Adopting is a life-altering experience for everyone involved. Whether you are thinking about adopting a child out of foster care, considering an international adoption, seeking to formally adopt your stepchild or grandchild, having a child with your same-sex spouse or partner, or preparing for an adoption under any other circumstances, the outcome of the process will be incredibly rewarding. The moment you become a parent will likely be one that you remember for the rest of your life.
There are several steps in the adoption process, and the specific steps you will need to take will depend on the specific type of adoption you are pursuing. However, while adopting takes time, the process does not have to be complicated or overly stressful. Hiring an experienced Washington adoption lawyer will allow you to feel confident that you are doing things correctly every step of the way.
5 Planning Considerations for Individuals and Couples Planning to Adopt in Washington
1. What Kind of Adoption Will You Pursue?
The first step in the planning process is determining what kind of adoption you will need to pursue. This is not so much a decision as it is an understanding of the different types of adoptions that are available and an identification of the specific set of steps you will need to follow. The different types of adoptions include:
- Stepparent or grandparent adoption
- Guardian or other relative adoption
- Same-sex spouse or partner adoption
- Foster care (agency) adoption
- Independent adoption (where adoption is arranged between the biological parents and unrelated adoptive parents)
- International adoption
Many prospective parents will have a very clear picture of the specific type of adoption they wish to pursue (and, in the case of a familial adoption, there may only be one practical option available). However, many prospective parents have questions about the differences between agency, independent, and international adoptions as well. And if you have questions, our attorneys can explain everything you need to know.
2. What Formal Legal Steps Are Required (and Are You Prepared)?
As you might expect, adopting a child is a formal legal process that has lots of protections in place to protect the child involved, and there are several legal steps involved in each of the different types of adoptions listed above. As you prepare to adopt, it will be important for you to understand what you will need to do in order to complete the process efficiently and with as few bumps as possible.
In addition to completing the necessary paperwork, the process will include completing a home study. In Washington State, home studies are completed by either the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) Licensing Division or the private agency through which the adoption is being conducted.
3. How Long Will the Adoption Process Take?
When preparing to adopt, it is also important to set realistic expectations about how long the process will take and the amount of time you will need to devote during each step along the way. While your attorney will be able to handle many of the legal aspects of the process for you, you will still need to remain actively involved. In general, adopting a child tends to take about one year. However, there are several factors that can shorten or lengthen the duration of the process.
4. Are You Financially, Emotionally, and Logistically Prepared to Welcome a New Child into Your Home?
In addition to taking care of the legal steps involved in adopting a child, it is necessary for prospective parents to prepare financially, emotionally, and logistically as well. Once the adoption process is complete, your new life with your new child begins immediately, and you must be fully prepared to parent your new child from day one. Adopting requires thorough planning and preparation, and there are various resources available (including those linked below) for parents who would like help getting ready.
5. What Other Issues (or Potential Issues) Do You Need to Consider?
Finally, when preparing to adopt, it is important to anticipate any potential issues to the fullest extent possible and try to address these issues proactively. Potential issues can range from challenges with your background check or home study to avoiding difficult situations following an open adoption (one in which the biological parents remain involved in the child’s life). Once again, an experienced adoption attorney can help, and you will want to discuss your personal goals and family circumstances with your attorney in detail in order to make sure that you do everything possible to avoid unnecessary complications.
Additional Resources for Washington Residents Who Are Thinking about Adopting
There are several free online resources available to Washington residents who have questions about the adoption process. In addition to contacting us to discuss your adoption plans with one of our attorneys, we encourage you to visit:
- Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) – The Washington State DCYF’s website provides useful information about the state’s adoption laws, some of the costs you may incur during the adoption process, and financial support options that are available.
- AdoptUSKids.org’s Washington Foster Care and Adoption Guidelines – AdoptUSKids.org is an informational website where you can find some helpful tips on everything from the foster care approval process (including preparing for your home study) to preparing for family life once your adoption becomes final.
- Northwest Adoption Exchange – Northwest Adoption Exchange is a website maintained by the adoption agency, Northwest Resource Associates, which provides information and resources regarding the foster care adoption process as well as child, family, and community planning considerations.
Speak with a Washington State Adoption Lawyer at Bolan Law Group.
Are you planning to adopt in 2020? Do you have questions about the adoption process in Washington State? If so, and if you are ready to discuss your plans with an attorney, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule an appointment with one of our Tacoma adoption lawyers, please call us directly or tell us how we can reach you online today.