Adoptions are filed in the Superior Court of the county in the State of Washington, 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 have 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
To secure documents for children born in a foreign country to U.S. citizens, write to Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, 1111-19th St. N.W., Suite 510, Washington D.C. 20522. Phone - 202-955-0307.
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.
Decree of Adoption
The clerk is required to collect the below referenced forms for each individual adopted in the State of Washington:
Adoption Data Card - 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 at the DSHS.
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.
Requirements to register an adoption in Washington State
- Application for Adoption registration. The Dept. of Health is phasing out the carbon copied application and the County Clerk no longer provides the registration in hard copy form. The form is available from the Dept. of Health at: Application for Adoption Registration
- CHS Mail in Application. This form is used to order a new birth certificate. The application must be completed with the adoptee's name and the adoptive parents' names. The form is available from the Dept. of Health at: CHS Main-in Request Form
- The fee of $15.00 to create a Sealed Adoption File.
- The fee of $20.00 for each certified copy of the Amended Birth Certificate.
For more information - please contact the Washington State Dept. of Health website - www.doh.wa.gov
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.
Search for Birth Parent(s) or Adopted Child
The county clerk maintains a list of Confidential Intermediaries (per statute) who may be appointed to search for and contact the birth parent(s) or adopted person. The person searching is responsible for contacting a Confidential Intermediary of their choice and any fee that may be required. Please do not ask the County Clerk to intervene or act on your behalf.
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.
RCW26.33.343 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.
An adoptive parent, adoptee, or birth parent may request non-identifying information from the court where the adoption was filed.
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.
Request for Non-Identifying Adoption Information - The Spokane County Clerk does provide a form to request Non-Identifying Adoption Information for cases filed in Spokane Superior Court. The request form must be filled out and mailed to the Spokane County Clerk. It requires:
- the requestor's signature be notarized
- all available known information regarding the adoption case
- a $30.00 special services fee
(Non-identifying information will NOT be provided over the telephone or by email.)
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 the information below.
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))
- Age in years at the time of adoption;
- Heritage, including nationality, ethnic background, and race;
- Education, including number of years of school completed at the time of adoption, but not name or location of school;
- General physical appearance, including height, weight, color of hair, eyes, and skin, or other information of similar nature;
- Occupation, but not specific titles or places of employment;
- Talents, hobbies, and special interests;
- Circumstances leading to the adoption;
- Medical and genetic history of birth parents;
- First names;
- Other children of birth parents by age, sex, and medical history;
- Extended family of birth parents by age, sex, and medical history;
- The fact of the death, and age and cause, if known;
- 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. This office may be of assistance to persons searching for a birth parent or adopted child.
RCW 26.33.345 Search for birth parent or adopted child -- Limited release of information--Noncertified copies of original birth certificate.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- The current name, address, and telephone number of the adoptee who desires to be contacted.
- 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."
- 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.