Adoption is a beautiful way to build your family. However, I am sure if you are considering adoption you are overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. However, I will attempt to deliver as much information as possible in a clear format about adoption in Seattle here in this article.
I do want to mention that this article is written from my own personal experience and research and does not constitute legal advice. For more detailed and specific information, please reach out to a local adoption Seattle agency.
There are several different types of adoption. Each one is unique in its own way, most as governed by the same rules and regulations. Again, for more specific details, contact one of the agencies listed herein or locate an agency closest to you. Before we get too far into the details and how to begin, what are the types of adoption in Seattle?
Agency: An agency adoption is what it sounds like. It is an adoption that is facilitated by using an adoption agency. An agency can help you with a domestic adoption or international adoption.
Private: A private adoption is an independent adoption in which the birth mother and prospective adoptive parents find each other without the use of an agency.
International: International adoption is the adoption of a child from another country other than the one in which you reside.
Stepparent: Stepparent adoption is the adoption of a child by the spouse of one of the biological parents. For a stepparent adoption to occur, there must be a termination of parental rights of the other parent. However, there are special circumstances that might outweigh these requirements.
Foster to adopt: Foster care adoption is sometimes also called public adoption. While the ultimate goal of foster care is parent reunification, there are cases when parent reunification is not in the best interest of the child. This is when an adoption plan can be put in place.
Now that we know the types of adoption that are available in Seattle, what does the process look like and what should we be preparing for?
The broad process for any given adoption is as follows. However, keep in mind that every adoption is unique and might not follow these steps exactly.
1. Every adoption begins with consent. The birth parents will have to consent to the adoption before the process can begin. Again, it depends on the situation, but this usually includes the mother and the father. If you are working with an agency, this is usually when you are “matched” with a birth mother. The agency will be the one to handle the required paperwork to give consent. If you are not working with an agency, I suggest you work with a licensed attorney who can protect your rights.
2. As far as the steps for the prospective adoptive parents, your first step is choosing an adoption agency. I always urge adoptive parents to “interview” several different agencies before choosing the agency they wish to work with. The adoption process is very personal and emotional, which requires a good working relationship with your agency. I have heard stories from other adoptive parents in which they did not get along with their adoption worker, this made for an unbearable situation. Once you have chosen your adoption agency, they will require an application to be completed and sent to their office. Most agencies also require that you attend an information meeting before submitting your application. This is when you should “try” several agencies before deciding on one to work with.
3. Your next big step is completing your home study. This is probably the most time-consuming and strenuous part of the adoption process! I don’t say that to scare you, I say that to warn you to be prepared. The more prepared you are going into it, the less stressful and overwhelming it will be. Each agency will vary in what they request from you or what their process is, however, the general process is as follows:
– Gather and produce documents for your agency. This can include but not be limited to, marriage licenses, divorce certificate (if any), physical health records and/or letter from your doctor, mental health records and/or letter from your treating doctor, educational records, employment records, and/or employment verification, proof of income, tax documents, pay stubs, reference letters, and more. Again, every agency is going to require different documents from you. Your agency will provide a list of their required forms at the beginning of the process. Take it one step at a time and remember it does not need to be completed overnight.
– Every person over the age of 16 will be required to pass a background check. You will be required to submit fingerprints for a federal background check. Again, each agency will outline when this step is necessary but is required for everyone interested in adoption in Seattle. – Your agency may also require you to provide them with an autobiography. This is something you write up about your personal life story up to this point in time. You should include information about your childhood and what lead you to adoption. I know I felt a little weird writing my life story, but again, it was helpful for our workers to get to know us. As mentioned, you may be required to provide references. Each adoption agency has its own set of requirements when it comes to references but usually, a limited number of them can be from family. – Once you have submitted the required paperwork to your agency, your home study provider will need to come to your home to conduct a home visit and interviews. Depending on the agency, they may conduct the interviews separately or jointly. They will, however, want to interview everyone in your household, who is age-appropriate. This may seem intimidating but it is for your benefit and the child who is entering your home. Your agency worker will be asking questions about your daily life routines, your relationships, parenting styles, your path to adoption, and much, much more. This is why I always say it is important to have a good relationship with your agency and find an agency that is right for you. I am a firm believer that not every agency is meant for every person. – Your home study provider will also need to “inspect” your home. I remember when our social worker came to our house for the first time. I was a nervous wreck. I cleaned for days and days. Let me be the one to tell you, they are not there to judge how clean your house is! They are there to make sure your house is safe to bring a child into it. They are also there to make sure you have adequate space to bring a child into your home. They will be looking for things like; fences around pools, outlet covers on your outlets, fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and other safety requirements. If there are things in your home missing that are required, your worker will advise you of those things and may be required to revisit your home once you have addressed the missing items. I know it is easier said than done but try not to stress too much over having them come into your home, it is not meant to be intimidating, it’s meant to be educating. – Your worker will then prepare a written report, which constitutes your home study. This report will include the worker’s findings during his/her investigation and include your personal and family background, physical and mental health, educational background, employment information, financial information, marriage and family relationships, feelings about infertility (if any), readiness to adopt, parenting philosophies, motivation to adopt, religious affiliation, home environment, community involvement, references, and your background clearances. Most agencies will provide you with a copy of the report. Make sure you review the report closely and notify your agency if there are any discrepancies or errors in the report. – Your agency may also require educational classes or training. Again, these are meant to be helpful for you on your adoption journey. In our first adoption, we were required to take two days back-to-back on adoption education. I still have some of the notes and books we received from those training days and that was almost 10 years ago. I know now, we are required to have more hours than just the two days. Make sure you discuss this with your agency so you are aware of what will be required of you ahead of time.
4. The next step in the process will depend on what type of adoption you are pursuing. If you are pursuing a domestic adoption, your next step will be waiting for a birth mother to choose you. This is how most agencies operate now, the birth mother chooses the prospective adoptive parents. I should note that your agency may also require you to put together a “Dear Birth Mother” letter and/or adoption portfolio to give to the birth mothers to choose from. If you are pursuing international adoption, your home study will look a little different than one for domestic adoption, as you will be required to produce additional information such as passports, visas, dossier information, and more. Again, make sure you know what will be required of you from your agency ahead of time so you can plan. Also, the country you are adopting from will determine what is required from you. Each country has its own set of rules and requirements regarding travel and other related materials.
5. Once you have been matched with a birth mother, the termination of parental rights need to be completed and the petition for adoption. These both would be handled by your adoption agency. If you are not working with an adoption agency, they can be completed by an adoption attorney.
6. Lastly, the adoption will need to be finalized. Depending on your agency, they will visit your home after placement several times, although the number of visits varies from agency to agency. This is to ensure everyone is transitioning well. The worker then will determine if the adoption is in the best interest of the child and should be approved. If you are not working with an agency, but an attorney, the court will appoint a social worker to complete the post-placement report. This report is filed with the courts. Adoption Seattle requires that the consent of the biological parents be confirmed. This is to ensure that the consent was done without coercion or under duress. Once all required documents have been filed with the court, the final hearing can be scheduled. This is the best part! This is when the adoption becomes finalized. The parties each provide their own testimony and state why the adoption is in the best interest of the child. The judge or court commissioner may ask any additional questions and if everything looks okay, then he/she will approve the adoption and will sign the adoption decree. The court will hold the adoption decree for 30 days and then will forward the decree and any other necessary documents to the Vital Statistics Office and a new birth certificate naming the adoptive parents (and including a name change if necessary) will be issued. The new birth certificate will be mailed to the adoptive parents within six to eight weeks.
Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen
12055 15th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98125
Phone: (206) 367-1065
I know this is a lot of information at once in regards to adoption in Seattle, however, I hope you find it helpful to your adoption in Seattle journey.
Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.