Domestic Adoption Process
1) Pre-Application – A family interested in applying to our agency for the domestic, infant adoption program should complete the brief Pre-Application Form (available online) and return it to Family Life Services. There is no cost for submitting this document and it is used as an initial screening process to save couples time, effort, and expense, as FLS determines if the couple appears to meet the basic application criteria. A couple should review the Adoption Standards and Fees in detail before making the decision to submit a pre-application. The agency will then instruct the couple to complete the full application, if it appears the couple is eligible for application.
2) Application – A full application is available online and should be completed and returned to the office with a $150 non-refundable application fee. Within 30 days of receipt, the Director of FLS and the Executive Board will review the application and the couple will be informed of the agency’s decision. If an application is declined, we will make every effort to assist in providing referrals to other adoption agencies that might be better able to assist the family.
3) Home Study – If the application is accepted, a home study may begin prior to the Adoption Training Weekend. For Virginia families, FLS is happy to conduct this study which includes three face-to-face meetings with the prospective adoptive couple and an adoption caseworker, with at least one meeting taking place in the couple’s residence and at least one meeting with any other people living in the home (children or adults). For families living outside of Virginia, the couple must seek a licensed child-placing agency to complete the home study and provide post-placement supervision in the adoptive home.
4) Adoption Training Weekend – In order to become eligible to be considered for adoption by expectant parents working with FLS, all couples must attend an FLS Training Weekend (Friday – Saturday). All aspects of adoption are addressed including legal, financial, emotional and social issues pertaining to the adoptive family, birth family, and adopted child. Prospective adoptive families are also given the opportunity to hear individual presentations, panel discussions and are able to interact with other couples who are in this phase of their adoption journey. A fee of $275 is charged to cover agency expenses for this seminar, which is held annually. Space is limited and applicants are invited in the order in which the applications were approved.
5) Completion of Waiting Family File – Before a prospective adoptive family can be considered for a possible adoption placement, they must complete all training/educational requirements and all required documents must be submitted to the agency’s file. This includes, but is not limited to, the home study, FBI background clearances, statement of Christian faith, financial verification documents, employment verification, references, supplemental agency documents, and a photo profile. Upon submission of all documents, the couple will create and submit a photo profile which will be presented to expectant parents.
6) Selection for Adoption Placement – An adoptive family for a child is chosen by the expectant parent(s) after reviewing non-identifying photo profiles. Many birth parents desire to meet and talk to prospective adoptive couples in whom they may be interested, before the child is born to help them select a family. Adoption agency staff members facilitate these meetings and, on occasion, they can be done by telephone but it is usually the preference of the birth parent(s) to meet face-to-face. After the birth of the child, the birth parents’ parental rights must be terminated prior to placement. Foster families work solely with our agency to care for the child during this transitional period between hospital discharge and placement in the adoptive home. Placement will be made after the child is at least 10 days old, after all parental rights have been addressed, and after all legal requirements concerning the adoption are resolved. This transitional process is used to eliminate any legal risk to the placement once the child has been placed with the adoptive parents.
7) Placement of a Child – On placement day, a special ceremony and luncheon may be held to celebrate the creation of a new adoptive family. Often, birth parents choose to participate in placement day and the agency can work to plan this time so it is memorable for all parties. After the adoption, FLS supervises the placement (directly or through the home study agency) for a period of approximately six months. During this time, FLS staff or a representative of the home study agency will make at least three visits to the home to ensure the placement is going smoothly and provide post-placement support and resources. The first and last of these visits must be separated by a minimum of 90 days.
8) Finalizing the Adoption – The finalization process involves efforts by the court, attorney, agency, and adoptive family. No court appearances or travel to Virginia is required to complete finalization proceedings. Following completion of all supervisory visits, the paperwork for finalization takes approximately four to six months. When the finalization process is complete, a new birth certificate will be issued with the adoptive parents’ and child’s name on it. When received, this new birth certificate can be used to file for a Social Security Number for the child.
9) Post-Adoption Services – FLS is available to provide post-adoption counseling or assist with finding adoption resources at any time following the adoption placement. There are special events held throughout the year that are designed to help adoptive families stay connected with the agency and information for on-going education and support is made available through ongoing training opportunities and social networking efforts. Individual consultations/adoption coaching is available at any time to the adoptive family, birth family, or adopted person.