SSB 6493



BYSenate Committee on Children & Family Services (originally sponsored by Senators Patrick, Kreidler, Craswell, Stratton, Conner and Bailey)



Authorizing the appointment of confidential intermediaries in adoption searches.



Senate Committee on Children & Family Services


      Senate Hearing Date(s):January 30, 1990; February 1, 1990


Majority Report:  That Substitute Senate Bill No. 6493 be substituted therefor, and the substitute bill do pass.

      Signed by Senators Smith, Chairman; Craswell, Vice Chairman; Bailey, Stratton, Vognild.


      Senate Staff:Carol Pedigo (786-7417)

                  February 14, 1990



                      AS PASSED SENATE, FEBRUARY 10, 1990




Adoption experts are very familiar with the need expressed by many adoptees and birth parents to locate their biological families or children.  Court procedures to facilitate this concept have been developed in 36 counties of the state through the use of confidential intermediaries.  These intermediaries are trained by a nonprofit association dedicated to assisting the birth parents and child to meet.  There are approximately 1000 searches being conducted in Washington State.


Some birth parents report that they are unable to determine which county handled their relinquishment because they were never given an original birth certificate.  To protect from misuse of a certified copy of a birth certificate, the issuance of a noncertified copy was recommended.




The confidential intermediary system is added to the adoption statutes.  An adopted person over the age of 21, or under 21 with the permission of the adoptive parent(s) may petition the court to appoint a confidential intermediary.  Similarly, a birth parent or member of the birth parent's family may petition for a confidential intermediary to assist them in locating the adopted person.  Family members are limited to grandparents, aunts or uncles, or siblings unless otherwise approved by the court.


Confidential intermediaries must be trained by a licensed adoption service or another court-approved entity and must file an oath of confidentiality.  Intermediaries shall be reimbursed for actual costs plus a reasonable fee by the person conducting the search.


In the case of a petition filed by a birth parent, the adoptive parents must give their approval for contact if the adoptee is under the age of 25 and still residing with the adoptive parent or is a dependent of the adoptive parent.


The Department of Social and Health Services, adoption agencies and independent adoption facilitators are permitted to 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, birth parent, adoptive parent, or a grandparent or adult sibling of an adult adoptee.


Vital Records is directed to provide a noncertified copy of the original birth certificate of a child to the child's birth parent(s) upon request.


The provision to allow disclosure of nonidentifying information necessary for medical purposes is modified to allow this information to be provided without need to specify the reason.


Appropriation:    none


Revenue:    none


Fiscal Note:      available


Senate Committee - Testified: PRO:  Carol Schwerin; Ellen Joy; Jane Belt, Ex. Dir. of WARM; Laurie Lippold, Children's Home Society, Adoption Resource Center; Carol Hepburn; Dave Richardson; Glenda Emmert; Bill Quick, DSHS (neutral); Pat Weber, DSHS (neutral); Celia Fritz, Adoption Center of WA; Dini Duclos, Medina Children's Service