Arbor Offers Affordable Adoption Legal Services for Northern Virginia Families
Foster Parent Adoption through the Commonwealth of Virginia

For many families seeking to adopt in Virginia, adoption through the state’s foster care system is good blend of options. The foster-to-adopt process can be much more affordable than private agency adoption, and sibling groups are often available through the foster care systems for Virginia or other states. For answers to common questions about fostering-to-adopt a child in Virginia, visit the website for the
Department of Social Services.

Foster - to - Adopt options provide a family for every child.
Foster care in Virginia is designed to provide children with a safe, stable home environment after they have been removed from their original homes, either due to the biological parents’ inability to care for the children in an appropriate manner, or due to the death of the natural parents. The biological family has an opportunity to exercise treatment options to address barriers to reuniting, but in many situations children are released to adoptive care, and are at that point available for matching with appropriate adoptive parents.

If the parental rights of the birth parents have been terminated, either by the state’s determination of neglect or by the death of the biological parents, the goal of the Department of Social Services becomes to find permanent, loving adoptive homes for these children, either with extended family members or with foster parents who then become the adoptive parents. Children who are released into the foster care system through this process are then eligible for full adoption by a new, suitable family.

Adopting a family through Virginia’s foster care system has many benefits for families seeking children. A primary benefit is that agency costs are much lower for an adoption through the state, as investigation fees can be waived or are very low. You may also find a local agency (such as
United Methodist Family Services, among others) who works with the state to place certain categories of children with minimal agency fees. Additionally, sibling groups are available, making it possible to grow a family to its entirety in one process, while simultaneously providing a loving opportunity for siblings to remain together.

Virginia considers certain groups of children to be “special needs,” although the state’s foster care definition differs from the typical understanding of a child with special needs. While certain children do suffer from emotional, physical, or mental health issues, other children who are considered more difficult to place, such as sibling groups, children over the age of 6, and children from diverse racial backgrounds, are also considered “special needs” by Virginia for purposes of services and financial assistance to adoptive families. If an adoptive parent matches with a child or children with “special needs,” continuing financial assistance and training may be available through the state or federal government. For families seeking to adopt siblings, the financial assistance available for adoptive parents can ease the transition of adding multiple children to a household simultaneously.

The age restrictions and income requirements for adoptive parents, which sometimes govern private agency or international adoptions, may also be modified in certain cases of adoption through the state, as the demand for children is lower and the need for qualified, loving families is greater. The stated goal of the Virginia Department of Social Services is to find a proper, appropriate family for each child, and if the right parent is slightly older than the usual guidelines direct, the parent stands a greater chance of success with the state than through a private agency, where the demand for children can sometimes be greater than the demand for good parents. Additionally, the financial requirements can be modified, as parents willing to match with “special needs” children can also seek continuing financial assistance until the children reach majority, even after the child has been officially adopted.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent for at-risk children in Virginia, information can be found
here. Another good resource is the Northern Virginia Family Service website.

For information on adopting older children and teens through the foster care system,
www.adoptuskids.org operates a website with a host of information about the process and children awaiting the right family. Another good source of information is the KidsPeace website.

In an effort to provide additional assistance to parents seeking this form of adoption, Arbor offers substantially discounted rates for legal services associated with the adoption of children from the foster care system, as well as free consultations for an overview of the process. In some circumstances, the entire legal fee for adoption can be paid for by the Commonwealth of Virginia.