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) 420 2900 or contact us online.