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Stepparent adoption, absent/no legal father? Washington Washington Washington

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  • Stepparent adoption, absent/no legal father? Washington Washington Washington

    After reading through other threads on stepparent adoption and Washington state laws etc., I am still confused about my situation.

    My daughter was born in Washington in 1996. Her biological father was transient and in trouble. I suggested that if he could not take responsibility for his problems and be more of a help than a hindrance it would be best if I raised the child on my own. He agreed and split. He contacted me once early on and offered to help financially, then apparently went to jail, became a fugitive and I never heard from him again.

    Because I received state aid for a time, the state of course attempted to pursue paternity/enforce support. I gave them his name as a "potential" father and what little info I knew about him. Support enforcement was unable to locate, so after 3 years the case was closed.

    Meanwhile I moved on, and the man I have been married to wants to adopt my oldest daughter (the only dad she's ever known. In a nutshell: biodad has been missing for ten years, with no contact or support. He has never been legally established as her father as far as I understand. My husband wants to assume legal responsibility for the child he loves and has financially and emotionally supported all these years. (He is understandibly bitter about the possibility of having to make any kind of attempts to contact the missing biological father.) I don't think biodad would give us any problems but doubt that we could locate him (he rides freight trains and lives in abandoned buildings, uses fake names etc.)

    We talked to a paralegal service who assured us the process of stepparent adoption was relatively easy. The forms they sent asked for "natural father information" and my husband thought I should say "unknown". I was unsure, since at one point the state had (unsuccessfully) pursued the (potential) bio-father for support. Not wanting to get hung up on any details, I called and asked the paralegal service and they said I should double check what the status on paternity was. I did, and found from Support Enforcement that the case had been closed - unable to locate. No records on file at county supreme court. But the paralegal didn't really sound to me like he was totally sure on this situation what should be done.

    So before I assume I can just state: "unknown" under natural father, I dug around some more.

    I read this:

    Who Must Consent to an Adoption
    Citation: §§ 26.33.080; 26.33.160

    The parents and any alleged father
    The agency or department to which the child has been relinquished
    The legal guardian

    What I want to know is what exactly does "any alleged father" refer to? Does this include any potential fathers whose paternity is not legally established?

    I need clarification of this part:

    When Parental Consent is not Needed
    Statute: § 26.33.120

    A parent's rights have been terminated in the child's best interest and due to failure to perform parental duties.

    If the bio father was never established as a legal father, is it true I cannot have his paternal rights terminated (for abandonment etc.)?

    Then my question is, if I cannot locate him, establish paternity, get him to give up his parental rights or whatever... where do we stand with the adoption? Can parental rights be terminated for someone who has never been established as a parent? Or would they need to be? What exactly then is the legal status of my daughter's paternity all these years?

    Or do I need to worry about that at all - is it as simple as writing "unknown" on the documents provided by the paralegal service? Then I understand they post a notice in the paper or something? Can anyone clarify this for me?

    I admit I am confused so apologies if this post is totally confusing!

    We just want to "do it right"

    Last edited by k23; 10-02-2007, 04:04 PM.

  • #2
    While there is no Putative Father's Registry in Washington, there are certain things that he would have to do to hold up a step parent adoption. He has 20 days (if living in state) or 30 days (if living out of state) from the receipt of the notice of adoption to file his objections.

    You will need to give the names of any and all persons that MAY be the father, their last known whereabouts, and any information you may have about them to the court. If he is "at large" the court would need to have a published notice of the adoption in the newspaper that serves the community where his last known address is located. The court would instruct you on how to do this.

    If he does not object in the allotted time frame, the court will determine the grounds for termination of parental rights. Failure to support, visit, establish a relationship when there was opportunity to do so, abandonment, etc....

    If you want to make this as legally binding as possible, use an attorney. There are just too many ins and outs of the legal system for a lay person to go it alone. Especially when the case is something as important and permanent as what this case is about.
    Don't listen to a word I say because ya know I've gotta be crazy to be a Brown's fan.


    • #3
      Thank you for your input! I have contacted an attorney. The hardest part has been convincing my husband that it is necessary he feels he is her father anyway, which I can understand but I also understand the importance of properly dealing with the legal system, for my daughter's sake!


      • #4
        You could put it to him this way; If anything were to happen to you, if the adoption is not completed, your daughter may end up being placed in the care of a person who has proved for the last 9 years that he doesn't give a crap about her. Would your husband prefer that happen?
        Don't listen to a word I say because ya know I've gotta be crazy to be a Brown's fan.


        • #5
          Alo, tell him that, if you divorce, he will not be able to ask for visitation or custody, or required to pay child support for a step child.
          Please no private messages about your situation.


          • #6
            i am in washington state as well, i have a 2 year old daughter that after my fiance and i get married he would like to adopt and i had a one night stand with a man after a long night at the bar and i don't remember his name or even where he is now.. so what would i have to do to go through the adoption process.. my fiance is air force and my daughter is on state medical and i don't want her to lose her medical insurance and not be able to be put on his medical. i was wondering if anyone could help me out on this


            • #7
              Please start a new thread with this so you can get the attention you need. This thread is from back in 2007.
              Don't listen to a word I say because ya know I've gotta be crazy to be a Brown's fan.


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