As stated by the Supreme Court of Virginia, “there is no proceeding that can be as awesome, or is as final, as a proceeding for the adoption of a child.” Shank v. Dep’t of Social Svc’s of City of Virginia Beach, 217 Va. 506 (1976). Such a sentiment is fitting when one considers that adoption, while usually a joyous and fulfilling occasion for the adopting party or parties on the one hand, necessarily involves the complete and total severance of the rights of a natural parent or parents on the other.
The laws and the public policy of Virginia generally recognize the legal relationship of a child to his or her natural parents as a sacred institution. As a result of that legal framework, and because of the finality with which adoptions terminate the relationship between child and natural parent, courts in Virginia will not permit an adoption unless parties have strictly complied with a number of complex processes and procedures.
In certain, “uncontested” cases, biological parents consent to an adoption, such as is often the circumstance in “stepparent adoptions,” or where a parent has previously placed a child into foster care or with an adoption agency. In situations such as those, the complexity of the adoption process is somewhat tempered by the cooperation of the parties and/or governmental agencies involved. However, not all would-be adoptive parents enjoy the luxury of cooperation, and not all biological parents are willing to consent to the termination of their relationship with their child. Often adoption cases require contested litigation in court, and result in extensive investigation and involvement by local social services departments and other governmental agencies.
Whether you seek to become an adoptive parent of a step-child, to officially adopt a child to whom you are a grandparent or close relative, to start or add to your family through adoption, or are a biological parent seeking to prevent an adoption that you feel is not in your child’s best interest, competent and committed legal counsel can help you navigate the intricate legal processes involved. Please contact us for information and assistance.