At any given time, there are more than 2,000 children in the Washington state foster care system waiting for someone to adopt them. Every child that is adopted is given the extraordinary gift of knowing that a parent or parents have chosen them to love and raise as their own. Through adoption, families are made and expanded as everyone involved experiences a range of emotions during a rigorous process that is designed to ensure that the child or children have a safe and healthy home to grow up in.
For decades, William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law, has been helping families navigate the legal process of adoption in Grays Harbor County and Pacific County, Washington. For more than 50 years, attorney Morgan has helped families through each phase of the adoption process so that they can realize their dream of starting or expanding their family.
There are five types of adoption in the State of Washington:
International adoption. You must meet the state’s requirements to adopt, as well as any requirements within the foreign country from which you are adopting. This may require court proceedings in the United States and in the foreign country which you, your attorney, or agent, might be required to attend.
Private domestic adoption. This requires working with an attorney or agency to facilitate adopting a child from their birth parents.
Adoption from foster care. Adoptive parents work with the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families to adopt a child who has been relinquished into foster care.
Stepparent adoption. This requires that the other biological parent terminate parental rights so that the stepparent becomes the child’s legal parent. If the couple divorces, the adoptive stepparent is entitled to the same rights as the biological spouse, including custody and visitation.
Adult adoption. The process of adopting an adult is usually used to formalize an existing relationship to give the adoptive parent full legal responsibility for an incapacitated adult or to provide a path to inheritance of the adoptive parent’s estate.
Any adult 18 years of age or older, who is legally competent, and who successfully undergoes a family assessment, may adopt in Washington. The assessment includes the pre-placement report, an adoption home study, and a unified home study. Any person, regardless of age, gender, religion, residence, or sexual orientation may be adopted.
Consent to the adoption is required for adoptees aged 14 and older, and the birth parents must also consent. If a child has been put in the care of an agency or state department, or a legal guardian, they must consent to the adoption as well.
All adoptions in Washington require approval by the adoption court. This process begins with filing an adoption petition, accompanied by written consent from the birth parents or the court order of parental rights termination. The petition includes:
Name, age, and address of the adoptive parent or parents
Any relationship between the adoptive parent and the adoptee
The legal reason behind the termination of all parental rights of the birth parents
Why the adoptive parents are the right people to adopt the child
Why the adoption is in the adoptee’s best interest
The adoptee’s new name if the adoptive parent wishes to change it
Prospective adoptive parents will undergo a pre-placement assessment, including background checks, a home study to determine the suitability of the adoptive home, and a unified home study to ensure that all requirements of placing a child in the home are met.
Adoptions can be challenged for one year after court approval; however, those challenges can only be based upon the basis of fraud, duress, or lack of mental capacity of the person who consented to relinquish the child.
Adoption is clearly a highly involved, emotionally charged process. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate key decisions every step of the way, from choosing what type of adoption you want to pursue, to preparing for the home study and filing court documents in a timely manner to keep the process moving. Agency representatives, social workers, and others involved in the process are there to advocate for the child or adult being adopted. Through it all, your family law attorney is there to represent you and your interests every step of the way.
William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law, has been helping clients in Grays Harbor and Pacific County, Washington, realize their dream of adopting a child or adult. He can guide you through the process of changing your family structure for the better.
If you or someone you know is considering adoption, please call today to schedule a free case consultation.