- May I select an adoptive family for my child and can I meet them?
You can indeed meet any family that you are considering to be the adoptive parents and yes, you ultimately select the family that you feel is the best. We encourage you to find a family that you feel good about so that you can feel the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you selected the best possible home for your child.
- Do you deal with adoptive families only from Washington State?
We work with prospective adoptive families from all over the country –some are residents of Washington State and some live in other states. We often help with interstate adoptions that involve parties who live all over the United States. Picking the right family for your child can involve a lot of factors – where they live may be an important factor to you. There is always a way to work out a safe and legal adoption plan even when the parties live in other areas or states.
- What can I ask about the prospective adoptive parents?
It is best to have as much information about the prospective adoptive family as possible, and we encourage you to ask any question you think important. For example, you may ask, “Where do they live, do they go to church, do they have other children?” or “How do their extended family members feel about adoption?” Any question you may have should be asked, because your goal is to have all the information you need about the adoptive family and what type of home they can offer for your child.
- What kind of background checking does an adoptive family have to go through to adopt?
Washington law requires that before a child can be placed in an adoptive home the adoptive parent or parents must have what is commonly called a Homestudy. The Homestudy process involves an investigation of the home, family life, health and resources of the adoptive parents. The process also requires some training of adoption related issues and criminal background checks on the prospective adoptive parent or parents and any other adult living in the adoptive home.
- What type of information does an adoptive family want to know or are allowed to know about me?
It is good to exchange as much information as possible for the best interest of your child. The adoptive family and the child’s doctor will need to have a complete family health history so that they can provide the child with the best medical care. The more they know about you, the better they can help over the years with the child’s needs and interests. As an example, my son is adopted and his birth mother disclosed that she had a skin condition in her background forms. As a young child, he developed a skin condition that his doctor was not sure about – when we looked back at his birth mother’s family history forms, there was the answer for an easy treatment plan and resolution. Had we not been able to access that information, it would have been much more difficult for his doctor to figure out how to help him.
- What information and/or cooperation is needed from the birth father?
It is important to get as much information as is available from the birth father for the benefit of the child. Although we prefer to get as much information as possible, the adoption can go forward without it if it is just not available. It is best if he also agrees to the adoption plan and signs forms as well – but an adoption can be done in some cases where he is not cooperative.
- If I need help with my expenses, can the adoptive family help with those?
It is possible for the adoptive family to help with living expenses that are related to the pregnancy if such payments or reimbursements are disclosed to and approved by the court.
- How soon after the baby is born can he or she be placed into the care of the adoptive family?
In most cases, as soon as the child is medically ready to leave the hospital and the court has approved your placement of the child with the family, the baby can go home with the adoptive family.
- Will the child be able to get information about me in the future?
You can decide how much information will be available to the child in future years. In the background forms you fill out, you can state your wishes about this and whether you are open to the child trying to find you in the future. In Washington, an adopted child has the right to get a copy of his or her original birth certificate with the birth mother’s name on it when they turn 18 – unless you opt for the vital records office to not disclose that to the child.
- What is open adoption?
Washington is one of a few states that allows adoptive parents, birth parents, and if appropriate, the child, to enter into a legally binding agreement with each other regarding the terms of future communication or contact between the families after the adoption is completed. These agreements are commonly called “open adoption” agreements. In an open agreement, all parties must agree to and sign the written agreement and the Court must find that it is in the best interest of the child. This may include pictures and progress reports or letters exchanged. Some families also agree to have in-person visits or meetings after the placement. There is no legal requirement that an open adoption agreement be entered into between the families in an adoption. Some birth families and adoptive families do not wish to have any contact or communication at all.
- Does my family have to agree with my adoption plan or sign papers in order for me to place my child for adoption?
Washington law specifically provides that even if you are a minor, your parents and family have no say in the matter, and their consent or permission is not required.
- Will I have to go to court?
In most cases, you are not required to go to court. Although the law says that the judge can ask you to appear in court, it is very rare. There are a few unusual situations where you might be asked to come to court, and in some counties, local court rules require you to appear. If your child is an “Indian Child” under a special federal law called the “Indian Child Welfare Act” the Consent to Adoption papers that you need to sign must be signed in court, in the presence of a judge.
- Once I sign the adoption papers, can I still change my mind?
Under Washington law, you can change your mind until the Court has approved your signed Consent to Adoption form – and that approval cannot happen until at least 48 hours have passed after the papers are signed, or after the baby is born if you signed them before birth. Once the court approves your Consent – you do not have the ability to change your mind.
- Can I pick a name for my baby?
You will be asked to complete a birth certificate application form at the hospital giving the child any name that you choose. In some cases, you may have talked to the adoptive parents and you may both agree to a name. This can vary with each family situation.
- What if I want counseling before or after the adoption is completed?
Counseling can be made available to you at any time during the adoption process if needed. It can not be stressed enough that anything that can help you with your decision to make an adoption plan is very important and sometimes a qualified and experienced counselor can offer invaluable support.
- If I have other questions can I call or e-mail you?
You are more than welcome to contact us at any time for no cost or fee. We will always try to answer your questions and help in any way we can.