How to Adopt in West Virginia

West Virginia is home to many families seeking adoption opportunities and resources to begin their journey. Whether you are looking to adopt, looking to place your child for adoption, or searching for information about home studies and where to begin the process, the following information will be your guide to all things adoption in West Virginia.

What you need to know about adopting a baby in West Virginia

To get started on your adoption journey, it is important to understand some of the fundamental aspects and frequently asked questions about the process. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption in West Virginia.

What are the laws and requirements for adopting a baby in West Virginia?

To be eligible to adopt a child in West Virginia, you must be at least 21 years old and no older than 65 years old, unless otherwise approved in court. Prospective Parents should be caring, responsible, patient, stable, flexible, healthy adults capable of meeting the physical, emotional, social and educational needs of children placed with them. They must also provide documentation of:

  • Completed preservice training
  • Medical records showing they are in good health, free of communicable diseases, and have had a tuberculin risk assessment or skin test
  • Sufficient income and financial resources to support the child

How much does it cost to adopt a baby in West Virginia?

Expenses related to adoption in West Virginia range widely depending on the type of adoption you decide to pursue. Are you looking to adopt internationally or domestically? Through a private agency or the foster care system? Depending on what you decide, Adoptive Parents may be asked to cover adoption-related expenses such as:

  • Legal and agency fees
  • Medical and hospital bills from the Birth Mother in relation to the pregnancy, birth and adoption
  • Any other fees authorized in court

How do you become a Foster Parent in West Virginia?

In order to be eligible to become a Foster Parent in West Virginia, you must be at least 21 years old. In addition, you must:

  • Complete pre-service training
  • Complete a home study
  • Prove you have sufficient income to support a child
  • Pass a criminal background check, child abuse and neglect history check, and a DMV check
  • Be in good mental and physical health
  • Have a stable family relationship

What is a facilitator and is it legal to use their services for adoption in West Virginia?

An adoption facilitator specializes in matching prospective Adoptive Families with expectant mothers; however, they are usually unlicensed and unregulated.

In West Virginia, any unlicensed person or agency who facilitates an adoption in exchange for money, services, or other valuables is guilty of a felony offense.

Click here to read about the difference between adoption agencies, attorneys, and facilitators.

What you need to know about placing your baby for adoption in West Virginia

If you are considering placing your child for adoption, understanding how the adoption process works as well as knowing your rights may relieve some of your worry. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption for your child in West Virginia.

Who must consent to an adoption in West Virginia?

Consent to adoption in West Virginia must be given by the following:

  • The Birth Parents, or surviving parent of a child born in wedlock
  • The Birth Mother of a child born out of wedlock
  • The Birth Father of a child born out of wedlock who has been adjudicated to be the child’s Father or has filed paternity action
  • The child’s legal guardian if both Parents have died
  • A person appointed by the court if the child has no legal guardian

When is consent not necessary for adoption in West Virginia?

Consent to adoption in West Virginia is not required from the the child’s parent or legal guardian if:

  • The court find they have abandoned the child
  • They have had their parental rights terminated
  • They are the child’s Birth Parent and are married to the petitioner for a stepparent adoption

The court may order an adoption if the Birth Mother or legal Father has a disability and:

  • The parental rights of the person are terminated, abandoned, or permanently relinquished
  • The person is incurably insane
  • The disability arises solely because of age and an otherwise valid consent or relinquishment has been given

How and when can Birth Parents consent to adoption in West Virginia?

Consent to adoption may not be given until 72 hours after the child’s birth. It must be signed and acknowledged before one of the following:

  • The judge of the court of record
  • A notary public
  • A person the court has appointed to acknowledge consent
  • An active duty commissioned officer of the United States military in a foreign country if the person relinquishing consent is in that country
  • An officer of Foreign Service in another country if the person relinquishing consent is in that country

Can a Birth Parent revoke their consent to adoption in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, consent to adoption given by a parent may only be revoked if:

  • The person giving consent and the Prospective Parents agree to the revocation before the entry of the final adoption order
  • The person giving consent can prove it was obtained under fraud or duress within 6 months of giving consent or before the adoption is finalized, whichever comes later

What rights do Birth Fathers have in the adoption process in West Virginia?

The term ‘Birth Father’ means the Biological Father of the child.

The term ‘Determined Father’ means, before adoption, a person:

  • Whose paternity has been established by adjudication or acknowledgment
  • Who has been judicially determined to be the Biological Father of the child entitled to parental rights
  • Who has asserted his paternity of the child in an action commenced pursuant to the provisions of article 24-101, et seq., that is pending at the time of the filing of the adoption petition

The term ‘Legal Father’ means, before adoption, the male person having the legal relationship of parent to a child:

  • Who is married to the child’s mother at the time of conception
  • Who is married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth of the child
  • Who is the Biological Father of the child and who marries the mother before an adoption of the child

The term ‘Outsider Father’ means the Biological Father of a child born to or conceived by the mother while she is married to another man who is not the Biological Father of the child.

The term ‘Putative Father’ means, before adoption, any man named by the mother as a possible Biological Father of the child who is not a legal or determined father.

Home study and Post Placement Requirements in West Virginia

Prospective Adoptive Parents in West Virginia are required to complete a home study before beginning the adoption process and a postplacement assessment after the adoption takes place. Both will assess your ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child you wish to adopt.

What is a home study and what happens during the process?

The home study is a critical component to the adoption process. While it is to ensure your home will provide a child with stability, safety, and support, it is also a resource for Prospective Adoptive Parents to ask questions and prepare for the adoption. A home study is ultimately a recommendation as to the fitness of the applicants to become Adoptive Parents.

In West Virginia, the home study investigation will include:

  • Criminal background checks
  • Child abuse and neglect registry checks
  • Names of four unrelated references, three of which will be interviewed
  • A home cleanliness and safety inspection
  • One individual interview for each Prospective Parent and at least two joint interviews
  • An assessment of the following:
    • The financial situation of the family
    • The motivation for choosing adoption
    • The family’s attitudes, values, and level of understanding of child development
    • The way the family handles stress, frustration and conflict
    • The family and household composition
    • Individual and family hobbies, recreation, community activities, and social life
    • The Prospective Parents willingness to make a lifetime commitment to the child
    • The Prospective Parents understanding of the legal rights of the child

Who oversees a home study in West Virginia and who is included in it?

All adult members of the household will be included in the home study that will be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency.

What are the home study requirements for adopting a baby from another state?

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

What is a post placement requirement and what happens during the process?

Before the adoption has been finalized, a post placement assessment will take place to ensure the transition into adoption is going well and that the Adoptive Family's circumstances have not changed to no longer fit the child's best interest.

In West Virginia, a postplacement assessment will include:

  • Telephone contact within the first 72 hours of placement
  • An initial visit within the first week of placement
  • A minimum of six visits during the placement of which:
    • At least four are in the home of the adoptive parents
    • In a two-parent home, both parents are involved in at least three
    • Everyone in the home should be included and the child observed
    • A private interview with the child will take place if her or she is old enough to hold a conversation

The agency conducting the assessment will continue to provide support services for at least six months or longer until the permanent placement is achieved. A final home visit will occur before the adoption finalization.

West Virginia Adoption Agencies and Professionals

West Virginia is home to some amazing adoption professionals who are ready to get your journey started. Whether you are interested in adopting a child or seeking resources to place your child for adoption, these professionals will guide you through the legal pathways and offer you support throughout your journey:

Braley and Thompson

877-866-4975

Burlington United Methodist Family Services, Inc.

304-289-6010

Pressley Ridge

304-743-3648

Things to do in West Virginia

If your adoption journey brings you to West Virginia, visit some of the State’s most popular sites:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Harpers Ferry

New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville

Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis

Greenbank Observatory

Archive of the Afterlife: The National Museum of the Paranormal in Moundsville

No matter your decision, we appreciate the time you have taken to read about how to adopt in West Virginia. Adoption Network Law Center wishes you the best of luck and is available to answer any further questions you may have about the adoption process. Call 1-866-602-9541 to speak with one of our amazing team members or visit https://adoptionnetwork.com/ to read more about our services. Whether you’re a soon-to-be Birth Parent or Prospective Adoptive Parent, ANLC wishes you the best on your adoption journey.