Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - West Virginia

Date: May 2019

Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-22-501; 48-22-502; 48-22-701; Code of State Rules § 78-2-23

The petition for adoption may be filed at any time after the child who is the subject of the adoption is born, the adoptive placement determined, and all consents or relinquishments that can be obtained have been executed. The hearing on the petition may be held no sooner than 45 days after the filing of the petition and only after the child has lived with the adoptive parent or parents for 6 months, proper notice of the petition has been given, and all necessary consents or relinquishments have been executed and submitted or the rights of all nonconsenting birth parents have otherwise been terminated.

The petition shall be verified and set forth the following:

  • The name, age, and place of residence of the petitioner or petitioners and of the child and the name by which the child shall be known
  • A full description of any property possessed by the child
  • Whether the petitioners know the identity of the persons entitled to parental rights or that those persons are unknown to the petitioners
  • Whether and on what basis the parental rights of any birth parents should be terminated during the pendency of the adoption petition

No sooner than 6 months after the child has resided continuously in the home of the petitioner or petitioners, the court shall decree the adoption if it determines the following:

  • That no person retains parental rights in the child, except the petitioner and the petitioner's spouse, or the joint petitioners
  • That all applicable provisions of this article have been complied with
  • That the petitioners are fit persons to adopt the child
  • That it is in the best interests of the child to order such adoption

In regulation: An agency offering intercountry adoption services shall do the following:

  • Establish a written protocol that describes the process for handling intercountry placement and placement disruptions that provides for the well-being of the child, including an alternate placement plan
  • Establish a written protocol that complies with the U.S. immigration laws and the laws of the sending country and protects the rights of the child and birth parents
  • Seek legal counsel when necessary

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-22-401; 48-22-502

Whenever a person delivers a child for adoption, the person first receiving such child and the prospective adopting parent or parents shall be entitled to receive from the person a written recital of all known circumstances surrounding the birth, medical and family medical history of the child, and an itemization of any facts or circumstances unknown concerning the child's parentage or that may require further development in the form of an affidavit from the birth mother consistent with the provisions of § 48-22-502.

The adoption petition shall set forth any facts concerning the circumstances of the birth of the child known to the petitioner or petitioners. An effort shall be made to obtain medical and social information. That information, along with all nonidentifying information about the birth, shall accompany the petition and be made a part of the nonidentifying information to be sealed in the court file.

Either the petition, the various consents or relinquishments attached thereto or filed in the case, the affidavit of the birth mother as set forth herein or in an appendix signed by counsel or other credible persons shall fully disclose all that is known about the parentage of the child.

Background Studies

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-16

An agency shall conduct a comprehensive written home study with the prospective adoptive parents and all household members prior to placing a child in the home, including a minimum of one individual in-person interview for each parent and two joint interviews. The study shall describe and evaluate aspects of the home and family and shall include the following:

  • The composition of the household and intrafamily relationships
  • The family's attitudes, values, and level of understanding of child development
  • The family decision-making process, including descriptive examples
  • The manner in which the family handles conflict, stress, and frustration, including descriptive examples
  • Individual and family hobbies, recreation, community activities, and social life
  • The family's values and attitudes and how they relate in the community and to religious, ethnic, and cultural differences
  • Each parent's personal history, attitudes, feelings, and values
  • The parent's financial situation
  • The parent's motivation to become adoptive parents
  • An assessment of the adoptive parent's ability and willingness to make a lifetime commitment to the adopted child and their understanding of the legal rights of the adopted child

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 48-22-701

Between the time of the filing of the adoption petition and the adoption hearing, the court shall cause a discreet inquiry to be made to determine whether the child is a proper subject for adoption and whether the home of the petitioners is a suitable home for the child. Any such inquiry shall be made by any suitable and discreet person not related to either the persons previously entitled to parental rights or the adoptive parents or by an agency designated by the court, and the results shall be submitted to the court prior to or upon the hearing on the petition and shall be filed with the records of the proceeding. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • A description of the family members, including medical and employment histories
  • A physical description of the home and surroundings
  • A description of the adjustment of the child and family
  • Personal references
  • Other information deemed necessary by the court, which may include a criminal background investigation

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code § 48-22-703

Upon the entry of an order of adoption, any person previously entitled to parental rights, any parent or parents by any previous legal adoption, and the lineal or collateral kindred of any such person or parent shall be divested of all legal rights, including the right of inheritance from or through the adopted child, and shall be divested of all obligations in respect to the adopted child, and the said adopted child shall be free from all legal obligations, including obedience and maintenance, in respect to any such person, parent, or parents.

From and after the entry of an order of adoption, the adopted child shall be, to all intents and for all purposes, the legitimate issue of the person or persons so adopting him or her and shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a natural child of such adopting parent or parents.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: §§ 48-22-702; 16-5-16; 16-5-18(h)

Immediately upon the entry of an order of adoption, the court shall direct the clerk to make and deliver to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics a certificate that includes the following:

  • The date and place of birth of the child, if known
  • The name of the mother of the child, if known, and the name of the legal or determined father of the child, if known
  • The name by which the child previously was known
  • The names and addresses of the adopting parents
  • The name by which the child is to be thereafter known
  • Any other information from the record of the adoption proceedings that may be required by law and will enable the State registrar to carry out his or her duties

Upon receipt of the certificate, the State registrar shall issue and deliver by mail to the adopting parents at their last-known address and to the clerk of the county commission of the county wherein such order of adoption was entered a birth certificate in the form prescribed by law, except that the name of the child shown in said certificate shall be the name given him or her by the order of adoption.

When a court of competent jurisdiction has entered an order of adoption in this State, it shall require the preparation of a certificate of adoption on a form prescribed and furnished by the State registrar. The certificate of adoption shall be certified by the clerk of the court and shall provide the following:

  • Facts necessary to locate and identify the 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 and place of birth
  • Information necessary to establish a new certificate of birth of the adopted person
  • Information sufficient to identify the order of adoption

Each petitioner shall furnish the information necessary to prepare the certificate of adoption. The court may require any social service or welfare agency or any person having knowledge of the facts to provide the additional information as may be necessary to complete the certificate of adoption.

When the State registrar receives a certificate of adoption or amendment of an order of adoption for a person born in a foreign country, and the person was not a U.S. citizen at the time of birth, the State registrar shall prepare a 'certificate of foreign birth' as provided by § 16-5-18(h). If the person was born in Canada, the State registrar shall send a copy of the certificate of adoption to the registration authority in Canada.

Upon receipt of the necessary documentation, the State registrar shall prepare and register a certificate in this State for a person born in a foreign country who is not a U.S. citizen and who was adopted through a court of competent jurisdiction in this State. The State registrar shall establish the certificate upon receipt of the following:

  • A certificate of adoption from the court ordering the adoption
  • Proof of the date and place of the child's birth
  • A request that the certificate be prepared from the court, the adopting parents, or the adopted person who age 18 or older

The certificate shall be labeled 'certificate of foreign birth' and shall show the actual country of birth. The certificate shall include a statement that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.