If you have been interested in adoption in Washington State, there are many routes you can take. Each option comes with its own pros and cons, depending on the prospective parents’ situation and what they desire for their future child.
In most situations, a family lawyer can help you and your family successfully adopt a child. Whether you decide to hire a lawyer or not, researching and exploring the different ways to find, meet and adopt a child can help you make an informed decision.
Adoption Through a Public Agency
Children who go through the adoption process in Washington through a public agency have usually come into the custody of the state because they have lost all known parents, been abandoned by one or both of their parents, or been removed from abusive households.
Using an adoption attorney can make adoptions through agencies easier because they can help you obtain the proper information, read through contracts and paperwork, and help you in court.
Adoption Through a Private Agency
Adoptions through private agencies are usually conducted through charities or other service organizations. Like adoptions through a public agency, private agencies are managed and licensed by local and state jurisdictions.
Since the majority of children brought to private agencies in Washington State were willingly given up by their birth parents, private adoptions are often more straightforward than adoptions through a public agency. However, hiring a family lawyer can help you assure that your new child will be securely adopted.
If you decide not to use an agency, you can try doing an independent adoption. This type of adoption usually involves direct contact and a consenting agreement between the birth parents and the new adopting parents.
Although not required, most adopting parents will employ an intermediary, such as an attorney, family lawyer, doctor, or clergyman. Most commonly, families who are looking to adopt a child will hire a professional attorney who can make sure that both families are cooperating and that all the paperwork is complete and correct.
International adoptions are widely known as the most complicated of all adoptions. When an adopting parent is looking to take in a child who lives outside of Washington State, they must satisfy the adoption laws and regulations in both their home state and the prospective child’s home state or country.
In order to bring the child back to Washington State from outside of the United States, adopting parents must apply for and receive a visa for their adopted child through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If their child’s visa is approved, they will receive their citizenship automatically when entering the USA.
When going through with an international adoption, hiring a family lawyer is recommended. In some cases, an adopting parent’s family lawyer may have to go to court in both the USA and their new child’s home country.
Open adoptions allow for the birth parents of the adopted child to continue to have some form of a relationship with their biological child even after the adoption process is completed.
This arrangement is most often made through a legal contract, which can be completed with the help of an attorney.
Adoption Through Identification
Also known as a hybrid adoption, adoption through identification involves two sets of parents finding one other outside of an agency. This allows them to skip the long waitlists that are notorious in the adoption process.
Once the prospective and birth parents find each other, they can then turn to an agency to get help with the filing process.
Adoption through identification can sometimes prove to be speedier than other options, but it can also be more intensive. It usually requires home studies, deep analysis, and interviews for both sets of parents. Having an attorney to help with this process can be important, as the steps to adopt can seem long and arduous, overflowing with contracts and paperwork.
In Washington State, when a stepparent wants to adopt a child that their current spouse had with a former partner, it can often be done without having to go through an agency. This adoption process is often quite straightforward if both of the adoptive child’s biological parents approve.
If one or both of the parents involved does not consent or cannot be found, you will need to hire a family lawyer as this can involve extensive paperwork and long amounts of time in court.
When an adopting parent struggles to get consent from one or both of the birth parents, hiring a legal professional is very important. A family lawyer may be able to help you seek termination of the non-consenting parent’s rights to their child. If you are successful in this process, you can move forward with adopting the child even without the birth parent’s consent.
Second Parent Adoption
Second parent adoption is a common option for same-sex couples where one partner is biologically related to the child and for couples who wish to bring a child from one relationship into another.
In many states, the child’s biological parent is considered to be the legal “first parent.” A second parent adoption allows for both the first parent(s), or the biological parent(s), and the “second parent” to have equal rights as parents.
In Washington State, a partner can adopt the first parent’s child without changing any existing parents’ rights. It is possible for a child in this state to have three or more legal parents. Furthermore, both same-sex couples and single-parent LGBTQ+ parents have the right to adopt a child in WA.
How to Begin the Adoption Process in Washington State
If you want to adopt children in Washington State, you must first file a petition for adoption in court. This can and should be done with the help of an adoption attorney who practices family law.
You will need to include extensive information in your petition, including your personal information, information about any involved agencies, a series of written consents and statements, and much more.
If you would also like to change your adoptive child’s name, your family attorney can file a name change request with your petition.
Looking for Help with Adoption in Washington State?
The Anderson Hunter Law Firm can help you and your family adopt children safely and legally in Washington State. By helping you understand your own and your child’s rights, our experienced family lawyers can guide you through the extensive adoption process.
Our law firm has served Snohomish County for over a century and has the skills and experience needed to help with your adoption. Set up a consultation with us today to learn more about how our family lawyers can help you.