birth to establish parentage. This is an administrative procedure rather than a court procedure, so nothing needs to be filed with the court or signed by a judge, and a court hearing will not be necessary.

 
There are a number of factors that can impact the legal requirements for your adoption or surrogacy experience. It is important to work with an experienced ART or adoption attorney who understands legal nuances and can ensure the process is completed according to all Virginia laws.

Whether you are interested in adding to your family, making an adoption plan for your baby, or becoming a gestational surrogate, Peter Wiernicki can provide the care, guidance and information you need to reach your adoption or surrogacy goals. For more information about surrogacy and adoption laws in Virginia, contact Peter to schedule a free consultation.