Adoptive Families

Information for Adopting Parents

 

iStock_000023592184_MediumOnly adult residents of Arizona can adopt in Arizona. The adopting person can be a single person, a married couple jointly adopting or a married person adopting individually. Arizona does not permit unmarried couples to jointly adopt. Before petitioning the court to adopt, adoptive parents must first be certified by the court in the county in which they reside, as acceptable to adopt.

Indian Child Welfare Act

The Indian Child Welfare Act, commonly referred to as ICWA, is federal law designed to strengthen and preserve Indian families and tribes. ICWA governs the adoption of Indian children. ICWA supersedes state law. Some states have their own version of an Indian Child Welfare Act.

ICWA established the time and manner within which a consent to adopt an Indian child can be taken. It also governs notice to the tribe, adoptive placement preferences, withdrawal of consent, and tribal intervention. Adoption of an “Indian child” should not be considered without competent legal advice.

 

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have enacted this compact. Before any child born in one state can travel to another state for the purpose of adoption, approval must be received from both the sending state where the child was born or had been residing and the receiving state where the adoptive parents live. State requirements differ regarding the documents that must be submitted to their ICPC administrator before approval for the child to either leave the sending state or enter the receiving state is granted. It is important to be represented by an attorney who knows each states requirements. Arizona adoptive parents must be certified before they can bring a child from another state into Arizona for purposes of adoption. The Arizona administrator of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children will not give approval for a child to return to Arizona with prospective adoptive parents unless those parents are certified as acceptable to adopt and a copy of their homestudy and court order certifying them is submitted to the ICPC.

 

Special Needs Adoptions

Children taken into custody by Child Protective Services who cannot be returned to their parents within a prescribed time period are placed for adoption with grandparents or other relatives, foster parents or adoptive parents. These adoptions are considered special needs adoptions if the children qualify for adoption subsidy.

There may also be situations where a child, who has not been taken into state custody, has such serious medical or psychological needs that they will qualify for adoption subsidy.

Our Firm has represented many relatives, foster parents and adoptive parents who have adopted special needs children. When children are in the legal custody of the state, these adoptions are usually handled at no cost to the adopting parent(s).

 

Finalization Hearing

Before the final hearing, a social study must be submitted to the court recommending the adoption. This study is usually prepared by the same agency that conducted the certification investigation and home study.

In Arizona, adoptions are finalized in the Juvenile Division of the Superior Court. The court holds the final adoption hearing within sixty days if the child has resided in the home of the adoptive parents for at least one year, within ninety days if the child is under three years of age or has resided in the home of the adoptive parents for at least six months and within six months in all other cases.

Following the final hearing, the adoptive parents receive a certified copy of the Order of Adoption. After the adoption is completed the court sends information on the adoptive parents and the child to the vital records office in the state where the child was born. A new birth certificate is created with the child’s new name and the adoptive parents on the birth certificate as the child’s parents. After the new birth certificate is received the adoptive parents may take that certificate and their certified copy of the Order of Adoption to the social security office to request a new social security number for the adopted child.

 

AdoptionAdoption Tax Credit

The federal government has enacted an Adoption Tax Credit to help defray some of the costs incurred in adoption. In 2013, the maximum credit allowed for adoption related expenses is $12,970.00 The credit begins to phase out if you have modified adjusted gross income of $194,580.00 or more and is completely phased out if you have modified adjusted gross income of $234,580.00 or more. You can take the credit in the year of finalization. You will need to check with your tax preparer to be certain that you qualify for and receive all of the benefits of this credit.

If adopting a child with special needs, i.e. a child that qualifies for adoption subsidy, adoptive parents who meet the income guidelines are entitled to claim the entire tax credit amount even if they incurred no adoption related expenses.

 

FAQ by Potential Adoptive Parents about Private Adoption

 

1. How much does a private adoption cost?

The adoptive family is responsible for their own attorney fees and those for the birth mom. Additionally, the birth mom may have some medical expenses that you will be responsible for. The majority of the birth moms we work with are on Medicaid, or we will help enroll them before delivery. Finally, the birth mom may have some need for assistance with her living expense. These can be for food, phone, transportation/bus pass, rent, and/or maternity clothes. Arizona law permits the adoptive couple to assist with living expenses during pregnancy and post-pregnancy for 4-6 additional weeks. Under Arizona law we will need a court order of approval before these living expenses can exceed $1,000.

 

2. How long does it take to get matched with a birth mom?

Like with an agency, it depends on so many factors. A birth mom’s criteria for the perfect adoptive family can vary drastically as each birth mom is an individual. She may want her child go to a family who practices a certain religion, or to a family of a certain race or heritage, or to a childless couple, or to a couple with 2 children already in the home, or to a family with dogs, or to a family without any pets, or to a family in a particular state. You will never meet every birth mom’s criteria. No one can guarantee placement within a certain time frame. We can recommend strategies for increasing your chances for a match.

 

Father And Daughter Sleeping In Bed3. Does Stuart & Blackwell help match adoptive parents birth moms outside the state of Arizona?

Yes. While our marketing efforts are focused on local birth moms, we do have connections with law firms and agencies outside the state of Arizona and will occasionally have a birth mom located in another state who wishes to place with an Arizona family. When that happens we will, with your permission, send your profile to the birth mom’s attorney for her to review.

 

4. How much will I know about the birth mom?

Often in a private placement (although there are exceptions) you will meet the birth mom and possibly attend her medical appointments with her. If both parties agree, you can often maintain a relationship with birth mom during her pregnancy (sometimes without exchanging identifying info such as surnames and addresses). This type of a relationship can save you on attorney fees, but more importantly it will help to build love and respect between the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s). Remember, some birth moms will want more contact than others. We leave this decision up to birth mom’s discretion and preference. Additionally, we will often have birth mom’s pregnancy medical records and her health history for you to review.

 

5. What is the process for a birth mom to choose the adoptive family?

After we talk with her about what she’s looking for, we will then select a few family profiles that meet her criteria. I will always call each family and provide them as much information as possible about the potential adoption scenario before sharing their profile (paternity risks, drug exposure, living expense needs, health problems, race, etc.). With each family’s permission we will then give the birth mom family profiles to review. We try to make the process as easy on her as possible.

 

6. What does it cost for me to keep my family profile in your office?

Nothing. We do not charge a fee to hold your profile or to show it to a birth mother.

 

Please feel free to schedule an initial consultation if you have more questions.

 

 

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