JFS Adoption

Making Families Possible

There are few decisions in life as rewarding as the choice to adopt a child. But without help, the process can overwhelm even the most prepared individuals. Adoption can, and should be, a joyous occasion.

At JFS Adoption, our small, passionate staff of social workers helps take the complexities out of the adoption process. Whether you're hoping to adopt a child or considering placing a child for adoption, you've come to a well-respected, beloved resource in the Richmond community.

With each and every client, we take the time to get to know you on a personal basis - not only listening, but guiding you through every step of the process. With years of experience, our goal is to help you feel comfortable while addressing any hopes, fears or concerns you may have regarding adoption.

With the right support system in place, adoption can be a wonderful, gratifying experience. We're here to give you the support and advice you need. From the home study to your child’s arrival and beyond, we will be there for you.

Jump to:   Home Studies   •   Ways To Adopt   •   FAQs   •   After Placement   •   Adoption Workshops

Our Adoption Services

Teresa Birchett

Contact: Teresa Birchett

To begin the process or learn more about JFS Adoption, contact Teresa Birchett, Adoption Supervisor at tbirchett@jfsrichmond.org or call 804-282-5644, ext. 223. If you need immediate assistance, call or text the adoption on-call line 804-543-3434.

Alternatively, you may fill out the contact form below.

Click here for our JFS Adoption contact form.

HOME STUDIES

Begin Your Adoption Journey

When you're ready to start the adoption process, you'll need to fill out an application that declares your desire to adopt a child. After our team reviews this, we'll conduct a home study to make sure you're comfortable with the process of adoption and confirm your commitment to becoming a parent.

A home study is an evaluation that educates and prepares prospective parent(s) on the adoption process and assesses your suitability.

Available to individuals and families of all backgrounds, the study provides sensitive, careful exploration of the issues involved in parenting by adoption. We gather information such as your family background, education and employment, as well as more personal details such as your parenting experiences and reasons you'd like to adopt.

Virginia law requires that all adoptive families complete a home study before adopting. An individual home study takes about six to twelve weeks to complete, though expedited home study services are also available.

Jump to:   Home Studies   •   Ways To Adopt   •   FAQs   •   After Placement   •   Adoption Workshops

Ways To Adopt

A Family Created Through Love

There is no greater way to share your love than to open your heart to a child. The overwhelming joy that comes with the sudden magic of becoming a new parent is indescribable.

At JFS, we want everyone who has longed to be a mother or father to experience what it's like to be a family. There are various ways to adopt and we find our families have the best results by learning about and considering all types of adoption. For those interested, we offer a 30-minute initial consultation at no charge.

We believe anyone has the potential to be a great parent and that all children deserve a permanent, loving home. As such, all placement options are available to families and individuals regardless of age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or income level.

For more information, please refer to our Prospective Parent FAQs.

Types of Adoption

International Adoption

We conduct home studies for individuals and families wishing to complete international adoptions. As a Hague Convention-compliant agency, we work in collaboration with your Hague-accredited agency to complete the home study.

Agency Placement

Agency placements occur when a birth parent has placed a child in the custody of an adoption agency. The agency then places the child with an approved adoptive family.

Parental Placement

Parental placement adoptions (also known as private adoptions, direct adoptions or independent adoptions) are those arranged directly by the birth parents and adoptive parents. For couples or individuals who choose this type of adoption, we provide home studies, birth-parent counseling and post-placement services.

Surrogacy Placement

For families pursuing surrogacy, we provide a home study for the adoptive parents and the surrogate if needed. We work with both families to coordinate services such as psychological evaluations and facilitate communication with the attorney(s) involved.

Embryo Adoption

For families pursuing embryo adoption, we provide a home study, as well as information on clinics and attorneys that work with families considering embryo adoption. Families that have created embryos for IVF are able to donate the embryos after their family is complete, allowing families that have struggled with fertility to “adopt” the embryos and carry the child to term.

The total cost of an embryo adoption (home study and clinic expenses) is around $5,000 to $15,000. The National Embryo Donation Center (1-865-777-2013) works with families donating embryos and the recipients of those embryos and can provide you with additional information.

Close Relative Adoptions

In the case where the child to be adopted is a close relative, we provide a home study and work with the attorney(s) involved to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

Jump to:   Home Studies   •   Ways To Adopt   •   FAQs   •   After Placement   •   Adoption Workshops

Prospective Parent FAQs

What services do you provide for the biological parent(s)?

JFS provides counseling, support, and advocacy. When necessary, a social worker will assist with arrangements for medical care, including labor and delivery, and legal services. In some cases, financial assistance can be provided for temporary housing, clothing, and transportation for counseling and medical appointments. A JFS social worker is available 24 hours a day to support birthparents.

How do I begin the adoption process?

For all types of adoption, a home study is a legal requirement in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A home study is an in-depth exploration of the family situation and environment. It is meant to help prepare the individual or family for parenting by adoption.

What is involved in a home study and how long does it take to complete?

A home study usually takes from six to twelve weeks to complete. There are specific state-mandated requirements that must be met. The home study includes three meetings with a social worker and the adoptive parents. Usually, two of these meetings take place in the agency, and one takes place during a visit to the home by a social worker. There are a number of documents that the adopting individual or couple is required to provide, including autobiographies. Attached is a complete list of required documents.

Is anyone ever turned down after a home study?

In the large majority of cases, the process is completed without a problem.

Occasionally, the social worker will suggest that additional counseling should take place as the adoption process proceeds, in order to prepare the future adoptive parent(s) for their new responsibilities. In rare cases, the potential adoptive parents realize that adoption is not the right option for them.

Can single people and unmarried couples adopt in Virginia?

The Commonwealth of Virginia allows married couples and single individuals to adopt. JFS has a non-discrimination policy and will work with any person (regardless of sexual orientation, race, age, gender, religion, or disability) who meets the home study requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

How long is the home study valid?

A Virginia home study is valid for 36 months, however you may need to update yearly based on your international agency, domestic agency, USCIS or out of state (ICPC) requirements.

How long is the wait?

This varies from family to family and is related to the type of adoption the family is pursuing. If you are pursuing an international adoption talk to your international agency about country specific waits. International adoption is constantly changing and wait times can be longer than anticipated.

With domestic adoption the wait is typically 12 to 36 months, but again depends on your level of openness, flexibility, budget and time you can put into working towards an adoption. We encourage you to make a profile book that is kept at the agency so that we may show it to any pregnant woman considering adoption. The profile book should be easily reproduced so that you can mail it to other agencies and attorneys as needed.

The more people you tell that you are pursuing adoption the better. Word of mouth has been a powerful resource for many of our families. The internet is another avenue. There are many websites that offer parent profile pages. Additionally, many of our families have had success working with a national adoption agency. National adoption agencies usually have a higher fee but, they do have a high success rate in matching their families. The vast majority of our clients have success through either a parental placement or by working with a national placing agency. We encourage our clients to pursue all avenues available.

What is the Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoption (HCIA) and how does it impact adoption home studies?

The HCIA is an international agreement that was signed in 1994 by the United States and more than 70 other nations to prevent the sales, theft, and trafficking of children under the guise of intercountry adoption. The HCIA was entered into force in the United States on April 1, 2008. Adoption agency accreditation is required under the HCIA for any agency who wishes to do international placements with convention countries. JFS is a Hague Convention Compliant agency and can work with any HCIA accredited agency to ensure a Hague Compliant home study. Additional information, documentation and verbiage is required, as well as 10 hours of Hague training, for Hague Compliant home studies.

What is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and how does it impact adoption?

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is a law that establishes procedures to assure that children and youth are being placed with families that are safe, suitable and able to provide care and that States understand their responsibilities in preadoptive and other ICPC regulated placements. Under a compact, the jurisdictional, administrative, and human rights obligations of all parties involved in an interstate placement can be protected.

What is the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)?

Children of American Indian or Alaskan Eskimo heritage may be subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act. If JFS suspects or knows that a child that is to be placed for adoption or is in foster care or one about to be placed in foster care is of American Indian or Alaskan Eskimo heritage, and the child belongs to a tribe located outside Virginia, then JFS must contact the tribe. A listing of recognized tribes and designated tribal representatives with addresses and phone numbers can be found on the Internet under the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior at: www.doi.gov/bureau-indianaffairs.html

JFS must contact the tribal council about the child. If the child belongs to a Virginia tribe, the child is not subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act, and the local court has

jurisdiction. However, when a child entering care is believed or known to have Virginia Indian heritage, the local department is urged to contact the Virginia Council on Indians and consider tribal culture and connections in the placement and care of the child.

What is a Post Adoption Contact and Communication Agreement (PACCA)?

A PACCA is a legally enforceable contract between birth parents and adoptive parents to establish contact and/or communication regarding the adoptive child after the adoption. It can assist with lifelong connections for a child who has been adopted. The agreement is developed in a collaborative process between the birth parent and prospective adoptive family. The PACCA must be filed in a Virginia circuit court in order to be legally enforceable. A PACCA is optional and not a requirement of any adoption.

Is there any follow-up after an adoption is completed?

Post-placement services are required for both domestic and international adoptions. This usually involves three visits with the family and their child. JFS conducts two of the visits at the JFS offices and the other visit in the adoptive home. The adoptive parents and the child must be present during the visit. The number of visits varies, depending on the type of adoption.

In an international adoption, “refinalization” of the adoption is required in order to get a birth certificate from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Foreign countries may require ongoing supervisory visits for up to three years. Foster care adoptions may require more frequent visits during the first six months to ensure adequate adjustment of the child and the adoptive family. Post placement supervisory reports cover the child’s adjustment to the home, as well as the family’s adjustment; health, growth and meeting of developmental milestones; and for international adoptions, how the family is addressing the child’s cultural heritage. Finalization involves a social worker’s report to the court summarizing the home study and the post placement visits and a recommendation by the social worker that the adoption be finalized in Virginia.

After the final order is received, the agency will continue to offer counseling services to adoptive families and children as needed. If it is determined that other services are needed, JFS will provide these services or make appropriate referrals. Jewish Family Services offers families a quarterly newsletter, biannual socials and Facebook fan page to stay connected with JFS and other adoptive families.

What credentials and experience does JFS have doing home studies and adoptions?

JFS is a licensed child-placing agency, which conforms to the rules and regulations of the Commonwealth of Virginia. State licensing requires renewal every year and at least one on-site evaluation every year. This agency has been providing adoption counseling and services for over 50 years, and currently completes approximately 55 home studies a year.

JFS is accredited by the Council of Accreditation (COA) allowing us to complete

international home studies while being supervised by a HAGUE accredited agency.

What are my rights as a client of JFS?

The JFS Client Bill of Rights: As a JFS client, you have the right to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. It is JFS’ ethical obligation to treat you fairly, with dignity and respect, and without discrimination regardless of your age, race, religion, or circumstances.

As a JFS client, you are entitled and welcome to do the following:

  1. Ask about our professional qualifications.
  2. Ask about, comment on, and make suggestions to improve JFS policies, operations, and services.
  3. Ask to see and discuss our fees.
  4. Know about our policies or procedures to protect your privacy to the fullest extent of the law.
  5. Comment orally and/or in writing about your contact with the agency. This will be included in your client record.
  6. File a grievance, without interference or retaliation. First, discuss your concerns with your service provider. Next, if you desire, have a three-way meeting including you, your service provider, and the Chief Operating Officer. Then, if you are still not satisfied, request a meeting with the CEO. The CEO will make a decision and report it to you and the service provider within five working days. You may request a copy of JFS’ Client Grievance Policy at any time.
  7. Exercise your right to refuse any service, treatment, or medication, unless those rights have been limited by law or court order.

After Placement

Continued Guidance and Support

Post-placement services are generally a required part of the adoption process for both domestic and international adoption.

This typically involves several visits with the family to make sure everyone is adjusting to this life transition, and to confirm the child's well-being. This is the ideal time to ask questions or discuss any challenges with your social worker. Depending on the type of adoption, this process can vary from family to family.

After the adoption is finalized, JFS will continue to offer support as needed. We also host biannual socials where families can meet other adoptive families in the community. Adoption is a lifelong journey and JFS will always be here to help support you.

Jump to:   Home Studies   •   Ways To Adopt   •   FAQs   •   After Placement   •   Adoption Workshops

Adoption Workshops

Thinking About Adoption?

If you're interested in adoption, or looking for more information, we invite you to join us at one of our free adoption workshops where you'll learn about home studies, post-placement services, international adoption and more from our team of qualified social workers.

Join us for a monthly Lunch & Learn the third Wednesday of every month from 12:00 to 1:00p.m.

UPCOMING DATES:
Wednesday, April 19
Wednesday, May 17

Jump to:   Home Studies   •   Ways To Adopt   •   FAQs   •   After Placement   •   Adoption Workshops

Teresa Birchett

Contact: Teresa Birchett

To begin the process or learn more about JFS Adoption, contact Teresa Birchett, Adoption Supervisor at tbirchett@jfsrichmond.org or call 804-282-5644, ext. 223. If you need immediate assistance, call or text the adoption on-call line 804-543-3434.

Alternatively, you may fill out the contact form below.

Click here for our JFS Adoption contact form.

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