Adoption can be a wonderful way for people to grow their families. Washington DC law encourages qualified applicants to adopt whenever possible. The adoption process can be difficult to navigate, however, without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

Prospective parents must participate in an investigation conducted by a child-placing agency or the Mayor’s office to determine their ability to care for a child. Additionally, those seeking to adopt must obtain the biological parents’ permission to do so or locate records of their terminated parental rights. A DC adoption lawyer can provide guidance during the process and help aspiring parents collect necessary documentation as well as submit complete petitions to a local court.

Overview of the Adoption Process

Before a person can file a petition for adoption through a local court, they must first identify the child that they wish to adopt. Code of District of Columbia §16-305 requires prospective parents to include the following information on adoption petitions:

  • The child’s name, birthdate, sex, and place of birth
  • Names and addresses of the child’s biological parents
  • Personal identifying information of the petitioner
  • A description of the relationship between the petitioner and adoptee
  • The races of the child or their biological parents and that of the petitioner

Once the petition is filed, the court will refer it for investigation, report, and recommendation. A child-placing agency or the Mayor’s office would be responsible for conducting this investigation, according to DC Code §16-307.

The goal of an investigation is to determine the truth of the allegations in the petition as well as the suitability of the petitioner’s home for the prospective adoptee. Upon completion, the investigator will report the findings of the investigation to the court and make a recommendation regarding whether the petition should be granted.

The Issue of Consent

Biological parents always retain their rights over a child unless they consent to the child’s adoption or a petition for adoption is granted following the termination of the parental rights. In other words, a petitioner may need to obtain the parent’s consent to adopt after the biological parent signs a relinquishment of parental rights under DC Code §4-1406.

In some situations, a court may have already terminated a biological parent’s rights. An adoption lawyer in Washington DC could help determine whether gathering consent is necessary and work to obtain it on your behalf if so.

Let a Washington DC Adoption Attorney Help

Adding a new member to your family through adoption can provide many great opportunities for children and prospective parents alike. Adoption is a complex legal process that can seem intrusive because it requires petitioners to provide so much personal information to the court and to allow strangers into their homes to conduct studies and background checks.

Not only must you file a detailed adoption petition with the court, but you must also undergo an investigation by a child-placement agency or the Mayor to determine your fitness as a parent.

A DC adoption lawyer may be able to help you to grow your family. Call us today to get started on your case as soon as possible.