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Choosing adoption: What you should know

Adoption can help a child find the home he or she has been longing for. It can help you complete your family and enjoy the benefits of parenthood. There are several different things you should know about adoption. The way you adopt, for instance, can make a difference. Agency adoptions and non-agency adoptions are the only two types allowed by law.

Agency placements take place with the help of the local social services departments or through licensed placement agencies. When you pursue an adoption this way, all parental rights have been terminated and the child is legally able to be adopted. The agencies work to place a child in an appropriate home within 24 months of the child entering its program.

Non-agency adoptions are different, because the birth parent has placed the child up for adoption, a stepparent is adopting a partner's child, a close relative is opting to adopt a child or an adult is being adopted. These children have not been placed into the custody of social or children's services. The birth parents or legal guardians will terminate their rights when the final order of adoption is approved in court.

You may not be sure which kind of adoption you want to pursue, and that's okay. Your attorney can help you decide or you can speak with the local department of social services to see what kind of adoption works best for your situation. Once you are prepared to go through the legal steps of adoption, your attorney can prepare you for each step, from home visits to your day in court.

Source: Virginia Department of Social Services, "Adoption," accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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