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How do I adopt a child in West Virginia?

Happy family in the park during evening light

If you’re considering adoption, congratulations!

Adding a child or children to a home can be one of the best, most rewarding, life-altering experiences a person can have.

Getting started on the adoption process, however, is often complicated and can feel overwhelming.

How to adopt a child isn’t exactly common knowledge.

Lawyers experienced in West Virginia adoption and foster care law can help guide you through the lengthy process.

A missed deadline or a misinterpreted question can really set you back in the system. With an attorney's help, you are almost certain to bring the child you want home faster than you would be able to on your own.

The dedicated legal team at Klie Law Offices has helped unite many children with their forever families in Mid-Ohio Valley, Mid-State, and throughout West Virginia. If you’re ready to adopt, we can help you, too.

What type of adoption are you interested in?

There are several pathways to adoption. You can:

  • Adopt a child who is in foster care with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, whose biological parents no longer have their parental rights.
  • Do a Foster to Adopt, in which the youth will be placed in your home as a foster child with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, but with the expectation that you will adopt them legally if they become free for adoption.
  • Adopt an infant. Most children under age 8 are adopted through an intermediary like a lawyer or a private adoption agency. You would especially want to use a lawyer to help you in any matter of surrogacy or independent adoption to make sure everyone involved is on the same page about the care and parentage of the baby.
  • Step-child adoption.
  • Adopt a relative or kinship adoption.
  • Adopt a grandchild.

Am I eligible to be an adoptive parent?

Not just anyone can adopt a child. In West Virginia, requirements to adopt include:

  • In most situations, you must be at least 21 years of age, and 15 years older than the child(ren) you wish to adopt.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You will need to prove that you can provide a nurturing, responsible, patient, stable, flexible, mature, healthy home life and that you are capable of meeting the individual needs of all children in the household.
  • Be financially able to care for a larger family.
  • Have no felony criminal convictions.
  • No substantiated allegations of child abuse or domestic violence.
  • Working parents will have to prove they can arrange appropriate childcare for when they are at their jobs.
  • All people in the household (including children ages 12 and up) agree they want to adopt.

The 4 phases of West Virginia adoption

If you are eligible to adopt, the next step in the process will be to take a Pre-Service Training course. This will help you decide if the adoption program is for you.

There are 4 phases to adoption in West Virginia.

Phase 1: Register as an adoptive or foster parent with the state.

  • Complete the Adoptive/Foster Parent Inquiry Form online or call Mission West Virginia at (866) 225-5698 to register.

Phase 2: Attend an adoption orientation session.

  • This is where you will learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a foster or adoptive parent.

Phase 3: Complete a home study.

  • To adopt a child in West Virginia, your home must be deemed safe and comfortable for children by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR). A home study will be conducted by a social worker who will interview each family member, check on at least 5 references, and review medical as well as criminal, protective services, or other legal reports. The family’s financial resources, health, and ability to parent will also be evaluated. Once all the information is gathered, the social worker will discuss with the family the best possible child match for their home. If you are making an international or private adoption, you’ll have to get in touch with the adoption agency to schedule a home study.

Phase 4: Notification of approval.

  • After successful completion of the family assessment, you will be notified whether your home is fit for adoptive or foster children. West Virginia requires a minimum of 6 consecutive months of placement in the prospective adoptive home before the adoption can be finalized.

Lawyers who understand the West Virginia adoption process

If you’re trying to adopt a child, the lawyers at Klie Law Offices can help you to find an adoption agency. We can handle the paperwork and be your representative in legal proceedings.

Whether you are trying to do a private adoption or want to adopt your foster child, stepchild or a child who’s your relative, an experienced West Virginia adoption attorney can keep you on a straightforward path to adoption.

Attorneys Erika Klie Kolenich and Melissa T. Roman, and our entire legal team have a passion for uniting children with families. If you’re considering adoption, really enjoy this special time with your loved ones, make things easier on yourself, and contact us today.

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