Adoption Attorneys in Bellevue, WA
Adoption is an exciting way to build or grow your family. At Christina T. Sherman, PLLC, our legal team has advised clients of different adoption options and helped them weigh which option is right for them. At base, every adoption creates a legal relationship between a non-biological parent and child. When you adopt, your child’s birth certificate is reprinted to list your name, and you have all the legal rights of a biological parent.
Many prospective adoptive parents are excited, but also overwhelmed with information. Contact our law firm for help navigating the process
Requirements to Adopt in Washington
Washington has set its own requirements:
- Must be at least 18
- Must be legally competent
- Must complete a home study and home inspection
Washington does not require that a child live with you first. However, the child must be free to be adopted. That means that birth parents may need to have their parental rights terminated before you can adopt. A child of a certain age will also need to give consent.
The Adoption Process
The process differs slightly depending on the circumstances. Still, there are some steps common to all adoptions:
- Finding a child or birth mother. Anyone hoping to adopt a newborn will usually start by finding a woman who is pregnant and considering giving the child up. Prospective parents usually need to create a family profile, which might be a website with pictures and stories about themselves. It is common to meet potential birth mothers.
- Completing an adoption home study. In Washington, you must pass a home study before you can adopt. An adoption agency will set this up, or your own lawyer can hire a social worker to complete it.
- Drafting legal agreements. These agreements can address the birth mother’s continuing role in a child’s life or other critical issues.
- Terminating parental rights for all parents who will not be parenting after the adoption. Biological parents have certain rights that must be voluntarily relinquished or terminated. You cannot adopt a child until all parental rights for the non-parenting parents are extinguished.
- Filing and finalizing an adoption petition. Adoption is a court-approved process. You can also change the child’s name at the same time.
Adoption Options Prospective adoptive parents in Bellevue have many options. According to the National Council for Adoption, 2,099 children were adopted domestically in 2019 in Washington. Another 1,844 were adopted domestically in 2020. Many of these children joined a thriving community in Bellevue, which is consistently ranked as one of the best places in the nation to live. That explains the population explosion in the 2010s, where Bellevue’s population increased by 24%. Roughly 30% of households have children under 18.
We Have Experience Handling All Types of Adoptions
Newborn adoption remains popular in Washington. We work with our clients to help them decide on their preferences, such as the child’s sex. Many newborn adoptions are handled by adoption agencies, but you should hire your own attorney to represent your interests. Domestic newborn adoptions are the simplest, but there are legal considerations for all couples.
Adoptive parents can also adopt a child from a different state. Because every state is a signatory to an interstate compact, there are additional paperwork requirements involved when adopting a child across state lines. Your lawyer should be well-versed in the requirements to streamline the process as much as possible.
Not all adoptions are through agencies. Parents can also hire a lawyer to help find potential birth mothers, draft legal agreements, and guide the case through the legal system. An independent adoption provides parents with some flexibility. For example, many agencies are requiring “open” adoptions, where the birth mother continues a presence in the child’s life after placement.
Adopting a new spouse’s children seems like a natural next step for many men and women. Although this is a relatively straightforward adoption, stepparents need to go through the home study and other requirements. Stepparent adoptions have increased in frequency, but there are hurdles. The other biological parent might resist having his or her rights terminated, and you cannot adopt until the child is legally free.
Surrogacy and IVF
Surrogates carry babies to term for a client. The mother might even donate her egg in the process. This is one of the greatest gifts a person can give. When everything goes well, both the birth mother and the intended parents leave feeling nothing but gratitude.
However, there is enormous legal complexity involved with surrogacy, which is why Washington requires that surrogates and intended parents have their own lawyers. Problems can arise, such as a surrogate not wanting to give up the child or parents wanting to terminate the pregnancy because of a congenital defect. You need well-drafted legal agreements to protect your rights.
Sperm or Egg Donation
Some couples rely on donated sperm or eggs to have a child. Donation is common with surrogacy and family planning for same-sex couples. Clear, well-drafted legal agreements are vital. These agreements state each party’s rights and obligations and are crucial when communication breaks down.
Same-sex or Second-parent Adoption
LGBT discrimination is illegal in Washington, which is good news for same-sex couples. Many of them seek to adopt a newborn. But in other families, a person hopes to adopt their spouse’s biological children. Our firm is proud to offer our adoption services to same-sex couples.
Some of our clients adopt family members after providing kinship care when the state removes a child from their parent’s home. There are advantages to adoption, including preserving the continuity of care, as well as simplifying inheritance.
Foster Care Adoption The Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families takes the lead on most foster care adoptions. The department typically removes a child when the parents are unfit, and the agency works to terminate parental rights so that the child is eligible for adoption. Many people first serve as the child’s foster parent.
Why Work With Our Firm?
With a passion for helping families, Christina has had the privilege of representing hundreds clients in their adoption cases. Her expertise and dedication in this field have earned her the title of an Academy Fellow in the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA).
The AAAA is an incredible organization dedicated to promoting the best interests of children and protecting the legal rights of families formed through adoption and assisted reproduction. They advocate for laws and policies that support the well-being of every child and uphold the rights of all parties involved.
Christina’s membership in AAAA is a testament to her commitment to ethical and compassionate practice in adoption law. She approaches each case with genuine care, understanding and working her best to meet the unique needs of every family.
Your family is important to us. Contact us today.
We understand that the adoption process may seem overwhelming, and we are dedicated to getting answers to whatever questions you may have.
We serve clients throughout Tacoma, Pierce County, King County, Thurston County, Kitsap County, and the Western Washington area.