Guiding Washington parents through private placement adoptions
In an independent adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth parents find each other independently, without the help of an adoption private agency or a state social worker. The vast majority of domestic newborn adoptions that take place nationally and within the state of Washington take place through independent private placement adoptions.
Networking in Independent Adoptions.
In independent adoptions, the adoptive parents find the birth parents through their own networking circles such as family, friends, religious and other social networks, and friends of friends. These relationships can ultimately help connect adoptive parents and birth parents to achieve adoption.
Pre-Placement Reports/Home Studies
Before a child may be placed in a home, Washington state requires that the adoptive parents have a pre-placement adoption home study prepared by a social worker for a fee. This report will address the fitness of the prospective parents for adoption and will look at factors such as their home environment, cultural heritage, family life, health, facilities and financial resources. The report will also include a background check, including any conviction, records pending charges, or disciplinary board final decisions. Having this report done will get you one step further toward your adoption once you have connected with your adoptive child. Christina T. Sherman, PLLC, will connect you with reputable adoption social workers for your home study.
Written Consent to Adoption
The first step in the adoption process is attaining a written consent to the adoption by one or both birth parents. Washington state is adoption-friendly in that it allows for birth parents to sign consent before the child is born. However, the Washington courts will not terminate parental rights of a birth parent until 48 hours after the child is born, or 48 hours from the time that consent has been signed, whichever is sooner. This timeline is extended if the child is of Native American heritage. In that case, the court will not terminate parental rights until 10 days after the consent to has been signed, or the child is born, whichever is later. Christina Sherman works with both adoptive parents, and birth parents to ensure that the consent paperwork is effective and enforceable in court.
Terminating Parental Rights
An independent adoption requires that both the birth parents’ parental rights are terminated. It is, of course, always preferable when the termination of those parental rights is obtained freely and voluntarily through the consent of the birth parents. However, there are occasions when consent cannot be obtained from a birth parent. This can occur where the parentage of a birth father is unknown; or where a birth parent is simply unwilling to give his or her consent to the adoption, despite the fact that it would be in the child’s best interest to do so. In these cases, if a birth parent has failed to perform parental duties under circumstances showing a substantial lack of regard for their parental obligations, a prospective adoptive parent may attain termination of the parental rights of a birth parent by filing a lawsuit. Courts are reluctant to terminate parental rights in contested cases. For this reason, it is very important that you are represented by an adoption attorney who can assess the merits of your case before taking this type of action on. In such a case, I will work with you to utilize the legal procedures necessary to attempt to attain termination of parental rights.
Once received, the termination order will divest the birth parent and the child of all legal rights, responsibilities and privileges with regard to one another.
Completing your Adoption
Once legally free from his or her birth parents, a child is ready for adoption by the prospective parents. Adoptive parents initiate the adoption with the court by filing a petition for adoption. The petition is signed under penalty of perjury. If a pre-placement report has not already been filed with the court, we will file it with the petition for adoption.
The final step in the adoption process is the best: the adoption finalization hearing. This is the day that you have been waiting for – the day when your child becomes officially yours. On this day you will swear under oath that you will are ready to take on all of the rights and responsibilities required of parents. Upon certifying that the requirements of adoption have been met, the court will sign an order of adoption, and celebrate with you the beginning of your new life together. The ceremony is private and other than your attorney, the judge and court staff, only those that you invite will be allowed to attend. This is a nice opportunity for photos so you’re welcome to bring a photographer with you to memorialize your special day!
“Even with the COVID-19 situation …, she was there for us every step of the way.”
Your family is important to us. Contact us today.
Your family does not need to be defined by last names and birth certificates. However, making things official is a momentous occasion that should be celebrated. Contact our office today to get started with stepparent adoption.
We serve clients throughout Tacoma, Pierce County, King County, Thurston County, Kitsap County, and the Western Washington area.