Considering Adopting Through Our Domestic Infant Program?
sshevlin [at] barkerfoundation.org (Email Us)
The Barker Adoption Foundation has been helping families like yours since 1945. You can read about our history here. Much has changed since that time. However our commitment to building and supporting families in the most ethical, professional, and compassionate ways possible remain.
Barker offers three primary domestic infant adoption plans. Once you have taken the time to consider the domestic infant adoption program and have determined which plan you feel may be right for your family, you are ready to take the next step. Regardless of the path you select, our domestic staff provide prospective adoptive parents with guidance, training, and clinical and administrative support throughout the entire process.Apply Now! Schedule A Pre-Adoption Consultation
Contact us to learn more about domestic infant adoption.
info [at] barkerfoundation.org (Email Us)
We understand the adoption process is deeply personal, complex, and full of emotion. Working with Barker means our staff will be there to guide and support you through this journey.
There are three essential steps for prospective adoptive parents interested in working with Barker:
Step 1 – Explore Barker’s Domestic Infant Program
Barker offers three primary domestic infant adoption plans. Regardless of the path you select, the domestic staff provide prospective adoptive parents with guidance, training, and clinical and administrative support throughout the entire process.
Learn more about parent eligibility and fees for this program:
To adopt a child through Barker’s Domestic Infant Adoption Program, you must meet the following basic criteria:
- 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 baby younger than 12 months, the younger spouse or partner must be 45 years old or younger at the time of your application. The older spouse or partner should be 50 or younger at the time of application.
- If you are a single parent interested in adopting a baby younger than 12 months, you must be 45 years old or younger at the time of your application.
- Adoptive parents interested in adopting an infant should be healthy, both physically and psychologically/emotionally, so that you 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
Step 2 – Get to know Barker
We encourage anyone interested in adopting a child to attend a general adoption information session. After that session if you have further questions, you may contact a member of the domestic infant team by phone or email, or set up an in-person meeting.
Step 3 – Submit Your Pre-Application
If you decide that The Barker Adoption Foundation is a good fit for your adoption plans, the next step is to submit an application.
How long does the adoption process take?
It takes approximately two to four months to complete the paperwork-gathering and home study process to become home study approved in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C. In any type of formal adoption, the family must first have a home study conducted by an agency that is licensed within their state. Your home study includes pre-adoption training, meetings with a social worker, and background checks. After the home study is completed, wait times range from six months to two years on average. Often the wait time depends on the family’s openness to the children and the circumstances of the child’s birth family.
Why Work with Barker?
Working with Barker means you can expect:
Individualized Support from Our Domestic Infant Team
A hallmark of Barker is the individual support you will receive as you proceed on your adoption journey. From the start, Barker staff will help you identify some of the specific, personal characteristics of your current family composition and how those might affect your thoughts and wishes about expanding your family.
Program staff will support you throughout the process of collecting the home study documentation, completing your home study, awaiting a match, managing the post-placement period, and preparing for finalization in court.
Connections with Adoptive Families
Many Barker families remain engaged with and supportive of Barker after their own adoptions and offer their support to families seeking adoption. It can be particularly helpful to talk directly with another adoptive family at various points in your adoption journey—parent to parent.
Lifelong Education and Support
Beyond assisting in adoption placement, Barker seeks to nurture and support families to be as strong as possible. Barker’s Family and Post-Adoption Services Department provides training to and organizes events for all members of the adoption circle, including adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth parents. These range from regular support groups to adoptive-parent workshops to social activities and one-on-one counseling.
In-Area Domestic Adoption
Under The Barker Adoption Foundation’s In-Area Domestic Adoption Plan, 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.
Barker pregnancy counselors begin working with expectant parents at all stages of their pregnancy and, in some cases, after the birth of their child. Our counselors work closely with expectant or birth parents to help them identify what is most important for them in selecting an adoptive family.
At some point during pregnancy counseling, the Barker counselor will share non-identifying information and a scrapbook or family profile book made by the prospective adoptive families. This step allows expectant parents the opportunity to learn some significant information about your family before deciding whether to meet you. Short family profiles and photos may also be shared online for the same purpose. Most expectant parents want to meet prospective adoptive families, either before delivery or soon after.
Local-area birth parents who make the decision to place their child for adoption are legally provided a period to reflect on their decision (known as the revocation period), and often birth parents choose to wait until after this revocation period ends before meeting the selected adoptive parents. Occasionally adoptive parents may be invited to join birth parents in the hospital upon delivery or shortly after.
After placement, adoptive families begin the six-month post-placement supervision and support period, as required in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Beyond fulfilling the legal requirement, this time also allows adoptive parents to continue to receive valuable professional guidance and support from their Barker social worker. At the end of the post-placement period, adoptive parents must begin the process of finalizing the adoption in court. Barker can refer parents to one of several local attorneys who specialize in adoption.
OUT-OF-AREA DOMESTIC ADOPTION
In recent years, it has become increasingly common for local families 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.).
A primary reason for this shift is that in many other parts of the country, there are fewer families seeking to adopt than there are children in need of loving families. Other reasons why a family may decide to expand their adoption efforts to another part of the country include family composition, age of adoptive parents, race of adoptive parents, ability to travel, faith orientation, extended family who live in another state, and state laws regarding adoption.
The key difference in an Out-of-Area Domestic Adoption, as compared with an In-Area Domestic Adoption, is that families identify an agency or attorney who works with expectant parents residing elsewhere, outside of Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C. This agency or attorney becomes the family’s placement agency and works in partnership with the adoptive family and with Barker. When a match between an expectant parent and an adoptive parent occurs, often the adoptive family travels to meet the expectant parent. When the baby is born, the adoptive family travels again to take custody and returns home with the baby after any local waiting-period requirements are met.
If your family decides that the Out-of-Area service approach is the best path, Barker’s Domestic Infant Adoption Family Specialist will help you identify agencies or attorneys to consider. Families can also identify an attorney or an agency themselves, as long as the agency is a licensed child-placing nonprofit agency.
Because many steps in the adoption process must take place in the adoptive parents’ home state (Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C.), Out-of-Area families follow most of the same procedures as other Barker adoptive families, including participating in a general information session, a clinical intake or application interview meeting, and all required parent trainings. They also receive the support of Barker staff from application to adoption finalization. And as with all Barker families, they have a designated social worker during the home study and the post-placement supervision periods.
At the end of the post-placement period, adoptive parents can begin the legal process of adoption finalization. Barker can refer parents to one of several local attorneys who specialize in adoption.
Some adoptive parents 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.
This outreach may include making their adoption hopes known to extended family members, to friends in other areas of the country, to hometown physicians, and to others who might be in a position to know someone considering placing her child for adoption. Some choose to create websites or social media campaigns or even place ads. There are also online portals that are geared specifically toward introducing birth parents to prospective adoptive parents. And still other adoptive parents hire a local adoption attorney to represent their interests and use the attorney’s outreach efforts to locate birth parents.
Parents who pursue this path in adoption are generally comfortable talking about their personal adoption plans and promoting their own journey. They speak directly to expectant parents and decide whether a match is mutually beneficial to the child. In all cases though, the adoptive family retains an attorney to represent its legal interests and to guide them through the specific state regulations involved in private adoption.
Like all Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.--based families working with The Barker Adoption Foundation, those choosing to work independently 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. In addition, they may seek support from Barker’s Domestic Infant Adoption Family Specialist when considering a possible relationship with expectant parents considering placing their child for adoption or when preparing for their first meeting with expectant parents. And as with all Barker families, a social worker works with them during the home study and the post-placement supervision period.
The primary difference in this program from Barker’s other options is that prospective adoptive parents work independently to engage with expectant parents directly and retain an attorney earlier in the process to represent them. When an expectant parent match occurs, often the adoptive family travels to meet them before the birth. When the baby is born, the adoptive family travels to take custody and returns home after any local waiting period requirements are met. Barker provides post-placement supervision and support.
Parent Education & Support
The first step in learning more about adoption, Barker, and Barker’s programs is to attend a free general adoption information meeting, held monthly at Barker’s offices in Bethesda, Maryland.
You will have the opportunity to meet with staff members, learn about the different adoption programs, ask questions, and hear from a family that has adopted through Barker. Check the Barker Calendar for upcoming meetings. Registration is required.
The Barker Adoption Foundation’s Pre-Adoption Group Training is designed to help prospective adoptive parents think about both the rewards and challenges of adoption and the lifelong adoption issues that are involved. The training includes group leader presentations, discussions, group exercises, readings, and in-person presentations by birth parents, adoptive parents, and adult adoptees. Through this experience, we are able to look at and learn from the perspectives of various members of the adoption circle. Other topics covered include managing loss and grief, attachment, nature versus nurture, transracial adoption, and telling the adoption story in developmentally appropriate ways. Check the Barker Calendar for upcoming sessions.
This group training provides a forum for you to discuss your hopes, questions, and concerns. You will also find that the group offers a wonderful opportunity to meet others with similar interests and concerns. Our goal is to help people make informed decisions about adoption and to feel better prepared as they become parents. Pre-requirement: Attend a Barker general adoption information session.
Two online training courses also are required, which are provided through the Adoption Learning Partners:
Barker holds meetings every other month for all parents who are in the process of adopting. These meetings are educational and supportive in nature and often include a presentation from either an outside professional or adoptive families as part of the meeting. Past topics include post-adoption contact, medical considerations or legal issues in adoption, and others.
In addition, these monthly meetings provide waiting parents an opportunity to learn about local and national trends that the Barker Domestic Infant team is observing and an opportunity to talk with team members and other waiting families. Check the Barker Events Calendar for upcoming meeting dates.
For Virginia families, these meetings help meet the annual requirement of four hours of ongoing parent training.
It takes approximately two to four months to complete the paperwork-gathering and home study process to become home study approved in Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. In any type of formal adoption, the family must first have a home study conducted by an agency that is licensed in their state. Your Home Study includes pre-adoption training, meetings with a social worker, and background checks. After the home study is completed, wait times range from six months to two years, on average. Often the waiting time depends on the family’s openness to the children and the circumstances of the child’s birth family. To see the step-by-step process and approximate timing, please see Domestic Infant Adoption Process and Timeline.
Many factors lead an expectant parent to consider adoption during an unplanned pregnancy. Common reasons include a lack of emotional and financial readiness to parent, religious and/or faith values, the presence of children whom they’re currently parenting and an inability to parent additional children, and the values of and support they expect from extended family.
Often the birth parent(s) request to meet the adoptive family that they select. These meetings are typically held at The Barker Adoption Foundation’s office with the support of Barker social workers or at an attorney’s office in cases in which the adoptive parent is working directly with a private attorney for placement.
At the time of application, it is common to have questions about the domestic adoption options available through Barker. If you are undecided, we will help you explore our In-Area Domestic Adoption and Out-of-Area Domestic Adoption plans. We may suggest that a family consider one path over another depending on the adoptive family’s preferences, and in some cases we may suggest that a family consider using both plans simultaneously. Our goal is to help you make an informed plan that takes into account the needs of children and your comfort level.
After a baby is born, there is a period that birth parents have to reflect on their decision before it becomes final. The length of this waiting period is determined by each state. In most cases, during this period Barker will place the baby in the temporary care of one of our loving Cradle Care Families. Our Cradle Care Families are licensed as foster care providers in their respective state (Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C.) and meet regularly with Barker pregnancy services/counseling staff for continuing training. They provide the first home for your baby for a period that lasts from a week to 30 days depending upon the state. In many ways, these families are the heart and soul of Barker in that they open their home to unconditionally love each baby that comes into care, providing him or her a nurturing and anxiety-free environment until the next chapter begins with his or her forever family.
While closed adoptions (in which adoptive parents and children do not know or maintain contact with the birth parents) were once the norm, this is no longer the case. Further, research has shown how important it is for children’s identity formation to know who their birth parents are, and for birth parents to know about the growth and development of their birth children for their own personal healing.
In our experience, birth parents and adoptive families commonly agree to meet about once a year, and adoptive families agree to provide updates with photos and letters throughout the year. In the earlier post-adoption years, Barker often facilitates these visits. The reality is that there is a spectrum of openness and comfort levels across birth and adoptive families and that comfort level can evolve as the years pass. Barker works to support everyone involved and to facilitate contact for families and birth parents who share similar preferences for openness.