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Washington

Adoption Laws

Notice: The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed and qualified professional. While the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.160

Consent to an adoption shall be required of the following, if applicable:

  • The parents and any alleged father of a child under age 18
  • An agency or the department to whom the child has been relinquished pursuant to § 26.33.080
  • The legal guardian of the child

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.160

A child who is age 14 or older must consent to the adoption.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.120; 26.33.170

Except in the case of an Indian child, the parental rights of a parent may be terminated upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interests of the child to terminate the relationship, the parent has failed to perform parental duties, and the parent is withholding consent to adoption contrary to the best interests of the child.

Except in the case of an Indian child, the parent-child relationship of an alleged father who claims paternity may be terminated upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interests of the child to terminate the relationship, that he has failed to perform parental duties under circumstances showing a substantial lack of regard for his parental obligations, that he is withholding consent to adoption contrary to the best interests of the child, or that he is not the father.

The parent-child relationship of an Indian child and his or her parent or alleged father, where paternity has been claimed or established, may be terminated only pursuant to the standards set forth in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f).

The parent-child relationship of a parent or an alleged father may be terminated if the parent or alleged father fails to appear after being notified of the hearing in the manner required by § 26.33.310.

The consent of an agency, the department, or a legal guardian may be dispensed with if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child.

The consent of an alleged father, birth parent, or parent may be dispensed with if the court finds that the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child, and the alleged father, birth parent, or parent:

  • Has been found guilty of rape or incest where the child was the victim of the rape or incest
  • Has been found guilty of rape or incest where the other parent of the child was the victim and the child was conceived as a result of the rape or incest

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.080; 26.33.160

A petition for relinquishment, together with the written consent to adoption, may be filed before the child’s birth. If the child is an Indian child, the petition and consent shall not be signed until at least 10 days after the child’s birth and shall be recorded before a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to 25 U.S.C. § 1913(a).

The consent will not be presented to the court until 48 hours after it is signed or 48 hours after the birth of the child, whichever occurs later. In the case of a consent to an adoption of an Indian child, no consent shall be valid unless the consent is executed in writing more than 10 days after the birth of the child.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.080; 26.33.160

A parent, an alleged father, the department, or an agency may file with the court a petition to relinquish a child to the department or an agency. The parent’s or alleged father’s written consent to adoption shall accompany the petition. The written consent of the department or the agency to assume custody shall be filed with the petition.

The written consent to adoption shall be signed under penalty of perjury and shall state that:

  • It is given subject to approval of the court.
  • It has no force or effect until approved by the court.
  • The birth parent is or is not of Native American or Alaska native ancestry.
  • It is revocable by the consenting party at any time before its approval by the court.
  • A written consent to adoption that meets all the requirements of this chapter but that does not name or otherwise identify the adopting parent is valid if it contains a statement that it is voluntarily executed without disclosure of the name or other identification of the adopting parent.
  • There must be a witness to the consent of the parent or alleged father. The witness must be at least age 18 and selected by the parent or alleged father. The consent document shall contain a statement identifying by name, address, and relationship the witness selected by the parent or alleged father.

Revocation of Consent Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.160

Consent to adoption is revocable by the consenting party at any time before the consent is approved by the court. The revocation may be made in either of the following ways:

  • Written revocation may be delivered or mailed to the clerk of the court before approval.
  • Written revocation may be delivered or mailed to the clerk of the court after approval, but only if it is delivered or mailed within 48 hours after a prior notice of revocation that was given within 48 hours after the birth of the child. The prior notice of revocation shall be given to the agency or person who sought the consent and may be either oral or written.

Consent to adoption may not be revoked after it has been approved by the court. Within 1 year after approval, a consent may be revoked for fraud or duress practiced by the person, department, or agency requesting the consent, or for lack of mental competency on the part of the person giving the consent at the time the consent was given. A written consent to adoption may not be revoked more than 1 year after it is approved by the court.

In the case of consent to an adoption of an Indian child, consent may be withdrawn for any reason at any time prior to the entry of the final decree of adoption. Consent may be withdrawn for fraud or duress within 2 years of the entry of the final decree of adoption.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents Rev. Code § 43.43.837(4); Admin. Code §§ 388-06-0110; -0150; -0170; -0180

A fingerprint-based background check through the Washington State Patrol Identification and Criminal History Section and the FBI is required when the department seeks to approve an applicant for a foster placement.

In regulation:A background check is required for any individual who will have unsupervised access to children, including a person who is at least age 16 residing in a foster home or relative’s home who is not a foster child.

The department must review records of criminal convictions and pending charges, child protective services case files for founded reports of child abuse or neglect, and any civil judgments, determinations, or disciplinary board final decisions of child abuse or neglect. The department also must check the following for each person age 18 and older residing in the home:

  • Child abuse and neglect registries in each State a person has lived in the previous 5 five years
  • Washington State Patrol and FBI fingerprint-based background checks regardless of how long the person has resided in Washington

A conviction for any of the crimes listed will permanently prohibit a person from being licensed. Those felony convictions include:

  • Child abuse and/or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault

The department must disqualify a person from licensure if it has been less than 5 years from a conviction for the following crimes:

  • Any physical assault not included above
  • Any sex offense not included above
  • Any felony conviction not included above
  • A felony violation of certain drug-related crimes, including unlawfully manufacturing, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, or unlawfully using a building for drug purposes

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Rev. Code § 26.33.190; Admin. Code §§ 388-06-0150; -0170; -0180

All preplacement reports shall include a background check of any conviction records, pending charges, or disciplinary board final decisions of prospective adoptive parents. The background check shall include a fingerprint-based background check of national crime information databases for any person being investigated. The background check shall include a review of the child abuse and neglect registries of all States in which the prospective adoptive parents or any other adults living in the home have lived during the previous 5 years.

In regulation:The department must conduct Washington State Patrol and FBI fingerprint-based background checks for each person age 18 and older residing in the home, regardless of how long the person has resided in Washington. A conviction for any of the crimes listed will permanently prohibit a person from being approved. Those felony convictions include:

  • Child abuse and/or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault

The department must disqualify a person from approval if it has been less than 5 years from a conviction for the following crimes:

  • Any physical assault not included above
  • Any sex offense not included above
  • Any felony conviction not included above
  • A felony violation of certain drug-related crimes, including unlawfully manufacturing, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, or unlawfully using a building for drug purposes

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Rev. Code §§ 13.34.132; 13.34.180

A court may order termination of parental rights if the following requirements are met:

  • The court has removed the child from his or her home.
  • Termination is recommended by the department or the supervising agency.
  • Termination is in the best interests of the child.
  • Because of the existence of aggravated circumstances, reasonable efforts to unify the family are not required.

In determining whether aggravated circumstances exist by clear and convincing evidence, the court shall consider one or more of the following:

  • Conviction of the parent of rape of the child
  • Conviction of the parent of criminal mistreatment of the child
  • Conviction of the parent of first- or second-degree assault, when the child is the victim
  • Conviction of the parent of murder, manslaughter, or homicide by abuse of the child’s other parent, sibling, or another child
  • Conviction of the parent of attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit a crime listed above
  • A finding by a court that a parent is a sexually violent predator
  • Failure of the parent to complete available treatment, when such failure has resulted in a prior termination of parental rights to another child and the parent has failed to effect significant change in the interim
  • Abandonment of an infant younger than age 3
  • Conviction of the parent of a sex offense or incest, when a child has been born of the offense

A petition seeking termination of parental rights may be filed in juvenile court by any party to the dependency proceedings concerning that child. Such petition shall allege all of the following:

  • The child has been found to be a dependent child under a dispositional order pursuant to § 13.34.130.
  • The child has been removed from the custody of the parent for at least 6 months.
  • Services capable of correcting the parental deficiencies have been expressly and understandably offered or provided.
  • There is little likelihood that conditions will be remedied so that the child can be returned to the parent in the near future. A parent’s failure to substantially improve parental deficiencies within 12 months following entry of the dispositional order shall give rise to a rebuttable presumption that there is little likelihood that conditions will be remedied so that the child can be returned to the parent in the near future. In determining whether the conditions will be remedied, the court may consider, but is not limited to, the following factors:
    • Use of intoxicating or controlled substances so as to render the parent incapable of providing proper care for the child for extended periods of time
    • Psychological incapacity or mental deficiency of the parent that is so severe and chronic as to render the parent incapable of providing proper care for the child for extended periods of time
    • Failure of the parent to have contact with the child for an extended period of time if the parent was provided an opportunity to have a relationship with the child
  • Continuation of the parent and child relationship clearly diminishes the child’s prospects for early integration into a stable and permanent home.

In lieu of the allegations listed above, the petition may allege that the child was found under such circumstances that the whereabouts of the child’s parent are unknown, and no person has acknowledged paternity or maternity and requested custody of the child within 2 months after the child was found.

In lieu of the allegations listed above, the petition may allege that the parent has been convicted of:

  • Murder or manslaughter against another child of the parent
  • Attempting, conspiring, or soliciting another to commit murder or manslaughter
  • Assault in the first or second degree against the surviving child or another child of the parent

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Rev. Code § 13.34.180

A parent’s failure to remedy conditions for 12 months shall give rise to a presumption that there is little likelihood of reunification unless it is shown that all necessary services have not been clearly offered or provided.

The actual inability of a parent to have visitation with the child including, but not limited to, mitigating circumstances such as a parent’s incarceration or service in the military does not in and of itself constitute failure to have contact with the child.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights Rev. Code § 13.34.215

A child may petition the court to reinstate the previously terminated parental rights of his or her parent if:

  • The child was previously found to be a dependent child and the child’s parent’s rights were terminated.
  • The child has not achieved his or her permanency plan.
  • Three years have passed since the final order of termination was entered.
  • The child is at least age 12 at the time the petition is filed.

If, after a threshold hearing to consider the parent’s apparent fitness and interest in reinstatement of parental rights, the court finds that the best interests of the child may be served by reinstatement of parental rights, the juvenile court shall order that a hearing on the merits of the petition be held. The juvenile court shall conditionally grant the petition if it finds that the child has not achieved his or her permanency plan, is not likely to imminently achieve permanency, and that reinstatement of parental rights is in the child’s best interests. In determining whether reinstatement is in the child’s best interests, the court shall consider, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Whether the parent is a fit parent and has remedied the deficiencies that led to the termination
  • The child’s age, maturity, and ability to express a preference
  • Whether the reinstatement of parental rights will present a risk to the child’s health, welfare, or safety
  • Other material changes in circumstances, if any, that may have occurred that warrant the granting of the petition

If the court conditionally grants the petition, the child shall be placed in the custody of the parent, and the department shall develop a plan for reunification and provide transition services to the family as appropriate.

If the child has been successfully placed with the parent for 6 months, the court order reinstating parental rights remains in effect and the court shall dismiss the dependency.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.190

The study shall include the prospective adoptive parents and any adults living in the home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.190; 26.33.210

The preplacement report may be completed by an agency, the department, an individual approved by the court, or a qualified salaried court employee.

The department or an agency having the custody of a child may make the preplacement or postplacement report on a petitioner for the adoption of that child.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.140

Any person who is legally competent and age 18 or older may be an adoptive parent.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.190

The preplacement report shall be based on a study that includes an investigation of the home environment, family life, health, facilities, and resources of the applicant. The report shall include a recommendation as to the fitness of the applicant to be an adoptive parent. The report shall also verify that the following issues were discussed with the prospective adoptive parents:

  • The concept of adoption as a lifelong developmental process and commitment
  • The potential for the child to have feelings of identity confusion and loss regarding separation from the birth parents
  • If applicable, the relevance of the child’s relationship with siblings and the potential benefit to the child of providing for a continuing relationship and contact between the child and known siblings
  • Disclosure of the fact of adoption to the child
  • The child’s possible questions about birth parents and relatives
  • The relevance of the child’s racial, ethnic, and cultural heritage

All preplacement reports shall include a background check of any conviction records, pending charges, or disciplinary board final decisions of prospective adoptive parents. The background check shall include an examination of State and national criminal identification data including, but not limited to, a fingerprint-based background check of national crime information databases for any person being investigated. It also shall include a review of any child abuse and neglect history of any adult living in the prospective adoptive parents’ home. The background check of the child abuse and neglect history shall include a review of the child abuse and neglect registries of all States in which the prospective adoptive parents or any other adult living in the home have lived during the 5 years preceding the date of the preplacement report.

Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Admin. Code §§ 388-06-0170; 388-06-0180

An applicant will be permanently disqualified if he or she has a felony conviction for any of the following:

  • Child abuse and/or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide but not including other physical assault

The applicant will not be approved if it has been less than 5 years from a conviction for the following crimes:

  • Any physical assault not included above
  • Any sex offense not included above
  • Any felony conviction not included above
  • Felony violation of the following:
    • The Imitation Controlled Substances Act, the Legend Drug Act, the Precursor Drug Act, or the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
    • Manufacturing, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver, or using a building for illegal drug-related purposes

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.180

Except as provided in § 26.33.220, a child shall not be placed with prospective adoptive parents until a preplacement report has been filed with the court.

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.200

At the time the petition for adoption is filed, the court shall order a postplacement report made to determine the nature and adequacy of the placement and to determine if the placement is in the best interests of the child. The report shall be prepared by an agency, the department, an individual approved by the court, or a qualified salaried court employee appointed by the court.

The report shall be in writing and contain all reasonably available information concerning the physical and mental condition of the child; home environment, family life, health, facilities, and resources of the petitioners; and any other facts and circumstances relating to the propriety and advisability of the adoption. The report also shall include, if relevant, information on the child’s special cultural heritage, including membership in any Indian Tribe or band.

The report shall be filed within 60 days of the date of appointment unless the time is extended by the court. The preplacement report shall be made available to the person appointed to make the postplacement report.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.220

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, a preplacement report is not required if the petitioner seeks to adopt the child of the petitioner’s spouse.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Rev. Code § 26.34.010

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.360

A newborn may be relinquished. The term ‘newborn’ means a live human being who is younger than 72 hours old.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.360

The newborn may be relinquished by his or her parent.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.360

The parent may leave the infant with a qualified person at an appropriate location. An appropriate location includes:

  • The emergency department of a licensed hospital during the hours the hospital is in operation
  • A fire station during its hours of operation and while fire personnel are present
  • A federally designated rural health clinic during its hours of operation

A qualified person includes:

  • Any person that the parent transferring the newborn reasonably believes is a bona fide employee, volunteer, or medical staff member of the hospital who represents to the parent transferring the newborn that he or she can and will summon appropriate resources to meet the newborn’s immediate needs
  • A firefighter, volunteer, or emergency medical technician at a fire station who represents to the parent transferring the newborn that he or she can and will summon appropriate resources to meet the newborn’s immediate needs

A federally designated rural health clinic is not required to provide ongoing medical care of a transferred newborn beyond that already required by law and may transfer the newborn to a licensed hospital. The federally designated rural health clinic shall notify child protective services of the transfer of the newborn to the hospital.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.360

The qualified person at an appropriate location shall:

  • Attempt to protect the anonymity of the parent who transfers the newborn
  • Provide an opportunity for the parent to anonymously give such information as the parent knows about the family medical history of the parents and the newborn
  • Provide referral information about adoption options, counseling, appropriate medical and emotional aftercare services, domestic violence, and legal rights to the parent seeking to transfer the newborn
  • Notify child protective services within 24 hours after receipt of the newborn

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.360

A hospital, federally designated rural health clinic, or fire station and its employees, volunteers, and medical staff are immune from any criminal or civil liability for accepting or receiving a newborn under this section.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.360

A parent of a newborn who transfers the newborn to a qualified person at an appropriate location is not subject to criminal liability for abandonment of a child.

The qualified person at an appropriate location shall not require the parent to provide any identifying information in order to transfer the newborn.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.360

Child protective services shall assume custody of the newborn within 24 hours after receipt of notification.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Rev. Code § 9A.64.030(2)(f)

A person receiving a child for adoption is permitted to pay:

  • The prenatal hospital or medical expenses involved in the birth of the child
  • Attorneys’ fees and court costs involved in effectuating transfer of child custody

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Rev. Code § 9A.64.030(1)

It is unlawful for any person to sell or purchase a minor child.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.190(4); 26.33.200(2)

An agency, the department, or a court-approved individual may charge a reasonable fee based on the time spent in conducting the home study and preparing the preplacement report. The court may set a reasonable fee for conducting the study and preparing the report when a court employee has prepared the report. An agency, the department, a court-approved individual, or the court may reduce or waive the fee if the financial condition of the person requesting the report so warrants.

A fee may be charged for preparation of the postplacement report in the same manner as for a preplacement report.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.190(4)

The fee charged by an agency, department, or court-approved individual is subject to review by the court upon request of the person requesting the report.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Rev. Code §§ 26.26.011; 26.26.116

The term ‘parent-child relationship’ means the legal relationship between a child and a parent of the child. The term includes the mother-child relationship and the father-child relationship.

The term ‘acknowledged father’ means a man who has established a father-child relationship under §§ 26.26.300 through 26.26.375.

The term ‘adjudicated father’ means a man who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the father of a child.

The term ‘alleged father’ means a man who alleges himself to be, or is alleged to be, the genetic father or a possible genetic father of a child but whose paternity has not been determined. The term does not include:

The term ‘presumed father’ means a man who, under § 26.26.116, is recognized to be the father of a child until that status is rebutted or confirmed in a judicial proceeding. A man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

  • He and the mother of the child are married to each other, and the child is born during the marriage.
  • He and the mother of the child were married to each other, and the child is born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated.
  • Before the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child married each other, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within 300 days after its termination.
  • After the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child have married each other, whether or not the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and:
    • The assertion is in a record filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
    • He agreed to be and is named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate.
    • He promised in a record to support the child as his own.

Paternity Registry Rev. Code §§ 26.26.300; 26.26.305

The mother of a child and a man claiming to be the father of the child conceived as the result of his sexual intercourse with the mother may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with intent to establish the man’s paternity.

An acknowledgment of paternity must:

  • Be in a record
  • Be signed under penalty of perjury by the mother and by the man seeking to establish his paternity
  • State that the child whose paternity is being acknowledged:
  • State whether there has been genetic testing and, if so, that the acknowledging man’s claim of paternity is consistent with the results of the testing
  • State that the signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of a judicial adjudication of paternity of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances and is barred after 2 years

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Rev. Code § 26.26.101

The father-child relationship is established between a child and a man by:

  • An unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child under § 26.26.116
  • The man’s having signed an acknowledgment of paternity, unless the acknowledgment has been rescinded or successfully challenged
  • An adjudication of the man’s paternity
  • Adoption of the child by the man
  • The man’s having consented to assisted reproduction by his wife that resulted in the birth of the child
  • A valid surrogate parentage contract, under which the father is an intended parent of the child

Required Information Rev. Code § 26.26.355

The State Registrar of Vital Statistics shall prescribe forms for the acknowledgment of paternity. The acknowledgment of paternity shall state, in prominent lettering, that signing the acknowledgment of paternity is equivalent to an adjudication of paternity and confers upon the acknowledged father all the rights and duties of a parent, such as the payment of child support, if the acknowledgment is not challenged or rescinded.

Revocation of Claim to Paternity Rev. Code §§ 26.26.330; 26.26.335

A signatory may rescind an acknowledgment of paternity by commencing a court proceeding to rescind before the earlier of:

  • 60 days after the effective date of the acknowledgment
  • The date of the first hearing in a proceeding to which the signatory is a party before a court to adjudicate an issue relating to the child, including a proceeding that establishes support

After the period for rescission has elapsed, a signatory of an acknowledgment of paternity may commence a proceeding to challenge the acknowledgment only:

  • On the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact
  • Within 2 years after the acknowledgment is filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics

A party challenging an acknowledgment of paternity has the burden of proof.

Access to Information Rev. Code § 26.26.360

The State Registrar of Vital Statistics may release information relating to the acknowledgment of paternity, not expressly sealed under a court order, to:

  • A signatory of the acknowledgment or their attorneys of record
  • The courts of this or any other State
  • The agencies of this or any other State operating a child support program under title IV-D of the Social Security Act
  • The agencies of this or any other State involved in a dependency determination for a child named in the acknowledgment of paternity

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.400(1)-(2)

No person or entity shall cause to be published for circulation, or broadcast on a radio or television station, an advertisement of a child or children offered or wanted for adoption, or shall hold himself or herself out through such advertisement as having the ability to place, locate, dispose, or receive a child or children for adoption unless such person or entity is:

  • A duly authorized agent, contractee, or employee of the department or a children’s agency or institution, licensed by the department to care for and place children
  • A person who has a completed preplacement report with a favorable recommendation as to the fitness of the person to be an adoptive parent

Nothing in this section prohibits an attorney from advertising his or her availability to practice or provide services to the adoption of children.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.390(2)-(3); 9A.64.030

Any person adopting a child shall receive from the adoption facilitator written information on adoption-related services. This information may be that published by the department or any other social service provider and shall include information about how to find and evaluate appropriate adoption therapists, and may include other resources for adoption-related issues.

Any person involved in providing adoption-related services shall respond to requests for written information by providing materials explaining adoption procedures, practices, policies, fees, and services.

It is unlawful for any person to sell or purchase a minor child. A transaction shall not be a purchase or sale if any of the following exists:

  • The transaction is between the parents of the minor child.
  • The transaction is between a person receiving or about to receive the child and an adoption or child-placing agency.
  • The transaction is between the person receiving or about to receive the child and a State or other governmental agency.
  • The transaction is pursuant to the Interstate Compact of Placement of Children.
  • The transaction is pursuant to court order.
  • The only consideration paid by the person receiving or about to receive the child is intended to pay for the prenatal hospital or medical expenses involved in the birth of the child, or attorneys’ fees and court costs involved in effectuating transfer of child custody.

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Who May Adopt Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.140

Any person who is legally competent and age 18 or older may adopt.

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.140

Any person, regardless of age or residence, may be adopted.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.160

Consent for an adoption, if applicable, shall be required of the following:

  • The child’s parent or legal guardian
  • The Department of Social and Health Services
  • A child-placing agency

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.340; 26.33.343

Nonidentifying information is available to:

Identifying information may be accessed by:

  • An adopted person who is age 21 or older, or under 21 with the permission of the adoptive parent
  • A birth parent or member of the birth parent’s family after the adopted person has reached age 21

These family members shall be limited to the birth grandparents, a brother or sister of a birth parent, or the child of a birth parent. The court, for good cause shown, may allow a relative more distant in degree to petition for disclosure.

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.340; 26.33.380 Reasonably available nonidentifying information may be disclosed upon a written request to the persons listed above. If the adoption facilitator refuses to disclose such information, the individual may petition the superior court.

The prospective adoptive parent shall be given a family background and child and family social history report about the child. The report shall include a chronological history of the circumstances surrounding the adoptive placement and any available psychiatric reports, psychological reports, court reports pertaining to dependency or custody, or school reports. Such reports or information shall not reveal the identity of the birth parents of the child but shall contain reasonably available nonidentifying information.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.343; 26.33.347

Any person listed above may petition the court to appoint a confidential intermediary. The intermediary shall search for and discreetly contact the birth parent or adopted person; or if they are not alive or cannot be located within 1 year, the intermediary may attempt to locate members of the birth parents’ or adopted person’s family.

If the person is located, the intermediary will ask whether the person consents to a disclosure of identifying information. If the person refuses to consent, the intermediary shall report the refusal to the court and shall refrain from further inquiry without judicial approval. If the person being sought consents to disclosure of his or her identity, the court may then order that the identifying information be released. If the person being sought is deceased, the court may order disclosure of the identity of the deceased to the petitioner.

An adopted person age 18 or older may file with the Department of Health a certified statement declaring any one or more of the following:

An adopted person who files a certified statement may subsequently file another statement requesting to rescind or amend the prior statement.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.345

A noncertified copy of the original birth certificate is available to the birth parent upon request.

For adoptions finalized after October 1, 1993, a noncertified copy is available to the adopted person who is age 18 or older, unless the birth parent has filed an affidavit of nondisclosure.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Adoption Archives, Washington Department of Social and Health Services, Children’s Administration

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Rev. Code § 11.04.085

A lawfully adopted child shall not be considered an heir of his or her natural parents.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.260; 11.02.005

An adopted person shall be, to all intents and purposes, and for all legal incidents, the child, legal heir, and lawful issue of the adoptive parent(s), entitled to all rights and privileges, including the right of inheritance.

When the term is used in probate and trust law, unless otherwise required from the context, ‘issue’ means all the lineal descendants of an individual. An adopted individual is a lineal descendant of each of his or her adoptive parents and of all individuals with regard to which each adoptive parent is a lineal descendant.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Rev. Code §§ 11.04.035; 11.12.091

Kindred of the half blood shall inherit the same share that they would have inherited if they had been of the whole blood, unless the inheritance comes to the intestate by descent, devise, or gift from one of his or her ancestors or kindred of such ancestor’s blood, in which case all those who are not of the blood of such ancestors shall be excluded from such inheritance. The words ‘kindred of such ancestor’s blood’ and ‘blood of such ancestors’ shall be construed to include any child lawfully adopted by one who is in fact of the blood of such ancestors.

If the will of a deceased parent fails to name or provide for his or her child who was adopted after the will’s execution and who survives the parent, referred to here as an ‘omitted child,’ the child must receive an amount equal in value to that which the child would have received if the decedent had died intestate, unless the court determines on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that a smaller share, including no share at all, is more in keeping with the decedent’s intent.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

What may be included in postadoption contact agreements? Rev. Code §§ 26.33.295; 26.33.420; 26.33.430

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the parties to a proceeding under this chapter from entering into agreements regarding communication with or contact between child adoptees, adoptive parents, siblings of child adoptees, and a birth parent or parents.

An agreement under this section need not disclose the identity of the parties to be legally enforceable.

The legislature intends to promote a greater focus, in permanency planning and adoption proceedings, on the interests of siblings separated by adoptive placements and to encourage the inclusion in adoption agreements of provisions to support ongoing postadoption contact between siblings.

To the extent feasible, and when in the best interests of the child adoptee and siblings of the child adoptee, contact between the siblings should be frequent and of a similar nature as that which existed prior to the adoption.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement? Rev. Code §§ 26.33.295; 26.33.430

An agreement may entered into between the adoptive parents and the birth parents.

The court, in reviewing and approving an agreement under § 26.33.295 for the adoption of a child from foster care, shall encourage the adoptive parents, birth parents, foster parents, kinship caregivers, and the department or other supervising agency to seriously consider the long-term benefits to the child adoptee and siblings of the child adoptee of providing for and facilitating continuing postadoption contact between siblings.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements? Rev. Code §§ 26.33.295; 26.33.430

The court shall not enter a proposed order unless the terms of such order have been approved in writing by the prospective adoptive parents, any birth parent whose parental rights have not previously been terminated, and, if the child is in the custody of the department or a licensed child-placing agency, a representative of the department or child-placing agency. If the child is represented by an attorney or guardian ad litem in a proceeding under this chapter or in any other child-custody proceeding, the terms of the proposed order also must be approved in writing by the child’s representative. An agreement under this section need not disclose the identity of the parties to be legally enforceable.

The court shall not enter a proposed order unless the court finds that the communication or contact between the child adoptee, the adoptive parents, and a birth parent or parents as agreed upon and as set forth in the proposed order, would be in the adopted child’s best interests.

If the child adoptee or known siblings of the child adoptee are represented by an attorney or guardian ad litem in a proceeding under this chapter or in any other child custody proceeding, the court shall inquire of each attorney and guardian ad litem regarding the potential benefits of continuing contact between the siblings and the potential detriments of severing contact.

Are agreements legally enforceable? Rev. Code § 26.33.295

Agreements regarding communication with or contact between adopted children, adoptive parents, and a birth parent or parents shall not be legally enforceable unless the terms of the agreement are set forth in a written court order entered in accordance with the provisions of this section.

An agreement may be enforced by a civil action and the prevailing party in that action may be awarded, as part of the costs of the action, a reasonable amount to be fixed by the court as attorney fees.

An agreement under this section need not disclose the identity of the parties to be legally enforceable.

Failure to comply with the terms of an agreed order regarding communication or contact that has been entered by the court pursuant to this section shall not be grounds for setting aside an adoption decree or revocation of a written consent to an adoption after that consent has been approved by the court as provided in this chapter.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified? Rev. Code § 26.33.295

The court shall not modify an agreed order under this section unless it finds that the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child adoptee, and that:

  • The modification is agreed to by the adoptive parent and the birth parent or parents.
  • Exceptional circumstances have arisen since the agreed order was entered that justify modification of the order.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Rev. Code § 70.58.210(2)

The Department of Registration of Births will, upon request, issue a birth certificate for a child born outside the United States who was adopted in this State when it receives:

  • A certified copy of the decree of adoption
  • Evidence as to the child’s birth date and birthplace provided by the original birth certificate, or by a certified copy, extract, or translation or by a certified copy of some other document that is essentially equivalent, such as the records of the U.S. Immigration or Naturalization Service* or of the U.S. Department of State

The certificate will include:

Unless the court orders otherwise, the certificate of birth shall have the same overall appearance as the certificate that would have been issued if the adopted child had been born in the State of Washington.

[*As of March 1, 2003, the responsibility for providing immigration-related services was transferred from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The statutes do not yet reflect this change.]

Source

Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. [[https://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/laws/domestic.cfm#sss

References

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