District of Columbia

Adoption

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Access to Nonidentifying Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-311

All records are sealed and may not be inspected except upon order of the court, and then only if the welfare of the child is promoted.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-314

The original birth certificate is a sealed record that cannot be opened without order of the court.

Where the Information Can Be Located

  • District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency
  • The agency involved in the adoption

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Collection of Family Information About Adopted Persons and Their Birth Families

Agency or Person Preparing the Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-307
Upon the filing of a petition, the court shall refer the petition for investigation, report, and recommendation to:

  • 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

Contents of Report About the Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-305; 16-307
The petition shall contain the following information:

  • The name, sex, date, and place of birth of the prospective adopted person
  • The relationship, if any, of the prospective adopted person to the petitioner
  • The race and religion of the prospective adopted person

The report and recommendation shall include an investigation of the environment, antecedents, and assets, if any, of the prospective adopted person, to determine whether he or she is a proper subject for adoption.

Contents of Report About the Birth Family
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-305
The petition shall contain the following information:

  • The names, addresses, and residences of the birth parents, if known to the petitioner, except that in an adoption proceeding that is consented to by the Mayor or a licensed child-placing agency, the names, addresses, and residences of the birth parents may not be set forth
  • The race and religion of the adopted person’s birth parent or parents

When the Report Is Made
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-307
The report is made upon the filing of an adoption petition.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-308
The court may dispense with the investigation and report when:

  • The prospective adopted person is an adult.
  • The petitioner is a spouse or domestic partner of the birth parent of the prospective adopted person, and the birth parent consents to the adoption or joins in the petition for adoption.

The term ‘domestic partner’ shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(3), but shall exclude a domestic partner who is the parent, grandparent, sibling, child, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt, or uncle of the birth parent.

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Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-312
All rights and duties, including those of inheritance and succession between the adopted person and his or her birth parents and their relatives, cease upon the final adoption decree. If, however, one of the birth parents is the spouse of the adopter, the rights and relations as between adoptee, the birth parents, and their relatives, including mutual rights of inheritance and succession, are not altered.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-312
A final decree of adoption establishes the relationship of parent and child between adopter and adoptee for all purposes, including mutual rights of inheritance and succession as if adoptee were born to adopter. The adoptee takes from, through, and as a representative of his adoptive parent(s) in the same manner as a child by birth, and upon the death of an adoptee intestate, his property shall pass and be distributed in the same manner as if the adoptee had been born to the adopting parent(s) in lawful wedlock.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-317(a)

A final judgment of adoption granted by a judicial, administrative, or executive body of a country outside the United States shall have the same force and effect as that given to a judgment of adoption entered by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia without additional proceedings or documentation if:

  • The adopting parent is a resident of the District of Columbia.
  • The validity of the foreign adoption has been verified by the granting of an IR-3 immigrant visa or a successor immigrant visa by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

A foreign adoption that meets these requirements shall be considered final under the laws of the District of Columbia and no further petition for an adoption decree shall be required.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-317(b)

Notwithstanding § 16-317(a), an adoptive parent may file a petition for a District adoption decree with the Superior Court. If the foreign adoption meets the requirements § 16-317(a), the court shall issue:

  • Findings of fact on the foreign adoption including:
    • The name of the adoptive parent
    • The name or names of the child
    • The reported birth date of the child
    • The country of the child’s birth
    • The country and the date of the foreign adoption
    • The date and issuance of an IR-3 immigrant visa or a successor immigrant visa by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • An adoption decree to the petitioner

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Code § 7-210(a-1)

The registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for an adoptee born outside of the United States upon receipt of a request from the adopting parents or the adoptee who is age 18 or older and receipt of one of the following documents:

  • An adoption form prepared according to § 7-209 or a copy of the foreign decree
  • A certified translation of the foreign adoption decree or, if birth information is not already included in the foreign adoption decree, evidence of the child’s birth date and birthplace, which may include:
    • An original birth certificate
    • A postadoption birth certificate issued by the foreign jurisdiction, including a certified copy, extract, or translation
    • Another equivalent document, such as a record from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the U.S. Department of State
  • Evidence of the child’s IR-3 immigrant visa status or successor immigrant visa status

Comments

District of Columbia — 1 Comment

  1. According to my mother, I was adopted in the District of Columbia by her husband in April 1974. I was 17 and remember my birth parents and my adoptive father signing papers in the lawyer’s office. However, I have not been able to obtain a birth certificate with my mother and adoptive father’s name on it. The only one I received has both my birth parents names on it. Does this mean that the adoption did not go through or was never finalized?

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