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How to Adopt in Washington

From Seattle to Spokane, Tacoma to Vancouver and everywhere in between, adoption has completed hundreds of families in the Evergreen State. Whether you are considering adoption for your baby or are interested in adopting a child in Washington, the following guide includes the rules and qualifications for adopting a child in Washington, as well as other helpful state adoption information.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Washington

Like every state, Washington has laws regarding who can adopt and how they can adopt. If you are interested in adopting a child in Washington, the following information will help you better understand the adoption process, laws and qualifications in your state.

What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Washington?

In Washington, any person who is legally competent and at least 18 years old may adopt.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Washington?

Adoptive parents in Washington may pay for prenatal hospital or medical expenses, attorneys’ fees and court costs incurred in connection with the adoption. An adoption agency, the department or the court may charge a reasonable fee for completing the home study and post-placement report. The fee charged by an agency, department or court-approved individual is subject to review by the court upon request.
It is unlawful for any person to sell or purchase a minor child in Washington.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in Washington?

To be a licensed foster parent in Washington, an individual must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be able to financially support themselves
  • Complete First Aid/CPR and Blood Borne Pathogens training, licensing orientation and pre-service training

Any adult living in the prospective foster parent’s home must also complete a background clearance check and submit current tuberculosis tests.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Washington?

A birth certificate will be issued for a child born in a foreign country and adopted in the United States upon receipt of the following:

  • A certified copy of the adoption decree
  • Evidence of the child’s birth date and place provided by the original birth certificate or some other document that is essentially equivalent

The birth certificate will include the child’s new name as shown in the adoption decree, the adoptive parents’ names, and the child’s age, sex and date of birth. The birth certificate will have the same appearance as a birth certificate issued to a child born in the state of Washington.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Washington?

Only authorized, licensed child-placing agency or department employees or agents, or adoptive parents with a completed and approved home study, may advertise in adoption. Attorneys are permitted to advertise their availability to provide adoption services.
Any adoptive parent using an adoption intermediary or facilitator must receive written information on adoption-related services published by the department or another social service provider. Any person providing adoption-related services must provide written explanation of adoption procedures, practices, policies, fees and services.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Washington

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you likely have questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Washington. The following will help answer some of your questions about adoption laws in the Evergreen State.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

In Washington, the written consent to adoption and a petition for relinquishment may be filed before the child’s birth. The consent will not be presented to the court until 48 hours after it is signed or 48 hours after the child’s birth, whichever is later.
If the child is of Indian heritage, the petition and consent cannot be signed until at least 10 days after the child’s birth and is recorded before a court.
The written consent to adoption must be signed and must state the following:

  • It is subject to approval of the court and has no force or effect until it is approved by the court
  • The birth parent is not of Native American or Alaskan ancestry
  • The consent is revocable until it is approved by the court
  • The consent is executed voluntarily

The consent must include a statement identifying a witness who is at least 18 years old.

Who must consent to the adoption?

Written consent must be given by the following:

  • The mother and any alleged father
  • An agency or department to whom the child has been relinquished
  • The child’s legal guardian
  • The child, if he or she is 14 or older

When is consent not needed?

Parental consent is not required if it is in the best interests of the child to terminate parental rights, the parent has failed to uphold his or her parental duties and he or she is withholding consent to the adoption contrary to the child’s best interests.
The rights of an alleged father who has claimed paternity may also be terminated upon showing by clear and convincing evidence that he is not the child’s father or if he fails to appear after being notified of a hearing. The alleged father’s consent is not necessary if he has been found guilty of rape or incest where the child was the victim or where the child was conceived as a result of the rape or incest.

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

In Washington, consent is revocable any time before it is approved by the court. After court approval, consent may be revoked within one year if it was obtained by fraud or duress. Consent is irrevocable one year after court approval.
For a child of Indian heritage, consent may be withdrawn any time prior to the entry of the final adoption decree. In cases of fraud or duress, consent may be revoked within two years of the entry of the adoption decree.

What rights does the father of the baby have in Washington adoptions?

In Washington, an “acknowledged father” is defined as a man who has established a father-child relationship, while an “adjudicated parent” is a person who has been adjudicated by the court to be the child’s parent and an “alleged parent” is alleged to be the genetic parent but whose parentage has not been determined.
A “presumed parent” is considered to be the child’s parent until their parentage is rebutted or confirmed in court. A man is presumed to be the child’s parent if:

  • He and the mother are married or in a domestic partnership and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage or partnership is terminated
  • He and the mother married or attempted to marry before the child’s birth, even if the marriage could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
  • He and the mother married or entered into a domestic partnership after the child’s birth and he has voluntarily asserted his paternity in any of the following manners:
    • He filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics
    • His name is included on the child’s birth certificate
    • He promised in a record to support the child as his own
  • He has resided in the same household with the child and openly claimed the child as his own for the first two years of the child’s life

Alternatively, the child’s mother and a man claiming to be the father may sign and file a paternity acknowledgement to establish his paternity.

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Washington

Prior to fostering or adopting a child in Washington, you must complete a home study. Following the adoption process, you will also be required to complete a post-placement assessment. The home study is a mutual evaluation process that assesses your ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child.

What is included in the Washington home study process?

The Washington home study involves an investigation of the applicants’ home environment, family life, health and resources and will include a written report with a recommendation of the applicant’s fitness to adopt. The home study will include a background check of any prior convictions or pending charges and a review of any child abuse and neglect history of any adult living in the applicants’ home. The following issues will be discussed and included in the home study report:

  • Adoption as a lifelong journey
  • Potential issues of identity confusion or loss for the adopted child
  • The child’s relationship with siblings, if applicable
  • Disclosure of the adoption to the child
  • The child’s possible questions about birth relatives
  • The child’s racial, ethnic and cultural heritage

Who is included in the home study process?

Each adult member of the applicants’ household is included in the study.

Who will conduct the home study?

A Washington home study may be completed by an agency, the department, a court-approved individual or a qualified court employee.

When must the home study be completed?

The home study must be completed and filed with the court before a child will be placed with the adoptive parents.

On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Washington?

Applicants will be permanently disqualified from adopting if they have a felony conviction for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against a child, including child pornography, or a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault or homicide.
Applicants will not be approved if they have been convicted of any of the following crimes within the past five years:

  • Any other physical assault
  • Any other sex offense
  • Any other felony conviction
  • A felony drug conviction

What are the post-placement study requirements for Washington?

When an adoption petition is filed, the court will order a post-placement report to determine whether the placement is in the child’s best interest. The report will include all reasonably available information about the child’s physical and mental condition, home environment, family life, health and resources of the adoptive parents and any other relevant information. The post-placement report must be filed within 60 days of the date of appointment.

What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Washington?

The home study is not required for stepparent adoptions unless one is ordered by the court.

What are the requirements to adopt a child from another state?

Any interstate adoption is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
In Washington, you are required to obtain a home study prior to an adoption placement. Contact one of these trusted home study providers to get started:

  • Your Adoptive Family
    Your Adoptive Family is a licensed nonprofit adoption agency that prepares pre-placement and post-placement reports as well as second and stepparent reports.
  • Faith International Adoptions
    Faith International Adoptions is a Hague-accredited nonprofit child placement and charitable relief agency that provides domestic, international, relative and stepparent home studies and post-placement services.

Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about Washington home study providers.

Washington Adoption Professionals

When you are ready to begin the adoption process, your adoption professional can work with you to answer your questions and arrange necessary adoption services. These adoption professionals are experienced in completing adoptions in the Pacific Northwest and can help guide you through your adoption journey:

For more information about foster care in Washington, visit the Washington State Department of Children, Youth,and Families

Things to do in Washington

Whether you visit northwest corner of the country to meet prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval, there is plenty to keep you busy in Washington. Here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay in Washington:

For more information about traveling to Washington, visit http://www.experiencewa.com/.  

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