26 May Adoption In The District Of Columbia
If you live in the District of Columbia and are considering placing your baby or child for adoption, you should know that you are not alone. In 2020 (the most recent figures available), 43 DC women chose private adoption for their newborns or children. These birthmothers did not want their children to go into foster care, so they worked with a private, non-profit adoption agency like CRADLE OF HOPE, to make an adoption plan that they felt comfortable with. They were able to choose the adoptive family, choose how and when the adoption moved forward, and choose how much contact they wanted with the adoptive family after the placement. In private adoption in District of Columbia, birthmothers are in the driver’s seat when placing their baby for adoption.
Here are the steps needed to put a baby up for adoption in District of Columbia:
- Initial Meeting: A Cradle of Hope social worker will meet with you at a time and place that works for you. You can come to our office (we can help with transportation if needed), or we can meet you somewhere in your area. We will discuss whether you need our help to arrange prenatal care or medical insurance, information about the baby’s father and whether he supports an adoption plan, your living situation and whether you need financial assistance during your pregnancy (you must have a letter from your doctor, stating that you can’t work due to the pregnancy), the type of adoptive family you would like for your baby, and the type of contact you want with the adoptive family before, during and after the placement. We will also answer any questions or concerns you may have about the adoption process.
- Confirmation of the Pregnancy/Medical Records: We will need confirmation of your pregnancy and your due date, as well as a copy of your prenatal medical records from your OB/GYN. You will sign a medical release form so that we can obtain your records.
- Birthfather Outreach: Its best if the baby’s father participates in and supports your adoption plan. If you like, he can be included in any meetings with you and our social worker, meetings with the adoptive family you’ve chosen, etc. If he isn’t involved (because he’s unknown, uncooperative, disputes paternity, can’t be found, etc.) this does not necessarily prevent the adoption from moving forward. We will discuss with you how to best notify the baby’s father about the adoption. If you don’t know who the child’s birthfather is, we will prepare an Affidavit of Paternity for you to sign, explaining how and why you can’t identify the child’s birthfather.
- Making a Match: You will review Parent Profiles of Cradle of Hope families, which includes photos and information about families wanting to adopt. Any family we present will have been carefully screened and studied. Each family will be well employed, financially secure, in good health, and have no history of criminal charges or child abuse. Once you have selected a family, we will arrange for you to meet them in person, with our social worker, either in our office or somewhere convenient for you. Depending on your due date, more meetings may be scheduled. If you don’t want to meet the adopting family in person, that’s ok too.
- Hospital Planning: We will help you create your hospital plan so your doctor and the hospital are aware that you are making an adoption plan for the baby and how you want your hospital stay to proceed. For example, do you want the baby to stay in your hospital room? Do you want to name the baby? Do you have any restrictions on who can visit you in the hospital?
- Birth: At the time of birth, the adopting family will come to the hospital to meet the baby. You will be in the hospital for two days, or three days if you deliver by C-section. On the day following the baby’s birth, Cradle of Hope’s social worker will bring the required adoption documents for you to sign before you or the baby are discharged. If the birthfather has not already signed adoption documents, we will try to meet with him too. If you and the adopting family have agreed to have contact after the baby is placed, a Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA) agreement will be prepared, signed by the parties, and will specify the type of contact that’s been agreed to (photos/updates by email or in person visits) and the frequency of contact (quarterly, annually, etc.).
- Discharge: The paperwork you sign after the baby is born gives Cradle of Hope guardianship of the child, specifically for placement with the family that you have selected. The hospital will release the baby to our care and the child will go home with the adopting family you chose directly from the hospital.
- Revocation Period: While we hope that you have reached a firm decision about the adoption prior to the child’s birth, District of Columbia law provides you with a 15 day period to change your mind after the placement.
- Adoption Process: Cradle of Hope will be the guardian of the baby until the adoption is finalized. A social worker will visit the baby at least three times during the first six months of the placement, to make sure that the baby is doing well in his new home. After that, the adopting family can move forward with finalization of the adoption.
- Services for Birthparents After Placement: If you have a letter from your doctor saying that you can’t work due to the pregnancy or birth, we can provide some assistance with living expenses both prior to the birth and for 6 weeks after the birth. We can also arrange counseling services (ideally paid through your insurance coverage), refer you to a Birthmother Support Group, and continue to provide support services. We will be available to assist you for the foreseeable future.