Family Formation

Building families through adoption and assisted reproductive technology is some of the most important work we do.


Adoptive parents provide the love and support for children in need, and our firm has had the privilege of assisting these children and families for over 30 years. Members of our team have experienced the gift of adoption in their own families and understand the challenges families face in the adoption process. We have long-standing relationships with local adoption agencies and assisted in the finalization of hundreds of adoptions in the Richmond area and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

We have significant experience with contested adoptions and can navigate the procedural steps of contested adoption proceedings. We are also able to represent birth parents as they consider the choice for adoption. In the unlikely event an adoption fails, we are available to aid adoptive parents in adoption dissolution and making plans for the best interests of the child at issue.

At ThompsonMcMullan, we assist clients with various types of adoption and related services, including:

• Parental placement adoptions (also known as private adoption) which involve a birth parent choosing the adoptive parent(s) directly;
• Agency adoptions which may or may not involve direct contact between the birth parents and adoptive parents. Ultimately, the birth parent enters into an agreement with an adoption agency and the agency places the child with adoptive parents;
• Step-parent adoptions which occur when a parent desires for his or her child to be adopted by his or her spouse;
• Close Relative adoptions which involve adoption by the child’s grandparents, great-grandparents, adult aunts or uncles, adult great-aunts or great-uncles or adult nieces, nephews, or siblings of the adoptee;
• International adoptions (including re-adoption) which are agency adoptions where the adoptive child is being adopted from a foreign country;
• Adult adoptions which establish an adoption relationship between adults with prior relationships; and
• Representation of birth parents in adoption proceedings


We are dedicated to working with both intended parents and gestational carriers as they navigate the journey of gestational surrogacy. Building your family through surrogacy presents unique challenges that requires the assistance of lawyers who are attuned to both the needs of our clients and the ever-changing landscape of the law in this area. We are honored to assist all types of families, including individuals, heterosexual couples, and same-sex couples.

At ThompsonMcMullan, we assist clients in all areas of reproductive law and related legal services, including:

• Gestational and Traditional Surrogacy Agreements;
• Egg Donor Agreements;
• Sperm Donor Agreements;
• Embryo Donation Agreements;
• Birth Orders and Birth Certificates; and
• Review of Insurance Coverage and Healthcare Options.

Adoption and surrogacy can involve many complex issues. Our attorneys provide step-by-step support and advice, acknowledging that building your family is an emotional journey that requires sensitive attention, in addition to knowledge of the legalities involved, in order to make the process towards parenthood as smooth as possible.


Christopher M. Malone (Adoptions)

Chris has an extensive practice in the area of adoption and family law. As an adoptive parent, Chris has personal experience of the adoption process. He regularly assists families in initiating and finalizing adoptions in order to establish forever homes for children. Chris works closely with adoptive parents and child placement agencies to navigate the adoption process. When issues of contest arise, Chris represents adoptive parents and child placement agencies in resolving these disputes.

Sherry A. Fox (Adoptions and Surrogacy)

Building one’s family is a deeply personal and emotional process for families. Acknowledging that, Sherry is dedicated to providing her clients who are creating their families through adoption, surrogacy or another form of assisted reproductive technology with not only the highest standard of legal assistance, but also compassionate representation that is attuned to the emotional needs of her clients as they navigate this process.

Frances L. Caruso (Adoptions and Surrogacy)

Frances’ passion is advising and counseling her clients as they realize their dreams of family expansion, whether that be through adoption, surrogacy, or some other form of assisted reproductive technology. Understanding that families have often experienced a prolonged and emotional road to family formation, Frances is dedicated to providing her clients with comprehensive legal representation and a sense of protection and comfort throughout the entire legal process. Having interned with a legal aid center prior to law school and seeing firsthand the positive impact adoption had on families, upon entering law school Frances knew that adoption would be an integral part of her legal practice. During law school, she studied the intersection of the law and assisted reproductive technology. Following graduation, she clerked for a circuit court judge where she advised on cases relating to adoption, parentage, and assisted reproductive technology.

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