Adoptive Families’ Frequently Asked Questions
Can the birth parents change their mind and take the child back?
The Society does everything possible to insure legally secure adoptions. We follow West Virginia adoption laws carefully and consult closely with our agency attorney. According to state law, once a birth parent completes a legal relinquishment of his or her parental rights, they cannot simply “change their mind.” Believing it to be in the best interest of the birthparents and child, the Society and West Virginia law require that an infant must be at least 72 hours old prior to the birth parents signing relinquishments. Once the birthparents sign relinquishments, their parental rights are terminated. Relinquishments are signed and notarizes before a notary public. When birthparents are under the age of eighteen (18) years of age relinquishments are signed before a Circuit Judge. The Society becomes the legal guardian after the birthparents relinquish their rights to the Society and until the adoption is legally finalized.
Our social workers carefully counsel birth parents on their rights and if they are not prepared to place the child for adoption, the relinquishment and placement will not occur. In cases in which the birth father is unknown, you will be fully informed of the circumstances so you can make an informed decision about whether to accept a specific child for placement. In cases of children in the custody of the State of West Virginia, parental rights are typically terminated in a court of law prior to adoptive placement. You will be provided with these details specific to the child prior to adoptive placement.
Does the birth father have any rights to his child?
Yes. A birth father, even when not married, has as many rights as a birth mother. His involvement in making an adoption plan for a child is legally required.
Who can adopt through your agency?
You may be single or married. You will be at least 21 years of age before beginning the home study. You will have a criminal background check free of arrests or convictions for any felony or crimes against persons. You will have a WVDHHR background free of substantiated adult or child abuse or neglect. You are a resident of West Virginia. You will participate in training and have an approved home study as an adoptive family.
What is a home study and why is it necessary?
A home study is a written report required by West Virginia state law for individuals who wish to adopt domestically and intercountryly. The home study is an assessment where medical, employment, and financial information is required as well as personal references, autobiographies, and criminal background checks. The home study process also includes training about adoption issues, interviews with members of the home, and assessing the family’s readiness to adopt. The home study helps us determine if a stable environment exists for a family to receive an adoptive placement.
The adoption home study is a part of the decision making process for both the prospective family and the social worker. A home study is necessary to insure the safety and well being of the children for whom the Society is responsible. Birth parents select families for their child based on the knowledge that the families we offer them are loving families.
What are the requirements regarding our house?
You may own or rent, but must have home owner or renter’s insurance. Your home must meet health and safety standards that your social worker will review as part of the home study process. Each child must have his or her own bed. Children of the same sex may share a room with consideration to the age range between children. Our social workers can answer any additional questions you may have about your home.
How much does it cost to adopt through your agency?
The Society’s fee schedule is based on the prospective adoptive parents’ income. Please contact us for more information specific to your situation. No fees are charged until you submit an application for adoption.
What do I need to do to begin the process towards adopting a child through your agency?
Please contact us by phone, email or letter. We invite you to meet with one of our social worker at the office closest to you. We will answer any further questions you may have about our program, adoption in general, and provide further information about the next step.
What information will we receive about the child we adopt?
The Society will provide you with all available information regarding a child’s birth, medical and social history, and subsequent care. It is in the best interest of the child to inform you of all information known about the child and his or her birth family history. This will help you make an informed decision about accepting a child for adoption. However, there will be times when some information will not be available, such as medical history from an unknown birth father.
What financial assistance is available to assist us with adoption expenses?
There are several programs available to adoptive parents that offer financial assistance to adoptive parents. Some children may be eligible for state and federal assistance through the Adoption Subsidy Program.
Can I adopt a child through your agency if I live in a state other than West Virginia?
Yes. We are licensed as a Child Placing Agency in West Virginia and may place children under interstate compact guidelines.
How do I know you are a reputable agency?
The Society was founded in 1896. We are licensed by the State of West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Children and Families. We are accredited through the Council on Accreditation and are members of the Children’s Home Society of America and National Council for Adoption. We are a non-profit agency and would be happy to provide you with a copy of our most recent Annual Report upon request.
Can we adopt intercountryly through your agency?
Yes. We have a partnership with Children’s Home Society and Family Services (http://www.childrenshomeadopt.org/intercountry_Adoption.html) for adoption of children from several countries including Russia, China, Korea, and Guatemala. If you select another licensed agency for intercountry adoption, they must provide our agency with a copy of a valid child-placing license, copy of liability insurance, and be willing to complete a cooperative agreement with our agency. This helps us insure potential adoptive parents and children are receiving quality services from a reputable agency.
When is an adoption final?
For domestic adoptions West Virginia law requires a child must reside in your home a minimum of six months prior to finalization. During that time the Society conducts at least six supervisory post-placement visits by a social worker to ensure the children and families are adjusting. The six-month supervisory period also allows time for discussing adoption and parenting issues. Finalization occurs after the six month period and at a court hearing the Judge issues a final adoption decree. At that point, the adoptive parents become the legal parents of the child.
For intercountry adoption please refer to guidelines of the country from which you are seeking to adopt.