How long does it take to adopt an infant?
Because our domestic infant adoption program is designed to allow birth parents to select the adoptive family for their child, it is impossible to estimate how long a family may have to wait before they are chosen. It is typical for a family to wait 1-2 years before completing an adoption placement, but some families wait much longer and some families are able to adopt sooner than that estimate. We place 4-6 infants each year through our domestic infant program and we do not allow more than 15 waiting families in our program at any one time. From the time that the adoptive family is eligible for adoption with our agency, we will work with that family for a period of 3 years toward making a possible adoption placement. If an adoption has not been completed at the end of that time, the family will work with their assigned caseworker to transition to other possible adoption programs or options.
Do you work with prospective adoptive families only in Virginia?
We work with prospective adoptive families from all over the United States, with the exception of New York. It is recommended that families have the ability to travel to Virginia for interviews with expectant parents making an adoption plan but we try to schedule those meetings well in advance for those making extensive travel plans. The majority of our waiting adoptive families come from the East Coast.
Are the expectant parents that you work with only in Virginia?
Since our agency is licensed in Virginia, we can provide adoption counseling to expectant parents residing anywhere in Virginia who will also be delivering the baby in Virginia.
Can the birth parents change their mind about their adoption plan after the child is placed in our home?
A child may be placed in your home directly from the hospital as an at-risk placement or there is an option of utilizing transitional foster care for infants between the time that they are born and the time that all parental rights are terminated and the child can be placed in the adoptive home. During the transitional period between birth and termination of parental rights, birth parents may choose to visit with the baby and take some time to ensure that an adoption decision is what they feel is in the best interest of the child. Birth parents may change their mind about their adoption plans until the child is ten days old and seven days have passed from the signing of the Permanent Entrustment Agreement. The decision to utilize transitional foster care or enter into an at-risk placement is one that is mutually agreed upon by the birth family and adoptive family.
Will you provide a home study for us if we don’t meet all the criteria listed in your Adoption Standards?
The specific Adoption Standards apply to the FLS Domestic Adoption Program only. We are able to provide home studies for families in Virginia who may not meet the criteria of the Domestic Adoption Program. All families must meet the requirements for Virginia Licensed Child-Placing Agencies to obtain an approved home study from our agency.
Are we permitted to network with other adoption programs if we’re working toward an adoption at FLS?
Yes and, in fact, we encourage you to network with other agencies to have more opportunities for a potential adoption placement. We believe that it is positive to open many doors of opportunity for your family as you seek to build your family through adoption. We only ask that you keep your caseworker informed of any developments with other agencies or private situations so we can ensure that we proceed appropriately with any possible situations with our agency.
What happens once we are chosen by an expectant parent at FLS or through our networking efforts?
Once you have been selected for a possible placement, your album would be placed on hold and would not be shown to other expectant parents. When adoption placement is made, you would no longer remain active in our program but you could re-apply to our agency in the future, after your child is 1 year old and your adoption has been finalized, if you still meet the FLS Adoption Standards.
Can we be foster parents with another agency while waiting to adopt through FLS?
Because of the complex nature of foster care, we do not allow waiting adoptive families to actively provide foster care during the time they are in our adoption program.
What if you get pregnant during the time that you are in the FLS adoption program?
We celebrate whenever one of our waiting adoptive families informs us that they are pregnant. We would immediately put your file on hold and would close your file when we are notified of the baby’s birth. If you are still eligible for the program, you may re-apply to FLS when the child has had his or her first birthday.
What happens if we live in Virginia and we connect with an expectant parent on our own through social media, within our community, or through word of mouth?
This would be considered a parental placement adoption and would require the help of one (or more) attorneys. If the expectant parent(s) reside in Virginia, FLS can do the adoption counseling portion of the parental placement with the expectant parent(s), which is a legal requirement in Virginia. FLS can also complete the home study for the prospective adoptive family and the three required post-placement visits once a placement has occurred. If the expectant parents reside outside of Virginia, an attorney would advise on that state’s requirements for a parental placement adoption and another agency in that state may need to be contracted to help complete applicable requirements for adoption.