Adopting a child is a lengthy, but exciting process. In an adoption, the legal relationship between biological parents and a child are terminated and a new legal relationship between adoptive parents and a child are created. Many adoptive parents cannot wait to take their child home permanently, and look forward to the day when the child’s adoption is finalized. On the other hand, parents placing a child for adoption face the difficult decision of letting of their child. Because of the difficulty and permanence of this decision, Washington state law allows biological parents a certain amount of time to change their minds. This waiting period is often stressful for both the birth parents and the adoptive parents. If you are adopting a child or considering placing a child up for adoption, learn more about the consent and revocation periods for an adoption under Washington State law.
In order for an adoption to occur, the legal rights of the natural or biological parents must end. When an adoption is voluntary, a biological parent must sign a declaration called Consent to Adoption. This document is a written statement that lists the child’s information and contains an acknowledgement of the signer’s legal rights. The document will confirm that the signer is relinquishing all legal rights to the child voluntarily and will waive any future rights to the child.
Multiple people may have to give consent to an adoption. First, the parents or legal guardians of the child must consent. This includes the child’s biological mother, biological father, or an alleged father. If the child has a legal guardian who is not a biological parent, like a grandparent, then that person may need to sign a consent form as well. Additionally, the child will need to sign a consent form if he or she is aged 14 or older. Finally, if a state agency is in charge of caring for the child, like the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), then the agency will also need to consent to the adoption.
Once the Consent to Adoption forms are approved by the court, the next phase of the adoption process begins. The consent forms cannot be presented to the court for approval until at least 48 hours have passed from either the birth of the child or 48 hours have passed since the person giving consent signed the paperwork. The 48-hour waiting period ensures that the birth parents have enough time to think about their decision and change their mind if they want.
Revocation of Consent
In Washington State, a person’s Consent to Adoption can be revoked at any time before it is approved by the judge. To revoke consent, the signer needs to provide a written revocation to the court any time before the consent is approved by the court.
Even after the Consent to Adoption is approved by the court, it may be challenged through specific procedures. First, the consent to adoption must be challenged within a year after approval. Second, consent can only be revoked in cases of fraud, duress, or lack of mental capacity. These are difficult allegations to prove, and most adoptions will not be overturned.
The attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law believe strongly in adoption, and want to help you add to your family. If you need assistance with an adoption or child custody case, schedule an appointment at Pacific Northwest Family Law today by calling 509-572-3700.