If you are considering adoption, it can be exciting and overwhelming all at once. First, congratulations on a step that will forever change your and the child’s lives. Coming to this conclusion typically involves a lot of thought, care, and planning and isn’t a decision anyone makes lightly. 

The legal process of adoption can help recognize that you want to make a situation permanent and create a family, as well as ensure that the child has rights to insurance, an inheritance, a family life, and more, which are essential aspects of a child’s life. 

So what are your adoption options in Washington? There are several options, from open adoptions, international or independent/private adoptions, agency adoptions, step-parent adoptions, and more. This article will discuss the differences between private and agency adoptions.

What is an Agency Adoption?

An agency adoption typically involves a team of people working together to facilitate adoption. They can range from social workers and those with legal backgrounds to child development specialists who work together to place children with the best fit for parents. Their sole purpose is to match families with children and help families prepare for life during and after adoption.

There are both private adoption agencies and public adoption agencies. Private agencies are licensed by the state and are generally funded through private means. Private agencies will typically assist in both domestic and international adoptions.

Public agencies typically don’t deal with international adoptions, as their main focus is children within the state or county in which they are based. Children with special needs, older children, children that have been involuntarily removed from their homes, and more make up most of the clientele that public agencies work with.

What is a Private Adoption?

A private (or independent) adoption generally occurs between adoptive parents and a third party, such as a lawyer. Rather than relying on an agency to determine if the child/parent is a good fit, it is typically handled through a trusted third party and the personal choice of the parents.

This doesn’t mean the parents can avoid a Homestudy or “preplacement report.” They will be required to do this through a licensed third party that they hire that confirms they are eligible and suitable parents.

What are the Benefits of Private Adoption?

One of the appealing characteristics of private adoption is that the requirements are generally less than agency adoption. The process may be less lengthy due to fewer requirements, which can result in quicker adoption finalization.

Beyond state laws, some private adoptions have little to no other requirements of the parents (other than the Homestudy), making the adoption decisions more a matter of the heart than checking off all the boxes on a requirement checklist created by an agency.

The process with private adoptions doesn’t have as much rigidity, making it more realistic for some parents to follow or want to invest their time into. This can be considered a positive for families or a negative. Each family is different and will have different expectations throughout the adoption process.

What are the Benefits of an Agency Adoption?

In most cases, extensive training and counseling are part of the agency adoption process. Counseling can help parents prepare for the change and help them navigate the process. Training can include ways to help integrate the child into the family, ensure parenting skills are in place, and offer other perspectives to help them through the adoption process.

This can be viewed as a selling point for some families, as there have been more in-depth reviews of the parents and children involved and some preparation that isn’t typically offered in private adoptions. If you want to rely on a more structured environment while going through the adoption process, an agency adoption may be more appealing to you.

What Role Does a Lawyer Play in an Adoption?

Whether a private or agency adoption is the right fit for your family, you must seek legal counsel to adopt a child in the state of Washington.

In most cases, an agency will have relationships with local lawyers to assist you. Some families will seek guidance from a lawyer of their choice in addition to the one provided by the agency. This may be due to an existing relationship with a family law firm or simply to ensure that their specific family’s needs are met.

When entering the private adoption route, you need to hire a lawyer to assist you with the process. In this case, a lawyer of your choice will help you in the entire process from start to finish. One of their main goals is to protect your rights and ensure you follow Washington’s laws throughout the adoption process. Adoption can present several complexities that trained and experienced lawyers can help you navigate easily.

Every situation is unique, so it can be challenging to anticipate what steps to take to ensure a streamlined process in adoption. An experienced attorney can help you to simplify the process and handle the complex nature of the case with compassion and professionalism. They can provide you with peace of mind knowing that you have taken all the steps you could to begin your parenting journey with your best foot forward.

Our team has been working with families for several years to protect their rights with the compassion and determination they deserve. Contact our offices today at (360) 926-9112 to learn more about how we can become your advocate during this critical and exciting stage in your family’s life.

Curios about adoption in Washington State? Refer to this link to learn more about what you should know before putting a child up for adoption in Washington State.