Public Agency Adoption

A public agency adoption is sometimes referred to as a foster care adoption. These adoptions often involve children who are older, children who are part of a sibling group that must be adopted together, or children that have additional needs while most of the children who are in foster care will return to their biological families and will never become eligible for adoption there are still many children who are currently awaiting placement with a permanent family.

As the name suggests, public agency adoptions are facilitated by local public agencies, including the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Virginia Department of Social Services or the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency.

In addition to working with a public agency for the matching and support services you need, every foster-adoptive parent also needs to work with an attorney to complete the legal adoption process from foster care. Jennifer and Catelyn have helped many people become parents by adopting from foster care in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

To learn how to adopt a child from foster care, contact us now.

To learn more about the general process of adoption through foster care in VA, DC, and MD, read the following overview:

When Does a Child Become Eligible for Adoption through Foster Care?

A child may be removed from his or her home due to allegations of abuse or neglect. The child will then be placed into a foster care home. If the situation is not resolved and the child is unable to be reunited with his or her family, the public agency will initiate court proceedings to terminate the parents' legal rights.  Sometimes, the public agency will request that the adoptive parents address the parental rights when they pursue the adoption. If the public agency obtains guardianship, the child will frequently be placed for foster care adoption with the foster parents who have cared for him or her during the placement.  However, the child may also be adopted by a relative, such as a grandmother or aunt, or another approved foster family. The adoption proceeds by filing the Petition for Adoption and navigating the court system until the adoption is finalized, similar to a private agency adoption.

The goal of about 55 percent of children currently in foster care is to be reunited with their family, and as such it is unlikely that these children will become eligible for adoption from foster care. However, for about 25 percent of children in foster care the goal is to be permanently adopted. Many of these children are older, part of a sibling group that must be adopted together and have additional needs.

Maryland Foster Parent Requirements

To be eligible for a foster adoption in Maryland, prospective adoptive parents must:

  • Be financially stable
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Complete a minimum of 27 hours of specialized adoption training
  • Complete the Maryland foster care adoption home study process

Learn more about foster care adoption in MD here.

Virginia Foster Parent Requirements

To adopt a foster child in Virginia, a potential adoptive parent must:

  • Be financially stable
  • Provide at least three references
  • Successfully complete pre-service training
  • Attend an orientation meeting
  • Participate in at least three face-to-face interviews
  • Complete the Virginia foster care adoption home study process

Learn more about foster care adoption in VA here.

District of Columbia Foster Parent Requirements

Before pursuing foster children for adoption in D.C., interested adoptive parents must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be financially stable
  • Have enough space in your home for children to sleep separately from adults and opposite-sex children over the age of five
  • Provide character references
  • Complete the Washington, D.C. foster care adoption home study process

Learn more about foster care adoption in Washington, D.C. here.

How We Can Help with Your Foster Care Adoption in Maryland, Virginia or D.C.

Our law offices handle agency finalization in public agency adoptions in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. While we have handled cases involving the termination of parental rights in public agency placements, we strongly encourage that the adoptive parents require the public agency to terminate the biological parents' rights prior to filing a Petition for Adoption. Otherwise, as the adoptive parents, you may be responsible for the legal fees associated with the termination of the biological parents’ rights, which can be costly.  

The adoption of children who have been placed in foster care in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia is conducted as an agency adoption. In those cases, the county department of social services acts in its capacity as a public child-placing agency.  The public agency works to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents. The agency may then place the child for adoption with an existing foster family or another family selected to adopt the child.

The Differences Between Public Agency Adoption and Private Agency Adoption

In some respects, the public and private agency adoption processes are similar, but there are several key differences:

Private Adoption Agencies

  • You will likely adopt an infant
  • You’re more likely to be able to have some level of open adoption with your child’s birth family
  • The process is more costly
  • Birth parents are able to be involved in the selection of adoptive parents for their baby

Public Adoption Agencies

  • The age range of children who are eligible for adoption will vary
  • The child almost always loses contact with biological family members
  • The process is inexpensive
  • The adoption process can be shorter, particularly if you adopt an older child

If you’re unsure of which type of adoption is right for your family, we can walk you through the various adoption processes to help you find your desired path. Contact us now to learn more about public agency adoption if you’re interested in a foster care adoption in DC, MD or VA.

What is a home study?

State law dictates whether an individual social worker, a private licensed child placing agency, or a public social service agency may perform the home study. The process is designed to evaluate the adoptive parents to assure that there is nothing in their homes or backgrounds which would be contrary to the best interests of the child.  It is an independent investigation to verify your suitability as adoptive parents.  It includes criminal and child abuse clearances and is valid for one year and can be updated annually. 

Agency Adoption

Agency Adoptions are adoptions that are handled by a licensed child placing agency in the State where the adoption is occurring. Agency Adoptions are conducted through either public or private agencies. Residents of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia may work with public and private agencies located anywhere in the United States.  In Agency Adoptions, the birth parents are placing the child with the Agency which assumes guardianship of the child.  The Agency then places the child with the adoptive couple.  

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax