Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 63.2. Welfare (Social Services)
Chapter 12. Adoption
10/22/2021

Article 3. Parental Placement Adoptions.

§ 63.2-1230. Placement of children by parent or guardian.

The birth parent, legal guardian, or adoptive parent of a child may place his child for adoption directly with the adoptive parents of his choice. Consent to the proposed adoption shall be executed upon compliance with the provisions of this chapter before a juvenile and domestic relations district court or, if the birth parent or legal guardian does not reside in Virginia, before a court having jurisdiction over child custody matters in the jurisdiction where the birth parent or legal guardian resides when requested by a juvenile and domestic relations district court of this Commonwealth, pursuant to § 20-146.11. Consent proceedings shall be advanced on the juvenile and domestic relations district court docket so as to be heard by the court within ten days of filing of the petition, or as soon thereafter as practicable so as to provide the earliest possible disposition.

1989, c. 647, § 63.1-220.3; 1991, cc. 364, 602; 1992, c. 125; 1993, cc. 338, 553; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 1999, c. 1028; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.37; 2001, c. 305; 2002, c. 747; 2009, c. 805.

§ 63.2-1231. Home study; meeting required; exception.

A. Prior to the consent hearing in the juvenile and domestic relations district court, a home study of the adoptive parent(s) shall be completed by a licensed or duly authorized child-placing agency and the prospective adoptive parents shall be informed that information about shaken baby syndrome, its effects, and resources for help and support for caretakers is available on a website maintained by the Department in accordance with regulations adopted by the Board. Home studies by local boards shall be conducted in accordance with the Mutual Family Assessment home study template and any addenda thereto developed by the Department. All home studies conducted pursuant to this section, whether by a local board or a child-placing agency, shall make inquiry as to (i) whether the prospective adoptive parents are financially able, morally suitable, and in satisfactory physical and mental health to enable them to care for the child; (ii) the physical and mental condition of the child, if known; (iii) the circumstances under which the child came to live, or will be living, in the home of the prospective adoptive family, as applicable; (iv) what fees have been paid by the prospective adoptive family or in their behalf in the placement and adoption of the child; (v) whether the requirements of subdivisions A 1, A 2, A 3, and A 5 of § 63.2-1232 have been met; and (vi) any other matters specified by the circuit court. In the course of the home study, the agency social worker, family-services specialist, or other qualified equivalent worker shall meet at least once with the birth parent(s) and at least once with the prospective adoptive parents. Upon agreement of both parties, such meetings may occur simultaneously or separately.

B. Any home study conducted pursuant to this section for the purpose of parental placement or agency placement shall be valid for a period of 36 months from the date of completion of the study. However, the Board may, by regulation, require an additional state criminal background check before finalizing an adoption if more than 18 months have passed from the completion of the home study.

1989, c. 647, § 63.1-220.3; 1991, cc. 364, 602; 1992, c. 125; 1993, cc. 338, 553; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 1999, c. 1028; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.38; 2002, c. 747; 2006, cc. 825, 848; 2007, c. 808; 2008, c. 494; 2010, c. 551; 2014, c. 285; 2017, c. 193.

§ 63.2-1232. Requirements of a parental placement adoption; exception.

A. The juvenile and domestic relations district court shall not accept consent until it determines that:

1. The birth parent(s) are aware of alternatives to adoption, adoption procedures, and opportunities for placement with other adoptive families, and that the birth parents' consent is informed and uncoerced.

2. A licensed or duly authorized child-placing agency has counseled the prospective adoptive parents with regard to alternatives to adoption, adoption procedures, including the need to address the parental rights of birth parents, the procedures for terminating such rights, and opportunities for adoption of other children; that the prospective adoptive parents' decision is informed and uncoerced; and that they intend to file an adoption petition and proceed toward a final order of adoption.

3. The birth parent(s) and adoptive parents have exchanged identifying information including but not limited to full names, addresses, physical, mental, social and psychological information and any other information necessary to promote the welfare of the child, unless both parties agree in writing to waive the disclosure of full names and addresses.

4. Any financial agreement or exchange of property among the parties and any fees charged or paid for services related to the placement or adoption of the child have been disclosed to the court and that all parties understand that no binding contract regarding placement or adoption of the child exists.

5. There has been no violation of the provisions of § 63.2-1218 in connection with the placement; however, if it appears there has been such violation, the court shall not reject consent of the birth parent to the adoption for that reason alone but shall report the alleged violation as required by § 63.2-1219.

6. A licensed or duly authorized child-placing agency has conducted a home study of the prospective adoptive home in accordance with regulations established by the Board and, in the case of home studies by local boards, in accordance with the Mutual Family Assessment home study template and any addenda thereto developed by the Department, and has provided to the court a report of such home study, which shall contain the agency's recommendation regarding the suitability of the placement. A married couple or an unmarried individual shall be eligible to receive placement of a child for adoption.

7. The birth parent(s) have been informed of their opportunity to be represented by legal counsel.

B. The juvenile and domestic relations district court shall not accept the consent if the requirements of subsection A have not been met. In such cases, it shall refer the birth parent to a licensed or duly authorized child-placing agency for investigation and recommendation in accordance with §§ 63.2-1208 and 63.2-1238. If the juvenile and domestic relations district court determines that any of the parties is financially unable to obtain the required services, it shall refer the matter to the local director.

C. In cases in which a birth parent who resides in the Commonwealth places his child for adoption with adoptive parents in another state and the laws of that receiving state govern the proceeding for adoption, the birth parent may elect to waive the execution of consent pursuant to § 63.2-1233 and instead execute consent to the adoption pursuant to the laws of the receiving state. Any waiver of consent made pursuant to this subsection shall be made under oath and in writing, and shall expressly state that the birth parent has received independent legal counsel from an attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia advising him of the laws of the Commonwealth, the laws of the receiving state pursuant to which he elects to consent to the adoption, and the effects of his waiver of consent pursuant to § 63.2-1233 and election to consent pursuant to the laws of the receiving state. Any waiver of consent and election to consent pursuant to the laws of a receiving state shall include the name, address, and telephone number of such legal counsel. Failure to comply with this section shall render a waiver of consent pursuant to § 63.2-1233 and election to consent pursuant to the laws of the receiving state as authorized by this subsection invalid.

D. When consent to a parental placement adoption is sought pursuant to this article and the prospective adoptive parent(s) have had continuous physical and legal custody of the child for five or more years, the juvenile and domestic relations district court may, in its discretion, accept consent without (i) a home study as required by subsection A of § 63.2-1231 and subdivision A 6 of this section and (ii) the meeting and counseling requirements, as they relate to the prospective adoptive parent(s), listed in subsection A of § 63.2-1231 and subdivision A 2 of this section. All other provisions of the parental placement adoption statutes shall apply.

1989, c. 647, § 63.1-220.3; 1991, cc. 364, 602; 1992, c. 125; 1993, cc. 338, 553; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 1999, c. 1028; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.39; 2002, c. 747; 2006, cc. 654, 825, 848; 2010, c. 276; 2015, c. 529; 2017, c. 193.

§ 63.2-1233. Consent to be executed in juvenile and domestic relations district court; exceptions.

When the juvenile and domestic relations district court is satisfied that all requirements of § 63.2-1232 have been met with respect to at least one birth parent and the adoptive child is at least in the third calendar day of life, that birth parent or both birth parents, as the case may be, shall execute consent to the proposed adoption in compliance with the provisions of § 63.2-1202 while before the juvenile and domestic relations district court in person and in the presence of the prospective adoptive parents. The juvenile and domestic relations district court shall accept the consent of the birth parent(s) and transfer custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents, pending notification to any nonconsenting birth parent, as described hereinafter.

1. a. The execution of consent before the juvenile and domestic relations district court shall not be required of a birth father if the birth father consents under oath and in writing to the adoption.

b. The consent of a birth father who is not married to the mother of the child at the time of the child's conception or birth shall not be required if the putative father named by the birth mother denies under oath and in writing the paternity of the child or if the putative father did not register with the Virginia Birth Father Registry pursuant to Article 7 (§ 63.2-1249 et seq.) of this chapter. If the identity of the birth father is reasonably ascertainable, but the whereabouts of the birth father are not reasonably ascertainable, verification of compliance with the Virginia Birth Father Registry shall be provided to the court.

c. When a birth father is required to be given notice, he may be given notice of the adoption by registered or certified mail to his last known address and if he fails to object to the adoption within 15 days of the mailing of such notice, his consent shall not be required. An objection shall be in writing, signed by the objecting party or counsel of record for the objecting party and shall be filed with the clerk of the juvenile and domestic relations district court in which the petition was filed during the business day of the court, within the time period specified in this section. When no timely objection is filed, no hearing on this issue is required. Failure of the objecting party to appear at any scheduled hearing, either in person or by counsel, shall constitute a waiver of such objection.

d. The juvenile and domestic relations district court may accept the written consent of the birth father at the time of the child's conception or birth, provided that his identifying information required in § 63.2-1232 is filed in writing with the juvenile and domestic relations district court of jurisdiction. Such consent shall advise the birth father of his opportunity for legal representation, shall identify the court in which the case was or is intended to be filed, and shall be presented to the juvenile and domestic relations district court for acceptance. The consent may waive further notice of the adoption proceedings and shall contain the name, address and telephone number of the birth father's legal counsel or an acknowledgment that he was informed of his opportunity to be represented by legal counsel and declined such representation. For good cause shown, the court may dispense with the requirements regarding the filing of the birth father's identifying information pursuant to this subdivision 1. d.

e. In the event that the birth mother's consent is not executed in the juvenile and domestic relations district court, the consent of the birth father shall be executed in the juvenile and domestic relations district court.

f. A child born to a married birth mother shall be presumed to be the child of her husband and his consent shall be required, unless the court finds that the father's consent is withheld contrary to the best interests of the child as provided in § 63.2-1205 or if his consent is unobtainable. The consent of such presumed father shall be under oath and in writing and may be executed in or out of court. The presumption that the husband is the father of the child may be rebutted by sufficient evidence, satisfactory to the juvenile and domestic relations district court, which would establish by a preponderance of the evidence the paternity of another man or the impossibility or improbability of cohabitation of the birth mother and her husband for a period of at least 300 days preceding the birth of the child, in which case the husband's consent shall not be required. The executed denial of paternity by the putative father shall be sufficient to rebut the presumption that he is the father of the child. If the court is satisfied that the presumption has been rebutted, notice of the adoption shall not be required to be given to the presumed father.

2. After the application of the provisions of subdivision 1, if a birth parent is entitled to a hearing, the birth parent shall be given notice of the date and location of the hearing and be given the opportunity to appear before the juvenile and domestic relations district court. Such hearing may occur subsequent to the proceeding wherein the consenting birth parent appeared but may not be held until 15 days after personal service of notice on the nonconsenting birth parent, or if personal service is unobtainable, 10 days after the completion of the execution of an order of publication against such birth parent. The juvenile and domestic relations district court may appoint counsel for the birth parent(s). If the juvenile and domestic relations district court finds that consent is withheld contrary to the best interests of the child, as set forth in § 63.2-1205, or is unobtainable, it may grant the petition without such consent and enter an order waiving the requirement of consent of the nonconsenting birth parent and transferring custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents. No further consent or notice shall be required of a birth parent who fails to appear at any scheduled hearing, either in person or by counsel. If the juvenile and domestic relations district court denies the petition, the juvenile and domestic relations district court shall order that any consent given for the purpose of such placement shall be void and, if necessary, the court shall determine custody of the child as between the birth parents.

3. Except as provided in subdivisions 4 and 5, if consent cannot be obtained from at least one birth parent, the juvenile and domestic relations district court shall deny the petition and determine custody of the child pursuant to § 16.1-278.2.

4. If a child has been under the physical care and custody of the prospective adoptive parents and if both birth parents have failed, without good cause, to appear at a hearing to execute consent under this section for which they were given proper notice pursuant to § 16.1-264, the juvenile and domestic relations district court may grant the petition without the consent of either birth parent and enter an order waiving consent and transferring custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents. Prior to the entry of such an order, the juvenile and domestic relations district court may appoint legal counsel for the birth parents and shall find by clear and convincing evidence (i) that the birth parents were given proper notice of the hearing(s) to execute consent and of the hearing to proceed without their consent; (ii) that the birth parents failed to show good cause for their failure to appear at such hearing(s); and (iii) that pursuant to § 63.2-1205, the consent of the birth parents is withheld contrary to the best interests of the child or is unobtainable. Under this subdivision, the court or the parties may waive the requirement of the simultaneous meeting under § 63.2-1231 and the requirements of subdivisions A 1, A 3, and A 7 of § 63.2-1232 where the opportunity for compliance is not reasonably available under the applicable circumstances.

5. If both birth parents are deceased, the juvenile and domestic relations district court, after hearing evidence to that effect, may grant the petition without the filing of any consent.

6. No consent shall be required from the birth father of a child placed pursuant to this section when such father is convicted of a violation of subsection A of § 18.2-61, § 18.2-63, subsection B of § 18.2-366, or an equivalent offense of another state, the United States, or any foreign jurisdiction, and the child was conceived as a result of such violation, nor shall the birth father be entitled to notice of any of the proceedings under this section.

7. No consent shall be required of a birth father if he denies under oath and in writing the paternity of the child. Such denial of paternity may be withdrawn no more than 10 days after it is executed. Once the child is 10 days old, any executed denial of paternity is final and constitutes a waiver of all rights with the respect to the adoption of the child and cannot be withdrawn.

8. A birth father may consent to the adoption prior to the birth of the child.

9. The juvenile and domestic relations district court shall review each order entered under this section at least annually until such time as the final order of adoption is entered.

10. When there has been an interstate transfer of the child in a parental placement adoption in compliance with Chapter 10 (§ 63.2-1000 et seq.) of this title, all matters relating to the adoption of the child including, but not limited to, custody and parentage shall be determined in the court of appropriate jurisdiction in the state that was approved for finalization of the adoption by the interstate compact authorities.

1989, c. 647, § 63.1-220.3; 1991, cc. 364, 602; 1992, c. 125; 1993, cc. 338, 553; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 1999, c. 1028; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.40; 2002, c. 747; 2005, c. 890; 2006, cc. 825, 848; 2007, cc. 606, 623; 2009, c. 805; 2017, c. 200.

§ 63.2-1234. When consent is revocable.

Consent shall be revocable as follows:

1. By either consenting birth parent for any reason for up to seven days from its execution; however, such seven-day revocation period may be waived in writing at the time of consent provided that the child is at least 10 days old and the consenting birth parent acknowledges having received independent legal counsel regarding the effect of such waiver. In the case of two consenting birth parents, the waiver by one consenting birth parent shall not affect the right of the second consenting birth parent to retain his seven-day revocation period.

a. Such revocation shall be in writing, signed by the revoking party or counsel of record for the revoking party and shall be filed with the clerk of the juvenile and domestic relations district court in which the petition was filed during the business day of the juvenile and domestic relations district court, within the time period specified in this section. If the revocation period expires on a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or any day on which the clerk's office is closed as authorized by statute, the revocation period shall be extended to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or other day on which the clerk's office is closed as authorized by statute.

b. Upon the filing of a valid revocation within the time period set out in this section, the juvenile and domestic relations district court shall order that any consent given for the purpose of such placement is void and, if necessary, the juvenile and domestic relations district court shall determine custody of the child as between the birth parents.

2. By any party prior to the final order of adoption (i) upon proof of fraud or duress or (ii) after placement of the child in an adoptive home, upon written, mutual consent of the birth parents and prospective adoptive parents.

1989, c. 647, § 63.1-220.3; 1991, cc. 364, 602; 1992, c. 125; 1993, cc. 338, 553; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 1999, c. 1028; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.41; 2002, c. 747; 2006, cc. 825, 848; 2008, c. 662.

§ 63.2-1235. Adoptive home not in child's best interests.

If the juvenile and domestic relations district court determines from the information provided to it that placement in the prospective adoptive home will be contrary to the best interests of the child, it shall so inform the birth parents. If the birth parents choose not to retain custody of the child nor to designate other prospective adoptive parents, or if the birth parents' whereabouts are not reasonably ascertainable, the juvenile and domestic relations district court shall determine custody of the child.

1989, c. 647, § 63.1-220.3; 1991, cc. 364, 602; 1992, c. 125; 1993, cc. 338, 553; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 1999, c. 1028; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.42; 2002, c. 747.

§ 63.2-1236. Duty of Department to disseminate information.

The Department shall develop and disseminate information to the public regarding the provisions of parental placement adoptions, including the desirability of initiating the procedures required by § 63.2-1232 as early in the placement and adoption process as possible to ensure that birth parents are aware of the provisions of this law and begin required procedures in a timely manner.

1989, c. 647, § 63.1-220.3; 1991, cc. 364, 602; 1992, c. 125; 1993, cc. 338, 553; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 1999, c. 1028; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.43; 2002, c. 747.

§ 63.2-1237. Petition for parental placement adoption; jurisdiction; contents.

Proceedings for the parental placement adoption of a minor child and for a change of name of such child shall be instituted only by petition to the circuit court in the county or city in which the petitioner resides or in the county or city where a birth parent has executed a consent pursuant to § 63.2-1233. Such petition may be filed by any natural person who resides in the Commonwealth or is the adopting parent(s) of a child who was subject to a consent proceeding held pursuant to § 63.2-1233. The petition shall ask leave to adopt a minor child not legally the petitioner's by birth and, if it is so desired by the petitioner, also to change the name of such child. In the case of married persons, the petition shall be the joint petition of the husband and wife but, in the event the child to be adopted is legally the child by birth or adoption of one of the petitioners, such petitioner shall unite in the petition for the purpose of indicating his or her consent to the prayer thereof only. The petition shall contain a full disclosure of the circumstances under which the child came to live, and is living, in the home of the petitioner. Each petition for adoption shall be signed by the petitioner as well as by counsel of record, if any. In any case in which the petition seeks the entry of an adoption order without referral for investigation, the petition shall be under oath.

The petition shall state that the findings required by § 63.2-1232 have been made and shall be accompanied by appropriate documentation supporting such statement, to include copies of documents executing consent and transferring custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents, and a copy of the report required by § 63.2-1231. The court shall not waive any of the requirements of this paragraph nor any of the requirements of § 63.2-1232 except as allowed pursuant to subsection D of § 63.2-1232 or subdivision 4 of § 63.2-1233.

A single petition for adoption under the provisions of this section shall be sufficient for the concurrent adoption by the same petitioners of two or more children who have the same birth parent or parents; and nothing in this section shall be construed as having heretofore required a separate petition for each of such children.

Code 1950, § 63-348; 1952, c. 550; 1954, c. 489; 1956, c. 300; 1964, c. 459; 1968, c. 578, § 63.1-221; 1970, c. 672; 1973, c. 406; 1975, c. 461; 1978, c. 730; 1983, c. 614; 1988, c. 882; 1989, c. 647; 1991, cc. 76, 602; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.44; 2002, c. 747; 2006, cc. 825, 848; 2015, c. 529.

§ 63.2-1238. Forwarding of petition; when investigation and report not required.

A. Upon the filing of the petition, the circuit court shall forward a copy of the petition and all exhibits thereto to the Commissioner and to the local director where the petitioners reside or resided at the time of filing the petition, or had legal residence at the time of the filing of the petition. However, in cases where a licensed child-placing agency has completed a home study, the petition and all exhibits shall be forwarded to the licensed child-placing agency.

B. In parental placement adoptions where consent has been properly executed, no investigation and report pursuant to § 63.2-1208 is required. However, the circuit court may order a thorough investigation of the matter and report in which case the provisions of § 63.2-1208 shall apply.

Code 1950, § 63-349; 1954, c. 489; 1956, c. 489; 1956, c. 187; 1962, c. 603; 1964, c. 429; 1968, cc. 346, 578, § 63.1-223; 1974, cc. 26, 493, 507; 1975, c. 364; 1978, c. 730; 1980, c. 740; 1982, c. 115; 1988, cc. 579, 599, 882; 1989, c. 647; 1992, c. 607; 1993, c. 553; 1995, cc. 772, 826; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.45; 2002, c. 747.

§ 63.2-1239. Return of copies furnished to counsel.

Any copy of the report required by § 63.2-1208 to be furnished to counsel of record representing the adopting parent or parents shall, upon the entry of a final order of adoption, or other final disposition of the matter, be returned by such counsel, without having been duplicated, to the clerk of the circuit court in which final disposition of the matter is had, to be disposed of as is required by § 63.2-1246 for the return of the original report.

Code 1950, § 63-350; 1968, c. 578, § 63.1-224; 1974, c. 26; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.46; 2002, c. 747.

§ 63.2-1240. Court issuing order deemed sending agency under Interstate Compact on Placement of Children.

When a petitioner moves outside the Commonwealth after the entry of an interlocutory order of adoption but prior to the entry of a final order of adoption and the child was not placed by a child-placing agency, the circuit court issuing the interlocutory order shall be deemed the sending agency for the purposes of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children authorized pursuant to the provisions of § 63.2-1000.

1978, c. 733, § 63.1-226.1; 2000, c. 830, § 63.1-219.47; 2002, c. 747.