Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - District of Columbia

Date: May 2019

Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: D.C. Code §§ 16-305; 16-309

A petition filed for the adoption of a person shall be made under oath or affirmation of the petitioner. The petition or the exhibits annexed thereto shall contain the following information:

  • The name, sex, date, and place of birth of the prospective adoptee
  • The names, addresses, and residences of the birth parents, if known to the petitioner
  • The name, address, age, business or employment of the petitioner, and the name of the employer, if any, of the petitioner
  • The relationship, if any, of the prospective adoptee to the petitioner
  • The race and religion of the prospective adoptee or his or her birth parent or parents
  • The race and religion of the petitioner
  • The date that the prospective adoptee commenced residing with petitioner
  • Any change of name that may be desired

When any of the above facts are unknown to the petitioner, the petitioner shall state this fact. When any of the above facts are known to the mayor or a licensed child-placing agency that as a matter of social policy declines to disclose them to the petitioner, the facts may be disclosed to the court in an exhibit filed by the mayor or the agency with the court.

Within a period of 90 days, or such time as extended by the court, after a copy of the petition and the order providing for the report is served upon the agency directed to make the investigation, the agency shall make the report and recommendation required by § 16-307 to the court, and thereupon the court shall proceed to act upon the petition.

After considering the petition, the consents, and such evidence as the parties and any other properly interested person may present, the court may enter a final or interlocutory decree of adoption when it is satisfied as to the following:

  • The prospective adoptee is physically, mentally, and otherwise suitable for adoption by the petitioner.
  • The petitioner is fit and able to give the prospective adoptee a proper home and education.
  • The adoption will be in the best interests of the prospective adoptee.
  • The adoption form has been completed by the petitioner pursuant to § 7-231.19.

A final decree of adoption may not be entered unless the prospective adoptee has been living with the petitioner for at least 6 months.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: D.C. Code § 4-1406; D.C. Court Rules, Adoption Proc., Rule 3

Whenever a licensed child-placing agency has been given the permanent care and guardianship of any child and the rights of the parent or parents of that child have been terminated by order of the court of competent jurisdiction or by a legally executed relinquishment of parental rights, the agency is vested with parental rights and may consent to the adoption of the child pursuant to the statutes regulating adoption procedure. Minority of a natural parent shall not be a bar to such parent's relinquishment to a licensed agency.

For purposes of this section, a 'licensed child-placing agency' includes any child-placing agency licensed pursuant to this chapter or any child-placing agency licensed or authorized for the care and placement of minors by any State, territory, or possession of the United States; by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; or by any foreign country or any State, province, or other governmental division of any foreign country.

In court rules: A petitioner must file the following documents with the adoption petition:

  • One additional copy of the petition
  • A completed adoption information form
  • A completed District of Columbia vital records form
  • An executed copy of the mother's affidavit concerning paternity, if available
  • A list of the names and addresses of the following:
    • Counsel for the petitioner (or the name and address of the petitioner, if self-represented)
    • The agency that the petitioner requests prepare a final report required by the court
    • Any custodian of the prospective adoptee other than the petitioner

Background Studies

Citation: D.C. Code § 16-307

Upon the filing of a petition, the court shall refer the petition for investigation, report, and recommendation to either of the following:

  • The licensed child-placing agency by which the case is supervised
  • The mayor, if the case is not supervised by a licensed child-placing agency

The investigation, report, and recommendation shall include the following:

  • An investigation of the following:
    • The truth of the allegations of the petition
    • The environment, antecedents, and assets, if any, of the prospective adoptee to determine whether he or she is a proper subject for adoption
    • The home of the petitioner to determine whether the home is a suitable one for the prospective adoptee
    • Any other circumstances and conditions that may have a bearing on the proposed adoption and of which the court should have knowledge
  • A written report to the court of the findings of the investigation
  • A recommendation to the court whether a final decree declaring the adoption should be immediately granted or whether the court should grant an interlocutory decree granting temporary custody of the prospective adoptee to the petitioner

The written report submitted to the court shall be filed with and become part of the records in the case.

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: D.C. Code § 16-309

If it appears to be in the best interests of the prospective adoptee, the court may enter an interlocutory decree of adoption, which shall by its terms automatically become a final decree of adoption on a day therein named, of not less than 6 months nor more than 1 year, from the date of entry of the interlocutory decree, unless in the interim the decree shall have been set aside for cause shown. The supervising agency shall be permitted to visit the adoptee during the period of the interlocutory decree.

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: D.C. Code § 16-312

A final decree of adoption establishes the relationship of natural parent and natural child between adopter and adoptee for all purposes, including mutual rights of inheritance and succession as if adoptee were born to adopter.

All rights and duties, including those of inheritance and succession, between the adoptee, his or her natural parents, their issue, collateral relatives, and so forth, are cut off, except that when one of the natural parents is the spouse of the adopter, the rights and relations as between adoptee, that natural parent, and his or her parents and collateral relatives, including mutual rights of inheritance and succession, are not altered.

While it is in force, an interlocutory decree of adoption has the same legal effect as a final decree of adoption.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: D.C. Code §§ 7-231.19; 7-231.21

The court shall prepare an adoption form for each adoption decreed by the court. The form shall comply with the following:

  • State the facts necessary to locate and identify the original record of live birth of the adoptee
  • Provide the information necessary to establish a new record of live birth for the adoptee
  • Identify the adoption order
  • Be issued under seal by the court

The petitioner for adoption or his or her attorney shall supply the information necessary to prepare the adoption form. The social services agency, or any individual with knowledge of the facts, shall supply the court with any additional information necessary to complete the adoption form. The court shall require such individuals to provide the information prior to issuing a final decree in the matter.

If an adoptee was born in a foreign country and was not a citizen of the United States at the time of birth, the registrar shall prepare a 'record of foreign live birth.' The registrar also shall send a copy of the adoption form to the appropriate registration authority.

The registrar shall establish a new record of live birth for an adoptee born outside of the United States upon receipt of a request of the adoptive parent or the adoptee, if the adoptee is age 18 or older. The request must include either of the following:

  • An adoption form prepared in accordance with § 7-231.19
  • A copy of the foreign adoption decree that includes a certified translation of the decree

The registrar shall return all adoption documents issued by the foreign jurisdiction to the adoptive parent or adoptee, whichever is applicable.

If the individual's name has been changed subsequent to adoption, the order shall include the name that currently appears on the live birth record and the new name to be designated on the replacement record of live birth. The new name of the individual shall be shown on the replacement live birth record.

The actual place and date of live birth shall be displayed on the new record of live birth. The new record shall be substituted for the original record of live birth in the files of the Vital Records Division.

A replacement record of live birth shall be substituted for the original record of live birth. The original record of live birth and the evidence of adoption shall be placed under seal and not be subject to inspection, except upon an order of the court or in accordance with agency rules.