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District of Columbia Adoption Resources

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Washington, D.C.map
Surnames/tags: Adoption Angels Adoption
This page has been accessed 167 times.

Adoption Angels Project

It is important to read through all the links before attempting to gather information from the Washington, DC courts. Rules are different for those born before 1937 and for those born after 1937.

Always make sure to request the Non Identifying Information Report before attempting to contact a court for more information.


Original birth certificate

Non Identifying Information

Third Party Agencies

(adoption agencies, orphanages, intermediaries)

State Laws

Additional Local Resources

WikiTree Project


  • https://gregoryluce.com/dc-adoption-records-petition/ This is an insider's view of how things work or don't work well in Washington, DC courts dealing with adoption. Read this first. Here is an excerpt from the document. There are additional points and examples of how to fill out forms as well.
  • It’s a terrible strategic move to ask directly for reunion or contact through the D.C. court petition. As I’ve repeated before ad nauseum, search and reunion is distinct from your right to receive identifying information. If you seek reunion, you may sidetrack the court and get nothing. If you focus only on identifying information, you stand a much better chance of actually getting that information. And what you then do with that information is simply a different question. Capisce? No? If you don’t understand, re-read my prior post here.
  • It will be expensive. The court’s filing fee is $80, and the “search” fee charged by the agency is typically $500 (except in some limited circumstances, by D.C. regulation it cannot be more than $500).

Birth Certificates

  • Adult adoptees in the District of Columbia do not have access to their original birth certificates, except by court order. The D.C. superior court controls all aspects of releasing an OBC or any identifying information, whether from court records or from vital records. Original birth certificates and adoption court records for adoptions initiated prior to September 1, 1937, however, should be accessible by an adoptee without a court order.
  • Prior to September 14, 1956, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had jurisdiction to hear and decide adoption petitions in the District of Columbia. Accordingly, adoptees who were born and adopted prior to 1956 likely have court records on file with the federal court in DC, not with the DC Superior Court. Adoptions initiated prior to 1937, however, are considered public records and should be available and on file with the court.
  • Petitions to break the seal for records for adoptions between 1937 and 1956 must be made to U.S. District Court. More information is available on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia website here.


  • Records for marriages start in 1811

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