The purpose of adoption is to place children who have been permanently and legally separated from their birth parents with a new family. It is a social and legal process which gives new parent(s) the same rights and obligations as biological parents.

When you adopt, you expand your family by taking a child (or children) into your home as your own family member(s) and then care for and nurture them to adulthood and beyond. While foster care adoptions are the most frequent, there are several types of adoption such as international, stepparent, close relative, parental placement and adult adoption. This website is focused on foster care adoption.

adoption graphic with a family

Agency Versus Non-Agency Placements

Adoption procedures are governed by Chapter 12 of the Code of Virginia. There are only two types of adoptive placements that are allowed by Virginia law. These are agency placements and non-agency placements.

Agency Placements (placements through local departments of social services or licenced child placing agencies)

Agency placements occur when the child is in the custody of local department of social services (LDSS) or licensed child-placing agency. In this situation, all parental rights are terminated, custody with authority to place for adoption is granted to the agency, and the agency consents to the child’s adoption.

The priority of the LDSS is to work with the family of origin or prior custodian to return the youth home. The goal is to reunite children home with their family of origin within 12 months and if the goal is changed to Adoption, it should be finalized within 24 months of a youth entering into foster care.

Non-agency Adoptions (parental, stepparent, adult, close relative and intercountry placements)

Non-agency adoptions involve children who are not placed in the custody of a local department of social services and are administered by License Child Placing Agencies (LCPA). In a non-agency placement, the birth parents or legal guardian(s) consent to the adoption and parental rights are terminated by entry of the final order of adoption. These types of adoptions are parental placement adoptions, step-parent adoptions, close relative adoptions and adult adoptions.

  • A parental placement adoption is one where the birth parent places the child own with the prospective adoptive parent(s).
  • A step-parent adoption is one where termination of parental rights of one parent has occurred and a new parent, such as a new spouse is adopting the child.
  • A close relative adoption is one where a close relative is adopting a youth.
  • Adult adoptions occur when a person over the age of 18 is adopted by one or more persons. LDSS are not involved in these adoptions unless the Circuit Court orders the LDSS or LCPA to provide a report of investigation or a suitability report.
  • For more information about adoption visit:
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