Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - Virginia

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Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2-1104; 63.2-1221; 63.2-1227; 63.2-1228; 63.2-1209; 63.2-1213

Any child-placing agency or court that brings a nonresident child into Virginia for the purpose of an interstate placement shall comply with the regulations adopted by the State Board of Social Services for the administration of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Intercountry placements made by licensed child-placing agencies, courts, or other entities are subject to regulations prescribed by the board.

A licensed child-placing agency or local board may place for adoption, and is empowered to consent to the adoption of, any child who is properly committed or entrusted to its care when the order of commitment or the entrustment agreement between the birth parent(s) and the agency or board provides for the termination of all parental rights and responsibilities with respect to the child for the purpose of placing and consenting to the adoption of the child. The entrustment agreement shall divest the birth parent(s) of all legal rights and obligations with respect to the child, and the child shall be free from all legal obligations of obedience and maintenance with respect to them.

A petition for the adoption of a child placed in the physical custody of the petitioners by a child-placing agency shall be filed in the name by which the child will be known after adoption. The petition for adoption shall not state the birth name of the child or identify the birth parents, unless it is specifically stated in the agency's consent that the parties have exchanged identifying information.

Upon the filing of the petition, the circuit court shall immediately enter an order referring the case to a child-placing agency to conduct an investigation and prepare a report pursuant to § 63.2-1208. Upon entry of the order of reference, the court shall forward a copy of the petition and all exhibits thereto to the commissioner of social services and to the agency that placed the child. In cases where the child was placed by an agency in another State, or by an agency, court, or other entity in another country, the petition and all exhibits shall be forwarded to the local director or licensed child-placing agency, whichever agency completed the home study or provided supervision.

If, after considering the home study or any required report, the circuit court is satisfied that all of the applicable requirements have been complied with, that the petitioner is financially able to maintain adequately, and is morally suitable and a proper person to care for and train the child, that the child is suitable for adoption by the petitioner, and that the best interests of the child will be promoted by the adoption, it shall enter an interlocutory order of adoption declaring that henceforth, subject to a probationary period, the child will be, to all intents and purposes, the child of the petitioner. If the petition includes a request for a change of the child's name and the circuit court is satisfied that such change is in the best interests of the child, upon entry of final order, the name of the child shall be changed.

After consideration of the report made pursuant to § 63.2-1212, if the circuit court is satisfied that the best interests of the child will be served thereby, the circuit court shall enter the final order of adoption. However, a final order of adoption shall not be entered until information has been furnished by the petitioner in compliance with § 32.1-262, unless the circuit court, for good cause shown, finds the information to be unavailable or unnecessary. An attested copy of every final order of adoption shall be forwarded, by the clerk of the circuit court in which it was entered, to the commissioner and to the child-placing agency that placed the child or to the local director, in cases where the child was not placed by an agency.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2-1227; 32.1-262

A petition for the adoption must be followed by the registration number of the child's original birth certificate and the State or country in which the registration occurred, unless it is verified by the Registrar of Vital Statistics of the State or country of birth that such information is not available. In the case of a child born in another country, an affidavit by a representative of the child-placing agency that a birth certificate number is not available may be substituted for verification by a Registrar of Vital Statistics for that country.

The report of investigation required by § 63.2-1208 and, when applicable, the report required by § 63.2-1212 shall be identified with the child's name as it appears on the birth certificate, the birth registration number, and the name by which the child is to be known after the final order of adoption is entered.

Information in the possession of the petitioner necessary to prepare the report of adoption shall be furnished with the petition for adoption by each petitioner for adoption or by his or her attorney. In all cases in which a child is placed for adoption by a child-placing agency, the report shall be completed and filed with the court by a representative of the agency. A final order of adoption shall not be entered until the information required by this section has been furnished, unless the court, for good cause shown, finds the information to be unavailable or unnecessary.

Background Studies

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1208

Upon consideration of the petition, the circuit court shall immediately enter an order referring the case to a child-placing agency to conduct an investigation and prepare a report, unless no investigation is required pursuant to this chapter. The court shall enter the order of reference prior to or concurrently with the entering of an order of publication, if such is necessary. Upon entry of the order of reference, the clerk shall forward a copy of the order of reference, the petition, and all exhibits thereto to the commissioner and the child-placing agency retained to provide investigative, reporting, and supervisory services.

The investigation requested by the circuit court shall include, in addition to other inquiries that the circuit court may require the child-placing agency or local director to make, inquiries as to the following:

  • Whether the petitioner is financially able, morally suitable, in satisfactory physical and mental health, and a proper person to care for and to train the child
  • What the physical and mental condition of the child is
  • Why the parents, if living, desire to be relieved of the responsibility for the custody, care, and maintenance of the child and what their attitude is toward the proposed adoption
  • Whether the parents have abandoned the child or are morally unfit to have custody over him or her
  • The circumstances under which the child came to live, and is living, in the physical custody of the petitioner
  • Whether the child is a suitable child for adoption by the petitioner
  • What fees have been paid by the petitioners or on their behalf to persons or agencies that have assisted them in obtaining the child

Any report made to the circuit court shall include a recommendation as to the action to be taken by the circuit court on the petition. A copy of any report made to the circuit court shall be furnished to the counsel of record representing the adopting parent or parents.

The report shall include the relevant physical and mental history of the birth parents, if known to the person making the report. The child-placing agency or local director shall document in the report all efforts they made to encourage birth parents to share information related to their physical and mental history. However, nothing in this subsection shall require that an investigation of the physical and mental history of the birth parents be made.

The report shall include a statement by the child-placing agency or local director that all reasonably ascertainable background, medical, and psychological records of the child, including whether the child has been the subject of an investigation as the perpetrator of sexual abuse, have been provided to the prospective adoptive parent(s). The report also shall include a list of such records provided.

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1212

After the entry of an interlocutory order of adoption, if the child was placed by an agency, court, or other entity in another country, the local director or licensed child-placing agency, whichever agency completed the home study or provided supervision, shall cause or have caused the child to be visited at least three times within a period of 6 months by an agent of the agency. Whenever practicable, such visits shall be made within the 6-month period immediately following the date upon which the child was placed in the physical care of the adoptive parents or of entry of the interlocutory order; however, no less than 90 days shall elapse between the first visit and the last visit.

The agency shall make a written report to the circuit court, in such form as the commissioner may prescribe, of the findings made pursuant to such visitations. A copy of the report to the circuit court shall be furnished to the counsel of record for the parties and the commissioner.

The three supervisory visits shall be conducted in the presence of the child. At least one such visit shall be conducted in the home of the petitioners in the presence of the child and both petitioners, unless the petition was filed by a single parent or one of the petitioners is no longer residing in the home.

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1215

The birth parents, and the parents by previous adoption, if any, shall, by final order of adoption, be divested of all legal rights and obligations in respect to the child, including the right to petition any court for visitation with the child. Any person whose interest in the child derives from or through the birth parent or previous adoptive parent, including, but not limited to, grandparents, stepparents, former stepparents, blood relatives, and family members shall, by final order of adoption, be divested of all legal rights and obligations in respect to the child, including the right to petition any court for visitation with the child. In all cases, the child shall be free from all legal obligations of obedience and maintenance in respect to such persons divested of legal rights.

Any child adopted under the provisions of this chapter shall, from and after the entry of the interlocutory order or from and after the entry of the final order when no such interlocutory order is entered, be, to all intents and purposes, the child of the person or persons so adopting him or her and, unless and until such interlocutory order or final order is subsequently revoked, shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges, and subject to all the obligations, of a child of such person or persons born in lawful wedlock. An adopted person is the child of an adopting parent, and, as such, the adopting parent shall be entitled to testify in all cases civil and criminal, as if the adopted child was born of the adopting parent in lawful wedlock.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2-1220; 63.2-1220.01; 32.1-261; 32.1-262

For the purpose of securing a new birth certificate for a child adopted pursuant to the laws of the Commonwealth, the procedures set forth in § 32.1-262 shall be followed.

A circuit court may, as part of a proceeding for the adoption of a child born in a foreign country or upon petition to amend a certificate of birth for a person born in a foreign country, correct or establish a date of birth for such person. In cases in which adoptive parents are unable to ascertain the date of birth of the child or in which medical evidence indicates that the stated date of birth of the child is incorrect, the court may establish a corrected date of birth based on medical evidence of the child's actual age, and the State Registrar of Vital Records shall issue a certificate of birth pursuant to § 32.1-261 showing the date of birth established by the court.

The State registrar shall, upon request, establish and register a Virginia certificate of birth for a person born in a foreign country upon receipt of a report or final order of adoption entered in a court of the Commonwealth, as provided in § 32.1-262. If a circuit court corrects or establishes a date of birth for a person born in a foreign country during the adoption proceedings or upon a petition to amend a certificate of foreign birth, the State registrar shall issue a certificate showing the date of birth established by the court. The birth certificate shall (i) show the true or probable foreign country of birth and (ii) state that the certificate is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the child for whom it is issued or for the adoptive parents. However, for any adopted person who has attained U.S. citizenship, the State registrar shall, upon request and receipt of evidence demonstrating such citizenship, establish and register a new certificate of birth that does not contain the statement required by clause (ii).

For each adoption decreed by a court in this Commonwealth, the court shall require the preparation of a report of adoption on a form furnished by the State registrar. The report shall do the following:

  • Include such facts as are necessary to locate and identify the original certificate of birth of the person adopted or, in the case of a person who was born in a foreign country, evidence from sources determined to be reliable by the court as to the date, place of birth, and parentage of the person
  • Provide information necessary to establish a new certificate of birth of the person adopted
  • Identify the order of adoption and be certified by the clerk of court

When the State registrar receives a report of adoption from a court for a person born in a foreign country, a birth certificate shall be registered for such person in accordance with the provisions of § 32.1-261, and a copy of the report of adoption shall be transmitted to the appropriate Federal agency.