Code of the District of Columbia

§ 4–1410. Authority to charge or receive compensation for services; inability to pay adoption costs.

(a)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, neither the Mayor nor a child-placing agency authorized to perform services in connection with placement of a child in a family home for adoption may make or receive any charge or compensation for these services.

(2) A child-placing agency may charge an adoptive parent a reasonable fee if the child-placing agency is operating in the District of Columbia exclusively for religious purposes or as a nonprofit organization, pursuant to section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, approved August 16, 1954 (68A Stat. 163; 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)), and no part of its net earnings inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

(b)(1) A child-placing agency providing domestic or international adoption services that is authorized to charge a fee pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall develop a sliding-fee scale based on the per capita income of the applicant and provide each applicant with:

(A) Its fee and refund policy;

(B) An estimate of the agency’s maximum fee for specific services;

(C) Information regarding available public and private subsidies;

(D) Its sliding income fee scale; and

(E) A complete list of the services that it will provide at each stage of the adoption process.

(2) If a child-placing agency that charges a fee fails to implement and to maintain a sliding-fee scale as required by this subchapter, or rules issued pursuant to this subchapter, the failure shall be grounds for suspension or revocation of its license.

(b-1) In addition to the fee set forth in subsection (b) of this section, a child-placing agency providing domestic or international adoption services that is authorized to charge a fee pursuant to subsection (a) of this section may charge an adoptive parent reasonable fees, but not more than the actual cost, for the following:

(A) Customary and reasonable legal expenses of the child-placing agency;

(B) Costs of locating an absent birthparent;

(C) Foster care expenses incurred by the child-placing agency for a period not to exceed 120 days of foster care;

(D) The living expenses of the birthmother, including food, shelter, and clothing;

(E) Transportation costs to obtain medical services, adoption- related services, or costs associated with any required court appearance related to the adoption, including food and lodging expenses;

(F) Expenses for adoption counseling or counseling for the birthparents by an independent mental health professional;

(G) The birthmother’s legal, hospital, and medical expenses;

(H) Legal fees and costs in connection with contested adoption proceedings;

(I) Expenses incurred by the child-placing agency in connection with an adoption dissolution and alternative placement of a child; and

(J) Expenses incurred by the child-placing agency in obtaining the documents required to complete the homestudy assessment.

(c) Except for a reasonable, nonrefundable administrative fee, a child-placing agency shall not retain the fee paid by an adoptive parent unless the child-placing agency has provided the service.

(d)(1) The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2 [§ 2-501 et seq.], shall issue rules to implement the provisions of this section, including the process for suspension and revocation of the license required to maintain a child-placing agency.

(2) No later than May 31, 2015, the Mayor shall issue rules to implement the provisions of subsection (b-1) of this section.


(Apr. 22, 1944, ch. 174, § 12; June 8, 1954, 68 Stat. 248, ch. 273, § 6; Apr. 23, 1980, D.C. Law 3-59, § 2(a), 27 DCR 983; Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-230, § 201(e), 57 DCR 6951; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 34, 59 DCR 6190; May 2, 2015, D.C. Law 20-269, § 2(b), 62 DCR 1551.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 32-1011.

1973 Ed., § 32-790.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 18-230 rewrote the section.

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-171 validated the paragraph designations in (b)(1).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-269 added (b-1).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary provisions requiring, on an emergency basis, criminal background investigations for individuals residing in foster family homes or other homes in which children are placed by order, see §§ 2-15 of the Criminal Background Investigation for the Protection of Children Emergency Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-431, September 4, 1998, 45 DCR 5915), and §§ 2-15 of the Criminal Background Investigation for the Protection of Children Legislative Review Emergency Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-503, January 27, 1999, 45 DCR 8134).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Private Adoption Fee Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-252, December 17, 2009, 57 DCR 36).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2 of D.C. Law 18-114 rewrote the section to read as follows:

“Sec. 12. (a) Neither the Mayor nor a child-placing agency authorized to perform services in connection with placement of a child in a family home for adoption may make or receive any charge or compensation for these services; except, that a child-placing agency that is operating in the District of Columbia exclusively for religious purposes or as a nonprofit organization pursuant to section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, approved August 16, 1954 (68A Stat. 163; 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)), and no part of its net earnings inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, may charge an adoptive parent a reasonable fee.

“(b)(1) A child-placing agency providing domestic or international adoption services that is authorized to charge a fee pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall develop a sliding fee scale based on the per capita family income size of the applicant and provide each applicant with:

“(A) Its fee and refund policy;

“(B) An estimate of the agency’s maximum fee for specific services;

“(C) Information regarding available public and private subsidies;

“(D) Its sliding fee scale; and

“(E) A complete list of the services that it will provide at each stage of the adoption process.

“(2) The failure of a child-placing agency that charges a fee to implement and to maintain a sliding fee scale as required by this section shall be grounds for suspension or revocation of its license. The Mayor, pursuant to Title I of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.), shall issue rules to implement the provisions of this paragraph.

“(c) Except for a reasonable, nonrefundable administrative fee, a child-placing agency shall not retain the fee paid by an adoptive parent unless the child-placing agency has provided the service.”

Section 4(b) of D.C. Law 18-114 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.