Washington

Adoption

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.340; 26.33.343

Nonidentifying information is available to:

  • An adoptive parent
  • An adopted person
  • A birth parent

Identifying information may be accessed by:

  • An adopted person who is age 21 or older, or under 21 with the permission of the adoptive parent
  • A birth parent or member of the birth parent’s family after the adopted person has reached age 21

These family members shall be limited to the birth grandparents, a brother or sister of a birth parent, or the child of a birth parent. The court, for good cause shown, may allow a relative more distant in degree to petition for disclosure.

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.340; 26.33.380

Reasonably available nonidentifying information may be disclosed upon a written request to the persons listed above. If the adoption facilitator refuses to disclose such information, the individual may petition the superior court.

The prospective adoptive parent shall be given a family background and child and family social history report about the child. The report shall 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. Such reports or information shall not reveal the identity of the birth parents of the child but shall contain reasonably available nonidentifying information.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.343; 26.33.347

Any person listed above may petition the court to appoint a confidential intermediary. The intermediary shall search for and discreetly contact the birth parent or adopted person; or if they are not alive or cannot be located within 1 year, the intermediary may attempt to locate members of the birth parents’ or adopted person’s family.

If the person is located, the intermediary will ask whether the person consents to a disclosure of identifying information. If the person refuses to consent, the intermediary shall report the refusal to the court and shall refrain from further inquiry without judicial approval. If the person being sought consents to disclosure of his or her identity, the court may then order that the identifying information be released. If the person being sought is deceased, the court may order disclosure of the identity of the deceased to the petitioner.

An adopted person age 18 or older may file with the Department of Health a certified statement declaring any one or more of the following:

  • The adopted person refuses to consent to the release of any identifying information to a birth parent, birth sibling, or other birth relative and does not wish to be contacted by a confidential intermediary except in the case of a medical need.
  • The adopted person consents to the release of identifying information to a confidential intermediary, a birth parent, birth sibling, or other birth relative.
  • The adopted person desires to be contacted by his or her birth parents, birth siblings, other birth relatives, or a confidential intermediary.

An adopted person who files a certified statement may subsequently file another statement requesting to rescind or amend the prior statement.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.345

A noncertified copy of the original birth certificate is available to the birth parent upon request.

For adoptions finalized after October 1, 1993, a noncertified copy is available to the adopted person who is age 18 or older, unless the birth parent has filed an affidavit of nondisclosure.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Adoption Archives, Washington Department of Social and Health Services, Children’s Administration

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Collection of Family Information About Adopted Persons and Their Birth Families

Agency or Person Preparing the Report
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.350; 26.33.380
A medical and family social history report shall be made by any person, firm, society, association, corporation, or State agency receiving, securing a home for, or otherwise caring for a minor child.

Contents of Report About the Adopted Person
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.350; 26.33.380
The report to the prospective adopting parent shall include complete medical report containing all known and available information concerning the mental, physical, and sensory handicaps of the child. Where known or available, the information provided shall include:

  • A review of 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

A family background and child and family social history report shall also be provided. This report shall 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. Such reports or information shall not reveal the identities of the birth parents of the child but shall contain reasonably available nonidentifying information.

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 or the child’s family background and social history. 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.

Contents of Report About the Birth Family
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.350; 26.33.380
Where known or available, the information provided shall include a review of the birth family’s medical history. 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.

When the Report Is Made
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.350; 26.33.380
The report shall be transmitted to the prospective adopting parent prior to placement, and it shall be made available to all persons with whom a child has been placed by adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Rev. Code § 11.04.085
A lawfully adopted child shall not be considered an heir of his or her natural parents.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.260; 11.02.005
An adopted person shall be, to all intents and purposes, and for all legal incidents, the child, legal heir, and lawful issue of the adoptive parent(s), entitled to all rights and privileges, including the right of inheritance.When the term is used in probate and trust law, unless otherwise required from the context, ‘issue’ means all the lineal descendants of an individual. An adopted individual is a lineal descendant of each of his or her adoptive parents and of all individuals with regard to which each adoptive parent is a lineal descendant.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 11.04.035; 11.12.091
Kindred of the half blood shall inherit the same share that they would have inherited if they had been of the whole blood, unless the inheritance comes to the intestate by descent, devise, or gift from one of his or her ancestors or kindred of such ancestor’s blood, in which case all those who are not of the blood of such ancestors shall be excluded from such inheritance. The words ‘kindred of such ancestor’s blood’ and ‘blood of such ancestors’ shall be construed to include any child lawfully adopted by one who is in fact of the blood of such ancestors.

If the will of a deceased parent fails to name or provide for his or her child who was adopted after the will’s execution and who survives the parent, referred to here as an ‘omitted child,’ the child must receive an amount equal in value to that which the child would have received if the decedent had died intestate, unless the court determines on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that a smaller share, including no share at all, is more in keeping with the decedent’s intent.

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State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate
Citation: Rev. Code § 70.58.210(2)

The Department of Registration of Births will, upon request, issue a birth certificate for a child born outside the United States who was adopted in this State when it receives:

  • A certified copy of the decree of adoption
  • Evidence as to the child’s birth date and birthplace provided by the original birth certificate, or by a certified copy, extract, or translation or by a certified copy of some other document that is essentially equivalent, such as the records of the U.S. Immigration or Naturalization Service* or of the U.S. Department of State

The certificate will include:

  • The new name of the child as shown in the adoption decree
  • The names of the adoptive parents of the child
  • The age, sex, and date of birth 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.]


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