Before I get too deep into the article, please note this is a broad article discussing adoption in Washington State, and it does not constitute legal advice. It also does not cover every inch of the state of Washington as it pertains to adoptions. As always, please contact a licensed adoption professional to know more about adoption in Washington state. Not sure where to start? You can always check out this link. For the sake of this article, we will keep to the basics of what to expect while pursuing adoption in Washington State.
Adoption Washington State Requirements
In the state of Washington, any person who is legally competent and over the age of 18 may adopt. However, to become foster parents in the state of Washington you must meet the following criteria: be at least 21 years old, be able to financially support yourself, complete First Aid/CPR and Bloodborne Pathogens training, and complete the licensing orientation and pre-service training. Also, any adult living in the prospective home must complete a background check and submit current tuberculosis tests.
To finalize an international adoption in the state of Washington, you must provide a certified copy of the adoption decree and evidence of the child’s birth date and place of birth. Then you will receive a new birth certificate issued from the state of Washington, and it will look just like a birth certificate issued to a child born in the state of Washington.
Types of Adoption Washington State
Adoption in Washington State consists of the following types of adoption, which include:
1. Stepparent: The process of a non-biological person adopting another person’s child after the non-custodial parent no longer has parental rights. This usually occurs after a divorce or death and must occur after the non-custodial parent’s rights are terminated.
2. Second parent: The adoption of a child by a same-sex parent whether or not they have legally been recognized to be in a relationship with the other parent.
3. Foster parent: The adoption of a child from the foster care system after the child’s biological parental rights have been terminated.
4. Independent: The adoption of a child that is placed with the adoptive parents by the birth parent without the assistance of an agency.
5. Agency: The adoption of a child that is facilitated by a state-licensed agency.
6. International: The adoption of a child who was born in a foreign country.
Adoption Washington State Process
Each adoption provides a unique set of circumstances, but the procedures are very similar.
Consent. Any person who is seeking to adopt a child born to another person must obtain the biological parent’s consent. If you are going through an agency, then this will all be taken care of through the adoption agency. If you are not working with an agency, I suggest working with a licensed attorney to make sure consent is properly established.
Petition for adoption. The initial paperwork is prepared and filed with the court. Again, if you are working with an agency, this will all be done through the agency. You may also be working with an attorney to prepare this paperwork.
Home study. All adoptive parents must undergo a home study. Again, your agency will be doing this for you, or it can be completed through the Division of Licensed Resources. This will seem like the most daunting part! The home study consists of a lot of different parts and can be very overwhelming. Take it one step at a time. The process begins with an application; this will be provided by your agency. A criminal background check will also need to be completed. All adults living in the prospective adoptive parents’ home must complete a national fingerprint check. The Washington State records will be checked for child abuse and neglect inquiries for everyone living in the home ages 16 and older. If an adult has lived in another state, those state records will be checked as well.
Your worker will also require you to provide him or her with personal information. This information will include, but not be limited to, the following: family facts and background, education, employment history, values, interests, hobbies, cultural background, relationships, spouse, other children (if any), parenting styles, discipline, religion or spiritual affiliation, medical history, where you live, your neighborhood, your support system, your financial situation, and much more. There is no wrong or right way to answer these questions; simply be yourself.
You will also need to provide several different types of documentation. This will include, but not be limited to, marriage certificates, divorce certificates (if any), medical history signed by your doctor, financial statements which may include several years of tax returns, and at least three references (one reference may be related to you).
Your worker will also come to your home and meet with you to get a better understanding of each of you and how your home will fit the addition of a child. Again, I will suggest there is no right or wrong way to act while your worker is in your home. I know it can feel like a lot of pressure and stress, but they are simply doing their job and want to make sure a child will be placed in a safe and secure home.
As I said, this may seem like a never-ending process, but it will all be worth it in the end! Upon the approval of your home study, the adoption process may continue. Again, the next steps will depend on what type of adoption you are pursuing, but the processes are pretty similar.
Again, the next steps in the process depend on which adoption route you are going. In domestic adoption, you may be waiting for the birth parents to choose you or you may be waiting for the birth of a specific child. In international adoption, you may have to travel more than once to your child’s home country. For the sake of this article, let’s assume you have a child placed with you.
There is a post-placement evaluation that takes place with adoptions in the state of Washington. A social worker is appointed by the court to conduct a post-placement evaluation. The social worker will come to your home to meet with both parents and to meet the other children in your home—if there are any. The social worker then makes a recommendation as to whether or not the adoption should be approved. This will be done by your adoption agency social worker if you are working with an agency. If you are working with an attorney, then a social worker will be appointed by the court for you. Once the evaluation takes place, the social worker will write up a post-placement report. This report will then be filed with the court.
If you live in King County, there is a special requirement that requires the consent of the biological parents to be confirmed to ensure that the consent was valid and not done by coercion or under duress.
Once the post-placement report is done and the social worker recommends that the adoption be approved, then a final hearing before the court will be scheduled. The court will make sure all paperwork was completed and there are no other outstanding issues that need to be addressed. They will advise the attorney/social worker so those things may be addressed If anything needs to be corrected or changed. If everything checks out the finalization hearing will be scheduled and the adoption finalization will take place.
Once the finalization hearing is scheduled, the parties need to appear in court along with the adoptive child and any other family members you would want to be present at the hearing. The parties each provide their own testimony and state why they believe the adoption is in the child’s best interest. Usually, a Judge or a court commissioner reviews all of the final paperwork and if everything checks out then he/she will sign the order. At this time, the adoption is finalized and complete! The child is now legally a child of the adoptive parents.
The adoption decree is then signed and entered by the court. The parents should make sure they have certified copies of the adoption decree. The court’s office holds the adoption decree for 30 days. Then, they forward the decree and the state documents to the vital statistics division of the state, and a new birth certificate naming the adoptive parents will be issued. A copy of the new birth certificate will be mailed to the adoptive parents in approximately six to eight weeks.
Adoption Washington State Agencies
There are several adoption agencies for adoption in Washington State. Here is one I found, or you can click here to help find more agencies in the state of Washington.
15605 Main St E
Sumner, WA 98390
Phone: Phone: (253) 987-5804
Cost of Adoption Washington State
Many parents who are considering adoption are also concerned about the cost of adoption. It can seem overwhelming. The cost of adopting a child from the foster care system is usually close to nothing. One of the most expensive costs could be hiring an attorney—if you need one. But most of the time, the adoption costs are waived or minimal when adopting from the foster care system. On the other hand, costs can vary if you are pursuing a private or international adoption.
If you are pursuing a private adoption the range is from $4,000 to $40,000.
If you are pursuing an independent adoption the range is from $8,000 to $40,000
There are several ways to obtain financial assistance through adoption. If you are adopting a child with special needs through the foster or welfare system, you may qualify for an adoption subsidy. The monthly payment is determined through discussion and negotiation between the adoptive parents and the department representative based on the specific needs of the child and the family’s circumstances. The payment must not exceed the amount the child would receive if the child were in a foster family home. As of July 1, 2015, the rates are as follows:
Age of Child Basic Rate
0 to 5 years old: $562.00
6 to 11 years old: $683.00
12 and older: $$703.00
Age of Child Level II Level III Level IV
0 to 5 years old $739.92 $1,085.51 $1,364.30
6 to 11 years old $860.92 $1,206.51 $1,485.30
12 and older $880.92 $1,226.51 $1,505.30
Also, before the finalization of a special needs child from the foster care/welfare system, families can apply for a non-recurring reimbursement. The maximum reimbursable cost is not to exceed $1,500 per child. These foster care/welfare system children are also eligible to receive medical and dental services through Medicaid.
There is also the federal tax credit that can be claimed in the year your child’s adoption becomes finalized. The federal tax credit is $14,080 for the tax year 2019. This means you may be able to subtract that amount from your tax liability for any adoption-related expenses.
Also, some employers provide a wide range of benefits for adoptive parents. This can include paid or unpaid time off when a child arrives at your home. They may also provide a variety of reimbursements for a portion(s) of the adoption expenses. Contact your human resources department to see if your employer offers any kind of reimbursement.
Adoption Washington State: Final Thoughts
The adoption process can be long and exhausting but let me be the first to congratulate you on deciding to expand your family through the gift of adoption. I hope you find this article to be helpful and wish you the best of luck with pursuing adoption in Washington State!
Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.