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) 420 2900.