Relinquishment and Consent to Adoption
Relinquishment means consent in the adoption context. The adoption statute has a procedure for parents to voluntarily relinquish (consent to) placing their children for adoption. The petition to relinquish a child may be filed separately or filed as a consolidated petition (one document) joining the petition to relinquish, with the petition to adopt and to terminate parent-child relationship.
A parent cannot relinquish his or her parental rights unless the child is to be adopted by another person, or placed in the care of the Department of Social and Health Services or an adoption agency. Therefore, a parent cannot relinquish a child or consent to adoption without someone else assuming responsibility for the child.
Either a parent, an alleged father, DSHS, or an agency may file with the court a petition to relinquish a child to a prospective adoptive parent, the department or an agency. The written consent to adoption should be filed with the petition to relinquish. In addition to the parent’s consent to terminate their parental rights and for adoption, the written consent of the department, the agency or the prospective adoptive parent to assume custody should also be filed with the petition to relinquish.
A petition for relinquishment, with the written consent to adoption, can be filed before the child’s birth. Special rules apply if the child is an Indian child as defined in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), petition and consent shall not be signed until at least ten days after the child’s birth.
Consent to Adoption Requirements
The consent to adoption is a pivotal and important document in an adoption. There are specific technical requirements for the contents of the consent document and the procedure and timing of presentation of the consent to the court set out in the statutes. Except where both parental rights are terminated involuntarily as in a dependency action Under RCW 13, a consent to adoption from at least one parent is required in all adoptions.
Consents to adoption are required from:
- An adoptee if age of 14 years or older.
- The parents and any alleged father of an adoptee under eighteen years of age;
- An agency or the department to whom the adoptee has been relinquished pursuant to RCW 26.33.080; and
- The legal guardian of the child to be adopted.
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