Is a Home Study Necessary for a Stepparent Adoption?
A home study is report by a social worker or counselor on whether a family is approved to adopt a child. It involves both interviews with the prospective adoptive parents and an investigation of their background and home. A home study is necessary to adopt a child in every state, but the specific requirements depend on your state and on what kind of adoption you are planning. In Washington, to adopt the child of your spouse, only a limited home study is required. But for all other adoptions, a more complete home study is necessary. If the “child” has reached age 18, however, no home study is required for the adoption, because the person being adopted is legally no longer a child.
Though some people find the idea of going through a home study to be intimidating, it can actually be a very positive experience, and provide the family with resources and valuable information. As an experienced adoption lawyer in Washington, Joyce Schwensen assists her clients in choosing a qualified home study provider, and making sure all the legal requirements are satisfied.
Washington Stepparent Adoption Lawyer
A dedicated Washington adoption lawyer who assists stepparents, grandparents and others seeking to adopt a child in their lives can answer any questions you may have about the home study or any other part of the adoption process, including the kind of home study that is necessary in your case. Joyce Schwensen is an experienced attorney, and the former executive director of an adoption agency.
Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen is based in Seattle and represents and assists people throughout Washington with stepparent and extended family adoptions. Call today at (206) 367-1065 to schedule a consultation.
King County Stepparent Adoption Home Study Overview
In general a home study consists of two reports: a pre-placement report to be done before the child is placed in the adoptive home, and a post placement report to be done after the child is placed in the home but prior to finalization. Revised Code of Washington 26.33.190 sets out the requirements for a pre-placement report, and 26.33.200 sets out the requirements for a post placement report. Only the post placement report is required for a stepparent adoption. In some cases, where the child is already living with the prospective adoptive parents before any legal case is started (such as a child living with relatives), the pre-placement report and the post placement report can be combined into a single report that meets the requirements of both sections of the statute.
A home study must be done by a person from a licensed adoption agency, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, a person with a Master’s Degree in social work and at least a year of adoption related work experience or a similar degree and additional experience, a court employee, or a person specifically approved by the court.
Part of the home study process is to do background checks and make sure the prospective adoptive family has the basic resources needed to be parents, and has a healthy understanding of adoption. But what may people do not know is that the home study will also address the potential parents’ understanding of the lifelong commitment required in adoption. The home study provider will help the prospective parents’ plan how to help the adopted child deal with issues that may come up in the future, such as the child having confusing feelings about his or her birth parents, or the child’s feelings about their personal racial, cultural and ethnic background. And the home study provider will give the adoptive parents valuable resources to assist them in being excellent parents to their adopted child or children.
Most adoptions require both a pre-placement report and a post placement report. The post-placement report is an evaluation of the situation once the child is already placed. However, RCW 26.33.220 states that when an adoptive parent is married to the birth parent, a pre-placement report is not required. Therefore, a home study will not be required.
Washington law does not require that a couple be married to adopt a child together, or for one member of a couple to adopt the other’s child. However, if you are not legally married to your partner and seek to adopt his or her child, both a pre-placement report and a post placement report will be required.
If you are adopting a person who is 18 or older, then neither a pre-placement nor a post-placement report is necessary.
Washington Adoption Attorney Assisting Stepparent and Extended Family with Home Study
If you are seeking to adopt a stepchild, grandchild, niece, nephew, or other member of your extended family in Washington, a skilled attorney can help you with all matters, including any questions or concerns you might have about home studies.
Joyce Schwensen is a skilled Washington stepparent adoption lawyer who assists families all over the state, including Seattle, Everett, Lynnwood, Tacoma, Spokane, and Vancouver. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (206) 367-1065.