Consent to Adoption - District of Columbia

Date: October 2021

Who Must Consent to an Adoption

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-304

Consent to a proposed adoption of a person under age 18 is necessary from the following:

  • Both parents if they are both alive
  • The living parent, if one of the parents is dead
  • The court-appointed guardian of the prospective adopted person
  • A licensed child-placing agency or the mayor if the parental rights of the parent or parents have been terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction or by a release of parental rights to the mayor or licensed child-placing agency
  • The mayor in any situation not otherwise provided for by this subsection

Minority of a natural parent is not a bar to that parent's consent to adoption.

Consent of Child Being Adopted

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-304

Consent to a proposed adoption is necessary from the prospective adopted person if he or she is age 14 or older.

When Parental Consent is not Needed

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-304

When a parent whose consent is required, after such notice as the court directs, cannot be located or has abandoned the prospective adopted person and voluntarily failed to contribute to his or her support for a period of at least 6 months preceding the date of the filing of the petition, the consent of that parent is not required.

The court may grant a petition for adoption without any of the consents specified above when the court finds, after a hearing, that the consent or consents are withheld contrary to the best interests of the child.

When Consent Can Be Executed

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

How Consent Must Be Executed

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-304(a); 4-1406(f)

A petition for adoption may not be granted by the court unless there is filed with the petition a written statement of consent that is signed and acknowledged before an officer authorized by law to take acknowledgments, a representative of a licensed child-placing agency, or the Mayor or unless a relinquishment of parental rights with respect to the prospective adopted person has been recorded and filed as provided by § 4-1406.

Except in proceedings for adoption, no parent may voluntarily assign or otherwise transfer to another his or her rights and duties with respect to the permanent care and control of a child under age 16 unless such relinquishment of parental rights is made to a licensed child-placing agency. Such relinquishment of parental rights shall be a statement in writing signed by the person relinquishing such parental rights who shall subscribe his or her name thereto and acknowledge the same before a representative of the licensed child-placing agency in the presence of at least one witness.

Each transfer or relinquishment of parental rights and any revocation of said relinquishment shall be recorded and filed by the child-placing agency in a properly sealed file in the Family Division of the Superior Court within 20 days after the expiration of the revocation period. Any subsequent relinquishment shall be filed by the child-placing agency in a properly sealed file in the Family Division of the Superior Court within 30 days after the date of relinquishment.

Revocation of Consent

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1406(c)-(d)

Any relinquishment of parental rights executed by a single natural parent or by both natural parents, other than by court order as provided in this subsection, may be automatically revoked by a verified writing executed by the single parent or both parents, respectively, and submitted to the agency within 14 calendar days of executing a legal relinquishment. Where both natural parents execute a relinquishment of parental rights, other than by court order, either parent may automatically revoke his or her relinquishment of parental rights by executing a verified writing submitted to the agency within 14 calendar days of executing the relinquishment. The rights of the parent not seeking custody shall be terminated, and the parent shall not have the power to obstruct the revocation. No relinquishment of parental rights shall be considered final until the revocation period has expired with no revocation having been made by the natural parent. Automatic revocation of relinquishment can be exercised only once.

A waiting period of 30 days from the date of revocation of the first relinquishment shall expire before a second relinquishment can be executed. A relinquishment, if exercised a second time, shall be irrevocable unless an additional right to revoke is granted by court order upon a finding that the relinquishment was not given voluntarily, e.g., the relinquishment was induced by fraud, coercion, material mistake, or other factors that bear on a determination of voluntariness.

Related Resources