What is Domestic Adoption?
Domestic adoption refers to the legal process occurring within the United States, by which an expectant parent or birth/first parent chooses an adoptive family for her child, and legally consents to his/her adoption. Barker offers three primary domestic adoption paths to build your family. Regardless of the path you select, our domestic adoption team provides prospective adoptive parents with guidance, training, and clinical and administrative support throughout the entire process.
Infant Adoption Program
Through Barker's domestic infant adoption program, expectant parents choose an adoptive family for their child. However, due to declining birth rates, a higher volume of families, and longer wait times, Barker is not accepting new applications to its traditional Domestic Infant program at this time. We are currently considering families from communities of color on a case-by-case basis and families who can meet the specialized needs of waiting children.
Applicants from communities of color and prospective parents interested in considering adoption through Barker's Domestic Adoption Dual Program must tmcleran [at] barkerfoundation.org (subject: Domestic%20Adoption%20Pre-Screening%20Request) (schedule a pre-screening) for consideration.Learn More About Our Dual Program
If you are seeking an in-depth exploration of Barker's programs to help you determine which path might be most appropriate for you and your family, you may attend a free Information Meeting (view upcoming dates here) or schedule a Pre-Adoption Consultation with Barker's program directors.Schedule a Pre-Adoption Consultation
- The minimum age of adoptive parents participating in the Domestic Infant Adoption Program is 25 years old.
- Singles and married couples are welcome to apply. If married, you must be married for a minimum of one year at the time of application. Please note that more recently married couples (married less than one year) are also welcome to apply in cases where they have lived together for at least one year.
- If you are seeking to adopt a newborn through the Domestic Infant program, you must be 45 or younger at the time of application to wait in the In Area program and 50 or younger at the time of application to wait in the Out of Area program.
- Adoptive parents interested in adopting an infant should be healthy, both physically and psychologically/emotionally, so that they are able to care for a child.
- Adoptive parents must be financially able to incur the costs of infant adoption, in addition to providing for the needs of the child. These costs include the adoption fee and the medical and legal expenses of the birth parents.
- Adoptive parents must meet state and agency guidelines for criminal history, medical, and other eligibility standards.
- In Area Adoption- Prospective adoptive parents join a group of fellow waiting parents whose profiles are shared with local Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia expectant parents working with Barker.
- Out of Area Adoption- For local families who wish to broaden their prospects for adoption by working with an agency or attorney located in an area of the United States outside the Washington metropolitan area (Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C.).
- Private/Independent Adoption- For families who choose to work independently and engage in direct outreach to expectant parents, hoping to become adoptive parents of a child whose parents choose adoption for their child. Prospective adoptive parents must still participate in a general information session, a clinical intake or application interview meeting, all required parent trainings, and a home study. They also receive the support of Barker staff from application to adoption finalization.
Foster Care Adoption
Project Wait No Longer (PWNL) is Barker’s foster care adoption program that seeks to find adoptive families for older children whose circumstances resulted in their being placed into public foster care. The goal of this program is permanency through adoption. While younger children are placed through this program, there is a strong need for families who are also open to children who are 12-17 years old, sibling groups, and children with specialized needs.Learn More About Foster Care Adoption Meet Waiting Children
We invite you to contact a Barker pregnancy counselor anytime, 24/7, to talk and find out more about your adoption options.
info [at] barkerfoundation.org (Email Us)
Dual Domestic Adoption Program
This adoption path allows families to actively wait In Area or Out-of-Area for an infant adoption while simultaneously waiting with our older child adoption from foster care program to be matched with children who are toddler-to-elementary-age (at least up to the age of 8). This program allows for a broader range of visibility as families will be considered in infant cases as well as older child cases from foster care. A pre-screen is required before approval to ensure program eligibility for both programs.
tmcleran [at] barkerfoundation.org (subject: Dual%20Program%20Pre-Screening) (Schedule a pre-screening now)
Who are the children?
Barker’s Pregnancy Counselor provides compassionate counseling to expectant parents who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and who are exploring adoption as a parenting option for their baby. Families in the dual program can be considered for newborns in these cases through Barker’s In Area Program (by availability and eligibility) or Out of Area program.
Older children waiting in foster care
Barker’s Searching and Matching Specialist inquires on waiting children in the US foster care system where there are currently over 100,000 children who are legally free for adoption.
Children in foster care from all over the US, up to the age of 18, need a loving and stable home. Children placed through PWNL are on average 9-10 years old. However, children as young as 2 years old and as old as 17 have found homes through this program.
What are the needs?
Many children have suffered abuse, neglect, and complex trauma, where the support and stability of family can aid them in their recovery and improve their trajectory.
Younger children in foster care tend to have higher levels of specialized needs that exceed the capacity of their foster parents, or they might be a part of a large sibling group. Families interested in younger children (newborn to elementary age) would need to be open to medical/behavioral needs that require specialized interventions or specialist support a few times each month.
Dual Program Adoptive Parent Eligibility
Families who are approved to adopt through Barker's Domestic Adoption Dual Program must meet eligibility criteria for both the Domestic Infant Program as well as Project Wait No Longer.
Singles and married couples are welcome to apply. If married, you must be married for a minimum of one year at the time of application. For couples who are more recently married (less than one year), you are welcome to apply if you have lived together for at least one year. Please note that unmarried couples are not eligible to adopt through this program and that any couple living together must apply for adoption together.
Must be between 25 and 50 years old.
Must be open to adopting a child or children with higher levels of medical/specialized needs (e.g., Cerebral palsy, neurological conditions, speech/language impairment, limited mobility, heart defects, or other conditions requiring some level of specialist or therapeutic support).
Must complete the PRIDE older child adoption training and PAG training before starting the home study.
Must be financially able to incur the costs associated with infant adoption, including medical and legal expenses for birth parents.
Working with Barker means adoptive families will feel equipped to meet a wide range of needs in children who are the most vulnerable and most in need of a home. Our services provide families wanting to adopt with:
Specialized training in preparation for the considerations of infant and older child adoption
- Ongoing support from Barker's Domestic Infant Clinical Support Specialist and Barker's PWNL Search and Match Specialist
- A comprehensive home study for both infant and older child adoption
- Clinical support and guidance with selecting an Out of Area agency for the infant program
- Searching, Matching, and Referral of an infant, or child/children in foster care legally free for adoption
- Facilitation of visitation with birth parents for Barker Infant placements or with older child/children for PWNL placements
- Comprehensive post-placement support services during the months following placement and prior to adoption finalization
- Lifelong support and access to Barker's Family and Post-Adoption Services, which provides counseling, workshops, webinars, monthly support groups at no cost, and more
Process and Timeline
Families waiting in the dual program can experience improved wait times as they are considered in two programs across a broad range of ages, needs, and circumstances.
Families are required to complete the nationally recognized training certification for older child adoption from foster care (PRIDE- Parent Resource for Information, Development, and Education) and the Pre-Adoption Group training for families adopting Domestically and Internationally.
Barker trainings provide prospective adoptive families with:
- Resources and tools to navigate common issues for children in both populations.
- Increased awareness, competency, and adoption readiness that are critical to successful parenting.
- The opportunity to hear from adoptive families, birth parents, and adult adoptees who speak on various topics and share their experiences and journeys.
- A safe space to build their adoption community as they learn with other families who are also exploring adoption.
Making the decision to adopt from either program may come with many questions and uncertainties. You always have the option to schedule a pre-adoption consultation with one of our adoption program directors as you navigate your options.Schedule a Pre-Adoption Consultation Now
A home study-approved family who is moderately open to common needs in the Domestic Infant program may wait 18-24 months for a match while waiting 8-12 months in the PWNL program. A dual waiting family matched in either program will then follow that individual program track from the time of their match through finalization.
No. Families cannot be matched with more than one child where there is no biological relation. Our adoption specialists are actively involved with families to know when a match has occurred or when a family is being considered in a case. Once a family has accepted a match with an expectant/birth mother or an older child, the case file will be closed in the other program, and the family will proceed through the program track –process and fees- in which they are matched.
No. Families will have one comprehensive home study that will accommodate the full range of ages, needs, and considerations that are needed for program eligibility and assessment.
Families can decide at any time that they would like to focus on one program – Infant or PWNL. Families are encouraged to speak with their adoption social worker or specialist if they would like to consider alternate options for waiting/searching. Depending on program availability, or requirements, families can have updates made to their searching parameters in a home study update or an addendum.
Families in either Domestic program (Infant or PWNL), can join the dual program after completing a program assessment. Eligibility requirements must be met for both programs, and any necessary trainings must be completed. Families are welcomed to contact program staff to explore whether they might be a good fit for the dual program.