Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - District of Columbia

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

The study must include the applicant(s) and all household members.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

The child-placing agency shall conduct the home study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

Each home study report shall include an assessment of the adoptive applicants on the following:

  • The motivation for adoption
  • Readiness to parent a child not born to them
  • The attitudes and feelings of the family and significant others involved with the family toward adoptive children
  • The attitudes of the applicants toward birth parents and the reasons the children are in need of adoption
  • Emotional stability and maturity, including the capacity to give and receive affection
  • The ability to cope with problems, stress, crises, and losses, including the availability of formal and informal support systems
  • The ability to provide for the child's physical and emotional needs
  • The attitude toward discipline and child-rearing

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

The adoptive home study is a counseling and assessment process with the primary goal of providing secure nurturing and permanent families for children. In conducting the adoptive home study, the agency shall do the following:

  • Work with the applicant to evaluate his or her ability and readiness for adoptive parenthood
  • Make recommendations regarding the type of child to be placed with the family
  • Build supportive relationships and activities that will ensure the success of the placement
  • Provide educational opportunities for the applicant regarding the adoption process
  • Provide a written report integrating all the information and culminating in an agency recommendation

The home study process shall include the following:

  • One face-to-face interview with the adoptive couple and one face-to-face individual interview with each applicant
  • One face-to-face contact with each member of the potential adoptive family household
  • Clearance with the child abuse and neglect registry and record of criminal convictions, if any
  • A summary of the medical report for each member of the adoptive family living in the household, within 6 months of the study, that verifies that each person has no communicable disease, specific illness, or disabilities that would interfere with the family's ability to parent a child
  • The level of education completed
  • The applicant's financial status, including current job and income, other sources of income, savings, assets, and liabilities
  • A minimum of three personal and community character references
  • The interests, hobbies, and use of leisure time for each applicant
  • Religious orientation, if any
  • A description of the home, including the adequacy of space and privacy in relation to the parent and age and sex of children
  • An assessment of the plan for child care if parents work

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1305.06

An individual shall not be approved to provide foster care if it is determined from the criminal records check that the individual, or an adult residing in the home of the individual, has a felony conviction for any of the following offenses or their equivalents:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • An intrafamily offense, as defined in § 16-1001(8)
  • A crime against children, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery

An individual shall not be approved if it is determined from the criminal records check that the individual, or an adult residing in the home of the individual, has a felony conviction for any of the following offenses or their equivalents committed within the past 5 years:

  • Physical assault or battery
  • A drug-related offense

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

An adoptive home study shall be conducted prior to the placement of a child in a home.

If a placement has not been made and 12 months have elapsed since the adoptive home study, a prospective adoptive home shall be reevaluated.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1624

The child-placing agency shall provide postplacement services for at least 6 months from the date of the adoptive placement of a child. The agency shall conduct at least three interviews during the 6-month period with the child and the parent(s) and make at least one visit to the home.

If a final decree of adoption has not been granted within 6 months of placement, the child-placing agency shall continue to provide services until the final decree is granted.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-308

The court may dispense with the investigation and report when the petitioner is a spouse or domestic partner of the natural parent of the prospective adoptee and the natural parent consents to the adoption or joins in the petition for adoption. A fingerprint-based criminal records check is still required.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1422; Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1635

Placement of children outside the District of Columbia is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Prior to sending a child into a receiving State for placement in a prospective adoptive home, the agency shall furnish the appropriate authority in the receiving State written notice of the intention to place the child in the receiving State. The notice shall contain the following:

  • The name, date, and place of birth of the child
  • The identity and address of the parents or legal guardian
  • The name and address of the person, agency, or institution to which the agency proposes to send the child
  • A full statement of the reason for the proposed action and evidence of the authority for the proposed placement

The child shall not be sent to the receiving State until the appropriate authority in the receiving State notifies the sending State, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

In regulation: A child-placing agency in the District of Columbia that is cooperating with agencies or individuals in other States for foster or adoptive placement of a child in the District or in another jurisdiction shall comply with the interstate placement requirements of the States involved during all phases of the placement process.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Links to Resources

Adopting From the Public Child Welfare System in the District of Columbia (District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency)

Municipal regulations