Dale Margolin Cecka*
Under private adoption law in Virginia, a parent can lose her parental rights in one court hearing based on a single petition, without any proof of parental unfitness offered, and without the opportunity to object to the adoption of her child. Virginia Code section 63.2-1202(H), pertaining to adoptions where the petitioner is a private party and the consent of the parent is not required, is so streamlined that it can violate the constitutional rights of both biological parents and their children. In 2012, the Virginia General Assembly added more specific language to the statute, but on its face, it is still inadequate to protect the rights of a parent and the best interests of the child.
*Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic, University of Richmond School of Law. J.D., 2004, Columbia Law School; B.A., 1999, Stanford University.