URGENT Update on Washington State Legislation
UPDATE: HB 1774 - Adoptive Families as Suitable Persons for Sibling Placement
The intent of HB 1774 is to add the adoptive parents of a child’s siblings as people with whom a child could be placed, if they pass a background check. Thanks to the many who called or wrote in; this bill did pass out of the Senate Human Services Committee before the deadline, made it to the Senate floor, was also voted on by the Senate, and it passed. While it is good to have the bill still moving, the language of was changed by the Senate, and the bill as amended now has problems.
The original intent of the bill was to close a loophole that allowed blood siblings to not be regarded as legal siblings as a result of the termination of parental rights (TPR) for one of them. We proposed that adoptive families be considered “suitable persons” for the blood sibling of an adopted child. FCJA had two cases last year in which an adoptive family was denied placement of a child that was a sibling of a child they had already adopted. One judge went as far as to say that the relevant laws regarding sibling placement did not apply because the children were no longer legal siblings.
The amended language says that the department “may” place siblings together. This is weaker existing law, which already creates a presumption that sibling placement together is in the best interest of the child (RCW 13.34.130 (4)), which we can and do argue should apply to placement with an adopted sibling, too. The effect of the amended language would essentially “clarify” that if one sibling is adopted placement together is only optional, and in fact requiring special court approval! This is the exact opposite of the intended effect.
Since the language passed by the Senate differs from the language passed by the House, the bill returns to the House for concurrence. If the House does not concur with the Senate amendments, the bill may go to conference committee for resolution. This is the only path to get the language fixed this year. Please ask your House representatives to NOT CONCUR with the Senate amendments, and ask all your legislators to restore the “adoptive parents as suitable persons” language to HB 1774.
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