Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Washington

Date:

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.190

The study shall include the prospective adoptive parents and any adults living in the home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.190; 26.33.210

The preplacement report may be completed by an agency, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, an individual approved by the court, or a qualified salaried court employee.

The department or an agency having the custody of a child may make the preplacement or postplacement report on a petitioner for the adoption of that child.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.140

Any person who is legally competent and age 18 or older may be an adoptive parent.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.190

The preplacement report shall be based on a study that includes an investigation of the home environment, family life, health, facilities, and resources of the applicant. The report shall include a recommendation as to the fitness of the applicant 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 including, but not limited to, a fingerprint-based background check of national crime information databases for any person being investigated. It also shall 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.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 110-04-0100; 110-04-0110; 110-04-0130

An applicant will be permanently denied approval if he or she has a felony conviction for any of the following:

  • Child abuse and/or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery
  • Any Federal or out-of-State conviction for an offense that under the laws of this State would disqualify a person from having unsupervised access to children in any home or facility

A applicant will be disqualified if it has been less than 5 years from a conviction for the following crimes:

  • Any felony physical assault or battery offense not previously described
  • Any felony violation of a drug-related crime

The department will not license, contract, certify, or authorize a person to have unsupervised access to children if the person has a criminal charge pending for a disqualifying crime described in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 or a criminal charge pending for a disqualifying crime that relates directly to child safety, permanence, or well-being.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.180

Except as provided in § 26.33.220, a child shall not be placed with prospective adoptive parents until a preplacement report has been filed with the court.

Postplacement Study Requirements

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.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.220; Admin. Code § 110-50-0180

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, a preplacement report is not required if the petitioner seeks to adopt the child of the petitioner's spouse.

In regulation: The department may exclude relatives who have criminal histories, as included in the Adoption and Safe Families Act regulations. The department may not approve a relative placement if the department finds that, based on a criminal records check, a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the relative or a member of the household has been convicted of a felony involving any of the following:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child or children, including child pornography
  • Crimes involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery

The department may not approve a relative placement if the department finds the relative, or a member of the household, has, within the last 5 years, been convicted of a felony involving any of the following:

  • Physical assault or battery
  • A drug-related offense

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.34.010

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Links to Resources

State regulations