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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Different Types of Adoptions


Adoption is one of the ways you can choose to bring a child into your life. If you’re considering adoption, it’s important to do research and understand what options are available to you. In the United States, you have several choices, including whether you want to adopt a child domestically or one from another country.

Child in Foster Care

Children who are in foster care are ones whose birth parents are unable to take care of them or whose parental rights have been terminated. The children remain in group homes or foster care while waiting for someone to adopt them. Adoptions can be facilitated by private and public agencies.

Infant Adoptions

Infant adoptions are, as the name suggests, adoptions of infant children. These typically take place as soon as the baby is born, and the birth parents have already terminated their parental rights. Some of these adoptions are done through a third party like a lawyer, physician, or facilitator rather than an agency.


This is another type of adoption where a child is first placed in your home as a foster child. There is an expectation that the child will eventually become legally available for adoption by you.

Agency versus Independent Adoptions

When someone refers to an agency adoption, they are talking about the agency who works as the intermediary between the birth parents and the potential adoptive parents. There are two main types of agencies:

  • Private licensed agencies, which are legal in a majority of states as well as numerous foreign countries
  • Public agencies, such as social services, foster care, and child welfare

Independent adoptions are ones that are facilitated by the birth and prospective adoptive parents. These can take place in several different ways:

  • Use of an attorney or other intermediary where required by law
  • Several states allow the use of adoption facilitators
  • Handling everything yourself where allowed

If you plan to adopt across state lines, you will need to comply with all state laws. And, for international adoptions, you are bound by the laws of your own state, the U.S. State Department, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Closed versus Open Adoption

You also have to decide on a closed versus open adoption. Closed adoption is where the birth parents want no identifying information to be shared with the adoptive family and vice versa. In other words, there is no contact between the parties. As the adoptive parents, you will get non-identifying information about the child and birth family. Once the adoption is finalized, the records will be sealed.

Open adoptions are ones that allow the birth parents and adoptive parents to have some sort of bond. This can range from just allowing identifying information to be shared to developing a relationship with each other. Perhaps you share photos of the child to the birth parents, or it’s just that there is approval for the adopted child to contact the birth parents when ready.

Contact a Virginia Adoption Attorney

Adoptions are complex, and it’s important to talk to a Virginia adoption attorney to help you through the process. At Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC, we have years of experience handling adoptions and are well-versed in all phases of the process. Contact our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!