12055 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98125

(206) 367-1065

What About My Privacy?

If you are considering placing your child for adoption, you may have concerns about your privacy. The decision to place a child for adoption is a deeply personal one. You may be worried that records of your choice be made available to the child, or even the public.

Privacy for Washington Birth Mothers in Adoption Procedures

An attorney with extensive background in adoption can advise you if you have concerns about your privacy. If you are seeking to keep information confidential, your lawyer can assist you. Joyce Schwensen is a Washington adoption attorney and has worked as the executive director of an adoption agency. She has a history of helping women and men place children in loving adoptive homes, including birth parents who want to keep the adoption completely private.

Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen represents birth mothers across the state, including Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Vancouver.

Information on Privacy in an Adoption

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Open Adoption vs. Closed Adoption

The birth parents may decide to go forward with an open adoption or a closed adoption. In an open adoption, the birth parents and the adopted child or adoptive parents maintain some form of relationship. The birth parents and child in an open adoption may communicate occasionally through cards or letters or regularly on the phone or visits.

In a closed adoption, only non-identifying information, like medical history or other information that cannot be used to find out a parent’s name, is provided to the adoptive parent and/or child.

In any adoption, you will be asked to fill out a medical history. The medical history is vital, because the adoptive parents can use the history to anticipate any potential health issues the child may experience.

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Adoption Information is Confidential

Under the Revised Code of Washington 26.33.340, all files generated by the Washington State Department of Health and relevant agencies and by the court in the adoption process are confidential. They are “sealed,” meaning they are unavailable for any public viewing. They do not turn up in background searches.

Once the child is older than 21 or has the permission of his or her adoptive parents, he or she may ask the court to appoint a confidential intermediary. The intermediary may look at the adoption record, but is sworn to keep them confidential, including from the child and adoptive parents.

If the intermediary locates you, he or she may send a discreet, confidential message asking if you wish him or her to disclose your identity to the child. If you refuse, the intermediary cannot continue.

If you hire a lawyer, all information exchanged with your attorney for the purpose of the adoption is privileged, meaning confidential. It is a very grave ethical violation for a lawyer to violate a client’s privilege.

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Birth Certificates in Adoption

The child’s original birth certificate will be sealed. During the adoption process, you will complete a “contact preference” form. You may choose from four options:

  • That you would like to be contacted, and consent to the Washington State Department of Health providing the child with a noncertified copy of the original birth certificate;
  • That you may be contacted through a confidential intermediary, like one discussed above, and the Department may release a noncertified copy of the original certificate;
  • That you prefer not to be contacted but have completed the medical history form, and the Department may release  a noncertified copy of the original certificate; or
  • That you prefer not to be contacted but have completed the medical history form, and the Department may not release a noncertified copy of the original certificate.

If you do not complete a contact preference form or you select the child may receive a copy of the original birth certificate, the adopted child will be able to obtain the certificate on or after his or her 18th birthday.

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Finding the Best Washington Adoption Attorney to Answer Your Privacy Questions

Speak to a dedicated Washington adoption lawyer if you have any concerns about your privacy in the adoption process. Joyce Schwensen has many years of experience in adoption law. She can help you with all matters pertaining to placing your child in the best possible home. Contact her today for a free consultation by calling (206) 367-1065.

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