Laws and Procedures Associated with Washington Adoption:
In 2003, there were over 1,200 adoptions of children in custody of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services. The purpose of Washington’s adoption program is to satisfy the permanency needs of children who are placed in the care and custody of the Department of Social and Health Services.
The Washington Department of Social and Health Services strive to find stable and safe families that can effectively meet the needs of adopted children.
Proceeding with Washington Adoption:
What you must consider when looking to Adopt in Washington:
• WA Adoption: Do I want to adopt a boy or girl?
• WA Adoptions: What age of child am I looking to adopt?
• WA Adoption: Am I interesting in adopting a sibling group?
• WA Adoptions: Should I consider adopting a sibling group in order to get the type and age of child I am interest in?
• WA Adoption: Should I be willing to have open communication with the child’s birth parents?
• WA Adoptions: Can I parent a child who is physically or sexually abused and/or neglected?
• WA Adoptions: Can I parent a child that faces on-going medical issues, is diagnosed with a developmental disability who is developmentally delayed?
• WA Adoptions: Can I parent a child who is exposed to alcohol and drugs in utero?
• WA Adoption: Does the ethnicity of the child I adopt?
• WA Adoptions: How does my extended family feel about Washington adoption?
• WA Adoption: If I participate in a Washington adoption with a child of a different race or ethnicity will I be judged by my family and friends?
• WA Adoptions: How will I handle adoption-related questions posed by my child?
Washington Adoption: Laws and Requirements
As a real general overview, to successfully partake in Washington adoption, you are required to be:
• WA Adoption: Deemed legally competent by the state of Washington and the State Department of Social and Health Services
• WA Adoption: 18 years of age or older
• WA Adoptions: Be approved following a home study
Who must Consent to a Washington Adoption?
• WA Adoptions: The adoptee, if fourteen years of age or older
• WA Adoption: The parents and the alleged father
• WA Adoptions: The legal guardian
• WA Adoption: A department or the agency to whom the adoptee has been relinquished pursuant
When Parental Consent is not required:
• WA Adoption: A parent’s rights are terminated in the child’s best interest and due to failure to perform parental duties
• WA Adoptions: For Native American children, a parent’s rights can be terminated only pursuant to standards set forth in Washington adoption law
When Can Consent Be Executed?
• WA Adoption: Parents may petition and provide written consent to relinquish may be filed before birth; however, the hearing may not be held prior to 48 hours after the birth of the child
• WA Adoptions: If the Child is of Native American descent, the petition and consent must not be signed until at least 10 days after the birth
Revocation of Consent:
• WA Adoption: Consent may be revoked until the court approves it. Following this, consent is deemed irrevocable, except that for 1 year, consent shall be revoked for lack of mental competence, duress or fraud
Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights:
The following—according to Washington adoption laws—are circumstances that are grounds for termination:
• WA Adoption: Abuse and/or neglect
• WA Adoptions: Abandonment or parental disinterest
• WA Adoption: Drug or alcohol induced incapacity
• WA Adoptions: Mental illness or deficiency
• WA Adoption: Child judged in need of services/dependent
• WA Adoptions: Sexual abuse
• WA Adoption: Neglect or loss of rights of another child
• Child’s best interest
• Felony assault of sibling or child
Who is allowed to Adopt?
The following persons are permitted to proceed with a Washington adoption:
• Any individual 18 years of age or older who is:
o Legally competent
o Approved family assessment
Who may be adopted?
• Any person, regardless of residence or age
Who may Place a Child for Adoption?
• A guardian or parent
• The Department
• A child placing agency
Cost of Washington Adoption:
The cost of a Washington adoption from the public foster care system is typically kept to a bare minimum. Incurred costs are typically limited to the following:
• Attorney Fees
• Adoption home studies
Outside adoptions (those initiated privately) can range from $4,000 to $40,000, whereas an independent adoption can range from $8,000 to $40,000.
Steps to a Washington Adoption:
1. The first step to a Washington adoption requires you to contact your local office.
When you contact the department, a worker will answer any of your questions, send you information and provide information—through the delivery of adoption brochures—for their particular office.
If you are looking to finalize a Washington adoption, you should sign-up for pre-service training courses through your local office. Washington adoption law states that you are required to have 30 hours of training to learn about foster issues and adoption. When training is complete, you can be assigned a social worker.
2. Adoptive Home Study: All prospective adopting parents must undertake an adoptive home study. The adoptive home study’s primary purpose is to evaluate whether parents are eligible to proceed with a Washington adoption. The process of a Washington adoption involved preparation and educations as well as procuring information concerning the prospective parents. An Adoptive home study will include the following steps:
a. Application is provided by the agency
b. Preparation classes: To secure a Washington adoption, you are required to take 30 hours of pre-service training. Class schedule information may be found on the Foster Parent Training site.
c. Criminal History Background Check: this portion of the home study is organized through your social worker. A criminal history background check must be completed on every individual over the age of 16 residing in the prospective home. A national fingerprint test must also be completed for all adults in the home over the age of 18 and above, has lived in another state over the last 5 years, a background check will be inspected from other states. These tests will be organized through your social worker
d. Child Neglect and Abuse Inquiries: This is a portion of the background check. Washington state records are checked for every individual in the home for anyone 16 years of age and older. All individuals in the home above the age of 18 who have lived in another state during the last five years will be checked.
e. Personal Information: The DSHS will implement a form to provide your social worker with information about you. The application will question the following subjects:
i. Family facts, Education, Employment History, Cultural background, Relationships, Parenting and Experience with Children, Medical and psychosocial questions, Religious affiliation and practices, Support Systems and home and neighborhood questions
f. Medical Statements: This is a confidential form that your medical professional will fill-out regarding historic and current medical ailments. Your social worker will provide you with the necessary forms.
g. Income Statements: The social worker—for a Washington adoption—will provide you with a worksheet that will seek information on the following topics:
iii. Bank Accounts
vi. Credit card debts
viii. Child Support
x. Paid Leave
Home Study Approval:
A home study for Washington adoptions must be approved to continue with the process. In general, home studies for Washington adoptions will be approved within 90 days
3. Child Selection for Washington Adoptions: There are various ways to select a child for Washington adoptions:
a. Social workers will contact you concerning a specific child for Washington adoptions
b. Or you can contact the social worker about children you either found on a site or heard about
You and your social worker must be in contact to secure background information about the child up for Washington adoptions. At this point, you may begin working with 2 different social workers: your social worker and the child’s social worker for Washington adoptions.
4. Visitation and Placement Process: To go ahead with Washington adoptions you must ensure that there has been a disclosure of the child’s medical, family and social background. For Washington adoptions to be finalized, it may take two weeks to several months to place the child in your home depending on the youth’s needs (age, therapy and medical issues, school, child’s well-being, location of the adoptive family etc.). Visitation for Washington adoptions will typically begin at a location deemed safe for the child. Visits will lengthen in time; they get progressively longer until the youth moves to your home.
5. Post Placement: During this portion of the Washington adoption process, your social worker will continue working with you until the adoption is affirmed. Washington adoptions, in this stage, entail the arrangement of needed services (medical, schooling, counseling, child and family etc.). Washington adoptions will also require the social worker to come to your home to check on the well-being of the child at least once every 90 days until the adoption is affirmed.
6. Steps for Legal Procedures and Finalizing Washington Adoptions:
a. Contact a Washington Adoption attorney
b. Finalize the adoption support application delivered to you by your social worker. When completed, the adoption support program specialist is assigned to you. The program specialist reviews your application to determine if the youth qualifies for the program according to Washington and federal laws. The negotiated contract outlining the benefits and terms will be presented for signature.
c. The social worker must complete a post-placement report. The report provides the court with an update of the family’s and child’s well-being since placement
d. DSHS provides a Consent to Adopt for Washington adoptions. This is a written statement to authorize that the child may be adopted
e. The social worker—to finalize Washington adoptions—will send your attorney a packet containing crucial documents for Washington adoptions
f. Your attorney will prepare the document to present to the court. Your attorney will also file the petition and secure a court date to finalize Washington adoptions
g. When the date is secured you will appear before the court.