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Adoption by LGBT Individuals and Couples

Washington law prohibits discrimination against LGBT people and couples in the adoption process. Despite this legal protection, however, LGBT individuals sometimes face unique challenges and concerns when it comes to establishing and protecting their relationships with their adopted children. While the same laws in Washington apply to adoptions by LGBT couples, opposite-sex couples, transgendered people, and single parents, there are certain concerns that LGBT people may need to take into consideration.

Attorney for Adoption by LGBT Adopting Families in Seattle, WA

Joyce Schwensen has 34 years of experience as an attorney for LGBT couples and individuals, as well as being the former Executive Director of an adoption agency. The Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen will help you understand the adoption process and guide you through the steps to help you successfully build your family through adoption.

Joyce Schwensen serves clients in communities across Washington that includes Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, King County and Snohomish County. Call the Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen today at (206) 367-1065 or submit your information in the online form.


Issues for LGBT People in Different Types of Adoption

There are a number of different paths that may be taken to build a family through adoption. This section addresses some matters for consideration by LGBT people in choosing their own best adoption path for adoption.

  • Private Domestic Adoption: Private adoption is a voluntary adoption arrangement between the mother or parents of a child and the prospective adoptive parents. As such, the birth mother or birth family must choose to place their child with you, as an LGBT couple or individual. In the not so distant past it was difficult for LGBT people to be matched with birth parents in private domestic adoptions, but at this time it is quite common for birth parents to be open to LGBT adoptive families, and some birth families prefer placement of their child with an LGBT family. 

It is in the best interest of LGBT people to contract with adoption professionals who are experienced in working with non-traditional families. Also, because you do not know in advance what state your baby or child will be born in, and because the protections available to LGBT individuals and couples vary from state to state, it is important to work with adoption professionals who are prepared to assist your family in getting as much legal protection as possible for your family, regardless of what state’s laws you may be subject to.

  • International Adoption. Each country has its own laws pertaining to who can adopt a child from their country, and there is no international law prohibiting countries from discriminating against LGBT families. Many countries to do allow adoptions by foreigners at all. Currently, there is a short list of foreign countries that will allow LGBT families to adopt (assuming all other adoption criteria are met). These countries include Israel, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Uruguay, Australia, and New Zealand. Unfortunately, however, some of these countries do not have the legal infrastructure currently in place to support any international adoptions. A good resource for finding current information on the requirements for adoption from various foreign countries can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Intercountry-Adoption-Country-Information.html
  • Foster-Child Adoption. Adoption of a foster child in Washington in the one avenue of adoption where prospective families should not face any obstacles based being LGBT. In addition, most of the cost of these adoptions is paid by the State of Washington, and often financial assistance is available to help the adopting family provide for the child’s health care and other needs.
  • Step Parent Adoption: Many LGBT people have step-children, either because their spouses or partners have a child from a prior relationship, or because the child was conceived and born through assisted reproduction at a time when Washington law did not recognize the rights of the non-biological spouse or domestic partner in such cases. In these cases, step-parent adoption is often necessary, or even essential, to protect the relationship between the non-biological parent and the child.

If the child has an absent or unfit parent, the rights of that parent must first be terminated, either by voluntary relinquishment or by court action. If the child has no other legal parent, then the step parent adoption can take place with just the consent of the one legal parent and the completion of a home study by the adopting step parent.

If the child’s sole legal parent will not consent to adoption of the child by his or her spouse or partner, it may be necessary to pursue a de facto parentage action in order to establish the legal parent-child relationship to give legal protection to the bond between the child and the non-parent who taken on the role of parent in the child’s life.

Adopting a child is one of the most rewarding experiences for a family, even if the process is long and complicated. Following the proper legal procedures is imperative in ensuring the adoption process is successful.


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Additional LGBT Adoption Resources in Washington

For additional resources on adoption by LGBT individuals and couples, follow this link:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Adoption-Process/before-you-adopt/LGBTI-adoption-resources.html

Read Washington’s statute pertaining to adoptions here:

Revised Code of Washington Chapter 26.33 Adoption


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Lawyer for LGBT Adoption in Seattle, WA

If you are an LGBT individual or couple and are planning to adopt a child, please contact the experienced adoption attorney Joyce Schwensen. Joyce Schwensen proudly represents LGBT couples and individuals who are wishing to adopt.

Call the Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen today at (206) 367-1065 or submit your information in the online contact form. Joyce Schwensen assists LGBT couples and individuals looking to adopt in communities across Washington including Seattle, Bellevue, King County and Snohomish County.


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