District of Columbia Adoption Laws

There are many concerns and interests involved in an adoption. Couples looking to adopt must be screened by state agencies in advance. Courts determine whether an adoption is in the best interests of a child, and consent, home residency, and other requirements must be met. There are also different types of adoptions.

A married couple might adopt a child, one spouse might adopt the other spouse’s child from before the marriage, or relatives may legally adopt a child. Adults can also adopt other adults.  With all the different scenarious that can arise, balancing the concerns and interests involved is the job of state adoption laws and the courts that decide petitions for adoption. Here’s a summary of the laws governing adoption in Washington D.C.

Adoption Laws in D.C.

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 for adoption with the district’s superior court system. Vital information about the prospective adopting parents must be included here, including name and contact information, relationship to the prospective adoptee, race, religion, and any desired name change. A proposed adoptee child must also live with the adopting person for a period of six months. Only then can the adoption become final.

Some other special consideration exist as well. Consent is normally required to adopt anyone under the age of eighteen years. This includes the consent of the prospective adoptee if he or she is fourteen 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 a 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 an actual child of the adopting parents.

Code Sections § 16-301 to 315.
Who May Be Adopted Any person.
Age that Child’s Consent Becomes Necessary Fourteen 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.
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption? Yes. Adoptee children must live with the adopting person for six months before the adoption can become final.
State Agency/Court Mayor or licensed agency/Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Statute of Limitations to Challenge One year.

Related Resources for Adoption Laws

You can find more information about adoption here at FindLaw. For specific questions regarding a particular case, we recommend speaking to a local adoption lawyer.

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