FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Whether you have just started considering adoption or know exactly what you want to do, we can help. Here are the answers to some of the questions we hear most frequently from prospective adoptive parents. If you have other questions, please contact us directly.

Contact Us

Domestic infant adoption means adopting a child from the United States. Domestic infant adoptions can be accomplished independently (or privately) or through an agency.

International adoption means adopting a child from another country. Almost all international adoptions require the assistance of an adoption agency.

Foster-to-adopt means becoming licensed to care for a child in state custody with the potential to adopt the child if and when the state terminates the biological parents’ rights.

There are other kinds of adoption, too: adult adoption, stepparent adoption, second-parent adoption, and intra-family (or kinship) adoption.

Here are the major steps common to most adoption cases:

1. Decide whether you are ready to adopt, as opposed to pursuing fertility treatment or choosing to live child-free. You will know when that time has come because you will be excited and energized by the prospect of beginning the adoption process.

2. Consider whether domestic or international adoption is right for you. We can talk with you in detail about the advantages and challenges of each. For example, international adoptions rarely involve contact with biological parents, but the child’s medical history is often incomplete. By contrast, adopting domestically may be less expensive, but a birth parent could change his or her mind about the adoption plan. We can help you weigh and prioritize all of the factors.

3. If you choose to adopt internationally, select an agency and/or a country. You are not limited to agencies based in Washington. Although we do not recommend or endorse particular agencies, we can help you evaluate alternatives, compare programs, understand fee structures, and develop questions to ask.

4. If you choose to adopt domestically, decide whether you want to adopt independently (privately) or work with an agency. If you decide to work with an agency, you may not need the services of an attorney until it is time for finalization, however, some adopting parents find it helpful to consult with us during the process of an agency adoption.

5. If you choose to adopt independently (without an agency), you do NOT want to work with a general family law attorney who has handled a few stepparent adoptions.

Adoption is our firm’s largest practice area. We can help you:

  • Find an approved social worker in your area who can conduct your home study. The social worker must be specifically licensed to perform adoption home studies.
  • Prepare an informational packet and/or website for expectant parents to review when considering parents for her child. We’ll provide you with guidance, suggestions, and examples.
  • Begin networking. The more people you tell about your plans to adopt, the more likely that you will connect with a potential birth parents. After your home study is approved, begin advertising. Consult with us on your networking and marketing strategies.

6. Have another honest conversation with yourself and/or your partner about what sort of risks you are willing to accept. For example, what if you are selected by a birth mother who has used drugs or alcohol during her pregnancy? What circumstances are you willing to accept and which issues are deal breakers? What if she cannot or will not identify the father?  Discuss potential circumstances and risks with each other, your attorney, and/or agency before you are actually facing a situation.

7. Once you have matched with a birth mother, we or your agency will secure consents to terminate the rights of the biological parents. Under Washington law, the consents can be signed before the baby is born, but they cannot be used to get a court order terminating parental rights until at least 48 hours after birth or 48 hours after signing, whichever is later. The consents are revocable until the court signs the order terminating parental rights, but cannot be taken back after the order is signed. If the birth father is unknown or will not voluntarily relinquish his parental rights, termination proceedings will be necessary. We can discuss this process with you in detail.

8. With the assistance of your agency or attorney, obtain as much medical and social history as possible. If possible, have a pediatrician review the information.

9. After the baby’s birth, your attorney or agency will obtain an order giving you legal custody of the child pending finalization of the adoption. If the baby is born in another state, agency or attorney will obtain approval from the Interstate Compact office in each state before you return to Washington with the baby.

10. Your social worker will prepare a post-placement report and recommend that the adoption be finalized. The court will set a date for a private hearing where you will obtain a final decree of adoption. Invite your friends and family to join you at the hearing, bring your camera, and celebrate!

11. The state where the child was born will issue a new birth certificate identifying you as the child’s parent and reflecting the child’s new name (if applicable).

Please note that most adoptions require additional procedures, particularly international and foster care adoptions. The items listed above represent the major steps common to the majority of adoption cases.

Both types of adoption have their advantages. They are very different, however, so this decision requires your thoughtful attention early in the process.

Some people are drawn to international adoption because they like the idea of providing a better life to one of the many waiting children in foreign orphanages or they feel connected to a certain culture.

Children available for international adoption are “orphans” under international law, so contact with the biological family is rare. This is comforting to some adoptive moms and dads.

Almost all international adoptees are at least a year old before they come home to the United States, and many are several years older than that. You will need to work with an agency to pursue an international adoption.

The costs and travel requirements of a foreign adoption are prohibitive for some families, and others may not fit the profile required by certain countries (such as age or marital status).

Other people prefer domestic adoptions because they would like to adopt a newborn or they prefer to have a family history and medical information about the biological parents. Some families adopt from within the United States because they feel more comfortable with the laws of our country than those of a foreign government.

While these are some of the factors to consider when deciding whether to adopt internationally or from the United States, there are many more. We can share what we have learned through decades of clients’ experiences.

Also referred to as “private adoption,” an adoption is considered independent when you’re not involving an agency. You would locate a birth mother yourself, usually through word-of-mouth networking and advertising. Some adopting parents and some birth parents find it more private or efficient to work together directly instead of through an agency. With an independent adoption, after the child is born, the court transfers legal custody directly to you instead of to an agency.

Absolutely! You do not have to be married, heterosexual, wealthy, beautiful, or perfect to adopt. In Washington, you just need to be over the age of 18 and have an approved home study.

Many foreign countries require adopting parents to be of a particular age and/or marital status, but there are no such restrictions in private adoptions. You just need to be able to provide a child with a safe, loving home.

And yes, birth parents DO choose single people and gay couples as adoptive parents.

It is impossible to generalize, but in our experience, most people are able to adopt a child in 9-18 months if they are proactive about networking and advertising when seeking a birth mother. The good news is that some of the variables are under your control, such as the quality of your adoption profile or website and how much effort you put into outreach. Luck is a factor, but we find that people who put more effort into their search tend to be luckier. People who are open to children of any ethnic background also tend to have shorter wait times, while it may take longer to bring home a Caucasian newborn with no known special needs.

Networking and advertising! First, tell everyone you have ever met–and people you meet along the way–that you want to adopt a child. Then ask them to tell everyone they have ever met about your adoption plans, too. Think of every constituency you can access (e.g., churches, alumni clubs, bowling leagues) and share your news. Most people create websites, some reach out to hospitals and clinics, and some create “adoption cards” and leave them in public places.

While networking, you can also advertise your desire to adopt. Some adopting parents place print ads, but online advertising is often more effective and less expensive.

Personal outreach is a creative, not a scientific process. It just requires perseverance. We can provide more detailed guidance in person, and perhaps inspire you to invent new methods!

“Openness” refers to the amount of contact between the birth parents, you, and your child after the adoption. An adoption is considered open if members of the birth family visit the child from time to time. An adoption is also considered open if the adoptive parents and the birth parents know each others’ names. The most common type of open adoption involves sending annual updates and pictures of the child.

Many prospective adoptive parents fear the prospect of their child’s birth parent remaining in their lives. Won’t the child be confused about which mom and dad are “real?” Will the birth parent want the child back? These questions are common and legitimate. However, parents participating in open adoptions consistently report that despite their initial concerns, they are happy to have at least some degree of contact with their child’s birth family. Open adoption is not co-parenting.

Adoptive parents often assume that a birth parent will want as much contact with the child as possible, but this isn’t usually true. Many birth mothers want assurances that their child is happy and healthy, but do not wish to have direct contact.

Washington allows parties to enter into a legally enforceable “open adoption agreement” or “contact and communication agreement.” Agreements like this describe the nature and frequency of contact between the child and the birth parent, and they ensure that all parties have the same understanding and expectations.

Be honest about how much openness you can accept. Agreeing to a very open arrangement in an effort to make an adoption succeed will cause problems down the road if you’re not genuinely comfortable with the continued presence of the birth family. On the other hand, remain open to openness–you will not know what amount is right until you know at least a little bit about the birth parents. This is another area where we can provide you with guidance.

Independent and private agency adoptions can cost anywhere from $5,000 to nearly $50,000. Factors that tend to increase the cost of independent adoptions include:

  • the need to terminate a parent’s rights involuntarily because he or she will not consent or cannot be located
  • how many potential birth fathers are involved
  • whether a child is considered an Indian Child for the purposes of the Indian Child Welfare Act
  • whether the adoptive parents pay any medical or living expenses for the birth mother
  • whether the child is located in a different state from the adoptive parents

International adoptions, virtually all of which are accomplished through agencies, often involve significant travel costs, as well.

As a very general guideline, a 2016-2017, Adoptive Families magazine survey of domestic and international adopters found that the average cost of a domestic newborn adoption using an agency was about $43,000. The average cost of a domestic independent newborn adoption was $38,000. Adoptions from China cost an average of $37,000; from South Korea, it was $48,000.

Adoptions from foster care are subsidized by the state and therefore cost little or nothing (though you may need to advance some expenses before being reimbursed).

Do not be shy about asking for fee and cost information. This is one of the most common questions.

Yes! Several nonprofit organizations offer adoption grants and loans, and the Internal Revenue Code provides a surprisingly generous tax credit and income exclusion for adoptive parents.

Adoption Tax Credit (2020)

If your modified adjusted gross income is less than $214,520.00, you are entitled to a tax credit of up to $14,300.00 per child for adoption-related expenses. The amount of the credit declines as your income increases, but does not disappear until your modified adjusted gross income reaches $214,520.00. The definition of adoption-related expenses is broad. It includes everything from legal fees to the hamburger you bought in the hospital cafeteria. If you adopt a child considered to have “special needs” under IRS guidelines, you are entitled to the full $14,300.00 credit regardless of your actual expenses. All children adopted from foster care fall within the IRS’s definition of “special needs.”

Do not confuse a tax credit with a deduction. Credits are far better than deductions! Deductions provide a percentage of savings in taxes, while credits provide a dollar-for-dollar savings. For example, if a taxpayer in the 20% tax bracket had a $100.00 deduction, the taxpayer saves $20.00. If that taxpayer had a $100.00 credit, the taxpayer saves the full $100.00. If you do not owe enough tax to use up the entire credit in the first year, you can carry the credit forward for up to five years.

If you incur adoption-related expenses in the year you finalize the adoption, you claim the credit on that year’s tax return. If you incur adoption-related expenses but do not finalize the adoption in the same calendar year, you claim the credit the following year. If you incur adoption-related expenses but the adoption never finalizes, you can still claim the credit the following year. International adoptions must be finalized before claiming the tax credit, regardless what year the expenses were incurred.

Income Exclusion

In addition to the tax credit, you may benefit from an income exclusion for adoption expenses. Subject to limitations on gross income, if your employer has an adoption assistance program that reimburses some of your adoption-related expenses, you can exclude the amount paid by the employer from your gross income. This is essentially a tax-free gift from the employer. You can take advantage of both the adoption tax credit and the income exclusion, but you cannot apply both benefits to the same specific expense.

We are happy to discuss the adoption tax credit and income exclusion with you, but you should contact an accountant for answers to specific questions. Our office can provide names of accountants who are familiar with the adoption tax credit and income exclusion. We can also help you identify organizations that sponsor adoption grants and loans.

Most people use the term “home study” to refer to the preparation of a pre-placement and post-placement report. A licensed social worker submits this document to the court as evidence that you are qualified to adopt a child.

The goal of the home study is to demonstrate that you are capable of providing a stable and loving home. You will be required to gather a lot of information (e.g., FBI and state patrol background checks, letters of reference, tax statements, medical reports, and more!), which is cumbersome, but not difficult.

People tend to worry more about the home visit and interview with the social worker, but he or she will not be looking for ways to disqualify you. You will answer questions about your background, upbringing, job, friends, family, activities, marriage or living situation, why you wish to adopt, and about your basic parenting and discipline philosophies. You will give a brief tour of your home, too. It is not necessary to childproof your home (unless, of course, it already contains children!). Do the dishes and pick up your clothes, but you don’t need to clean out the lint trap in the dryer or hide all of your steak knives.

We can provide a more detailed explanation of the home study and pre-placement report process in person. Rest assured that the social worker is not looking for perfect people–they won’t find any. All that’s required is the wherewithal to parent a child. Most people “pass” with flying colors.

Start networking! Tell everyone you meet that you want to adopt a baby. Note that Washington law prohibits placing advertisements until you have a completed, approved home study, but you are free to use word of mouth.

You can also start preparing a packet of information about you and your family and writing a “Dear Birth Mother” letter. Then call us for a consultation!

Adopting a child from foster care differs from the domestic and international processes. Most kids who are legally free for adoption (i.e., the state has decided that it is not safe to reunify the child with his or her biological parents and has terminated their parental rights) are at least 7 or 8 years old. Most have experienced significant disruption and trauma. Younger children may be placed with foster families who hope to adopt them eventually. However, the state offers services and assistance to the biological parents to help them regain custody of the child, and suitable biological relatives take priority over non-relatives when it comes to a permanent placement.

Adoption from foster care is a complex process that warrants an in-person discussion with an experienced attorney.

The answer to this question used to be an unequivocal “yes,” but now, it depends! The law in this area is changing quickly. Please to contact us to discuss the options for establishing parentage.

Whether you have just started considering adoption or know exactly what you want to do, we can help. Here are the answers to some of the questions we hear most frequently from prospective adoptive parents. If you have other questions, please contact us directly.

Contact Us

Domestic infant adoption means adopting a child from the United States. Domestic infant adoptions can be accomplished independently (or privately) or through an agency.

International adoption means adopting a child from another country. Almost all international adoptions require the assistance of an adoption agency.

Foster-to-adopt means becoming licensed to care for a child in state custody with the potential to adopt the child if and when the state terminates the biological parents’ rights.

There are other kinds of adoption, too: adult adoption, stepparent adoption, second-parent adoption, and intra-family (or kinship) adoption.

Here are the major steps common to most adoption cases:

1. Decide whether you are ready to adopt, as opposed to pursuing fertility treatment or choosing to live child-free. You will know when that time has come because you will be excited and energized by the prospect of beginning the adoption process.

2. Consider whether domestic or international adoption is right for you. We can talk with you in detail about the advantages and challenges of each. For example, international adoptions rarely involve contact with biological parents, but the child’s medical history is often incomplete. By contrast, adopting domestically may be less expensive, but a birth parent could change his or her mind about the adoption plan. We can help you weigh and prioritize all of the factors.

3. If you choose to adopt internationally, select an agency and/or a country. You are not limited to agencies based in Washington. Although we do not recommend or endorse particular agencies, we can help you evaluate alternatives, compare programs, understand fee structures, and develop questions to ask.

4. If you choose to adopt domestically, decide whether you want to adopt independently (privately) or work with an agency. If you decide to work with an agency, you may not need the services of an attorney until it is time for finalization, however, some adopting parents find it helpful to consult with us during the process of an agency adoption.

5. If you choose to adopt independently (without an agency), you do NOT want to work with a general family law attorney who has handled a few stepparent adoptions.

Adoption is our firm’s largest practice area. We can help you:

  • Find an approved social worker in your area who can conduct your home study. The social worker must be specifically licensed to perform adoption home studies.
  • Prepare an informational packet and/or website for expectant parents to review when considering parents for her child. We’ll provide you with guidance, suggestions, and examples.
  • Begin networking. The more people you tell about your plans to adopt, the more likely that you will connect with a potential birth parents. After your home study is approved, begin advertising. Consult with us on your networking and marketing strategies.

6. Have another honest conversation with yourself and/or your partner about what sort of risks you are willing to accept. For example, what if you are selected by a birth mother who has used drugs or alcohol during her pregnancy? What circumstances are you willing to accept and which issues are deal breakers? What if she cannot or will not identify the father?  Discuss potential circumstances and risks with each other, your attorney, and/or agency before you are actually facing a situation.

7. Once you have matched with a birth mother, we or your agency will secure consents to terminate the rights of the biological parents. Under Washington law, the consents can be signed before the baby is born, but they cannot be used to get a court order terminating parental rights until at least 48 hours after birth or 48 hours after signing, whichever is later. The consents are revocable until the court signs the order terminating parental rights, but cannot be taken back after the order is signed. If the birth father is unknown or will not voluntarily relinquish his parental rights, termination proceedings will be necessary. We can discuss this process with you in detail.

8. With the assistance of your agency or attorney, obtain as much medical and social history as possible. If possible, have a pediatrician review the information.

9. After the baby’s birth, your attorney or agency will obtain an order giving you legal custody of the child pending finalization of the adoption. If the baby is born in another state, agency or attorney will obtain approval from the Interstate Compact office in each state before you return to Washington with the baby.

10. Your social worker will prepare a post-placement report and recommend that the adoption be finalized. The court will set a date for a private hearing where you will obtain a final decree of adoption. Invite your friends and family to join you at the hearing, bring your camera, and celebrate!

11. The state where the child was born will issue a new birth certificate identifying you as the child’s parent and reflecting the child’s new name (if applicable).

Please note that most adoptions require additional procedures, particularly international and foster care adoptions. The items listed above represent the major steps common to the majority of adoption cases.

Both types of adoption have their advantages. They are very different, however, so this decision requires your thoughtful attention early in the process.

Some people are drawn to international adoption because they like the idea of providing a better life to one of the many waiting children in foreign orphanages or they feel connected to a certain culture.

Children available for international adoption are “orphans” under international law, so contact with the biological family is rare. This is comforting to some adoptive moms and dads.

Almost all international adoptees are at least a year old before they come home to the United States, and many are several years older than that. You will need to work with an agency to pursue an international adoption.

The costs and travel requirements of a foreign adoption are prohibitive for some families, and others may not fit the profile required by certain countries (such as age or marital status).

Other people prefer domestic adoptions because they would like to adopt a newborn or they prefer to have a family history and medical information about the biological parents. Some families adopt from within the United States because they feel more comfortable with the laws of our country than those of a foreign government.

While these are some of the factors to consider when deciding whether to adopt internationally or from the United States, there are many more. We can share what we have learned through decades of clients’ experiences.

Also referred to as “private adoption,” an adoption is considered independent when you’re not involving an agency. You would locate a birth mother yourself, usually through word-of-mouth networking and advertising. Some adopting parents and some birth parents find it more private or efficient to work together directly instead of through an agency. With an independent adoption, after the child is born, the court transfers legal custody directly to you instead of to an agency.

Absolutely! You do not have to be married, heterosexual, wealthy, beautiful, or perfect to adopt. In Washington, you just need to be over the age of 18 and have an approved home study.

Many foreign countries require adopting parents to be of a particular age and/or marital status, but there are no such restrictions in private adoptions. You just need to be able to provide a child with a safe, loving home.

And yes, birth parents DO choose single people and gay couples as adoptive parents.

It is impossible to generalize, but in our experience, most people are able to adopt a child in 9-18 months if they are proactive about networking and advertising when seeking a birth mother. The good news is that some of the variables are under your control, such as the quality of your adoption profile or website and how much effort you put into outreach. Luck is a factor, but we find that people who put more effort into their search tend to be luckier. People who are open to children of any ethnic background also tend to have shorter wait times, while it may take longer to bring home a Caucasian newborn with no known special needs.

Networking and advertising! First, tell everyone you have ever met–and people you meet along the way–that you want to adopt a child. Then ask them to tell everyone they have ever met about your adoption plans, too. Think of every constituency you can access (e.g., churches, alumni clubs, bowling leagues) and share your news. Most people create websites, some reach out to hospitals and clinics, and some create “adoption cards” and leave them in public places.

While networking, you can also advertise your desire to adopt. Some adopting parents place print ads, but online advertising is often more effective and less expensive.

Personal outreach is a creative, not a scientific process. It just requires perseverance. We can provide more detailed guidance in person, and perhaps inspire you to invent new methods!

“Openness” refers to the amount of contact between the birth parents, you, and your child after the adoption. An adoption is considered open if members of the birth family visit the child from time to time. An adoption is also considered open if the adoptive parents and the birth parents know each others’ names. The most common type of open adoption involves sending annual updates and pictures of the child.

Many prospective adoptive parents fear the prospect of their child’s birth parent remaining in their lives. Won’t the child be confused about which mom and dad are “real?” Will the birth parent want the child back? These questions are common and legitimate. However, parents participating in open adoptions consistently report that despite their initial concerns, they are happy to have at least some degree of contact with their child’s birth family. Open adoption is not co-parenting.

Adoptive parents often assume that a birth parent will want as much contact with the child as possible, but this isn’t usually true. Many birth mothers want assurances that their child is happy and healthy, but do not wish to have direct contact.

Washington allows parties to enter into a legally enforceable “open adoption agreement” or “contact and communication agreement.” Agreements like this describe the nature and frequency of contact between the child and the birth parent, and they ensure that all parties have the same understanding and expectations.

Be honest about how much openness you can accept. Agreeing to a very open arrangement in an effort to make an adoption succeed will cause problems down the road if you’re not genuinely comfortable with the continued presence of the birth family. On the other hand, remain open to openness–you will not know what amount is right until you know at least a little bit about the birth parents. This is another area where we can provide you with guidance.

Independent and private agency adoptions can cost anywhere from $5,000 to nearly $50,000. Factors that tend to increase the cost of independent adoptions include:

  • the need to terminate a parent’s rights involuntarily because he or she will not consent or cannot be located
  • how many potential birth fathers are involved
  • whether a child is considered an Indian Child for the purposes of the Indian Child Welfare Act
  • whether the adoptive parents pay any medical or living expenses for the birth mother
  • whether the child is located in a different state from the adoptive parents

International adoptions, virtually all of which are accomplished through agencies, often involve significant travel costs, as well.

As a very general guideline, a 2016-2017, Adoptive Families magazine survey of domestic and international adopters found that the average cost of a domestic newborn adoption using an agency was about $43,000. The average cost of a domestic independent newborn adoption was $38,000. Adoptions from China cost an average of $37,000; from South Korea, it was $48,000.

Adoptions from foster care are subsidized by the state and therefore cost little or nothing (though you may need to advance some expenses before being reimbursed).

Do not be shy about asking for fee and cost information. This is one of the most common questions.

Yes! Several nonprofit organizations offer adoption grants and loans, and the Internal Revenue Code provides a surprisingly generous tax credit and income exclusion for adoptive parents.

Adoption Tax Credit (2020)

If your modified adjusted gross income is less than $214,520.00, you are entitled to a tax credit of up to $14,300.00 per child for adoption-related expenses. The amount of the credit declines as your income increases, but does not disappear until your modified adjusted gross income reaches $214,520.00. The definition of adoption-related expenses is broad. It includes everything from legal fees to the hamburger you bought in the hospital cafeteria. If you adopt a child considered to have “special needs” under IRS guidelines, you are entitled to the full $14,300.00 credit regardless of your actual expenses. All children adopted from foster care fall within the IRS’s definition of “special needs.”

Do not confuse a tax credit with a deduction. Credits are far better than deductions! Deductions provide a percentage of savings in taxes, while credits provide a dollar-for-dollar savings. For example, if a taxpayer in the 20% tax bracket had a $100.00 deduction, the taxpayer saves $20.00. If that taxpayer had a $100.00 credit, the taxpayer saves the full $100.00. If you do not owe enough tax to use up the entire credit in the first year, you can carry the credit forward for up to five years.

If you incur adoption-related expenses in the year you finalize the adoption, you claim the credit on that year’s tax return. If you incur adoption-related expenses but do not finalize the adoption in the same calendar year, you claim the credit the following year. If you incur adoption-related expenses but the adoption never finalizes, you can still claim the credit the following year. International adoptions must be finalized before claiming the tax credit, regardless what year the expenses were incurred.

Income Exclusion

In addition to the tax credit, you may benefit from an income exclusion for adoption expenses. Subject to limitations on gross income, if your employer has an adoption assistance program that reimburses some of your adoption-related expenses, you can exclude the amount paid by the employer from your gross income. This is essentially a tax-free gift from the employer. You can take advantage of both the adoption tax credit and the income exclusion, but you cannot apply both benefits to the same specific expense.

We are happy to discuss the adoption tax credit and income exclusion with you, but you should contact an accountant for answers to specific questions. Our office can provide names of accountants who are familiar with the adoption tax credit and income exclusion. We can also help you identify organizations that sponsor adoption grants and loans.

Most people use the term “home study” to refer to the preparation of a pre-placement and post-placement report. A licensed social worker submits this document to the court as evidence that you are qualified to adopt a child.

The goal of the home study is to demonstrate that you are capable of providing a stable and loving home. You will be required to gather a lot of information (e.g., FBI and state patrol background checks, letters of reference, tax statements, medical reports, and more!), which is cumbersome, but not difficult.

People tend to worry more about the home visit and interview with the social worker, but he or she will not be looking for ways to disqualify you. You will answer questions about your background, upbringing, job, friends, family, activities, marriage or living situation, why you wish to adopt, and about your basic parenting and discipline philosophies. You will give a brief tour of your home, too. It is not necessary to childproof your home (unless, of course, it already contains children!). Do the dishes and pick up your clothes, but you don’t need to clean out the lint trap in the dryer or hide all of your steak knives.

We can provide a more detailed explanation of the home study and pre-placement report process in person. Rest assured that the social worker is not looking for perfect people–they won’t find any. All that’s required is the wherewithal to parent a child. Most people “pass” with flying colors.

Start networking! Tell everyone you meet that you want to adopt a baby. Note that Washington law prohibits placing advertisements until you have a completed, approved home study, but you are free to use word of mouth.

You can also start preparing a packet of information about you and your family and writing a “Dear Birth Mother” letter. Then call us for a consultation!

Adopting a child from foster care differs from the domestic and international processes. Most kids who are legally free for adoption (i.e., the state has decided that it is not safe to reunify the child with his or her biological parents and has terminated their parental rights) are at least 7 or 8 years old. Most have experienced significant disruption and trauma. Younger children may be placed with foster families who hope to adopt them eventually. However, the state offers services and assistance to the biological parents to help them regain custody of the child, and suitable biological relatives take priority over non-relatives when it comes to a permanent placement.

Adoption from foster care is a complex process that warrants an in-person discussion with an experienced attorney.

The answer to this question used to be an unequivocal “yes,” but now, it depends! The law in this area is changing quickly. Please to contact us to discuss the options for establishing parentage.