Relinquishing Permanent Care and Custody of a Child.
Under state law related to adoptions, unless otherwise permitted by a court order or statute, it is a gross misdemeanor:
Current state law prohibits advertising children offered or wanted for adoption unless the advertising person or entity is:
The advertising prohibition does not apply to television, radio, print, and other advertising media that attempts to verify the advertising is in compliance and accepts advertising in good faith without knowledge of its violation of the prohibition.
The Attorney General may bring an action under the Consumer Protection Act for adoption advertising by unlicensed or unauthorized persons or entities.
The Uniform Law Commission.
The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) is an organization that authors and promotes enactment of uniform laws in areas of law where national uniformity is desirable and practical.
In 2021 the ULC promulgated the Uniform Unregulated Child Custody Transfer Act to provide a uniform legal framework to prohibit unregulated child custody transfers. An unregulated child custody transfer is a transfer by a parent or guardian of a child or an individual with whom a child has been placed for adoption that is performed without state agency or court oversight that assures the new custodian is safe and appropriate for the child.
Provisions related to relinquishing permanent care and custody of a child are repealed and replaced with the Uniform Unregulated Child Custody Transfer Act (UUCCTA).
Permitted Methods of Transferring Custody of a Child.
A parent or a guardian of a child or an individual with whom a child has been placed for adoption may transfer custody of the child to another person with the intent, at the time of the transfer, to abandon the rights and responsibilities concerning the child only through:
Prohibition on Unregulated Child Custody Transfers.
A parent or guardian of a child or an individual with whom a child has been placed for adoption may not transfer custody of the child to another person with the intent, at the time of the transfer, to abandon the rights and responsibilities concerning the child.
The prohibition on unregulated child custody transfers does not apply to a transfer of custody of a child by a parent or guardian to:
A person may not receive custody of a child, or act as an intermediary in a transfer of custody of a child, if the person knows or reasonably should know the transfer violates the prohibition on unregulated child custody transfers, unless the person:
A violation of the prohibition on unregulated child custody transfers is a gross misdemeanor.
The prohibition on adoption advertising by unlicensed or unauthorized persons or entities is expanded to include a prohibition on advertising of services related to other custody transfers of children.
Obligations of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.
If the DCYF has a reasonable basis to believe that a person has transferred or will transfer custody of a child in violation of the prohibition on unregulated child custody transfers, the DCYF must respond in accordance with state law related to child welfare services.
If the DCYF provides a child protective services response for a child adopted or placed through an intercountry adoption, the DCYF must:
For the purposes of preventing child abuse or neglect, the DCYF may disclose to the Department of State only those confidential child welfare records that may assist the Department of State in informing the child's country of origin that the custody of the child has been transferred in an unregulated custody transfer and describing the child's welfare and plan for permanent placement of the child. The records retain their confidentiality subject to federal law and state law relating to the keeping and release of records by juvenile justice or care agencies.
The DCYF is not prevented from taking any appropriate action to protect the welfare of the child.
Applicability and Miscellaneous Provisions.
The UUCCTA applies to transfers of custody, or soliciting or advertising on or after the effective date of the UUCCTA, and does not apply to custody of an Indian child, as defined in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, to the extent custody is governed by that law.
The UUCCTA includes a subsection that responds to the specific language of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act and is designed to avoid preemption of state law under that federal legislation.
(In support) In several cases of international adoptions, primarily from Ukraine and Romania, the adopted children experienced significant behavioral health problems. The adoptive parents were not expecting that difficulty and essentially tried to rehome these children on their own. Some of those children ended up being trafficked. In an effort to repair international relations, the United States Department of State worked with the Uniform Law Commission to ensure that in cases where the adoptions went badly, no children were transferred outside the normal legal process or without the supervision of a court into an inappropriate placement. The Uniform Unregulated Child Custody Transfer Act (UUCCTA) that resulted from that process is not a significant change for Washington. The bill recodifies a couple of provisions out of the current adoption statutes and into the new UUCCTA. Washington already has a criminal prohibition on rehoming and advertising for transfers of children. Reorganizing the statutes in this way and Washington's participation in the UUCCTA is helpful for the country as a whole and signals to the international community that it takes these issues seriously and that children are going to be protected if they are adopted in the United States.