Thinking About Adoption in Washington State? What You Need to Know

Adoption

Every child deserves love, stability, and consistency. Is there a child in your life that you have considered adopting, perhaps because they are the child of your spouse or a child you are fostering? Perhaps there is an adult in your life that you have always considered “your child” and you would like to give him or her the timeless gift of formalizing that legal relationship? If so, this article is for you.

Methods of Adoption

At its legal core, adoption is a legal and social process provided by law to establish the legal relationship of child and parent when they were not so related by birth. Anyone over the age of 18 who is legally competent may apply to adopt another person.

If you are considering adopting a child that is not the child of your partner or spouse, the main methods are through a private (or independent) adoption, through a state-licensed child-placing agency, or through the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). All of these methods require various legal requirements such as placement reports prepared by social workers, court paperwork to be completed and submitted, background and criminal checks, and health checks.

Depending on the type of adoption, adoptive parents and birth parents are permitted to engage in agreements regarding communication and contact with the child if they wish. The decision is a personal one.

There are various forms of adoption in Washington State. Though many involve children, there are adoptions that involve adults and pets. Let’s look a little closer at some of the more common forms of this precious gift.

Foster Care

National Adoption Day was created to raise awareness about children waiting to be adopted from the foster care system in the U.S. It is a day of celebration and awareness supported by many national partners including the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Rights, and Children’s Action Network.

The first National Adoption Day was held in 2000 when courts around the nation opened their doors on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to celebrate adoptions from foster care. It started in nine cities and now includes 400 cities across the country. Nationaladoptionaday.org reports that more than 75,000 children in foster care have been adopted as part of National Adoption Day events.

National Adoption Day presents a great opportunity to adopt from the foster care system for those who have been considering it. It is also a great opportunity to consider some other types of adoption you might not be aware of.

Stepchildren

Perhaps adoption of a foster child is not in the cards for your family. But what if you have married someone who already had children, and you are raising those children together? You might consider stepparent adoption. Stepparent adoption can be extremely meaningful to a child, especially where that child no longer has a relationship with the biological parent.

Stepparent adoptions require termination of the biological parents’ rights, either through consent or at trial. When a stepparent formalizes the relationship with the stepchild, that stepparent literally “steps” into the shoes of the biological parent and accepts responsibility for the child (physical and financial), even if the marriage to the child’s other biological parent ends. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified Washington adoption attorney before attempting this or any type of adoption.

Children of Same-Sex Parents

Perhaps you are in a same-sex marriage and your partner has given birth to a child using artificial reproductive technology or surrogacy. Even though Washington State has a presumption that children born of same-sex partners or spouses are both the legal parents of the child, the legal relationship of the non-biological parent may not be recognized in other states.

For this reason, many same-sex couples decide to obtain a second-parent adoption in addition to the birth certificate that lists both spouses as the parents. This serves as an added level of protection for when either parent travels with the child outside of Washington State.

Adults

Considering adopting an adult? Any adult can adopt any other adult as long as there is consent. Perhaps you were raised by your aunt and the two of you would like to finally formalize your mother-daughter bond.

Sometimes adult adoption is considered in order to ensure perpetual care for an adult with diminished capacity. Adoption differs in a variety of ways from guardianship, but the main difference is that guardianships are temporary and must be renewed and reapplied for periodically. Adoptions, on the other hand, are permanent. 

Another difference is that adoption creates an inheritance right in the adoptee, whereas guardianship does not. Because adopting an adult may give that adult the right to inherit from you, it is important to consult with a Washington estate planning attorney before beginning the adoption process.

Adult adoptions can be a wonderfully thoughtful gift to each other. A plus is they are usually streamlined and, therefore, quick. 

Final Thoughts

Washington State celebrates National Adoption Day traditionally with fanfare and celebration. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, many courts have turned to virtual platforms to maintain safety. Even in a virtual forum, Washington State joins in the celebration and ongoing mission to connect the more than 1,200 children currently in Washington foster care with their forever families.

Even if you cannot adopt a child or adult this holiday season, you can support Washington’s foster care children. By sharing the news of National Adoption Day and the children in our foster care system with family and friends, you, too help further this worthy and necessary cause. If you are considering adopting a child or adult in your life, contact one of our Seattle adoption attorneys at Elise Buie Family Law Group to learn about starting the process.

STAY UP TO DATE

Subscribe to our newsletters

 
Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.

FURTHER READING

Latest Blog Posts

Divorce can be a time of confusion and complexity. In addition to any emotional or other stress, your divorce can impact both your and your ex’s will. Therefore, it is important to understand what that impact may be and what…

While software developers are among the professions with the lowest divorce rates, coming in at 20.3%, workers in the technology sector who divorce face specific challenges during the divorce process. From how to locate and divide assets to determining parenting…

For parents, divorce often raises many questions surrounding extracurricular activities. These questions usually include whether the children will get to participate in the extracurricular activities (sports, performing arts classes, music lessons, art classes, etc.) they did before the divorce, expanded…

Divorce is a time of transition, which can bring about changes in your professional life as much as it can in your personal life. Perhaps you are one of the ones, like many, who have decided that a fresh start…

Becoming a single parent, especially after being married and having a partner to share in the physical and emotional labor, can be a challenging transition. The role of single parent, even for those in a healthy co-parenting relationship with their…

If you are in love and looking to plan a life with your partner, congratulations. This is an exciting time for you both, and the goal is that the relationship will stand the test of time. However, a recent study…

Divorce is not only about protecting assets and deciding who will keep the marital home afterward. Divorce is about re-envisioning your life following the end of a marriage and about discovering who you are today. This may include learning about…

The expression “in sickness and in health” is common in wedding ceremonies of all faiths. So when most people recite these words, it is probably safe to assume that they envision themselves married at a time when the unthinkable may…

Instead of marrying, increasingly, more couples are choosing to cohabitate outside of marriage. Many couples decide this for a variety of reasons, including testing the waters about whether they are suitable to live together as a couple or don’t believe…

Divorce can be a relatively straightforward process if you and your spouse are on good terms and can agree on certain issues in your case. In such a situation, you can file for an uncontested divorce which is often a…