In domestic adoptions most children who are not babies are placed through the public agencies, city and county Department of Social Services. These children come into the public system and are placed by the Court as a result of abuse and neglect. Children tend to be older, frequently having spent a few years in foster care before being freed for adoption.
Many families in Tysons Corner, VA ask me if they should become foster parents to adopt. The answer is that a foster parent is agreeing to be a temporary care giver. While foster parenting has its own rewards, by being a foster parent, you are entering into a contract not to keep the child. In most cases, the county is required to spend time rehabilitating the parent and attempting to reunite the parents and child. Foster parents have very limited legal rights to their foster child such as to receiving notice of court hearings.
Many foster parents eventually do adopt their foster children. The child or children are often with them while the county attempts to rehabilitate the parents. In Virginia, the foster family often awaits the legal case that often goes through two trials and an appellate review, a period often lasting two to three years. The child has bonded with the foster family and they are the obvious choice for the county to choose to adopt the child.
Many families see children on Wednesday’s Child on TV or see the online pictures books from AdoptUSKids.com or Virginia AREVA. In order to be able to express an interest in a particular child or to obtain further information on the child, you are going to need to obtain a home study. That home study is your ticket allowing you to proceed. You may have you home study conducted without cost by the public agency or you may go to a private licensed child-placing agency and pay to have one more quickly conducted.
Public agencies usually charge no fees for their service if you are adopting a child form the public system.
In order to encourage families to adopt children from foster care, a subsidy-a monetary payment often equivalent to the foster care payment-may be available until the child turns eighteen. Additionally, there may be a substantial tax credit available by adopting a harder to place child.
The legal process in Virginia follows the same procedures as with a private licensed agency. In most cases, the child is with you at least six months prior to filing your Petition for Adoption. The court directs your agency to file a report on you and the child, a Final Order of Adoption is entered and a new birth certificate is issued with the child’s new name with you as his or her parents.
Stanton Phillips has represented many foster families and has successfully finalized over 500 adoptions of children who were in the foster care system or received an adoption subsidy. He has helped families establish proper financial resources for the child through subsidy negotiations and when negotiations failed, he has litigated the financial issues through both the administrative process and through the courts.