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Putting Baby Up for Adoption in Virginia

If you’re a Virginia resident and are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, you’re probably feeling scared, confused, or alone. However, you need to understand that you are not alone. Not only are there many women who are going through the same thing, but there are also people out there who would want nothing more than to help you and see you succeed. You may be wondering what exactly the process looks like and how to “put a baby up for adoption in Virginia”.

The phrase “putting a baby up for adoption” has a negative connotation. It makes it sound like you “gave up” or “abandoned” your baby which is the furthest thing from the truth. When you choose adoption, you choose life for your baby. Also, your adoption decision is an extremely brave and selfless choice. If you know you’re not at a place right now to raise your baby, there are many well-qualified, well-screened and well-prepared parents out there who will adopt your baby in a heartbeat. Instead of saying “putting a baby up for adoption”, let’s say something more positive like “placing a baby for adoption” which is exactly what you’re doing; you’re placing your baby in another home  here he or she can have a good life with a forever family.

An adoption starts with you. You might be pregnant and considering adoption  or your newborn, or you might already be parenting a young child or toddler. We are here and ready to help.

Here is an outline of the adoption process Virginia

Initial Meeting

We will send you a Social/Medical History background form to complete. Then our social worker will arrange a meeting with you at a time and place that works for you. You can come to our northern Virginia office (we can help with transportation if needed) or our social worker can travel to meet you somewhere convenient for you. We will discuss whether you are receiving prenatal care or need our help to arrange it; whether you have insurance coverage or need our help to arrange it; information on the child’s birthfather and whether he supports an adoption plan; your living situation and whether you need financial assistance during your pregnancy (you must have a letter from your doctor, stating that you can’t work due to the pregnancy); the type of adoptive families you would consider; and the type of contact you want with the family before, during and after the placement.

Confirmation of your Pregnancy/Medical Records

We will need confirmation of your pregnancy and your due date, as well as a copy of your prenatal medical records, and will ask you to complete a Medical Release form so we can obtain those from your doctor or clinic.

Birthfather Outreach

Its best if the baby’s father participates in the adoption process. With your consent, he can be included in any meetings with you and our social worker and meetings with the adoptive family you’ve chosen. We can provide counseling for him if requested. If he isn’t involved (because he’s unknown, disputes paternity, is uncooperative, or can’t be found) this does not necessarily derail the adoption. In Virginia we can send the father notice of VA’s Birth Father Registry, letting him know he has 10 days to register to protect his rights. If he doesn’t register, the adoption can proceed without his participation. If you don’t know who the child’s birthfather is, we will prepare an Affidavit of Paternity for you to sign, explaining why you can’t identify the baby’s father.

Making a Match

You will review Parent Profiles of waiting families and select the family you feel is best for your baby. Every Cradle of Hope waiting family has been carefully screened and studied. Each family will be well employed, financially secure, in good health, and have no history of criminal charges or child abuse.

Once you’ve chosen the adoptive family, we will arrange a meeting with them and our social worker, either in our office or somewhere convenient for you, if you want to meet them in person. Depending on your due date, more meetings can be scheduled and the adopting mom could even go to your medical appointments with you, if you’re ok with that. If you prefer to have less contact with the adopting family, that’s ok too.

Hospital Planning

We will help you create your hospital plan so your doctor and the hospital are aware that you are making an adoption plan for the baby and how you want your hospital stay to proceed. For example, do you want the baby to stay in your hospital room? Do you want to name the baby? Do you have any restrictions on who can visit you in the hospital?

During the period between matching and the child’s birth, our work will include:

  • Staying in touch with and supporting you. Depending on how long until the birth, this could include contact every few weeks by phone or in person, answering questions, calming nerves, etc.
  • If this is your first delivery, we can arrange a childbirth class at the hospital where you plan to deliver, if you like. Some hospitals will provide a private class for adoption situations.
  • You will be offered a free consultation with an independent adoption attorney, so you can be sure that your rights are protected.
  • A Cradle of Hope social worker contacts the hospital social worker prior to your delivery to explain about your adoption plan and share your hospital plan. We can ask them not to send a breastfeeding consultant to your room, or to put you on a non-maternity ward (some hospitals will and some won’t). Also, we’ll ask the hospital to find a room for the adopting family to stay in (some hospitals will provide a room if they have space).

Birth

At the time of birth, you will notify us that you’re in labor. The adopting family will come to the hospital to meet the baby. If you have someone to support you during labor and delivery (your mom, a friend, the birthfather, etc.) our social worker will be at the hospital after the birth, when the adopting family is meeting the baby. If you prefer, our social worker will be there to support you through your delivery. Once we know how your hospital handles adoption situations, we will help prepare you for what to expect. You will probably be in the hospital for two days after a vaginal delivery, or three days if you deliver by C-section.

On the day following the baby’s birth, you will sign the required adoption documents, which MUST be signed before you or the baby are discharged. We will try to meet with the birthfather too if he is cooperating. You will need to sign an entrustment, giving Cradle of Hope authority to place the child with the family you’ve selected and relinquishing your parental rights; an Affidavit of Paternity; and a VA Rights and Responsibilities disclosure form.

Additional and/or different forms may be required by the adopting family’s home state, or if the birthfather is absent or nonparticipating. Also, if you and the adopting family have agreed to have contact after the baby is placed, your Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA) agreement must be in writing, signed by the parties, and should specify the type of contact that’s been agreed to (photos/updates by email or in person visits) and the frequency of contact (quarterly, annually, etc.).

Discharge

The entrustment document that you will sign after the baby is born gives Cradle of Hope guardianship of the child, specifically for placement with the family that you have selected. The child will go home with the adopting family directly from the hospital. We will make sure you have a ride home from the hospital. We don’t want babies go into foster care, so the adopting family takes the child home as an “at risk placement”. This means that everyone understands and agrees that your revocation period hasn’t expired and if you change your mind, the adopting family would have to return the baby to you.

Revocation Period

While we hope that you have reached a firm decision about the adoption prior to the child’s birth, Virginia law gives you the opportunity to change your mind after the placement for ten days from the baby’s birth. After 10 days, you cannot revoke your consent.

Adoption Process

Cradle of Hope will be the guardian of the baby until the adoption is finalized. A social worker will visit with the adopting family and baby at least three times during the first six months of the placement and will prepare written reports letting us know how the baby is doing in his new home. After six months, the adopting family can move forward with finalization of the adoption.

Living Expenses

If you have a letter from your doctor saying that you can’t work due to the pregnancy or birth, we can provide some assistance with living expenses for a short period prior to the birth and for a few weeks after the birth. This can include assistance with rent, food, transportation and clothing.

Post-Adoption Services

Our social worker will stay in touch with you after the delivery, to the extent that you prefer. We can arrange counseling services (ideally covered by your insurance coverage). If you like, we will help you attend birthparent support group meetings or put you in touch with other women who have placed children for adoption. We will be available to assist you for the foreseeable future.

While the process of putting up a child for adoption may seem overwhelming, rest assured that Cradle of Hope has lots of experience in this area. We have been finding permanent, loving homes for children for more than 30 years. We will guide you through each and every step of the process and support you in your adoption decision any way we can.

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Still Have Questions?

Call or text us!  Cradle of Hope’s adoption counselors are always available to meet with you, in person or by phone, to make sure you are fully informed and comfortable with the adoption process.  We’ll help you make the best possible decision for you and your baby.