How to Adopt

Since Children’s Home Society was chartered in 1900, we have placed more than 13,500 children into permanent, loving homes. There are many different ways to grow your family through adoption.

To learn more about adoption at CHS, review our Frequently Asked Questions below or request information. You may also contact us by phone at 804-353-0191.

Adopting an Older Child or Teen from Foster Care
Adopting Privately (Infant, Custody, Interstate)
Home Study Services

Adopting an Older Child or Teen from Foster Care

How do I go about adopting from foster care?
There are several steps to receiving placement of a child who is waiting for a permanent, loving home:

1.    Attend an orientation to learn more about the process and complete a registration form.

2.    Complete a three-week training class to help prepare you for the special challenges of parenting a child or teen who has faced childhood trauma such as abuse or neglect.

3.    Complete a home study and receive approval.

4.    Complete the matching process with a child or teen.

5.    Make preliminary visits with your child.

6.    Welcome your child home and begin the six month supervisory period prior to legally finalizing the adoption. You will receive post-adoption services during this time.

How long does the process take?
The process of becoming matched with a child can take about six months to several years, depending on the timing of training classes, your personal schedule and the amount of time it takes to be matched with a child. After the child is placed with you, parent coaching is provided by CHS to help with trauma-based behaviors, attachment challenges, and overall adjustment to a “new normal.” Six months of supervision is required by the State prior to a legal adoption. Ongoing services are provided after the adoption is finalized in court.

How many children are waiting?
The number constantly changes, but currently about 700 children and teens are waiting and available to be adopted. CHS is currently recruiting families open to adopting a child or teen age 12 and older, large sibling groups of 3 or more, or children (of any age) with special needs who may need lifelong care.

Why do these children enter foster care?
Children enter foster care through no fault of their own. Often they are victims of abuse and/or neglect. Sometimes children are not safe in their families of origin, and social services must make the decision to bring them into the foster system. Although this is meant to be a temporary measure while the family gets help, sometimes it is necessary to terminate parental rights and move towards adoption. This is a traumatic experience resulting in grief and loss for the child.

What are their therapeutic needs?
All children who have experienced the trauma of neglect and/or child abuse, and have been separated from their biological family, have some special needs. Their needs may be physical, medical, behavioral, emotional, social, and/or academic. They require therapeutic parenting and supportive services to adjust to the changes in their life and make strides towards healing. A sense of permanency with a safe, loving family can help the child begin to trust in others, and there are a variety of creative ways to help their brain process past trauma, including play therapy, art therapy, and music therapy.

Is it always necessary to keep the birth order in the family or can we adopt a child older than the children we already have?
Each family is different, but it is not always necessary to keep the birth order when adopting. The most important thing to keep in mind is doing what is best for your family. In some cases, an older child may fit in well with your family. In other cases, a younger child may be what works best. Our social workers will take the time to get to know your family and discuss all the options with you.

Can I adopt if I already have children? Can I adopt more than one child at a time if they are not siblings?
Yes, you can expand your family through the gift of adoption if you already have children, although we strongly recommend that any children already in your home be age 10 or older. No, you cannot adopt more than one child at the same time, unless you are adopting a sibling group. It is always best to devote your time and attention to one child at a time.

Are there age and salary requirements to adopt? Do I have to be married or own a home?
Whether you are single, married or divorced, you can adopt a child. Couples must have been married for at least three years. There are no specific income requirements, but you must be able to financially manage the addition of a child or children to your family and CHS will consider your finances during the home study process. It doesn’t matter whether you rent or own, live in apartment, a house or a mobile home, all you need is a home that is clean and safe. CHS does require applicants be at least 25 years old.

Can I adopt children from all over or just the children on your website?
CHS is dedicated to finding homes for all of Virginia’s children in foster care. CHS features specific children we are recruiting a family for, but we work with all of the Department of Social Services in Virginia. Our Foster Care Adoption program does not have the capacity to explore out-of-state children unless a family comes to us with an already approved match.

If I have a home study completed by another agency, can I still adopt through your agency?
You are welcome to have your social worker forward your home study to our agency if you feel you could be a match for one of our waiting children or teens.

How much does it cost?
CHS is currently recruiting families open to adopting a child or teen age 12 and older, large sibling groups of 3 or more, or children (of any age) with special needs who may need life-long care. Our training classes are offered at a cost of $150 per person, and the home study is provided at no cost. If you are interested in adopting a younger child, we do not have availability in our program at this time. Please reach out to a CHS social worker to discuss what other options there are for adopting children under age 12.

If I take the training at another agency that is closer to my home, can you still complete my home study?
Most agencies prefer to have you complete the training and the home study at the same place, but we understand there may be circumstances that prevent this from happening. Please call us at (800) 247-2888 and we can discuss your specific situation.

What kind of support will be available for my family and for the child during the adoption process and after the adoption is finalized?
Your social worker will provide support to you and your child throughout the entire process. It is important to be connected with resources in the community, and CHS will help you do this. CHS has a program specifically for supporting families after a child is placed in their home. You can read more about our Post Adoption Program here.

What kind of support/services/benefits will children receive after turning 18?
Typically, after a child turns 18 the financial assistance from the state ends and the child is considered an adult. There are resources and services available, including opportunities for community college tuition for two years. CHS also offers lifetime of counseling and referral support.

Does the state offer financial assistance?
Foster and adoptive families receive a monthly maintenance payment from social services to off-set the care of the child. Children adopted from foster care are also eligible for an adoption subsidy that is paid to the adoptive parents. This subsidy is based on the child’s emotional, physical and behavioral needs.

How will I be selected for a child?
During the training and home study process, a CHS social worker will help your family think about what type of child you can best parent. Many aspects of a child are considered, including age, race, behaviors, and emotional and physical needs. As we learn about the waiting children in Virginia and their needs, we’ll decide together about submitting your home study to be considered for a particular child or children. The Department of Social Services, as the legal custodian of the child, will then make a decision about whether your family is a good match for the child. As the family, you also have a voice in whether you want to move forward and meet the child. We may consider a number of different young people before all parties agree to a match.

Why aren’t younger children available for adoption from foster care? How can I adopt a child 11 years old or younger?
Most children entering care today are age 10 and older. The Department of Social Services works hard to prevent children from coming into foster care and works to find family members to care for the child. Younger children in foster care are usually adopted by their foster parents. If you want to adopt a younger child, it is important to be open to being a foster-to-adopt parent. Our social workers would be happy to talk with you about this option.

Will I have to go to court and/or need an attorney?
No, CHS has an attorney who works to finalize our adoptions. There is no need to appear in court.

What is the best way to prepare my family for the possibility of adoption? And how can I learn more?
The best way is to prepare yourself with education and information. There are many good Web sites and resources about adoption. We recommend reading the following books:
The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis and David Cross,
Parenting the Hurt Child by Greg Keck and Regina Kupecky,  and
Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter.
In addition, these Web sites have valuable information:  www.nacac.org, www.adoptuskids.org, and www.davethomasfoundation.org.

Adopting Privately

What are the different types of adoption at CHS?

  1. Parental placement:  In this situation, the birth parent(s) have chosen the adoptive parent(s) for their baby and made plans to place the child directly in their care. The birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) have had communication with one another prior to contacting the adoption agency. An attorney will be needed to facilitate the legal process. CHS can assist with the home study and supervisory visits. ]
  2. Adopting a child you have custody of:  For families who have legal custody of a child and wish to adopt him or her, CHS can complete a home study and assist with related paperwork. Families will need to hire an attorney to begin the process in court.
  3. Family/relative adoption: If you are related to the birth parent(s) and plan to adopt his/her/their child, it may be either a parental placement or a custody situation depending on the child’s age and circumstances. In either case, you will need to contact an attorney to begin the process, and CHS can assist with the required home study and paperwork.

I’m interested in adopting an infant. What are the steps?

If you already have an identified birth parent who would like to place their infant with you, CHS is able to help you through the parental placement process. You will need to hire an attorney, obtain counseling for the birth parent, and complete a home study. Once the child is placed in your home, CHS can supervise the placement and assist with the legal process.

At this time, CHS does not have a program for families who want to be placed on a waiting list to adopt an infant. We are happy to provide you with a referral to an agency with this type of program.

I have custody of a child and would like to adopt him/her. Where do I begin?

The first step is to contact an adoption attorney where you live to discuss the case. He or she will be able to start the legal process and provide advice on how to proceed and what to expect of the timeline. When your attorney advises you to complete a home study, you can reach out to CHS for help with that process. We can also complete any required supervisory visits.

I am adopting a child from another state. Where do I begin?

When adopting a child from another state, you must go through a process that meets the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). Both the state where the child resides (or will be born) and Virginia have ICPC offices that participate in the process. Give us a call about the situation and we can provide guidance on finding an attorney and beginning the process. You will need a child-specific home study and supervisory visits, which CHS can provide.

How long does the adoption process take?

It is difficult to give an exact amount of time since it varies from family to family. After a child is placed in your home, there is a minimum period of six months before the finalization process can begin. You can, however, be certain that your CHS social worker will be there to support you throughout the entire process.

How much does it cost to complete a private adoption?

Fees vary, depending on the type of adoption and requirements of the case. You can view the fee schedule by clicking here

What are the requirements to adopt?

Whether you are single, married or divorced, you can adopt a child. There are no specific income requirements, but you must be able to financially manage the addition of a child or children to your family. And it doesn’t matter whether you rent or own, live in apartment, a house or a mobile home, all you need is a home that is clean and safe. CHS does require applicants be at least 25 years of age.

 What kind of support will be available for my family and for the child during the adoption process and after the adoption is finalized?

At CHS, we believe adoption is a lifelong process. Our services include support to adoptive parents and adoptees for their entire lives.

Will I need an attorney?

Yes, in most cases. 


Home Study Services

What is a home study?
In Virginia, state law requires families to have an approved home study in order to adopt a child. Following training, families may submit an application for a home study. The home study process allows CHS to gather information about you so that we can match you with a child whose needs you are equipped to meet. The process will further educate and prepare you for adoption as we determine together your readiness to adopt. The home study is comprised of at least three interviews with a CHS social worker, including a visit to your home. Our social workers will request criminal background checks, a search of the child abuse registry, DMV records, medical and financial histories, and personal references.

How long does it take?
A home study involves at least three visits with a social worker. On average, a home study takes about three months.

How much does it cost?
The cost of a home study is $1,500.

What if I’ve had a home study completed by another agency? Do I have to start over at CHS?
We will request a copy of the original home study. But in order to be an approved family at CHS, the agency will conduct a new home study.

If I’m adopting for a second time, do I need to complete another home study?
If your first adoption has been finalized and you wish to adopt for a second time, our agency will need to complete a new home study.

How long is a home study good for?
Once the home study has been completed and approved, it is good for three years. After that, it will need to be updated.