Grandparents and Relatives

adoption parents

Grandparents and certain close relatives are allowed procedural shortcuts to make their Virginia adoption easier and less costly.

Who qualifies
Virginia’s adoption laws include as close relatives a child’s grandparent(s), aunt or uncle, adult brother or sister, great-grandparents and great-aunt and uncles. Cousins and other more distant relatives are required to follow the same procedures as non-relatives.
Child in home less than 2 years
In Virginia if the child is in the close relative’s home for less than two years, then the normal court parental placement procedure is used but is modified with some shortcuts. The adopter will need to have a home study conducted on them by an adoption agency. Both birth parents may sign their consents to the adoption outside of court before a Notary Public. It is optional for the court to hold a hearing. The court may waive the period of adoption probation and immediately enter a final decree. This type of adoption follows the normal parental placement procedure where the case proceeds through two courts consecutively. The first court which handles the case is called a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and it deals with parental rights and custody. The second court is the Circuit Court and it formalizes the adoption. Once a home study investigation is completed (which usually take about 6 to 8 weeks), the court process can be completed in less than two months.
Child in home more than 2 years
If the child lived with the adopters during any 2 years continuous period, the adoptive parents may skip the Juvenile Domestic Relations Court and initially proceed in Circuit Court. The court has the option where it may waive the home study investigation and proceed directly to a final order of adoption based on the paperwork. This procedure can often be completed in less than one month.
Stanton Phillips does not practice immigration law and if there is an immigration or visa issue, he highly recommends you obtain the services of an attorney who practices in that field. Stanton Phillips will cooperate with your immigration lawyer in relative cases where a child was born overseas.

Many immigration attorneys file an immediate relative petition which requires that the child (1) lived in the adopter’s home at least 2 years; (2) that there was a court order for custody in effect for at least 2 years; and (3) that the adoption be completed before the child’s 16th birthday. With the United States joining the Hague Convention on International Adoption in 2008, this immediate relative procedure may not be available for certain countries.

Our fees are based on the time and expenses involved in each case and we will try to give you an idea of what we expect upon hearing the facts in your case. Most of the grandparent and close relative cases (excluding stepparent) are eligible for a dollar-for dollar refund of what you pay in federal taxes. In other words, you probably can get a tax refund for all of your costs and expenses involved in the adoption process resulting in no final cost to you.