Adoption is just as exciting as pregnancy and birth, but the fact that it is a legal process makes it much more complicated. This is why, if you have decided to adopt, the first thing you should do is find a first-rate family law attorney you can connect with on a personal level.
Whether you want to adopt an infant, a child, or someone older, whether you want to adopt from this country or another, whether you are part of a couple (gay or straight) or want to be a single parent, whether you already have children or not, if you live in Northern Virginia, the caring, competent family law attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC are the ones to call. We will provide you with the time and attention you need, drafting any necessary documents, clarifying any legal matters that confuse you, and generally guiding you towards a successful, joyful conclusion of the adoption process.
You are not, after all, considering buying a piece of property or making a business contract, you are beginning a journey that will create your own family or change the constellation of your current one. This is why you need an attorney who has in-depth knowledge of family law in Virginia. More than that, you need a family law attorney who is as committed as you are to making this tremendous change in your life proceed as smoothly as possible.
Reasons For Adoption
There are a great many very good reasons for wanting to adopt. These include:
- Danger of pregnancy due to a medical condition
- Genetic defects that may be passed on
- Wanting to be a single parent
- Being a same-sex couple who wants a child
- Wanting to give a needy child a loving home
- Wanting to help a pregnant woman who isn’t in a position to raise a child
- Wanting to have a racially or ethnically diverse family
- Wanting to adopt your stepchild or foster child
- Wanting to adopt the child of a surrogate
- Wanting to adopt an adult with whom you have a longstanding parent-child relationship
- Wanting to avoid contributing to overpopulation
- Wanting to duplicate the positive experience you’ve had with your own adoptive parents
Whatever your reason to adopt, Surovell Isaacs & Levy is eager to help bring you the joy we have brought to so many others.
Virginia Adoption Laws
Because adoption laws vary from state to state in such matters as residency requirements and the age at which the child’s consent is required for the adoption to proceed, it is important that you have an attorney who knows the intricacies of adoption law in Virginia. Our practice has worked on Virginia adoptions for over 25 years so we are acquainted with all the finer points of adoption law here. Because state laws change over time, all of the attorneys in our firm make sure to keep current with any changes.
In order to adopt, you must be 21 years of age or older, financially stable, responsible, and not be a felon convicted of a violent crime or a crime involving a child. Virginia adoption laws require a 6-month home residency period prior to finalization of adoption and require the consent of children 14 and older. Also, if you are a married individual, your spouse must give legal consent for the adoption to take place.
How to Adopt a Child in Virginia
There are two types of adoptions in Virginia: agency placements and non-agency placements. An example of a non-agency placement would be a direct agreement between the birth mother and the adoptive parent(s). Adoption in Virginia involves a home residency of the child with the prospective parents for 6 months— a kind of trial period — before the adoption can be finalized.
Once you become a client of Surovell Isaacs & Levy, we will assist you in navigating a successful adoption, from helping you to locate the child you want to adopt to making that child a permanent part of your family. Since a legal adoption must go through the courts, it is crucial to have a family law attorney to help you through the process. We will not only help you with all legal forms and hearings, but we will also support you through the challenging time between when you fall in love with the child you want to adopt and the moment that child is officially yours.
Many people feel called upon to adopt a child from another country because they want to establish a diverse family or because they feel impelled to take a child out of poverty and give that child a life of comfort and abundance. The ten countries Americans most frequently adopt from are:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- South Korea
It is important to remember that in order to qualify for an international adoption, you must meet not only the U.S. requirements for adoption but the requirements of the child’s native country as well.
Adoption Is a Serious Matter
Adoption is a complex legal process, deliberately complex and difficult to maneuver because it involves (in most cases) the well-being of a vulnerable infant or young child. The court will gather information pertaining to everything from the child’s ethnicity and possible birth siblings to whether the birth mother took any drugs during her pregnancy. Depending on the child’s age, the court will also consider academic records, social interactions, personality, special needs, and the reason the child is being given up for adoption. In other words, the court will do its absolute best to make certain that the adoption will have a positive effect on the child’s life.
Investigation of the Home of the Petitioners
In addition to carefully examining paperwork from both the biological and adoptive parents, the court will issue a document known as The Order of Reference. This document requires that the home of the prospective parents be investigated to determine whether it provides a suitable environment for the child, both in terms of external conditions (e.g. sanitation, size of living quarters, dangerous pets, maintenance of premises) and in terms of having a warm and affectionate atmosphere. This investigative report is filed with the court along with certification that the biological parents have received counseling regarding their decision to make their child available for adoption.
The Adoption Hearing
Once our attorneys help you to file a petition with the court, a mandatory adoption hearing will be held. All interested parties, including the birth parents, representatives of the adoption agency (if one is used), and the child, if 14 years old or older, must be notified of the scheduled hearing. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy, having been through this process many times, we are well-prepared to have your adoption approved by the court in a timely fashion.
In some cases, the adoption court will designate a disinterested third party as a legal representative for the child. This person will be tasked with looking out for the child’s best interests. If the court does appoint a legal representative, that individual must also be notified of the date of the adoption hearing so he or she can be present to lobby for the child.
Contact Our Fairfax County Adoption Attorney
When considering as important a life event as adoption, you want to be very careful. Check out our credentials, reputation, and testimonials and you will be convinced that our team is not only highly competent but caring and supportive. Contact us by phone or through a contact form on our website to take the first step in increasing and enriching your family.