Persons contemplating adoption must comply with adoption laws. For the most part, adoption issues are subject to State laws and regulations.1 State adoption laws are primarily comprised of laws from two sources, State statutes and State case law. State statutes are provisions enacted by State legislatures that regulate the subject matter of an issue. State case law consists of rules of law that come from the written decisions of judges who hear and decide litigation. Statutes and case law of a particular jurisdiction are binding on future litigation within that jurisdiction. Additionally, administrative regulations, which are enacted by agencies that have the authority, within certain limits, to make rules that have the force of statutes, also address legal issues in adoption.
Legal research and analysis is often performed in order to understand and comply with adoption laws. This process begins with the reading and examination of relevant State statutes. To assist in this task, the Clearinghouse is providing information2 on how to obtain full-text copies of pertinent State adoption statutes,3 including:
In addition to State statutory review, legal research and analysis of an adoption issue also involves reviewing case law4 to determine whether any cases have interpreted a particular statute, agency regulations,5 and informal practices and procedures. Readers interested in the interpretation of specific statutory provisions within a particular jurisdiction should also consult with professionals within the State familiar with statutory implementation.
1 There is some Federal statutory and constitutional law pertaining to adoptions, in such areas as adoption subsidies, adoption of Native American children, and the rights of unwed or putative fathers.
2 While every effort has been made to ensure that this resource listing is as accurate and timely as possible, the Clearinghouse cannot be held responsible for the content or services offered herein.
3 While every attempt has been made to be as complete as possible, additional information on a topic may be in other sections of a State's code.
4 Case law can be obtained from electronic legal databases and law libraries.
5 Agency regulations can be obtained from agency policy manuals.
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District of Columbia
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.