Petitions for adoption are filed with Family & Juvenile Court.
Adoptions are confidential. To get access to certain adoption records, you must obtain a court order.
Adoption cases can be complicated. You are strongly encouraged to consult with a lawyer for more help.
The court cannot give adoption information to just anyone. The person asking for information usually must be:
- an adoptive parent,
- a birth parent or (sometimes) a member of his or her family, or
- a person who was adopted.
Also, if an adopted person is under 21 years old, he or she may have to get the adoptive parents’ permission.
You have to go to the court where the adoption was finalized. The court can check that you are in the right place. Give the court the following information, as best you can:
- the adopted child’s name, either before or after the adoption;
- the child’s date of birth;
- the date of the adoption; and
- the names of the birth parents or adoptive parents
There is a process to get “nonidentifying information” from the court file.
“Nonidentifying information” is information about the birth parent or adoption that does not identify the birth parent.
Nonidentifying Information is:
- Age in years at the time of the adoption;
- Heritage, including nationality, ethnic background, and race;
- Education, including number of years of school completed at the time of adoption, but not the name or location of school;
- General physical appearance, including height, weight, color of hair, eyes, and skin, or other information of a 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 death, and age and cause, if known;
- Name of agency or individual that facilitated the adoption.
Contact court administration at the Thurston County Family & Juvenile Court. Someone there can help you. You will need to fill out a form called “Request for Release of Non-identifying Information.” You should get it notarized.
To get an adoption decree or another sealed document from the file, you need to show the court that there is “good cause” to give you that document. Someone at court administration at Family & Juvenile Court can give you a form to fill out. You should explain whether you want documents that include identifying information or not. The court cannot give out identifying information without appointing a confidential intermediary. But the court can let you have documents that have confidential information redacted (blacked out) to protect the identity of people involved in the adoption.
A confidential intermediary can search for a birth parent, adopted child, or adoptive parent. If the confidential intermediary finds the person, he or she will ask them whether they are willing to release their information. If the person who is being search for has died, the confidential intermediary may contact his or her family members.
Follow these steps:
- Contact the Department of Health to find out whether the person you want to contact has said whether they want to be contacted.
- Fill out a form to ask for a confidential intermediary. Court administration can give you the form.
- The court will review your papers and, if you qualify, can then give out a list of confidential intermediaries.
- Contact a confidential intermediary from the list to find one who is willing to work on your case.
- The confidential intermediary will then investigate the case and will let you know how the investigation is going and when the process is complete.
In addition, the court provides the following court forms which should be filed at the Clerk's Office:
Washington State Adoption Information Exchange
A listing of adoption resources in Washington State for adoptive families, birth parents, and adopted individuals.
Department of Health
- Learn whether a birth parent wants to be contacted.
- Get an original (pre-adoption) birth certificate.
Home Study (Pre/Post Adoptive Studies)
A homestudy is required and is an official document that a worker prepares to demonstrate that your family is ready and qualified to adopt. This can consist of home visits and interviews.
Select from the list of court approved adoption homestudy providers.
National Adoption Day
Each year, one week prior to Thanksgiving, National Adoption Day is celebrated locally at the Thurston County Family and Juvenile Courthouse. The event is attended by families, professional staff from DCYF, CASA staff and volunteers, private and public sector attorneys, court staff and elected officials at the local and state level. Food, beverages, flowers, family photos, art activities, books, bears and more are donated by local businesses.
This day is a culmination of months of work by many volunteers (attorneys, DCYF staff, CASA staff, court staff and others) and is filled with joy for the new families!
The Court is proud to take part in celebrating such a special day.