Washington D.C. Adoption Guide

Your guide to everything adoption in DC.

Kenneth Knudson July 15, 2016

Welcome, Washingtonians! This guide was written to provide you with a single place to find information about adoption within your own state. It will walk you through everything from laws that will impact your adoption to reviews of adoption service providers in D.C.

We’ve divided this guide into five parts: first, general information about adopting in Washington D.C., then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (starting in Slide 6), foster adoption (Slide 19),  international adoption (Slide 29), and stepparent adoption (Slide 33). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful adoption resources (Slide 36).

Please Note
1. Please Note

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions. Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption.

The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Adoption.com is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall Adoption.com be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

Image Credit: Jon Bilous

Did You Know?
2. Did You Know?

The statue of Andrew Jefferson in Lafayette Square near the White House was partially constructed from cannons used in the War of 1812.

Image Credit: Orhan Cam

Adoption in DC at a Glance
3. Adoption in DC at a Glance

Kids in Foster Care Available for Adoption in 2014: 981

Foster adoptions completed in 2014: 100

International adoptions completed in 2014: 17

Can I Adopt in DC?
4. Can I Adopt in DC?

Adoption requirements in DC are as follows:

Age: 21

Marital Status: Single or married

Work: Stable income to provide for a child

Personality: Loving, family oriented

Experience: None required, but the district likes to see stable family relationships

Other Requirements in DC: 30 hours of training for certain types of adoptions

Developing a Support System
5. Developing a Support System

It’s essential to have a good network of family, friends, and neighbors to support you through your adoption process.

It’s also important to connect with other adoptive parents. You can begin making these connections in our forums.

You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

Domestic Infant Adoption in DC
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in DC

Before you get started, click here to learn more about the overall process of adopting an infant in the United States. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back to get the details about adoption in DC.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help
7. Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help

In DC you are able to work with local and private agencies or attorneys to complete an adoption.

Some people pursuing a private adoption find it beneficial to work with a professional
adoption facilitator
, an individual or organization that matches birth parents with adoptive parents in exchange for a fee.

Paid adoption facilitators are banned in Washington D.C. However, birth parents are allowed to advertise their desire to adopt.

You can browse and read reviews about adoption service providers in DC here.

For more information about picking an adoption agency, learn about the Top Fifteen Things to Look for In An Adoption Agency.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete A Home Study
9. Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete A Home Study

Regardless of whether you complete your adoption, you will need to complete an adoption home study.

Your home study social worker will help educate you about adoption and ensure that you (and your partner, if applicable) meet the requirements outlined on slide four.

Click here to learn more about the Home Study process.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word

Washington DC statues currently do not address the use of advertising when it comes to adoption.

One of the most important things you can do while waiting for an adoption match is to let everyone know about your hope to adopt. Many adoption connections are made through word-of-mouth referrals.

Another great way to spread the word is social media. Creating a profile on Adoption.com Parent Profiles allows you to easily share your story with those considering placing their child for adoption. Features like videos and photos, posts, Pinterest-like favorites, and recommendations and endorsements make it easy to create a profile as unique as you are, increasing the likelihood that you will stand out and connect with that right person.

Rich communication options like video chat and instant messaging make connecting easy. A mobile-responsive design means that you will never be out of reach.

What’s more, Adoption.com receives over 650,000 monthly visits, which means your profile will receive unparalleled exposure. You can even view and monitor your progress through a detailed statistics page.

Ready to get started? Visit Parent Profiles.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment
11. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

Consent for adoption is required by D.C. Law from the following parties:

-Both parents, if both are alive
-Living parent if one is dead
-Court-appointed guardian for adoptee
-Licensed child placing agency or mayor
-Consent from adoptee if older than 14

Birth parents are required to wait until after the birth of their child before relinquishing parental rights. Once filed, birth parents have 14 days from the date of legal relinquishment to revoke consent if they chose to use an adoption agency. If they chose a private adoption relinquishment is irrevocable upon filing in court.

In D.C. a waiting period of 30 days exists for biological parents who wish to relinquish their rights after the first revocation for agency adoptions. Relinquishment of parental rights for a second time is irrevocable unless proved in court that the relinquishment came under fraud, force, duress, or by material mistake.

SOURCE: childwelfare.gov
jenniferfairfax.com
§ 4–1406

Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights

A birth father's consent for adoption is required in D.C. under the following conditions:

-When he is married to the birth mother
-When a couple acknowledges paternity voluntarily under oath in a hospital shortly after birth and a notary authenticates their signatures
-After a DNA test proves with 99% certainty that the child belongs to a specific father

Unmarried fathers have 60 days after a judicial proceeding concerning the adoptee to revoke their parental rights. Unmarried fathers are required to receive notice from the courts of adoption proceedings. If a father chooses not to appear in court there parental rights will be terminated.

SOURCE: childwelfare.gov

Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses
13. Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents and/or an adoption agency may provide certain expenses for expectant mothers. There are, however, laws governing such support.

Approved Payments
Child placing agencies may charge hopeful adoptive parents for the actual living expenses of an expectant mother. This includes food, shelter, clothing, counseling, medical expenses, and the cost of travel to obtain medication. While there is no set amount to adoption payments, D.C. law uses a reasonable standard.

No parent using a private adoption shall receive money for adoption expenses.

Banned Payments
Any fee or monetary gain beyond the established agency fees in connection with the actual placing of a child. Any fees collected in a private adoption in association with the pregnancy.

As soon as the child-placing-agency files a report to finalize the adoption with the courts they must also require hopeful adoptive parents to submit an affidavit explaining each fee over $500 to any party in connection with the adoption.

SOURCE: childwelfare.gov

Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
14. Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that determines the amount of contact birth and adoptive families have after the adoption becomes final.

The District of Columbia currently allows post-adoption contact agreements to be legally enforceable. Adoptive parents choose which of the adoptee’s family members can contact the child and how often this contact occurs. Both adoptive and birth families come to agree on a written contract before the adoption becomes final, which then regulates the amount of contact after finalization. For more information on post-adoption contact agreements click here.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization
15. Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization

In order to finalize an adoption in D.C. hopeful adoptive parents must file an adoption petition with the courts. Along with this petition biological parents must consent to the adoption in writing before an authorized office, a licensed child placing agency worker, or the mayor. After filing the child must live with the adoptive parents for at least 6 months before the adoption becomes final.

SOURCE: statelaws.findlaw.com

Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in DC from Out-of-State
16. Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in DC from Out-of-State

With private (usually domestic infant) adoptions, it is always possible to adopt a child within, even if you live in a different state. A non-resident is allowed to finalize an adoption in the D.C. area.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC.

Image Credit: Sean Pavone

Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to DC from Out-of-State
17. Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to DC from Out-of-State

There are plenty of sites to see when visiting to D.C. The District boasts some of the nation's best museums and memorials including the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Museum of Natural History, and the Air and Space Museum. Many of these are free to visit and attract thousands of tourists daily. Hotel prices within D.C. average $140 a night. Visitors looking to save money on their trip should consider booking a hotel 15 minutes outside D.C. in Arlington, VA.

Image Credit: Sean Pavone

Foster Adoption in DC
18. Foster Adoption in DC

Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of adopting children through foster care. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about foster adoption in DC.

Foster Adoption: Children Available for Adoption in DC
19. Foster Adoption: Children Available for Adoption in DC

There are currently 1,000 children in D.C. waiting to be adopted.

Click here to view a photolisting of children in the D.C. area.

Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help
20. Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help

In D.C., hopeful adoptive parents register with the Child and Family Services Agency in order to become a foster parent.

To find adoption agency in D.C. and to read reviews click here.

Becoming Part of the Foster Care System
21. Becoming Part of the Foster Care System

In DC a child can be placed with hopeful adoptive parents before their biological parents’ rights have been terminated.

This is called a legal risk placement, meaning that the adopted child may still return to live with their biological parents. However, these placements are not made unless the agency responsible for the child is actively pursuing the termination of his/her birth parents’ rights.

During a placement like this hopeful adoptive parents will still need to follow all the regulations in DC for foster parents.

Post Adoption Contact Agreements
22. Post Adoption Contact Agreements

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that determines the amount of contact birth and adoptive families have after the adoption becomes final.

The District of Columbia currently allows post-adoption contact agreements to be legally enforceable. Adoptive parents choose which of the adoptee’s family members can contact the child and how often this contact occurs. Both adoptive and birth families must come to agree on a written contract before the adoption becomes final, which then regulates the amount of contact after finalization. For more information on post-adoption contact agreements click here.

Finalization
23. Finalization

In order to finalize an adoption in DC hopeful adoptive parents must file an adoption petition with the courts. Along with this petition biological parents must consent to the adoption in writing before an authorized office, a licensed child placing agency worker, or the mayor. After filing the child must live with the adoptive parents for at least 6 months before the adoption becomes final.

Adoption Assistance
24. Adoption Assistance

Many programs exists in D.C. to help unite hopeful adoptive parents with children waiting to be adopted.

The Federal (Title IV-E) and state (non IV-E) programs were created to give hopeful adoptive parents the means to support special needs children. This does not necessarily mean a child with a mental disability. Every state defines special needs children a little differently.

The District uses the following criteria to determine a special needs child who may need financial assistance for adoption:

-The child is legally free for adoption due to relinquishment or termination of parental rights
-The child is diagnosed by a mental health professional to have a condition which impairs mental, social, or intellectual functioning which impairment requires the use of a health professional
-Efforts have been made to place the child without an adoption subsidy
-The child has a diagnosed mental disability that limits their ability to complete major life activities, or the disability requires medical treatment
-The child is a member of a sibling group
-The child is of an age or ethnicity that presents a barrier to adoption
-The child has been legally free for adoption for 6 months but has not been placed in a home

Adoption monetary assistance depends upon many factors including the child’s age and the type of disability. For more information click here.

SOURCE: dc.gov

Foster Adoption: Adopting in DC from Out-of-State
25. Foster Adoption: Adopting in DC from Out-of-State

In adopting a child from foster care, there are opportunities to adopt a child from a different state. If this is the case, you will need to comply with the requirements of The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the
ICPC.

Image Credit: f11photo

Foster Adoption: Traveling to D.C. from Out-of-State
26. Foster Adoption: Traveling to D.C. from Out-of-State

There are plenty of sites to see when visiting Washington D.C. Many of the top attractions are free to the public for viewing. The Lincoln Memorial, constructed after the Parthenon in Greece (the birthplace for democracy) is a must stop for history buffs. For fans of art the National Gallery of Art is a great stop. Museums such as the Air and Space dot the landscape surrounding our nation's capital.

Image Credit: David Byron Keener

International Adoption in DC
27. International Adoption in DC

Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of international adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about international adoption in DC.

International Adoption: Photolisting
28. International Adoption: Photolisting

There are millions of beautiful children across the world who are hoping to find a forever family.

Meet some of them through our Photolisting.

International Adoption: Get Professional Help
29. International Adoption: Get Professional Help

With international adoptions, your only choice is to complete your adoption through an agency. Because of the Universal Accreditation Act, all adoption agencies completing international adoptions are required to be credentialed according to federal standards. Make sure to check with any agency before working with them to ensure they have this accreditation in place!

In selecting an international adoption agency, there are Four Essential Criteria you should probably consider. Check out this directory to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in the District of Columbia.

In order to be approved to adopt internationally, you will need to complete an international adoption-specific home study.

International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements
30. International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements

You will also need to request a U.S. birth certificate and social security number for your child.

Consult your adoption attorney or adoption agency about other post-adoption requirements specific to international adoption.

Stepparent Adoption in D.C.
31. Stepparent Adoption in D.C.

Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of stepparent adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about stepparent adoption in DC.

Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights
32. Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights

In D.C., a stepparent along with the spouse has the ability to adopt a stepchild. The biological parent married to the stepparent keeps their same rights. Consent must be given from all parties—the spouse, the child (if older than 14) and the biological parent who is terminating parental rights in order to complete the adoption.

If the biological parent refuses to relinquish his/her parental rights, hopeful adoptive parents may still move forward with the adoption. They will need to prove in court that the biological parent has abandoned their child for more than 6 months. If this is the case consent from the biological parent is unnecessary.

Image Credit: Liz Van Steenburgh

Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt
33. Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt

After the termination of parental rights, hopeful adoptive parents must attend a court hearing in order to make the adoption official.

The hopeful adoptive parents will testify about their bond with the stepchild, the stability of their marriage and home, and their desire to be the legal guardians to the child. The court has the final say on whether or not to allow the adoption to happen.

You will generally not be required to complete a background check or home study as part of the stepparent adoption process.

Adoption Resources
34. Adoption Resources

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Kenneth Knudson


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