By definition, adoption is “the act of establishing a person as parent to one who is not in fact or by law their child.
At the law firm of Jennifer Oram-Smith Family Law we counsel and represent individuals in stepparent and close-relative adoptions.
Whether you are a stepparent, a foster parent or a grandparent, giving a child the gift of a family by adopting that child is a very special and important event. We will consult with you on your options and guide you through the process of adopting your stepchild or close relative.
Adoptions occur between related or unrelated individuals. An example would be adoption of a natural child of your spouse or adoption by the grandparent’s, or a close relative of a child such as brother or sister of a birth parent.
Stepparent adoption is one of the most common forms of adoption. It is fairly uncomplicated if the birth parent is deceased or unknown.
Under Virginia law, a step-parent wishing to adopt a child of his or her spouse must file a petition for adoption in circuit court seeking to adopt the child. Under optimal conditions, if the other birth parent of the child consents in writing or is deceased, the court can proceed with immediate finalization of the adoption without referral of the matter for further investigation.
The adoption petition must also state whether the name of the child is to be changed. The court may decide to appoint a Guardian ad litem for the child during the process.
Adoption of children by unrelated individuals can occur in several ways. The laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia allow for agency or non-agency placements. See examples listed below.
Examples of Adoptions by Unrelated Persons:
Foster Parent Adoption
Non-agency adoptions (also called parental, independent, direct or private adoptions)
Public agency placements such as the Department of Social Services
A child may be placed for adoption by:
1. A licensed, duly authorized child-placing agency.
2. A local board.
3. The child’s parent or legal guardian if the placement is a parental placement.
4. Any agency outside the Commonwealth that is licensed or otherwise duly authorized to place children for adoption by virtue of the laws under which it operates.
The laws pertaining to Adoption in Virginia Beach, Virginia are complex. The state of Virginia established the laws to set standards for determining what is in the best interest of the child. Navigating through the process of adopting a child can be confusing and emotionally draining. Assessment of the individual seeking to adopt, obtaining consent of a parent to relinquish parental rights, and navigating through cases where consent is not obtained can all seem very daunting. Our Family Law practice will competently and compassionately guide you through the entire process.