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How Open Adoption Focuses On The Child

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

How Open Adoption Focuses On The Child

The open adoption process keeps the focus on the adoptive child – the center of the relationship between both the birthparents and the adoptive parents.

Such adoptions demand that the involved parents share a significant level of trust. Open adoptions are uniquely focused on mutual respect and common love for the child involved. This process can allow both sets of parents to recognize, appreciate, and enjoy their own unique relationship with the child.

Benefits of Open Adoption

When both the birthparents and the adoptive parents join in support of the child, they provide that child with a healthy developmental foundation.

This teamwork approach allows children to piece their own identities together in a loving, supportive, and accepting environment. A healthy open adoption can allow both sets of parents to find peace within the adoption. Additionally, an open adoption has several distinct circumstantial advantages:

  • The adoptive family will know more about the birth parents, which can be helpful as the child matures;
  • The adoptive parents can share information more openly with the child, which can lead to a healthier, more open relationship; and
  • The child can forge a relationship with his or her birthparents later in life, which can be enriching for both the birthparents and the child.

Open Adoption: Paving the Way

Adoptions are often fraught with emotion as a new child is into a family. Naturally, everyone involved will want the process to go as smoothly as possible. An open adoption is a lofty goal, but there are things that can be done to better one’s chances of successfully achieving that goal.

Arizona has not implemented a standardized definition for open adoption, but the state does allow the involved parents to draw up a legally-binding contract that paves the way for both sets of parents to communicate within the adoption. Experienced legal counsel is crucial to getting this contract right and to forging a smooth open adoption.

Open Adoption – Be Yourself

If you are interested in pursuing an open adoption, you’re probably nervous about the process and about whether the birthparents will be drawn to you. The best advice is to be yourself. Relationships are strongest when they’re genuine and when they’re based on truth, integrity, and transparency. If you’re worried about something, express that fear. Share your feelings, thoughts, concerns, and observations and allow the connection between you and the birthparents to grow naturally. By so doing, you improve your odds of forging a strong and healthy relationship with the birthparents in the open adoption.

Considering an Open Adoption in Arizona? Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today

Open adoption is becoming more and more popular, and it can be a great option. At Stuart & Blackwell, we understand how important the adoption process is to you and your growing family, and we are here to help. We are invested in ensuring that your adoption journey goes as smoothly as possible. We specialize in adoption law, and we have the experience and the commitment to help you with your open adoption. Contact us online or call us at 480-409-3630 for a free consultation today.

Stepparent Adoptions in Arizona

Posted by on Aug 1, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Stepparent Adoptions in Arizona

Adoption is an exciting time in any parent’s life, and stepparent adoptions are one of the most common forms of adoption in the United States. When people remarry, they often already have children whom they bring together as members of a new larger family.

As family bonds grow and strengthen, many stepparents are drawn toward fostering stronger familial bonds by adopting the stepchildren they’ve come to love. Arizona adoptions comprise a complicated legal process that follows a prescribed course.

The Benefits of Stepparent Adoption

Many people who have married a person with children from another relationship live as a family and often wonder why they should devote the time and effort associated with adopting a stepchild. There are various benefits of adopting a stepchild, including the following:

  • Adopting a child expresses a long-term commitment to the relationship, often fostering a strong family bond for everyone involved
  • Adopting a stepchild allows the adoptive parent to make important decisions regarding the child’s life, including those that involve religion, education, and medical care.
  • Adopting a stepchild gives the stepparent parental rights in the event that their partner becomes incapacitated or the spouses later seek to divorce or separate.

The Acquisition of Consent to Adopt

To begin the adoption process, both biological parents of the stepchild must consent to the adoption. This means that the parent whom the stepparent is not married to must relinquish his or her parental rights and fill out and sign a Consent to Adopt form.

Typically, parents who are actively and healthily involved in their children’s lives will not relinquish their parental rights. Sometimes, however, the child’s other parent isn’t involved or willing to sign a Consent for Adoption. An attorney will know the proper way to pursue getting a Consent signed.

Petition for Termination

If the child’s other parent does not consent, an adoption attorney may file a Petition for Termination of parental rights. This could be appropriate if the other parent has a chronic drug problem, sexually abused, severely or chronically physically abused, psychologically abused, or abandoned the child.

Arizona has definitive statutes that will guide a stepparent’s eligibility in this endeavor, and the attorney will evaluate the suitability of the adoption situation before filing this petition.

Petition to Adopt

An attorney will guide the adoptive parent through filing out the Petition to Adopt form. If the stepparent and the child’s parent have been married for at least a year, and both biological parents have granted their permission, the adoption attorney may be able to move the adoption forward quickly.

The Complicated Adoption Process

Adopting a stepchild is undoubtedly very important – adopting a child is a formal strengthening familial bonds, after all. The adoption process, however, is complicated and is best left in the capable hands of a skilled Arizona adoption attorney who’s experienced in guiding stepparent adoptions.

Becoming a stepchild’s adoptive parent is extremely meaningful for all those involved, and so it is important for the process to go as smoothly as possible.

Do I Need an Attorney to Adopt My Stepchild?

Many people who are considering adopting their stepchild wonder whether they need the assistance of an attorney in order to do so. While there is certainly no law that requires prospective adoptive parents to enlist the assistance of a lawyer, it is generally a good idea to do so.

Adoption is a legally complicated process, and there are many ways that people unfamiliar with the process can delay or even derail it completely. When retaining an Arizona adoption lawyer, he or she will thoroughly explain the adoption process so that everyone knows exactly what to expect along every step of the way.

In addition, if there are any issues that have the potential to affect whether the stepparent is able to be certified to adopt, a lawyer will recognize them immediately and help to take steps to maximize the chances that the adoption goes as smoothly as possible.

Call Stuart & Blackwell Today

If you’re ready to adopt your stepchild, it’s an exciting and hopeful time for you and your family. Adoptions, however, are legally complicated, and you need a skilled Arizona adoption lawyer. At Stuart & Blackwell, we’re here to knowledgeably guide you through the process.

We have the experience and the dedication to help you successfully adopt your stepchild. Give us a call at 480-409-3630 for a free consultation or contact us online today.

How To Terminate Parental Rights In Arizona

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

How To Terminate Parental Rights In Arizona

Adoption is a beautiful choice for growing a family, and there are few endeavors that are as rewarding or fulfilling when successfully accomplished. When the choice to adopt is made, however, there are some important legal considerations that need to be addressed, including the termination of parental rights for the child’s birth parents.

This can be a complicated issue that is crucial to the adoption process and that necessitates experienced legal guidance. If rights are not properly terminated, it can result in the reversal of an adoption, which could be traumatic for everyone involved.

As a result, anyone considering adoption should speak to an attorney prior to starting the adoption process to ensure that their legal rights are protected.

 

Termination of Parental Rights in Arizona

 

To proceed with an adoption in Arizona, the birth parents’ parental rights toward the child must first be terminated, either by consent or via a court order.

This process may be either voluntary or involuntary, and Arizona law requires that in order to terminate parental rights, it must first be determined that statutory grounds for termination exist and that termination is in the child’s best interests.

The grounds for the termination of parental rights in Arizona are as follows:

  • The child was abandoned by the parent;
  • The child was neglected or willfully abused by the parent (or knowingly placed in a situation in which the child could be neglected or willfully abused);
  • The child’s parent is unable to fulfill parental responsibilities due to mental illness or chronic abuse of dangerous drugs and/or alcohol;
  • The child’s parent has been convicted of a felony of such nature or of such duration of incarceration that it precludes fit parenting;
  • The child’s putative father failed to file the requisite Paternity Action and/or Notice of Claim of Paternity within the prescribed time limitations (more than one potential paternity further complicates the process);
  • A named potential father failed to file a claim of paternity within 30 days of being served with an Arizona Potential Father’s Notice
    • The child’s parents have relinquished their rights to an adoption agency or have consented to the adoption
    • The child is being cared for by a licensed child welfare agency that has diligently attempted to provide the appropriate family reunification services and certain other circumstances exist
  • The child’s parent is unknown after three months of diligent identification efforts; and
  • The child’s parent had parental rights for another child terminated for the same cause within the preceding two years and is currently unable to discharge his or her parental responsibilities because of that cause
  • The child was cared for in an out-of-home placement pursuant to a court order, the agency responsible for the care of the child made diligent efforts to provide appropriate reunification services, the child was return to the parent, and the child is removed from the home again within 18 months

 

If There Is A Legal Issue Related To The Termination Of Parental Rights, Get An Attorney

 

Legal issues related to the termination of parental rights are often extremely contested and can take months or even years to resolve. In addition, considering what is at stake, it is extremely important that anyone involved in a case in which parental rights are at issue retain legal counsel as soon as possible.

Here are some of the ways an attorney can help, regardless of whether the goal is to preserve existing parental rights or petition the court to terminate them:

  • A lawyer will evaluate the case and determine the best course of action to pursue
  • If litigation is the best choice, a lawyer will gather evidence in support of the proposed position and present it to the court in a way to which the judge will be responsive
  • A lawyer can help to advise an individual regarding actions that could be taken while a case is pending that may help to obtain a favorable result
  • An attorney can help preserve issues for appeal and file appeal if the case is not resolved favorably

These are just some of the ways that a lawyer can help to resolve a termination of parental rights case, and the specific things that an attorney will do depend on individual circumstances.

 

If You Are Interested in an Arizona Adoption, Call Stuart & Blackwell Today

 

If you are considering an Arizona adoption, it’s an exciting time for you, but it can also be legally complicated. At Stuart & Blackwell, we’re here to guide you, and we have the experience and the dedication to help your adoption go smoothly.

Give us a call at 480-409-3630 for a free initial consultation.

Adoption: How To Find The Right Match In Arizona

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Adoption: How To Find The Right Match In Arizona

Once you’ve decided that adoption is right for you, it’s a very exciting time in your life. The waiting, however, can be especially daunting – and confusing.

When you’re counting the minutes to match while other prospective adoptive parents are moving ahead in the process, it can be frustrating and painful.

Don’t take it personally, however; some people do get lucky with timing, but it’s more likely that they’ve made sure they fit the match parameters that can speed things along.

If you are considering adoption, you should discuss your options with a lawyer. Even if you ultimately choose to pursue adoption without the assistance of an attorney, discussing the process with a lawyer will help determine whether adoption is right for you and give you a general idea about the adoption process in Arizona.

The Match Process

There are four specific ways that you can improve your chances of finding your match more quickly:

Specify Fewer Limitations

The fewer limitations that you place on your adoption match, the more likely you are to be placed with your match more quickly. This can include being open to adopting a child who’s been exposed to prenatal alcohol and drug abuse or to a child who has a history of mental illness in the family.

If you have fewer limitations you will be presented with more opportunities and you can then decide on a case by case basis.

Don’t Specify A Race Or Gender Preference

When you specify a preference for either race or gender, you delay the match process until that specific match can be made. Again, the more limitations, the longer the process is likely to take.

Be Prepared To Make A Significant Financial Outlay

It can be hard to reconcile money with adopting a child, but your financial resources do play a role in adoption.

When matching an expectant mother with an adoptive family (or parent), there are financial considerations to be assessed, including the cost of the adoption, the birth mother’s medical and additional expenses (did she have to leave school or her job while pregnant, for instance), and the cost of the agency’s adoption outreach to expectant mothers (if you choose to work with an agency).

Engage In Adoption Networking

While networking sounds more like a career move, it can also be important in the adoption process. Infant adoptions in the U.S. allow the expectant mother or the birth parents to choose the adoptive parent(s).

When you share your dreams of adopting with your network of friends, family, and acquaintances, you get the word out, which can lead to a speedier match.

Your family and friends are your best advocates and successful matches are made this way all the time. If you find a possible match through a friend or family member, then you can reach out to your attorney to help with the next steps.

Making The Match

It’s nearly impossible to say what attracts birth parents or expectant mothers to a specific match in the vital decision of who will parent their children. Some try to recreate their own childhoods, while others go in the opposite direction.

What’s important for you to focus on is that you shouldn’t take the match process personally but, instead, should share your decision to adopt and stay committed to the process. Your match is out there!

Remember, An Attorney Can Help Along Every Step Of The Way

Many people who are anxious to adopt make the mistake of attempting to navigate the confusing and often frustrating process of adopting a child on their own.

If you are trying to adopt, it is important to keep in mind that an attorney familiar with state adoption law and procedure can make the entire process go much more smoothly.

Some of the specific ways that an attorney can help prospective adoptive parents include the following:

  • Explain and simplify your options
  • Determine whether there are any legal issues that may arise during the adoption process and develop a plan to deal with them if and when they do
  • Help you prepare for the Arizona home study
  • Develop and implement an outreach plan
  • Discuss multiple ways for you to search for your match
  • Make sure that your adoption is in compliance with all relevant state and federal law
  • Assist you with any post-adoption legal issues that may arise

While it is completely legal and permissible to adopt without the assistance of an attorney, a lawyer who is familiar with the process will ensure that you are able to add a new member to your family as soon as possible and without any unnecessary delays.

It is always easier and less expensive to do it the right way from the beginning than to hire an attorney to clean up a mess after it’s been made. Anytime you represent yourself on a legal issue, the law holds you to the same standard as an attorney.

Mistake and ignorance are not permissible defenses. We’re here to help make sure your process is smooth, in compliance with the law and as easy for you as possible.

If You Are Considering Adopting in Arizona, Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today

At Stuart & Blackwell, we know how difficult waiting for an adoption match can be, and we are here to help. We make it our mission to ensure that you remain comfortable and confident throughout your adoption journey.

We specialize in adoption law, and we have the experience and the commitment to help you find your match – your child. Call us at 480-409-3630 today for a free initial consultation.

Is It Possible To Reverse An Adoption In Arizona?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Is It Possible To Reverse An Adoption In Arizona?

Adoption can often be a long process and it can take months or years to complete. After a court finalizes an adoption, adoptive parents can often breathe a sigh of relief that their family is legally solidified.

However, the question often arises from both birth parents and adoptive parents – can an adoption be reversed after it is finalized by the courts?

A petition for a reversal of an adoption can cause extreme stress on adoptive parents who believe they are now the legal parents of a child. If someone has requested a reversal of an adoption, it is critical that an experienced adoption attorney who understands reversal laws in Arizona is called immediately.

The following are the rare circumstances under which an adoption may be reversed.

Strict Requirements in Arizona

Some state laws simply have set time periods during which a birth parent can revoke their consent to an adoption. These time periods can range from 72 hours in Nevada to one year in the state of Washington.

Other states, such as Nebraska and Oklahoma, allow a court to revoke an adoption if it finds that the adoption is not in the best interests of the child. Arizona, however, only allows a reversal in very specific circumstances, including the following:

Issues regarding consent

There are some situations in which a birth parent may not have properly given consent to the adoption when such consent should have been required under the law.

For example, a birth mother may claim that the birth father abandoned the child long ago and so the court may rule that consent is not needed. In reality, the other parent may have simply not received adequate notice of the adoption.

The law has specific requirements for providing notice and if a parent fails to comply with those laws, the other parent may request that the adoption be set aside so they can be heard by the court.

Error by the court

Judges can make mistake and misapply the law in some cases. If a court rules that a parent abandoned their child or that consent is not necessary for another reason and there is sufficient evidence to prove otherwise, the non-consenting parent may appeal the decision.

For instance, a court may again rule that a parent legally abandoned a child and thus no consent is required. If that parent provides evidence that they tried to contact the child within the past two years, the abandonment ruling may be deemed erroneous by an appellate court and the parent would need to consent for the adoption to remain.

Fraud, duress, or misrepresentation

Any fraudulent tactics to obtain consent for an adoption from a birth parent can render the consent to be void. This can include making threats or placing the parent under other types of duress to convince them to sign over consent.

In addition, if false information is provided to a birth parent or there are other misrepresentations about the situation or adoptive process, consent may be reversed.

Arizona limits the cases in which one can reverse an adoption because it is recognized how difficult a reversal can be on the adoptive parents.

However, the state also recognizes that if consent was not provided voluntarily when it was legally necessary, that birth parent should not be deprived of their parental rights when it is not otherwise justified.

One way to help prevent the possibility of a reversal of an adoption is to be represented by an experienced adoption attorney throughout the process.

A lawyer can recognize when the circumstances regarding consent may not be right and can work to make sure consent given is valid and legal before an adoption is finalized. This is only one of many ways a skilled adoption law firm can help.

Consult with an Arizona Adoption Attorney for Assistance Today

The entire adoption process can be emotional for both birth parents and adopting parents. At the law firm of Stuart & Blackwell, our goal is to help you accomplish what is best for you and the child involved. We represent parents on both sides of an adoption and strive to make the process as stress-free and successful as possible for you.

Our Arizona adoption lawyers thoroughly understand all adoption laws and requirements and how to apply them to your set of circumstances. Please call our office at 480-409-3630 to learn more about how we can help you with an adoption.

Important FAQ’s For Birth Mothers Considering Adoption

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Important FAQ’s For Birth Mothers Considering Adoption

The decision to place a child for adoption is one of the biggest decisions someone can make in their lifetime.

It is not surprising, then, that many expectant mothers who are considering adoption or have made the decision to move forward with an adoption have many questions about the process, their rights, and other issues related to adoption in Arizona.

Here are some answers to some of the questions we frequently hear from pregnant women who are considering adoption.

Will I Be Able to Choose My Child’s Adoptive Family?

The first concern that many expect mothers have is whether they will be able to choose the family their biological child ends up with.

While it is not necessary to do so, they certainly can and have the option of going through adoptive family profiles until they find a family who they believe will be a good fit.

There are plenty of families out there looking to adopt, so there is a good chance that they will be able to find one that meets all of their criteria.

Can I Talk to the Family Before the Adoption Actually Occurs?

Yes! Birth mothers and adoptive families can communicate as much or as little as they would like.

In many cases, communication between birth mothers and potential adoptive families begins through emails and phone calls to allow both parties to get to know each other and see whether they want to proceed with the adoption.

If the birth mother prefers not to communicate with the adoptive family, they can pursue a confidential adoption in which their identity will remain unknown to the adoptive family.

How Much Will It Cost Me to Place My Baby for Adoption?

Many birth mothers are concerned about the costs associated with placing their baby for adoption or hiring an adoption attorney. Typically, adoption does not cost birth mothers anything and all medical, legal, and counseling services are covered.

In addition, once they are matched with a family, they will be eligible for assistance with their living expenses, such as rent, transportation, utilities, and food.

Is Adoption Safe for My Child?

The adoption process is intentionally slow and requires multiple levels of review. While no one is able to predict the future, every step along the way is designed to ensure that birth mothers and adoptive parents are fully aware of all of the relevant information and are able to make fully-informed decisions.

In addition, the state needs to certify adoptive parents and conduct a home study that includes an assessment of their financial situation, physical health, and criminal background check. These checks are intended to ensure that all adopted children go to loving, stable homes.

Is Adoption Reversible?

Typically, once and adoption is finalized, there is no way to reverse it. Some circumstances under which it may be possible to invalidate an adoption include if the decision to place a baby for adoption was the result of fraud or duress, if the court made an error of law, or if the birth father was not properly notified.

Do I Need an Attorney to Place My Child for Adoption?

There is no law in Arizona that requires women who are considering placing their baby for adoption to retain an attorney. With that said, doing so can only provide a benefit and carries no risk, so there is no reason not to retain an attorney as soon as someone realizes that placing their child for adoption may be an option.

Some of the specific ways that a Phoenix adoption lawyer can help include the following:

  • Explain the adoption process and discuss specific needs
  • Arrange for prenatal care
  • Arrange for financial assistance if necessary
  • Arrange for counseling
  • Work with the birth mother in determining the type of adoptive family they are looking for and help them to review profiles of potential families
  • Make arrangement for the delivery of the baby
  • Ensure that the birth mother is aware of all of her rights throughout the process

Call Stuart & Blackwell Today to Speak with a Phoenix Adoption Attorney

If you are pregnant and considering giving you baby up for adoption, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. Our Phoenix adoption lawyers work closely with birth mothers and do everything possible to ensure that they are fully informed of their rights and that the adoption process goes as smoothly as possible.

To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call Stuart & Blackwell today at 480-409-3630 or send us an email through our online contact form.

How To Get the Most Out Of A First Meeting With A Birth Mother

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

How To Get the Most Out Of A First Meeting With A Birth Mother

One of the most exciting (and often nerve-wracking) experiences during the adoption process is meeting with an expectant mother who is considering giving her child up for adoption.

These meetings can take place in person or over the phone, and often involve both parties getting to know each other in order to determine whether they are a good fit. As a prospective adoptive parent, it is important to understand that the birth mother is often just as nervous as you are.

Adoption is one of the most consequential decisions that people can make in their lives, whether you are choosing to adopt or to place your baby for adoption, and the fact that the parties to the adoption are often strangers makes for an extremely stressful and emotionally-charged environment in many cases.

As a result, it is important to take steps to make sure that the meeting goes smoothly and is fruitful for everyone involved. Here are some things you can do as a prospective adoptive parent to get the most out of your first meeting with an expectant mother.

Prepare a List of Questions

You should be sure to take the time to prepare a thorough list of questions you want to ask the birth mother. These often include the following:

  • How do your parents feel about your pregnancy and your decision to place your baby for adoption?
  • How does the birth father feel about the adoption?
  • When is the baby due?
  • How have your OB appointments been going?
  • Is this your first pregnancy?
  • How are you feeling?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What encouraged you to consider adoption as the best plan for your child?

When asking these questions, be aware that the way you word things is very important. You may have preconceived notions about people who place their children for adoption, and certain questions may come across as offensive or judgmental if you are not careful.

For this reason, it is a good idea to have the questions you plan to ask reviewed by a third party, such as your lawyer. Some questions you have should be given to your lawyer – let your attorney find out some of the sensitive information for you so that you don’t have to have an awkward conversation with the birth mom that may prevent you from bonding and connecting.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

Keep in mind that your first meeting is an interview for both sides. As a result, you should be prepared to answer questions that you may not ordinarily expect to hear from someone you just met.

Generally speaking, you will have already provided basic information about what you do for a living, your religious views, where you live, and your hobbies and interests before your first meeting, but a birth mother may ask much more personal questions that would ordinarily seem inappropriate.

Here are examples of some questions that an expectant mother may ask you at your first meeting:

  • Do you have other children or do you plan to in the future?
  • What made you want to adopt? • What is the rest of your family like?
  • Was anyone in your family adopted? • Do you have friends who were adopted?
  • What is your neighborhood like?
  • Do you want your child or children to follow in your footsteps, either professionally or educationally?
  • What are your thoughts on having a continuing relationship with me after the adoption?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • What are your parents like?
  • What does your family think about your decision to pursue adoption?
  • Do you have a plan about how you will explain adoption to your child?

Prioritize

Keep in mind that your first meeting with a birth mother who is considering placing her child for adoption will certainly not be the last if the adoption ultimately occurs.

For this reason, you should prioritize what you want to discuss and perhaps leave more sensitive or topics for when you and the birth mother are more comfortable with one another.

Decide what issues need to be discussed in your first meeting and try to stick to those topics if possible.

Contact Stuart & Blackwell to Speak with an Arizona Adoption Lawyer Today

If you are considering adoption a child, it is a good idea to discuss your circumstances with an experienced lawyer. At Stuart & Blackwell, we assist at every stage of the adoption process and will make sure that your adoption goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Should any issues arise along the way, we will zealously advocate for your rights and work hard to obtain the best resolution possible. To schedule a consultation with one our attorneys, call Stuart & Blackwell today at 480-420-2900 or contact us online.

What Happens At An Adoption Home Study?

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

What Happens At An Adoption Home Study?

The adoption process can be complex and there may be many steps before an adoption is finalized. One important step is the home study, which is generally required unless the individual is a step-parent, grandparent, or another family member of the child.

The idea of a home study can be nerve-wracking for anyone. However, it is important to realize that home studies do not have to be so stressful and the guidance of an experienced adoption attorney can help to make sure the home visit runs smoothly.

The Home Study Process

While a home study may seem to refer to one visit to a residence, it can actually be an investigative process during which a licensed social worker examines the suitability of the adoptive relationship.

This can involve many different factors, including medical conditions, potential criminal backgrounds, financial stability, as well as the home environment. After examining all relevant factors, the social worker will put together a report for the court to advocate for the adoption or cite reasons why the adoption may not be beneficial.

Most social workers will tell the adopter whether they are recommending them for certification or not before they file the report. To begin the process, many documents are needed including birth certificates, marriage licenses, medical records, background checks, financial records, and more.

Having the assistance of an adoption law firm can help to ensure that everything needed is present to make the home study process go as smoothly as possible.

Another important part of the home study is to have letters of reference submitted on the adopter’s behalf. It is important to carefully consider who should furnish these letters, as they should be genuine and honest.

These letters should address how well the writer knows the adopter, discuss their general character, whether they believe the individuals in question should be adoptive parents, and any doubts they may have as to their suitability.

While these letters can be brief, they can have an impact on the process. One should always discuss who is writing these letters of reference with an adoption attorney before having them submitted.

While much of the home study process involves examining records and letters, it also does involve a visit to the actual home. Many people agonize over this visit and think any small detail may disqualify them from being adoptive parents.

In fact, the home visit is to ensure that the child will be in a safe and stable environment on physical, emotional, and financial levels. Social workers should understand that no one is perfect so there is no need to present a perfect home environment.

Discussing how the visit will go with an attorney can help to relieve some of the stress associated with an upcoming visit. Your lawyer can also help you connect with a social worker who is professional, trustworthy, and who can be an advocate for you to become adoptive parents.

The Home Study Report

Arizona has specific requirements for what must be presented to the court in the home study report, which includes an assessment of the following:

● Social history

● Moral fitness

● Any religious background

● Financial situations

● Mental and physical health of the parents

● Any legal history involving mistreatment of children or certain criminal offenses

● Any other facts deemed relevant to the individual’s fitness as a parent

If the court finds an individual suitable to adopt based on the report, it will certify them as a prospective adoptive parent in Arizona.

In addition, after a child has been placed in your home, the social worker will need to visit and report on the adjustment to the home and other relevant factors. Such visits can take place every three months until the adoption is final.

Updating a Home Study Like many things in life, home studies have an expiration date, which is 18 months after you are certified in Arizona.

It can take time to find the right match for a family and our attorneys can help to apply for an extension or undergo another home study if needed.

In addition, if there are any major life changes before an adoption is final, it is important to report them as an update to the home study.

Contact an Experienced Arizona Adoption Attorney Today

The home study is only one part of your journey to becoming an adoptive parent.

At Stuart & Blackwell, we have represented many prospective parents through this process and can help reduce the stress you experience when facing a home study.

If you are considering adoption, please call us at (480) 409-3630 today.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer for An Adoption?

Posted by on Apr 19, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Why Do I Need a Lawyer for An Adoption?

Adopting a child is one of the biggest decisions you can make in your lifetime. Adoption confers all the legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood to another person.

Once you have made the decision to adopt a child, it is normal to want to have the process go as quickly as possible. Many prospective adoptive parents become frustrated when they learn that the process may take months or years.

It is easy to become frustrated when legal delays make it last even longer than it could have. The fact that adoption takes a significant amount of time is largely because it should not be entered into lightly – both from the perspective of the adoptive parents and the biological parents.

It is a constitutional right to parent your own children. That right cannot be taken away from an individual easily, nor is the decision to give that right to another person easy.

In addition, the state has a legitimate interest in making sure that people who adopt are suitable parents who will be able to provide an environment in which children will thrive.

Fortunately for individuals or couples who would like to adopt a child, an attorney can be of significant help throughout the process. Here are some of the most important ways the representation and counsel of an attorney can help people during the adoption process.

Explain the Process to You in Detail

Adopting a child is not as simple as finding a birth mother who is seeking to place her child for adoption and signing some paperwork. There are several steps that need to occur before parental rights can be transferred from one person to another.

When you meet with an adoption attorney, he or she will explain the entire process of adoption in Arizona to you in detail and explain the kinds of issues that may arise along the way. By having a big-picture understanding of the process, you can know what to expect and better prepare yourself for any legal or procedural hurdles that may arise.

Guide You through the Certification Process

In order to be eligible to adopt a child in Arizona, a court must first certify you as acceptable to adopt.

This process consists of many steps, including submitting an application to the court, going through adoption orientation and training (if you are adopting a child through foster care), and submitting a formal home study to the court for a Judge to look at a number of things, including the following:

  • Your financial situation
  • Your references and social history
  • Your moral history
  • Whether you have been or are the subject of any court action regarding child abuse
  • Your physical and mental health
  • Whether you can pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records check
  • Any other relevant information

This investigation is usually very thorough, and any evidence that indicates that you may not be a fit parent will likely be uncovered and slow the process down.

For example, if you have had a DUI, you will likely need to submit additional paperwork to the agency conducting your certification investigation detailing the circumstances of your arrest and any legal action that was taken against you.

In these kinds of situations, the advice of an attorney can be invaluable. To continue with the above example regarding DUI, when you first meet with a lawyer regarding adoption and disclose that you have had a DUI, an attorney can help you take steps to “get out ahead” of the issue before it comes up.

For example, your lawyer may advise that you undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation or submit to random testing to establish that you are not currently using drugs or alcohol.

Represent You in Court Should Any Issues Arise

In some instances, adoption cases go to court. When this occurs, it is essential to have an attorney familiar with Arizona adoption law and procedure representing you.

When you retain an lawyer early in the process, he or she will already be familiar with the facts of your case and ready to advocate for your position, maximizing the chances that you will obtain a favorable outcome.

Call Stuart & Blackwell Today to Discuss Your Case

If you are considering adopting a child, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. A lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your situation and make sure that the process of expanding your family goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call Stuart & Blackwell today at 480-409-3630.

FAQ: Arizona Adoption Essential Questions Answered

Posted by on Apr 8, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

FAQ: Arizona Adoption Essential Questions Answered

Am I Eligible to Adopt?

 

When a person or a couple first begins to think about adoption, the first question they often want to have answered is whether they are eligible to do so.

This is especially true for individuals who are single or are in a long-term domestic partnership or in non-traditional relationships. Under Arizona law, any adult over the age of 18 is eligible to adopt, whether they are married, unmarried, or legally separated.

In addition, a married couple (traditional or same-sex) may adopt a child or children jointly.

 

What is Required to Adopt a Child in Arizona?

 

While anyone over 18 is eligible to adopt in Arizona, a person or couple who wishes to adopt must first be certified as acceptable to adopt by a court. In order to become certified, prospective adoptive parents must:

  • Submit a written application
  • Complete adoption training and orientation (only required if adopting through the foster system)
  • Undergo a certification investigation that considers issues such as the adoptive parent or parents’ finances, physical and mental health, moral fitness, social history and references, criminal history, any court action regarding child abuse, and anything else that may be relevant to their ability to parent.

How Long Does It Take to Adopt in Arizona?

 

The amount of time it will take will take to adopt a child in Arizona depends on a number of factors.

For example, if you have very specific requirements regarding the characteristics of the child you would like to adopt, it may make the process significantly longer.

Similarly, if the certification investigation uncovers facts that tend to show that you or your partner may not acceptable as adoptive parents, it may result in substantial delays. Sometimes even if your requirements are reasonable and you have no problems with your certification, it can just take time to find a match with a potential birth mom.

The best way to ensure that your adoption goes as smoothly as possible is to consult with an attorney before even starting the process. A lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case and help you avoid any issues that may arise at any point during the process.

In addition, should issues come up, having an attorney familiar with your case will significantly increase the chances that your case is resolved as favorably as possible.

An attorney can also provide you with tips and advice on how to improve your chances of being selected by a birth mom.

 

Do Family Members Have to Go through the Same Process as Non-Family Members?

 

No. Under Arizona law, a child’s uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent, or great-grandparent who has lived with a child for at least six months may adopt the child without first going through the certification process.

In addition, stepparents who have been legally married to the child’s biological parent for at least a year and who have resided with the child and the parent for at least six months also do not have to be certified.

In both cases, however, the prospective adoptive parents will need to go through criminal background fingerprinting and a central registry check with the Department of Child Safety.

 

Does a Father Need to Consent to an Adoption?

 

In Arizona, biological fathers must consent to an adoption if he was married to the birth mother in the 10 months preceding the child’s birth or if the mother names him as the father on the birth certificate at the time of birth.

If the birth father is identified, he is entitled to receive a Potential Fathers Notice that provides him notice of his rights and specifically his 30-day time frame to take the necessary steps to establish paternity.

If he does not take the necessary proactive steps within 30 days of being served with his Notice, his consent is not needed for the adoption to proceed.

If the birth father’s identity is unknown or his whereabouts are unknown the notice can be published and the adoption may still proceed without his consent.

 

What is the Role of an Attorney in an Adoption?

 

Adoption is an extremely complicated process, and there are opportunities at every stage for it to be derailed. Your adoption attorney lawyer will work with you every step along the way to make sure that your adoption goes as smoothly as possible.

Some of the specific ways in which a lawyer can help you adopt a child include the following:

  • Identify your options and explain the adoption process to you
  • Fill out and submit any necessary paperwork
  • Help you find a match with a potential birth mom
  • Identify any issues that may arise and advise you regarding steps you can take to mitigate the effect that they will have on the outcome of your adoption
  • Represent you in court, should it become necessary

 

Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today to Discuss Your Adoption Case

 

If you are considering adoption in Arizona, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. The lawyers of Stuart & Blackwell are experienced adoption lawyers who can answer any questions you may have about the process and can help ensure that your adoption goes as quickly as smoothly as possible.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at (480) 409-3630 or contact us online.

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