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District of Columbia Adoption Laws

As you consider adoption, you'll experience many concerns. For example, as you move through the process it's important to consider what type of adoption you'd like to pursue. Regardless, it will be required that you are screened by an agency within your state. Information collected during that screening process will be used by a local court to determine whether your adoption serves the best interests of the child whose adoption you are pursuing. You may need the birthparents' consent, while many other requirements may also need to be satisfied as well.

Whatever the case may be, your adoption will be subject to laws at a state level. And if you're in the District of Columbia, this article can help you navigate some of the basic parts of pursuing an adoption in our nation's capital.

Adoption Laws in the District of Columbia

Washington, D.C. permits any person to adopt any other person. For married persons, a spouse must join in the petition for adoption, unless the spouse is a proposed adoptee's natural parent. Adoption is initiated by filing a petition with the district's superior court system.

Vital information about the prospective adopting parent(s) must be included in the petition, including name and contact information, relationship to the prospective adoptee, race, religion, and any desired name change. A prospective adoptee must also live with the adopting person for a period of six months. Only then can the adoption become final.

Consent is normally required to adopt anyone under the age of 18. This includes the consent of the prospective adoptee if they're 14 years of age or older. Consent from the child's parents, legal guardian, or a licensed child-placing agency is required as well. This consent requirement can be waived by a court if a party whose consent is required can't be located or has abandoned the child.

Finally, an adoption decree has the effect of creating the same relationship between the adopting parents and the adopted child as enjoyed by natural parents and a natural child. For all legal purposes, they are viewed as the actual child of the adopting parents.

District of Columbia Adoption Laws at a Glance

While reading the statute is important, it can also be helpful to read an overview of the law that isn't written in legalese. In the following table, you'll find an overview of adoption laws in D.C., as well as links to relevant statutes.


District of Columbia Code, Division II, Title 16, Chapter 3, Section 16-301, et seq. (Adoption)

Who May Be Adopted?

Any person

When is Child's Consent Needed?

14 years of age and older

Who May Adopt?

Any person can adopt. Spouses must both join on a petition unless one is the natural parent and consents to the other spouse's adoption.

State Agency Responsible for Adoptions

District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency

Statute of Limitations to Challenge Adoption

One year

Related Statute(s)

District of Columbia Code, Division II, Title 16, Chapter 4, Section 16-401, et seq. (Collaborative Reproduction)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings by higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and by other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to learn more about the state law(s).

District of Columbia Adoption Laws: Related Resources

For additional information and resources, please click on the links listed below.

Get Legal Help with Your Questions About District of Columbia Adoption Laws

While making the decision to adopt is exciting, it also requires a lot of work. You must remember that your adoption will be subject to laws at a state level. When in doubt during any legal process, it's likely best that you consult with an attorney. Consider contacting an experienced adoption lawyer near you. And if you're in the District of Columbia, consult an attorney local to our nation's capital.

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