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Adoption Petitions

Adoption matters initiated in this court from January 1906 through August 31, 1937, were filed and maintained as public records. 

Adoption petitions filed from September 1, 1937, through September 14, 1956, were filed in this court under seal. Persons desiring access to these records must first obtain court approval by filing a petition to break the seal on the adoption records. Adoptions initiated after September 14, 1956 were filed with the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. They are filed and maintained under seal.  

The entire process from filing of a petition to break the seal on adoption records to conclusion generally takes from one to two years. During that time, the Clerk’s Office is not permitted to share any information regarding the progress of the petition to anyone, including the petitioner, as it is a sealed matter.  The petition should contain the following information:

  • adoptive parents names
  • reason for requesting to break the seal (ex. to gain medical history, to gain background information, to be reunited, etc.)
  • any other identifying information the court would find useful in ruling on the petition
  • full address and telephone number of petitioner
  • must be notarized or contain the statement “I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.  Executed on [Date], [Signature of Petitioner].”

Please click here for a fillable PDF petition

*The court will not consider petitions that are not notarized or sworn to.

*Petitions or motions filed by attorneys are not required to be notarized.

*A petition may not be filed on behalf of someone else.