Virginia

Adoption

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2-1246; 63.2-1247

Nonidentifying information may be disclosed to:

  • The adopted person who is age 18 or older
  • The licensed or authorized child-placing agencies providing services to the child
  • The adoptive parents

Identifying information may be released to:

  • The adopted person who is age 21 or older
  • The birth parents
  • An adult birth sibling

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1246

Nonidentifying information shall not be open to inspection, or be copied, by anyone other than those listed above, except upon the order of a circuit court upon good cause shown.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1247

For adoptions finalized on or after July 1, 1994, the following requests for disclosure of identifying information are permitted in the following circumstances:

  • The adopted person who is age 21 or older may apply for information about the birth family.
  • The birth parents and adult birth siblings may apply for information about the adopted person.
  • When the adopted person is under age 18, the adoptive parents or other legal custodian of the child may apply for information about the birth family.

The Commissioner of Social Services shall designate the person or agency that made the investigation to attempt to locate and advise the person whose information is sought of the application. The designated person or agency shall report the results of the attempt to locate and advise the adopted person to the commissioner, including the effects that disclosure of the identifying information may have on the adopted person, the adoptive parents, and the birth family. The adopted person and the birth family may submit to the commissioner, and the commissioner shall consider, written comments stating the effect that the disclosure of identifying information may have upon any party. Upon a showing of good cause, the commissioner shall disclose the identifying information. When consent of the person being sought is not obtainable due to death or mental incapacity, the circuit court may release identifying information to the person making the request. In making this decision, the circuit court shall consider the needs and concerns of all persons involved.

In parental placement adoptions, where the consent to the adoption was executed on or after July 1, 1994, the entire adoption record shall be open to the adoptive parents, the adopted person who is age 18 or older, and the birth parent who executed a written consent.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Code § 32.1-261

Upon receipt of notice of a decision or order granting an adult adopted person access to identifying information regarding his or her birth parents from the Commissioner of Social Services or a circuit court, and proof of identification and payment, the State Registrar shall mail an adult adopted person a copy of the original certificate of birth.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Virginia Department of Social Services, Adoption Unit

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Collection of Family Information About Adopted Persons and Their Birth Families

Agency or Person Preparing the Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1208
Upon receipt of the petition, the circuit court shall immediately enter an order referring the case to a child-placing agency to conduct an investigation and prepare a report unless no investigation is required pursuant to this chapter.

Contents of Report About the Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1208
The investigation requested by the circuit court shall include:

  • The physical and mental condition of the child
  • The circumstances under which the child came to live, and is living, in the physical custody of the petitioner
  • Whether the child is suitable for adoption by the petitioner

The report shall include a statement by the child-placing agency that all reasonably ascertainable background, medical, and psychological records of the child have been provided to the prospective adoptive parent(s). The report also shall include a list of such records provided.

Contents of Report About the Birth Family
Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1208
The investigation requested by the circuit court shall include:

  • Why the parents, if living, desire to be relieved of the responsibility for the custody, care, and maintenance of the child and what their attitude is toward the proposed adoption
  • Whether the parents have abandoned the child or are morally unfit to have custody

The report shall include the relevant physical and mental histories of the birth parents if known to the person making the report. The child-placing agency shall document in the report all efforts it made to encourage birth parents to share information related to their physical and mental histories. However, nothing in this subsection shall require that an investigation of the physical and mental histories of the birth parents be made.

When the Report Is Made
Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1208
Upon receiving the order from the circuit court, the applicable agency shall make a thorough investigation and report thereon in writing to the circuit court within 60 days.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2.-1242; 1242.1; 1242.2; 1242.3
For adoption by a stepparent, an investigation and report shall be undertaken only if the circuit court in its discretion determines that there should be an investigation before a final order of adoption is entered.

For adoption by a close relative, the following conditions apply:

  • If the child has resided with the relative for less than 3 years, an investigation and a report shall not be made if the home study report is filed with the circuit court unless the circuit court in its discretion requires an investigation and report to be made.
  • If the child has resided with the relative for 3 or more years, an investigation and a report shall not be made unless the circuit court in its discretion shall require an investigation and report to be made.

For the purposes of this chapter, a close relative placement shall be an adoption by the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, adult nephew or niece, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, or adult great-uncle or great-aunt.

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Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code § 64.1-5.1
For the purpose of determining rights to property or to determine succession by, through, or from a person, an adopted person is not the child of the birth parents, except that adoption of a child by the spouse of a birth parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and either birth parent.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code § 64.1-5.1
For the purpose of determining rights to property or to determine succession by, through, or from a person, an adopted person is the child of the adopting parent(s).

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 64.1-71; 64.1-71.1
If a will is made when a testator has a child living, and that child is provided for in the will, and another child is adopted afterwards, such after-adopted child, if not provided for by any settlement and neither provided for nor expressly excluded by the will, but is only pretermitted, shall succeed to the lesser of (a) such portion of the testator’s estate as he or she would have been entitled to if the testator had died intestate or (b) the equivalent in amount to any bequests to any child named in the will.If an after-born or after-adopted child dies while he or she is under age 18, unmarried, and without issue, his or her portion of the estate, or so much thereof as may remain unexpended, shall revert to the person to whom it was given by the will.

In the interpretation of wills and trusts, adopted persons are included in class gift terminology or terms of relationship in accordance with rules for determining relationships for purposes of intestate succession, unless a contrary intent is apparent in the will or trust.

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State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad.

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption
Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1220(B)-(C)

Adoptive parents who are residents of the Commonwealth may petition the circuit court in the city or county where they reside for a report of adoption when the adoptive parents are seeking a Virginia certificate of birth for a child adopted in a foreign country that has postadoption reporting requirements and with whom the United States has diplomatic relations. The adoptive parents shall provide the circuit court with:

  • Evidence, such as an admission stamp in the child’s passport, that the child was admitted to the United States with an immediate relative immigrant visa (IR-3)
  • A report of adoption on a form furnished by the State Registrar of Vital Records
  • Completed postadoption reports
  • A signed affidavit stating that any outstanding postadoption requirements shall be met as required by the foreign country

The affidavit shall also include the name by which the child is to be known.

The circuit court shall review all documents provided by the adoptive parents. If the circuit court finds that all requirements of this subsection have been met, the circuit court may issue the report of adoption to the State Registrar for issuance of a Virginia certificate of birth in accordance with § 32.1-262.

Except as provided above, adoptive parents seeking to have a child from a foreign country adopted or who choose to readopt a child from a foreign country in Virginia shall comply with all adoption requirements of this chapter in order to get a Virginia certificate of birth.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 32.1-261(E); 32.1-262(D)

The State Registrar shall establish and register a Virginia certificate of birth for a person born in a foreign country and for whom a report or final order of adoption has been entered in a court of this Commonwealth when the State Registrar receives an adoption report as provided in § 32.1-262 and a request that such a certificate be established and registered. After registration of the birth certificate in the new name of the adoptee, the State Registrar shall seal and file the report of adoption. The report shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a court.

The birth certificate shall show the true or probable foreign country of birth and shall state that the certificate is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the child for whom it is issued or for the adoptive parents.

When the State Registrar receives a report of adoption from a court in this Commonwealth for a person born in a foreign country, a birth certificate shall be registered for such person in accordance with the provisions of § 32.1-261, and a copy of the report of adoption shall be transmitted to the appropriate Federal agency.


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