How to Adopt a Baby through Domestic Infant Adoption
Overview of Domestic Adoption
Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as all of the states, recognize two forms of domestic adoption. Every domestic adoption is either an independent (non-agency) adoption or an agency adoption.
An independent adoption is sometimes referred to as a parental placement adoption. In an independent adoption, birth parents consent directly to the adoption by adoptive parents that the birth parents have selected. In Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, adoptive parents must locate the birth parents through their own efforts. If the child is a newborn, the child will be placed with the adoptive parents upon discharge from the hospital. Both the birth parents and the adoptive parents should have their own separate attorney. The adoptive parents will follow the adoption laws of the state where they file their adoption petition, which will most often be the state where they reside. Those state laws will dictate how birth parents and adoptive parents may locate each other, what expenses are permissible, home study requirements, and how much time the birth parents may have to revoke their consent to the adoption. The adoptive parents will usually file an adoption petition in court shortly following the placement of the child. More newborn infants are adopted domestically through the independent adoption process, a number which is believed to be slightly more than one-half of the total domestic adoptions that occur in this country involving non-related parties and not involving public agency placements.
In an agency adoption, adoptive parents will choose to work with either a private or public child-placing agency. A private agency is licensed by the state where it operates. Adoptive parents may work with private agencies located in their own state as well as agencies located outside of their state. A private agency will follow the law of the state where it operates. Those laws will dictate what expenses the adoptive parents may pay, home study and post-placement requirements, and how much time the birth parents may have to revoke their consent to the agency. As birth parents work with a private agency to make an adoptive placement, the agency will share adoptive parent profiles with the birth parents. Once the birth parents have selected their adoptive parents, the agency will manage the degree of contact permitted between the parties. Upon the birth of the child, the birth parents will execute consents in favor of the agency. The agency will then terminate the parental rights of the birth parents and assume legal custody of the child. If the child is a newborn, the child will often times be placed with the adoptive parents directly upon leaving the hospital. All agencies require that adoptive parents undergo post-placement supervision. After the requisite post-placement supervision has been completed, the agency will issue its consent to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents will then file their adoption petition in court, usually in the state where the adoptive parents reside.
A public child-placing agency will be either a state, county or city department of social services. These governmental entities have the authority to place children for adoption who have been entrusted in their legal care. Often times, these are children who have been placed in foster-care. Should it be necessary for the public agency to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents, such children will become eligible for adoption. Public agencies will follow the law of the state within which they operate. Many adoptive parents who pursue public agency adoption will first become licensed foster parents. Once the parental rights of the birth parents have been terminated, and the requisite post-placement supervision has occurred, the public agency will issue its consent to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents will then file a petition for adoption, usually in the state where they reside. In many cases, adoptive parents who have adopted through a public agency may be eligible for an adoption subsidy allowance.
Representing Adoptive Parents
Many hopeful parents dream of the moment they will first hold their newborn baby in their arms. If you are single, a same-sex couple, or a couple struggling with infertility, Peter can provide the adoption services you need to make this dream a reality.
Peter has helped hundreds of parents add to their families through newborn adoption in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., and he can provide the services your family needs to adopt a baby in the Washington metropolitan area as well.
Throughout the adoption process, Peter will work closely with you to ensure your adoption goals are met and your adoption is completed according to all state and federal laws. Peter provides all of the legal work necessary to complete your private adoption in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, including:
- Filing the adoption petition with the court, which opens the case and initiates the legal adoption process
- Obtaining any court orders you need to take your baby home from the hospital before the adoption is legally finalized
- Obtaining and filing the necessary consents from your child’s birth parents
- Terminating the parental rights of an unknown or uninvolved birth father
- Providing legal representation in the case of a contested adoption
- Ensuring compliance with all state and federal adoption laws, including the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
- Arranging and accompanying you to a court hearing to finalize your adoption
- Addressing post adoption issues such as the issuance of a new birth certificate.
How to Adopt a Baby in D.C.: The Domestic Adoption Process
From Arlington to Alexandria, Bethesda to Frederick and everywhere else in the District and its surrounding areas, Peter Wiernicki can provide the expertise and guidance hopeful parents need through every step of the adoption process. Here are the seven stages of adopting a baby and the services Peter offers along the way:
- Choose adoption. The first step in every infant adoption process is to learn more and determine that this is truly the right choice for you. Peter’s services during this stage of the process include a free informational consultation and education about adoption processes, state laws, and his services.
- Be approved to adopt. Every adoptive family in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia must complete an approved home study before they are eligible to adopt a baby. While exact procedures and requirements vary depending on where you live in the D.C. metro, the home study generally includes personal interviews, an inspection of your home, and criminal history and child abuse registry checks. This process helps ensure that your family is ready to provide a safe home to a child and you are fully educated about adoption issues. Peter can help prepare you for the home study, explain requirements in your area and refer you to a reputable home study provider.
- Find a prospective birth mother to adopt from. Some hopeful parents have already located an adoption opportunity before contacting Peter, but others need some assistance finding a baby to adopt. Peter has developed unique partnerships with the best local and national adoption agencies to help you find the ideal adoption situation for your family within a timely manner. If you prefer to complete an independent adoption, he can also advise you about advertising laws and searching for expectant mothers on your own.
- Develop a relationship with your child’s birth parents. When an expectant mother expresses interest in placing her baby with your family, she will likely want to get to know you better. You can get to know your baby’s biological parents through pre-placement contact, which may include phone calls, emails or in-person visits.
- Meet your baby. When it is time for the baby to be born, you will travel to the hospital to meet him or her. You will follow the birth mother’s hospital plan, which will determine when you arrive, when you will meet and hold the baby, how much time you will spend with the baby’s biological family members, and more. During this time, Peter will work closely with you, the birth mother and her attorney to complete the necessary legal work so you can take your baby home when he or she is discharged from the hospital. If you are adopting across state lines, Peter will notify you when you can return to your home state with your baby.
- Finalize the adoption. Following placement, you may need to complete a post-placement supervision period, which includes visits with a social worker to ensure you are adjusting well and receiving any services or support you may need. At the end of the supervision period, Peter will arrange your finalization hearing and attend court with you to legally complete the adoption.
- Continue your adoption journey. Adoption is a lifelong process, and your child’s adoption story does not end with the finalization hearing — it will continue to shape your lives for years to come. If you have an open or semi-open adoption with your child’s birth family, you will maintain your agreed-upon relationship with them, and you will experience all of the other unique joys and challenges of raising an adopted child.
Whatever services, support or adoption information you need to complete your infant adoption in Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia, Peter Wiernicki is dedicated to helping you reach your adoption goals. Contact him today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about his services for families in the Washington metropolitan area.