Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - Washington

Date: May 2019

Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.050; 26.33.150; 26.33.240; 26.33.280

Any consent, relinquishment, or order of termination that would be valid in the jurisdiction in which it was executed or obtained, and which comports with due process of law, is valid in Washington State, but the burden of proof as to validity and compliance is on the petitioner.

An adoption proceeding is initiated by filing with the court a petition for adoption. The petition shall be filed by the prospective adoptive parent. The petition shall contain the following information:

  • The name and address of the petitioner
  • The name, if any; gender; and place and date of birth, if known, of the adoptee
  • A statement that the child is or is not an Indian child covered by the Indian Child Welfare Act
  • The name and address of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families or any agency; legal guardian; or person having custody of the child

After the reports required by §§ 26.33.190 and 26.33.200 have been filed, the court shall schedule a hearing on the petition for adoption upon request of the petitioner for adoption. Notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing shall be given to the petitioner and any person or agency whose consent to adoption is required.

If the court determines, after review of the petition, preplacement and postplacement reports, and other evidence introduced at the hearing, that all necessary consents to adoption are valid and that the adoption is in the best interests of the adoptee, the court shall enter a decree of adoption.

After a decree of adoption is entered, the clerk of the court shall transmit to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics a certified copy of the decree, along with any additional information and fees required by the registrar.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.150; 26.33.380; 26.33.350

The written consent to adoption of any person, the department, or agency that has been executed shall be filed with the petition.

If a preplacement report prepared pursuant to § 26.33.190 has not been previously filed with the court, the preplacement report shall be filed with the petition for adoption.

Prior to placing a child for adoption, the person, firm, society, association, corporation, or State agency receiving, securing a home for, or otherwise caring for a child shall transmit to the prospective adopting parent a family background and child and family social history report. The report must include a chronological history of the circumstances surrounding the adoptive placement and any available psychiatric reports, psychological reports, court reports pertaining to dependency or custody, or school reports regarding the child. In addition, the prospective adopting parent shall receive a complete medical report containing all known and available information concerning the mental, physical, and sensory handicaps of the child.

The report shall not reveal the identity of the birth parent of the child except as authorized under this chapter, but shall include any known or available mental or physical health history of the birth parent that needs to be known by the adoptive parent to facilitate proper health care for the child or that will assist the adoptive parent in maximizing the developmental potential of the child.

Where known or available, the information provided shall include the following:

  • A review of the birth family's and the child's previous medical history, including the child's x-rays, examinations, hospitalizations, and immunizations
  • A physical exam of the child by a licensed physician with appropriate laboratory tests and x-rays
  • A referral to a specialist, if indicated
  • A written copy of the evaluation with recommendations to the adoptive family receiving the report

Entities and persons obligated to provide information under this section shall make reasonable efforts to locate records and information concerning the child's mental, physical, and sensory handicaps. The entities or persons providing the information have no duty, beyond providing the information, to explain or interpret the records or information regarding the child's present or future health.

Background Studies

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.180; 26.33.190

A child shall not be placed with prospective adoptive parents until a preplacement report has been filed with the court.

The preplacement report shall be a written document setting forth all relevant information relating to the fitness of the person requesting the report as an adoptive parent. The report shall be based on a study that shall include an investigation of the home environment, family life, health, facilities, and resources of the person requesting the report. The report shall include a list of the sources of information on which the report is based. The report shall include a recommendation as to the fitness of the person requesting the report to be an adoptive parent. The report shall also verify that the following issues were discussed with the prospective adoptive parents:

  • The concept of adoption as a lifelong developmental process and commitment
  • The potential for the child to have feelings of identity confusion and loss regarding separation from the birth parents
  • If applicable, the relevance of the child's relationship with siblings and the potential benefit to the child of providing for a continuing relationship and contact between the child and known siblings
  • Disclosure of the fact of adoption to the child
  • The child's possible questions about birth parents and relatives
  • The relevance of the child's racial, ethnic, and cultural heritage

All preplacement reports shall include a background check of any conviction records, pending charges, or disciplinary board final decisions of prospective adoptive parents. The background check shall include an examination of State and national criminal identification data provided by the Washington State patrol criminal identification system, including, but not limited to, a fingerprint-based background check of national crime information databases for any person being investigated. It shall also include a review of any child abuse and neglect history of any adult living in the prospective adoptive parents' home. The background check of the child abuse and neglect history shall include a review of the child abuse and neglect registries of all States in which the prospective adoptive parents or any other adult living in the home have lived during the 5 years preceding the date of the preplacement report.

The person requesting the report shall designate to the agency, the department, the court-approved individual, or the court in writing the county in which the preplacement report is to be filed.

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.200

At the time the petition for adoption is filed, the court shall order a postplacement report made to determine the nature and adequacy of the placement and to determine if the placement is in the best interests of the child. The report shall be prepared by an agency, the department, an individual approved by the court, or a qualified salaried court employee appointed by the court. The report shall be in writing and contain all reasonably available information concerning the physical and mental condition of the child, home environment, family life, health, facilities and resources of the petitioners, and any other facts and circumstances relating to the propriety and advisability of the adoption. The report also shall include, if relevant, information on the child's special cultural heritage, including membership in any Indian Tribe or band. The report shall be filed within 60 days of the date of appointment, unless the time is extended by the court. The preplacement report shall be made available to the person appointed to make the postplacement report.

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.260

The entry of a decree of adoption divests any parent or alleged father who is not married to the adoptive parent or who has not joined in the petition for adoption of all legal rights and obligations in respect to the adoptee, except past-due child support obligations. The adoptee shall be free from all legal obligations of obedience and maintenance in respect to the parent. The adoptee shall be, to all intents and purposes, and for all legal incidents, the child, legal heir, and lawful issue of the adoptive parent, entitled to all rights and privileges, including the right of inheritance and the right to take under testamentary disposition, and subject to all the obligations of a natural child of the adoptive parent.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.250; 26.33.290; 70.58.210

A decree of adoption shall provide, as a minimum, the following information:

  • The full original name of the adopted person
  • The full name of each petitioner for adoption
  • Whether the petitioner or petitioners are husband and wife, stepparent, or a single parent
  • The full new name of the adopted person, unless the adoptee's name is not to be changed
  • Information to be incorporated in any new certificate of birth to be issued by the State registrar

Except for the names of the adopted person and the petitioner, information set forth in the decree that differs from that shown on the original birth certificate, alternative birth record, or other information used in lieu of such a record shall be included in the decree only upon a clear showing that the information in the original record is erroneous.

In determining the date and place of birth of a person born outside the United States, the court shall do the following:

  • If available, enter in the decree the exact date and place of birth as stated in the birth certificate from the country of origin or in the U.S. Department of State's report of birth abroad or in the documents of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)*
  • If the exact place of birth is unknown, enter in the decree such information as may be known and designate a place of birth in the country of origin
  • If the exact date of birth is unknown, determine a date of birth based upon medical testimony as to the probable chronological age of the adoptee and other evidence regarding the adoptee's age that the court finds appropriate to consider
  • In any other case in which the documents of the INS are not available, determine the date and place of birth based upon such evidence as the court in its discretion determines appropriate

For an adoptee born outside of the United States or its territories, the State registrar shall, upon receipt of a decree of adoption, issue a new certificate of birth that reflects the information contained in the decree.

Whenever a decree of adoption has been entered declaring that a foreign-born child was adopted in any court of competent jurisdiction in the State of Washington, a certified copy of the decree of adoption, together with evidence as to the child's birth date and birthplace provided by the original birth certificate; or by a certified copy, extract, or translation thereof; or by a certified copy of some other document essentially equivalent thereto, shall be recorded with the Department of Registration of Births in the State of Washington. The records of the INS or of the U.S. Department of State are essentially equivalent to the birth certificate.

A certificate of birth shall be issued, upon request, bearing the new name of the child as shown in the decree of adoption; the names of the adoptive parents of the child; and the age, sex, and date of birth of the child, but no reference in any birth certificate shall have reference to the adoption of the child. Unless the court orders otherwise, the certificate of birth shall have the same overall appearance as the certificate that would have been issued if the adopted child had been born in the State of Washington.

*As of March 1, 2003, the responsibility for providing immigration-related services was transferred from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The statutes do not yet reflect this change.