A Rich History of Tradition and Growth

Barker, a nonprofit adoption agency licensed in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., is built on the fundamental belief that all children deserve safe, loving, and permanent families.

Ruth and Richard Barker founded the agency in 1945 in response to a request from the U.S. Navy to address the needs of pregnant WAVES ("Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service"). Since then, Barker has evolved from a traditional domestic infant-placing adoption agency into a highly regarded, comprehensive adoption center offering the following adoption-related programs and services:

The Barker Adoption Foundation was founded in 1945 as a membership organization and warmly welcomes new members at any time.  Adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents who have received any service from Barker are granted automatic membership. Individuals outside the three preceding categories who have demonstrated interest in the Foundation’s work (including, but not limited to, partners of Adoptive Parents, grandparents of Adopted Persons, siblings over the age of eighteen of Adopted Persons and cradle care parents) may request to become a member.  Please shollar [at] barkerfoundation.org (contact) the Executive Director to request membership. 

To date, Barker has placed more than 8,000 children into the welcoming arms of adoptive parents and provided counseling and related support services to more than 30,000 women and their families who are considering placing a child for adoption.

About the Barker Adoption Foundation

Building Families
Since 1945

Our Barker Mission and Values


Barker provides lifelong services for all in the adoption constellation and advocates for ethical, respectful, and child-centered adoption practices.


Our mission is accomplished by practicing according to our core values, of which the following are key:

  • Child-centered focus: While we serve all members in the constellation of adoption relationships, our primary client is the child, who has no voice and often no advocate. We understand that the child’s needs lie at the intersection of birth parent and adoptive parent needs. The litmus test for all we do is whether we are acting in the child’s best interest.
  • Integrity: Barker strives to uphold the highest ethical standards of practice, acting with honesty and understanding and respecting the rights of all parties.
  • Inclusiveness: Barker values diversity of perspective, culture, race, ethnicity, religion, economic circumstances, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, and marital status. We strive to remove barriers for clients who seek our programs and services, and we value and seek diversity in our board governance structure and staff composition.
  • Compassion: Our expression of concern for clients extends beyond empathy to true compassion. Compassion moves us to actions that put resources in place that make a difference in the lives of our clients.
  • Innovation: Although Barker is one of the oldest adoption agencies in the country, we value innovation that expands opportunities for our clients. We endeavor to anticipate challenges and be creative and proactive in our solutions. We initiate new programs where the need is compelling, and we use the latest social service research and new technologies to guide our practice.

A lifelong commitment to the
women, families, and children we serve.

Practicing Ethical Adoption

Each year, The Barker Adoption Foundation receives referrals from teens and women who are experiencing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy.

Barker social workers personally counsel women, expectant fathers, and families and guide them through decision-making without judgment or pressure and at absolutely no cost.

In addition to its treatment of birth parents, a hallmark of an ethical adoption agency is its lifelong commitment to the women, families, and children it serves. Unfortunately, some adoption providers walk away from their relationship with the birth mother and the baby as soon as the adoption is finalized. Barker’s post-adoption services include everything from support for birth mothers who may just need some compassionate comfort or support around holidays or the child’s birthday to continued indepth counseling during the months after placement. If adoptive parents are grappling with issues related to adoption, they can come in (with or without the adoptee) for one-on-one counseling. Barker hosts regular support groups, which are open to the general public, and an annual nationally renowned adoption-education conference that attracts more than 400 people.

My daughter placed her son with an adoptive family through The Barker Adoption Foundation. I am very impressed with this organization... My daughter's social worker was professional, kind, and allowed my daughter and her boyfriend to take their time in making their decision. My daughter placed more than a year ago, and her social worker still checks in with her every so often to see how she is doing. My daughter picked a wonderful family through Barker and we love receiving our updates from them!

A Barker Birth Grandmother


One of Barker’s most distinguishing assets is our well-trained and experienced professional and administrative staff. Our staff includes persons who, in addition to their professional credentials, are also themselves birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees.

Continuing in the tradition begun by Ruth and Richard Barker, our staff also provides consultation services and in-service training for teachers, physicians, nurses, social workers, and parent groups in the community.

Meet the Barker Team