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Adoptions

In the State of Washington adoptions are filed in the Superior Court of the county in which the adoptive parents lived when the adoption occurred. In some cases, a relinquishment of parental rights may have been filed in a different county than the adoption. In this instance, you would need to contact the Clerk of the Court in that county, since each Clerk is only authorized to search records within their own county.

For a record of an adoption that occurred in a state other than Washington, write or telephone the appropriate state. The Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics, P.O. Box 9709, Olympia, WA 98507-9709 - Telephone: ( 360) 236-4300, maintains a current list of information for other states. Adoption Fees by State adobe image

Tosecure documents for children born in a foreign country to U.S. citizens, write to Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, 1111-19th Street. NW, Suite 510, Washington D.C. 20522. Phone: ( 202) 955-0307.

How do I file an Adoption Case?
How do I access Clark County Adoption Case Information 30 days After Case Finalized?

 

Filing an Adoption Case

Parents wishing to adopt a child can either hire an attorney or act pro se (without the assistance of an attorney).   The filing fee for an adoption case is $260*.   Unlike most other types of family law cases, there are not statewide pattern forms available to use.   The Clerk's Office sells Step-Parent Adoption forms and instructions for $20*.  We also provide two checklist guides for filing a step-parent adoption, one applies when the parties are consenting, the other when the parties are non-consenting.

                                                        1. Consenting checklist adobe image
                                                        2. Non-Consenting checklist adobe image

This is a link to some adoption information on the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services' Web site.

Decree of Adoption
When finalizing an adoption, the following two forms need to be provided to the Clerk:

Adoption Data Card adobe image - sent to state Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS) for reporting under federal requirements. This form is also available from the County Clerk in hard copy. No fee is required to process this form at DSHS.

*Sorry, no personal checks accepted.   We accept cash, debit, credit, money orders or cashier checks.

RCW 26.33.300 - Adoption statistical data.
The department of health shall be a depository for statistical data concerning adoption. It shall furnish to the clerk of each county a data card which shall be completed and filed with the clerk on behalf of each petitioner. The clerk shall forward the completed cards to the department of health which shall compile the data and publish reports summarizing the data. A birth certificate shall not be issued showing the petitioner as the parent of any child adopted in the state of Washington until a data card has been completed and filed.

Application for Adoption Registration adobe image- sent to the Center for Health Statistics for re-registration and issuance of birth certificate. This form is only available from the County Clerk in hard copy form. The fee for a new birth certificate is dependent on the state in which the child was born.


Adoption Fees by State adobe image
As of July 2009, the fee to obtain a New Birth Certificate for a child born in Washington State is $35.00 payable to the Center for Health Statistics. Link to Washington State Department of Health Web site

RCW 26.33.280 - Decree of adoption -- Transmittal to state registrar of vital statistics.
After a decree of adoption is entered, as soon as the time for appeal has expired, or if an appeal is taken, and the adoption is affirmed on appeal, the clerk of the court shall transmit to the state registrar of vital statistics a certified copy of the decree, along with any additional information and fees required by the registrar.

RCW 70.58.210 - Birth certificate upon adoption.
(1) Whenever a decree of adoption has been entered declaring a child, born in the state of Washington, adopted in any court of competent jurisdiction in the state of Washington or any other state or any territory of the United States, a certified copy of the decree of adoption shall be recorded with the proper department of registration of births in the state of Washington and a certificate of birth shall issue upon request, bearing the new name of the child as shown in the decree of adoption, the names of the adoptive parents of the child and the age, sex, and date of birth of the child, but no reference in any birth certificate shall have reference to the adoption of the child. However, original registration of births shall remain a part of the record of the board of health.

 

Accessing Clark County Adoption Case Information After Case Finalized

Adoptive Parents (the petitioners) or their attorneys can access their adoption file while the adoption case is pending.  However, 30 days after the adoption decree is signed, the file becomes completely sealed and only accessible by a court order.   The following forms need to be filled out, a fee of $30* for ex-parte presentation of the order to the court and the appropriate certified or non-certified copy fees paid for the documents requested from the file.  Note: Adoptees or birth parents need to go through the confidential intermediary process below.

General Forms for adoptive parents or counsel to use to allow access to a file:
      1. Petition for Access to Sealed Adoption File (MS Word document)
      2. Order for Access to Sealed Adoption File (MS Word document)

*Sorry, no personal checks accepted.   We accept cash, debit, credit, money orders or cashier checks.

Records Sealed - Adoption / Relinquishment records are sealed and may not be viewed by any person except by court order.
RCW 26.33.330 Records sealed - Inspection - Fee
(1) All records of any proceeding under this chapter shall be sealed and shall not be thereafter open to inspection by any person except upon order of the court for good cause shown, or except by using the procedure described in RCW 26.33.343. In determining whether good cause exists, the court shall consider any certified statement on file with the department of health as provided in RCW 26.33.347.
(2) The state registrar of vital statistics may charge a reasonable fee for the review of any of its sealed records.

Search for Birth Parent(s) or Adopted Child through a
Confidential Intermediary

The county clerk maintains a list of Confidential Intermediaries (per statute below) adobe imagewho need to be appointed by the court to search for and contact the birth parent(s) or adopted person. The person searching is responsible for contacting the Confidential Intermediary of their choice and paying any fees that may be required.  The clerk's office charges a $30 ex-parte presentation fee plus the appropriate certified or non-certified copy fees to the confidential intermediary. 

Forms for Confidential Intermediaries to use: 

    1. Petition to Appoint Confidential Intermediary and Open Sealed Adoption File (MS Word document)
    2. Oath of Confidential Intermediary (MS Word document)
    3. Order Appointing Confidential Intermediary & Authorizing Release of Records (MS Word document)

RCW 36.23.090 Search for birth parents - County clerk's duty.
The county clerk shall provide the name and telephone number of at least one resource to assist adopted persons who are searching for birth parents, or birth parents who are searching for children they have relinquished, if these resources have contacted the clerk's office and requested that their name be made available to persons making inquiry.

RCW 26.33.343 Search for birth parent or adopted child -- Confidential intermediary. (1) An adopted person over the age of twenty-one years, or under twenty-one with the permission of the adoptive parent, or a birth parent or member of the birth parent's family after the adoptee has reached the age of twenty-one may petition the court to appoint a confidential intermediary. A petition under this section shall state whether a certified statement is on file with the department of health as provided for in RCW 26.33.347 and shall also state the intent of the adoptee as set forth in any such statement. The intermediary shall search for and discreetly contact the birth parent or adopted person, or if they are not alive or cannot be located within one year, the intermediary may attempt to locate members of the birth parent or adopted person's family. These family members shall be limited to the natural grandparents of the adult adoptee, a brother or sister of a natural parent, or the child of a natural parent. The court, for good cause shown, may allow a relative more distant in degree to petition for disclosure.

Non-Identifying Information
An adoptive parent, adoptee, or birth parent may request non-identifying information from the court where the adoption was filed.

Request for Non-Identifying Adoption Information - The Clark County Clerk provides a form to request Non-Identifying Adoption Information for cases filed in Clark County Superior Court. The request form must be filled out and mailed to the Clark County Clerk.
                      Steps to Obtain Non-Identifying Information:
                       1.  Notarized signature of requestor on the request form (MS Word document)
                       2.  All available known information regarding the adoption case
                       3.  Pay a $30.00* records search fee
                       4.  Pay a $30.00* ex-parte presentation fee
(Non-identifying information cannot be provided over the telephone or by e-mail.)

The Non-Identifying Adoption Information request will be reviewed by the Court and information approved or denied. Please be advised, not all adoption files contain all of the information below.

*Sorry, no personal checks accepted.   We accept cash, debit, credit, money orders or cashier checks.

RCW 26.33.340 Department, agency, and court files confidential -- Limited disclosure of information.
Department, agency, and court files regarding an adoption shall be confidential except that reasonably available nonidentifying information may be disclosed upon the written request for the information from the adoptive parent, the adoptee, or the birth parent. If the adoption facilitator refuses to disclose nonidentifying information, the individual may petition the superior court. Identifying information may also be disclosed through the procedure described in RCW 26.33.343.

Non-identifying information includes, but is not limited to, the following information about the birth parent, adoptive parents, and adoptee: (RCW 26.33.020(14))

(a) Age in years at the time of adoption;
(b) Heritage, including nationality, ethnic background, and race;
(c) Education, including number of years of school completed at the time of adoption, but not name or location of school;
(d) General physical appearance, including height, weight, color of hair, eyes, and skin, or other information of similar nature;
(e) Religion;
(f) Occupation, but not specific titles or places of employment;
(g) Talents, hobbies, and special interests;
(h) Circumstances leading to the adoption;
(i) Medical and genetic history of birth parents;
(j) First names;
(k) Other children of birth parents by age, sex, and medical history;
(l) Extended family of birth parents by age, sex, and medical history;
(m) The fact of the death, and age and cause, if known;
(n) Photographs;
(o) Name of agency or individual that facilitated the adoption.

Copies of Original Birth Certificate
The Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Certificates, maintains birth certificate information for the entire state. Their office may be of assistance to persons searching for a birth parent or adopted child.  Link to Washington State Department of Health Web site

Forms to Petition Court for Access to Original Birth Certificate:
      1. Petition for Access to Original Birth Certificate (MS Word document)
      2. Order for Access to Original Birth Certificate (MS Word document)

Pay $30* exparte fee and submit the forms to the Clerk's Office. 
*Sorry, no personal checks accepted.   We accept cash, debit, credit, money orders or cashier checks.

RCW 26.33.345 Search for birth parent or adopted child -- Limited release of information -- Noncertified copies of original birth certificate.
(1) The department of social and health services, adoption agencies, and independent adoption facilitators shall release the name and location of the court where a relinquishment of parental rights or finalization of an adoption took place to an adult adoptee, a birth parent of an adult adoptee, an adoptive parent, a birth or adoptive grandparent of an adult adoptee, or an adult sibling of an adult adoptee, or the legal guardian of any of these.
(2) The department of health shall make available a noncertified copy of the original birth certificate of a child to the child's birth parents upon request.
(3) For adoptions finalized after October 1, 1993, the department of health shall make available a noncertified copy of the original birth certificate to the adoptee after the adoptee's eighteenth birthday unless the birth parent has filed an affidavit of nondisclosure.

RCW 26.33.347 Consent or refusal to release adoptee's identifying information - Desire to be contacted - Certified statement
(1) An adopted person over the age of eighteen may file with the department of health a certified statement declaring any one or more of the following:
      (a) The adoptee refuses to consent to the release of any identifying information to a biological parent, biological sibling, or other biological relative and does not wish to be contacted by a confidential intermediary except in the case of a medical emergency as determined by a court of competent jurisdiction;
      (b) The adoptee consents to the release of any identifying information to a confidential intermediary appointed under RCW 26.33.343, a biological parent, biological sibling, or other biological relative;
      (c) The adoptee desires to be contacted by his or her biological parents, biological siblings, other biological relatives, or a confidential intermediary appointed under RCW 26.33.343;
      (d) The current name, address, and telephone number of the adoptee who desires to be contacted.
(2) The certified statement shall be filed with the department of health and placed with the adoptee's original birth certificate if the adoptee was born in this state, or in a separate registry file for reference purposes if the adoptee was born in another state or outside of the United States. When the statement includes a request for confidentiality or a refusal to consent to the disclosure of identifying information, a prominent notice stating substantially the following shall also be placed at the front of the file: "AT THE REQUEST OF THE ADOPTEE, ALL RECORDS AND IDENTIFYING INFORMATION RELATING TO THIS ADOPTION SHALL REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL AND SHALL NOT BE DISCLOSED OR RELEASED WITHOUT A COURT ORDER SO DIRECTING."
(3) An adopted person who files a certified statement under subsection (1) of this section may subsequently file another certified statement requesting to rescind or amend the prior certified statement.

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Clark County Clerk's Office
Street Address: 1200 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA 98660
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 5000, Vancouver, WA 98666-5000
Main phone: (360) 397-2292 | Criminal: (360) 397-2295 | FAX: (360) 397-6099
Juvenile (360) 397-2073 | Collections Unit: (360) 397-6085
TTY: (360) 397-6172
E-mail: countyclerk@clark.wa.gov

Responsible Elected Official: Scott G. Weber , County Clerk

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