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District of Columbia Adoption Laws

If you and your family are beginning to seriously consider adopting a child, there’s a lot to learn first — so much so that it can all feel a little overwhelming. At American Adoptions, we always recommend that you learn as much about the process as possible before diving in headfirst, which is why we’re so passionate about providing informational adoption articles like this one. Because adoption laws vary in every state, we’ve compiled the following list of things you should know about adoption laws in the District of Columbia.

Please keep in mind that this article does not constitute legal advice, nor should it take the place of a licensed attorney should you have questions regarding the legality of an adoption scenario.

Who can adopt a child in Washington, D.C.?

According to District of Columbia adoption laws, you can adopt a child if you are:

  • Single

  • Married and petitioning jointly with your spouse, unless he or she is the natural parent of the child being adopted (as in a stepparent adoption)

D.C. does not have an adoption age limit, although it’s important to note that you must be at least 21 years of age to foster parent or adopt from the foster care system. As long as you are able to provide for a child financially, physically and mentally, you will most likely be allowed to adopt in the District of Columbia. D.C. adoption laws say that any minor or adult may be adopted.

The Consent Process in Washington, D.C.

District of Columbia adoption laws state that the following people must consent before a child under age 18 is adopted:

  • Both parents, if living

  • The living parent if the other is dead

  • The court-appointed guardian of the child

  • A licensed child-placing agency or the Mayor, if parental rights have been released to the Mayor or the child-placing agency

  • The Mayor, in any situation not otherwise provided for

  • The adopted person if he or she is older than age 14

Adoption laws in the District of Columbia don’t address when consent must be executed.

District of Columbia Adoption Laws Regarding Birth Parent Expenses

In Washington, D.C., adoptive parents can cover the following prospective birth parent expenses:

  • A prospective birth mother’s living expenses, including food, shelter and clothing

  • Counseling by an independent mental health professional

  • Medical expenses

  • Transportation to and from medical or adoption-related services

However, it is illegal to offer money or any item of value in exchange for a pregnant woman’s decision to place her child for adoption. The court will also be required to approve any fee and expense of $500 or more relating to the adoption.

Washington, D.C. Home Study Requirements

When it comes to adoption home studies, the laws in each state are similar. Regardless of where an adoptive family lives, they will be required to complete an adoption home study before they can begin the process of adopting a child. An adoption home study essentially verifies that a family is ready to grow through adoption and is comprised of three main parts: a documentation phase, a home inspection, and separate interviews with each family member that lives in the home.

Many families worry about the adoption home study process, but it’s important to keep in mind that the right home study provider is there to help you on your journey to adoption, not hinder you! Since the documentation phase of the process is the most time-consuming, we like to recommend that our adoptive families begin gathering the following documents to give to your home study provider:

  • Birth certificates

  • Marriage certificate

  • Driver’s licenses

  • Physical and mental health statements

  • Background checks for each adult that lives in the home

  • Financial statements like pay stubs or tax returns

  • Three to five references with contact information

  • Autobiographical statements from each hopeful adoptive parent explaining why you wish to adopt

Washington, D.C., Adoption Agencies

American Adoptions is a national, full-service adoption agency that works with families and pregnant women alike across the entire United States. We help families to pursue an adoption along every step of the way, from providing counseling to helping adoptive families and birth parents remain in contact after a child has been placed for adoption. We even offer free, 24/7 counseling to pregnant women who are unsure of their options. To learn more about our District of Columbia adoption programs or to begin the adoption process, please contact us anytime at 1-800-ADOPTION.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.