Among a slew of new Virginia laws that took effect July 1, 2022, is a law speeding up the adoption process in some cases. The changes to the state code also boost provisions protecting the interest of birth fathers. How does Virginia’s new adoption law impact adoptive families and birth parents?
How Does Virginia HB 869 Change The Adoption Landscape?
Virginia’s new HB 869, which took effect this year, allows local circuit courts to speed up the adoption process by issuing “interlocutory” orders. These temporary orders enable the court to eliminate red tape in the adoption process when the child is already in the home of the person filing to adopt. The new law streamlines how a petition to adopt a child moves through the system. Instead of requiring placement agencies to conduct a full investigation of prospective adopters, it cuts to the chase, moving straight to visitation by a child-placing agency. The new law also clarifies and strengthens the process of informing birth fathers when their biological children are adopted.
How Does Virginia’s New Law Help Birth Parents?
Virginia’s new adoption law makes specific provisions allowing birth parents listed on a child’s birth certificate (who don’t currently have custody of the child) to file an order for adoption in a streamlined process. This new amendment is helpful to birth fathers or grandparents seeking custody of their biological children if the mother wants to put them up for adoption. The recent adoption law also clarifies the timeframe for biological fathers to register with the state’s Birth Father Registry, increasing their access to information about their children and updating them if they are placed in foster care or adopted. The new law clarifies the 180-day time frame for biological fathers to register with the Virginia Birth Father Registry to access their children’s adoption information. It also adds express mail to the ways the state can notify fathers of adoption, expanding ways for fathers to get this essential information.
What Is The Virginia Birth Father Registry?
The Virginia Birth Father Registry (formerly known as the Virginia Putative Father Registry) is a database maintained by the state’s Department of Social Services. Launched in 2006, the registry allows men who are not married to their children’s mothers to register with the state, giving them access to information when their children are placed for adoption or foster care. The registry is designed to protect the rights of birth fathers and help them remain in their children’s lives. If a man thinks he has fathered a child with a woman he is not married to, he can register with the state for notification if the child is put up for adoption. The biological father’s immediate family is also included, giving grandparents the potential to adopt biological grandchildren. However, the registry does not legally prove paternity. Biological fathers must still officially establish paternity if they seek custody of their children. Adoptive parents should understand the requirement to notify birth fathers of activity involving their biological children.
Adoption in Virginia: Experienced Legal Counsel is Vital
Adoption can be an emotional and complex process as we see to balance the well-being of children, the interests of birth parents, and the needs of adoptive families. Virginia allows for several different types of adoption, each with its own rules. Some adoptions are straightforward and clear-cut, while others are messy and complicated. The Laurel Brigade Law Group has extensive experience in all types, from agency adoptions to stepparent and relative adoptions. Our firm has also advocated for birth mothers and fathers working to protect their rights.
The Virginia General Assembly’s efforts to support biological fathers while streamlining the adoption process will have many benefits. Having an experienced family law firm by your side is essential. Competent and compassionate representation is vital for both birth parents and adoptive parents as we work for a successful outcome for all involved.