Finding children loving homes

While adoptions are one of life's most rewarding experiences, the adoption process can be intimidating.  Attorney Julia B. Shalhoup guides families through the process of adoption with care, concern and professionalism.

Attorney Shalhoup understands the complexities of West Virginia and federal regulations governing adoptions.  She represents the rights of biological parents, adoptive parents, stepparents, relatives, and other parties involved in a wide range of adoption litigation and mediation proceedings, including:

  • Agency adoption
  • Independent adoption
  • Private placement adoption
  • Open adoption
  • Closed adoption
  • Step-parent adoption
  • Adult adoption
  • Foster child adoptions
  • Surrogate parent adoptions
  • Interstate or international adoptions

It is important to keep in mind that adoption is governed principally by state law.  It is imperative to hire an attorney proficient in West Virginia adoptions.  Some costs associated with adoption may be tax deductible.

Independent and private placement adoptions

The majority of our clients are step-parents who hope to adopt their step-children.  Step-parent adoptions or blood relative adoptions can be accomplished either through express consent of the parent or through implied consent, such as abandonment or death.

In West Virginia, implied consent to adoption through abandonment occurs when a parent has gone more than six months without contacting a child or paying child support.  If the adopting party has lived with the child for six months prior to the adoption, then the adoptive parent may seek permanent custody of the child under the legal presumption that the uninvolved parent consents to an adoption.  In short, abandonment by a parent makes it possible to adopt a child without explicit consent.

Other types of uncontested adoptions include most surrogacy-related adoptions and the adoption of children who have been placed with a U.S. or international agency.  We can help you with the complex legal issues involved in a contested adoption.

We offer effective legal assistance with both open and closed child adoptions, and help grandparents and non-family members adopt children of their own.

What is the difference between an agency adoption and an independent adoption?

In an agency adoption, the prospective adoptive parents contact an adoption agency to start the process, and the agency serves as an intermediary between the adoptive parents and the birth parents, matching them up and guiding them through all of the necessary hurdles to finalization.  In an independent adoption, the birth parents and adoptive parents locate each other and work together privately to accomplish the adoption without the benefit of agency involvement, although typically a lawyer is hired to make sure that all legal requirements are met.

Each type of adoption process has advantages and disadvantages.  Using an agency can be beneficial since many agencies are familiar with adoption requirements, which can be overwhelming to prospective parents and birth parents alike.  Agencies can also provide counseling and other support services to the birth and adoptive families, both before and after the adoption.  However, some agencies have selection criteria that may screen out certain prospective parents, and waiting times can be very long.

Independent adoptions may allow prospective adoptive and birth parents more control over the adoption process.  All parties generally have a greater opportunity to get to know each other.  Adoptive parents may be able to circumvent an agency's selection criteria and shorten the waiting time.  On the other hand, birth parents may not receive counseling in an independent adoption, which could lead to greater uncertainty and even the possibility of a change of heart.  Additionally, independent adoptions are not legal in all states, so it is essential to check with a lawyer about applicable state laws before choosing this option.

Put our experience with adoptions to work for you

You do not have to face your adoption fears alone.  From initial consultation through to resolution, Attorney Julia B. Shalhoup listens to you, answers your questions, and responds to any crisis that may occur.  Put her experience with adoptions to work for you.  Contact her office today: (304) 345-4455.

From offices in Charleston, the law firm of Julia Shalhoup represents clients throughout West Virginia, including Charleston, Hurricane, Winfield, Madison, Elkview, Ripley, Beckley, Hamlin, and Spencer, and Putnam, Kanawha, Boone, Lincoln, Jackson, Roane, Cabell, Clay, and Raleigh counties.

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