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Many adults want to become parents. This often happens through a natural pregnancy. However, some people step into a parental role when they get married. Others may not have a prospective co-parent. And it is not uncommon for people to want to grow their family after they have taken preventative measures, or after their natural children have moved off to college.

Regardless of your personal situation, adoption may be an option for you. If adopting a child has crossed your mind, you might want to consider what the process entails.

The adoption process

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) partners with tribes, state and local agencies to support children and families through state-funded support services. If you are interested in adopting, DCYF provides an outline of the steps you need to take to do so.

  • Contact your local child welfare office. There, you can get answers to your questions from an adoption worker.
  • Complete a home study. A private agency or the Division of Licensing Resources (DLR) must evaluate you and your home to determine adoption qualification. Among other things, your application, criminal background check and financial situation will be part of your home study.
  • Select your soon-to-be child. Every adopted child comes from a different background and has varying needs and desires for an adoptive home. You might consider how you can continue to include people who are important to your child in his or her life. You may also think about your child's potential medical concerns and ways you can connect once he or she becomes a member of your family.
  • Visitation and placement. You will gradually spend time with your child. As they gain comfortability with you, visits will lengthen until your son or daughter moves in with you.
  • Post placement services. Until your adoption is finalized, you will coordinate with your social worker to arrange for the necessary health and safety needs of your child. These might include school registration and medical or therapy appointments.
  • Finalization. Your attorney will help you prepare the documents for officially adopting your child. In court, you will sign documents with your Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) representative.

There are no guarantees about how smoothly your adoption process will go. You could become an adoptive parent relatively quickly or, depending on the specific needs and situation of your child, finalization might take some time.

However, with 428,000 children in foster care throughout the United States, there are plenty of children who might be lucky to eventually call you "mom" or "dad." If you truly want to become an adoptive parent, hearing that will probably be well worth the wait.

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