The Adoption Process

Adopting a child is one of the most rewarding and significant journeys you can undertake. While it can sometimes feel overwhelming, remember, you’re not alone. We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of the adoption process, ensuring your journey to parenthood is as smooth and joyful as possible.

Step 1: Meet with an Attorney

The adoption process is complex and full of legal rules that you must follow. As a result, the most important first step when beginning the adoption process in Arizona is to call our firm to schedule an initial consultation.

This “Meet & Greet” appointment is designed to help you familiarize yourself with the adoption process and to explain what you can expect when adopting a child. We can help you avoid unnecessary delays and eliminate potential problems before they arise.

Step 2: Adoption Home Study and Certification

After you decide to move forward with adoption, you need to get certified to adopt by the Court in the county where you reside. You must complete this step before a child can be placed in your care. Arizona is one of only a few states that requires prospective adoptive parents to have their home study certified. The home study is an evaluation of you and any adult members in your home, to determine whether you are fit and ready to adopt.

It takes approximately 6-8 weeks to gather documentation, pass federal and state criminal background checks, have your home study social worker inspect your home, and then complete your home study so it can be submitted to the Court for the judge to review. The judge’s review of the home study may take another 8 weeks. If approved, you will receive your Certification to Adopt by the judge.

By statute, our office cannot present your adoptive parent profile book to expectant parents until you are certified to adopt.

Who Can Adopt? 

Residents of the State of Arizona can finalize their adoption in Arizona. If an Arizona expectant parent wishes to place her baby with prospective adoptive parents out of state, those adoptive parents must finalize their adoption in their home state. Residents of other states may finalize their adoption in Arizona only when adopting an Arizona foster child.

For Arizona residents, the adopting person can be a single person, a married couple jointly adopting, or a married person adopting individually. Same sex couples may adopt in Arizona, but must be married to each other if adopting together. Arizona does not permit unmarried persons to jointly adopt.

While adoption for same-sex couples may have been difficult in the past, it’s now a common way for LGBT parents to grow their families — with the same adoption rights and parental rights as any straight couple. If you’re considering LGBT adoption in Arizona, you’ve come to the right place. Not only can we help you complete the same-sex adoption process, but we also offer the critical service of making sure that your parental rights to your child are protected, no matter how you create your family.

We are committed to representing your rights in a same-sex couple adoption in Arizona and can help you understand what adoption processes are available to you based on your situation. To learn more today, please call us at 480-420-2900.

Adopting Jointly as a Married Couple

If you are a married couple in Arizona, you can complete the typical adoption process (whether that’s through the foster system, through private domestic infant adoption or international adoption) in the same manner as any other married couple. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to work with an adoption agency or complete the adoption independently with an adoption lawyer.

While it’s typically not a problem, there are professionals who will not work with same-sex couples. Therefore, make sure you do diligent research before deciding to work with a certain adoption professional if you are a same-sex couple.

We can provide the legal services for a LGBT adoption, as well as provide you references to open-minded adoption professionals we trust for starting your same-sex adoption process.

Adopting a Child Through a Stepparent Adoption

If you’ve recently married someone who previously adopted a child on their own, or you and your spouse were unable to adopt jointly at the time your child came into your home, you can still become a legal parent of that child. You can protect your parental rights through a stepparent same-sex adoption.

The stepparent adoption process is the same for gay couples adopting as it is for straight couples adopting: You must have been married for at least one year and lived with the child for at least six months to avoid the need for a home study (or social study).

However, if you don’t meet the marriage-length requirements, you might be able to still complete a stepparent adoption today. It’s best you talk to your lawyer about your individual situation and what requirements your LGBT adoption will require.

Adopting as an Unmarried Couple or as a Single Person

Unfortunately, if you are not married, you cannot jointly adopt a child in Arizona. While some states allow for second-parent adoptions for unmarried couples, in Arizona, you will need to be married for both partners to be recognized as legal parents (whether you are a same-sex couple or not). Once you are married, you can complete a stepparent adoption or adopt jointly together.

If you’re not in a relationship, that doesn’t prevent you from adopting a child. Any single person, straight or not, can adopt a child in Arizona as long as you are over the age of 18. You will also have to undergo an adoption home study and other background clearances. As long as you can prove you are just as capable of caring for a child as any married couple (financially, emotionally, or physically), you should not encounter any additional challenges to your single parent adoption in Arizona.

No matter what kind of adoption in Arizona you’re looking to complete, you’ll need to consult with an experienced adoption attorney to determine what steps you’ll need to take.

Matching Services

We provide matching services for expectant mothers and prospective adoptive parents, much like an agency does, but for a fraction of the cost. If you’re interested in learning more about our matching services or how private adoption works, you can schedule a consultation with our receptionist by calling 480-420-2900. There is a small fee for this appointment and we call it a Meet & Greet. During this one-hour meeting, we will:

Explain the basics of how private adoption works


Explain the basics of Arizona adoption law


Provide you with an outline of how to get started with the adoption process.


Provide you with referrals for adoption-related services such as home study providers, adoption counselors, adoption advisors, support groups, workshops in the community, and online resources.


And, of course, answer all your questions. Feel free to bring a list.

You will leave knowing how our matching services work and then you can decide if you’d like to have us hold your profile for future matching opportunities.

Open vs. Closed Adoption


Closed Adoptions
Years ago, nearly all adoptions were closed. A closed adoption means that there is no contact of any kind between the birth parents and the adoptive parents and child after the adoption takes place. In fact, usually that means there has also been no contact before the adoption. Often this makes it very difficult for an adoptee to find his or her biological parents in adulthood. Closed adoptions are no longer as common as they once were. Today, there is a strong trend toward open adoptions, in which all the parties to an adoption meet and often remain in each other’s lives to some extent.
Open Adoptions

Much more commonly today an adoption will be open. Many people believe open adoption is a type of adoption relationship in which the adoptive family and birth parents have personal visits with one another, and the birth mother is able to maintain a relationship with the child. This is an example of open adoption, but not the only example.

Generally, open adoption refers to any adoption relationship between the adoptive family and birth parents in which identifiable information, as well as contact are shared between both parties.

An open adoption can be a lot of things; there are a wide variety of open adoptions. Usually the process involves adoptive parents meeting and typically staying in touch with the birthparents post placement. Sometimes the post placement contact is more limited. For example, it might only include the exchange of updates and pictures via email or a third party.

Most adoption agencies now encourage some degree of openness. As a general matter today, birth parents have a voice in choosing their child’s adoptive parents. Often the decision is entirely up to the birth parents. Commonly, the agency or law firm will provide profiles of prospective adoptive parents to an expectant mother and the expectant mother will choose the family she is most comfortable with.

It is common for birth parents and adoptive parents to meet and to stay in touch frequently during the pregnancy. Many times, the adoptive parents can witness their child’s birth. Some families stay in touch through their adoption agency, especially on birthdays and holidays. Others become and remain friends. No two adoptions, and no two open adoptions, ever look quite the same.

Benefits of an Open Adoption

For both birth parents and adoptive parents, the open adoption process can remove the mystery from the adoption process and can permit a greater degree of control in the decision-making process. An open adoption allows adoptive parents to answer their children’s questions about who their birthparents were, and why they were adopted. Open adoptions can also help the child come to terms with being adopted, because the child’s concerns can be addressed directly by everyone who was involved in the adoption process.

While many adoptive parents are tentative about openness, statistically speaking, open adoptions have proven to be successful in most cases and are healthy for most adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees. It removes a lot of the mystery behind adoptions.

Choosing an open or a closed adoption is just one question among many that you’ll face in the adoption process. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of open and closed adoptions so you can make the right decision for your family.

Interstate Adoption

If you are adopting a child out of state, it’s critical that you understand and meet interstate adoption laws. We can help!

After you are Certified to Adopt, you may adopt a child from anywhere in the country. When you adopt a child from another state, the adoption must comply with the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, or ICPC. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands have enacted this compact.

Before a child born in one state can travel to another state for the purpose of adoption, you must receive approval from both the sending state and the receiving state. State requirements differ regarding the documents that must be submitted to the state’s ICPC administrator.

It is important that you are represented by an attorney, like Kristy or Cory from Stuart & Blackwell, who knows each state’s requirements. The compact administrator for Arizona ICPC will not give approval for a child to come to Arizona unless the adopting parents are Certified as Acceptable to Adopt by our Court and a copy of their home study and court order certifying them is submitted to the ICPC.

The ICPC process cannot start until the birth parents have signed their consents for the adoption and the baby and birth mom have both been discharged from the hospital. From that point, the interstate adoption process can take 3-14 days. If you are adopting a child from another state, you should plan to stay in the sending state for 2 weeks.

Many adopting parents report that having a newborn in a hotel room is very difficult due to the small space and lack of amenities (such as a stove, microwave, refrigerator, rocking chair, etc.). Many recommend renting an apartment or house, if possible.

Birth Fathers’ Rights in Arizona

According to Arizona law, there are three categories of fathers when it comes to adoption.
It’s critically important that you understand the father’s rights.
Potential Father
A potential father is a man who is not married to the expectant mother and who has been identified by her as a possible biological father.
All potential fathers must be served with a Potential Father’s Notice. This Notice can be served on him during or after the pregnancy. It notifies him of his rights and if he fails to take the necessary proactive actions within 30 days of being served with the Notice, his consent for the adoption is no longer needed.
Putative Father

A putative father is a man who is not married to the expectant mother and has not been identified by her as a possible biological father.

If an unidentified father (“Putative Father”) fails to register with the Putative Father’s Registry in the State of Arizona within 30 days of the child’s birth (or if it was not possible for him to register within 30 days of the child’s birth, then within 30 days of when it became possible), his consent for the adoption is no longer needed. His lack of knowledge of a pregnancy is not an excuse. The intimate act that resulted in the pregnancy is his notice.

Presumed Legal Father
A presumed legal father is a man who is married to the expectant mother (even if he is not the biological father) or a man who has been listed as the father of the child on the birth certificate (even if he is not the biological father). A presumed legal father must consent to the adoption or have his rights terminated by the Court. The Potential Father’s Notice and the Putative Father’s Registry cannot be used to terminate his rights.

Finalizing An Adoption

Everyone needs to go to a court hearing to finalize an adoption. In Arizona, you can finalize your adoption in the Juvenile Division of the Superior Court. The Court typically holds your final adoption hearing within 60-90 days. The hearing is generally 10-15 minutes long and most judges and commissioners allow you to take photos in the courtroom at the end of the proceedings.
Before the final hearing, the court must receive your post placement social study recommending the adoption. The agency that conducted your initial home study that was used to obtain the Certification to Adopt usually prepares this document. This social study focuses on how you are bonding with your child and meeting the baby’s needs.
Following the final court proceedings, you receive a certified copy of the Order of Adoption. After the adoption is completed, the court sends information about you and the child to the vital records office in the state where the child was born. That office creates a new birth certificate with the child’s new name and you listed as the child’s parent. After you receive the new birth certificate, you may take that certificate and your certified copy of the Order of Adoption to the social security office to request a new social security number for your child.

Types of Adoption

There are two types of private adoption: (1) agency placement and (2) direct placement.

Private Infant Adoption via Agency Placement
In this type of an adoption, an expectant mother makes an adoption plan with her agency. That agency will help match her with the prospective adoptive parents working with their agency. The fees are often higher and each agency has its own set of policies and rules for placement.

In this type of placement, the birth mom will sign a Consent for Adoption to the Agency for the adoption. The Agency will later sign a Consent for Adoption to the prospective adoptive parents, once it feels all the necessary requirements have been met (those required by law and those required by the Agency policies).

With an Agency adoption, the prospective adoptive parents will still need their own counsel to finalize the adoption and to provide legal advice throughout the process. Adoption agencies are not law firms and their attorneys represent the agency, not you. The agency is working with both the expectant parent and the prospective adoptive parents, so it may not always have your best interest in mind. It must weigh your needs and concerns with those of the expectant parent.

We will walk you through the process and help you avoid pitfalls and unnecessary legal conundrums.

Private Infant Adoption via Direct Placement
This process can start with an expectant mother contacting a private attorney, like Kristy or Cory, or by reaching out to a friend or family member who might know of someone looking to adopt. One attorney will represent the birth parent and a different attorney will represent the prospective adoptive parents. We represent both expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents, but never on the same case.

In this type of placement, the birth mom will sign a Consent for Adoption directly to the prospective adoptive parents. The two attorneys involved on the case work together to ensure paternity rights have been handled correctly, facilitate counseling services, and handle any living expenses that might be needed.

The process to adopt a relative or stepchild is slightly different from the foster care or domestic infant adoption process. We provide the necessary services to create a seamless process for everyone involved. Relative and stepparent adoptions follow very similar legal processes.

Relative Adoptions
A relative adoption refers to the adoption of a child by his or her grandparent, great grandparent, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, cousin, or sibling. Sometimes this happens when the legal or biological parents consent to the adoption and sometimes it is first necessary to file a Termination of Parental Rights case against one or both parents.
Stepparent Adoptions
A stepparent adoption refers to the adoption of a child by his or her parent’s spouse to create a legal parent-child relationship. This may also include same-sex couples who are now able to legally adopt a spouse’s child in Arizona. Like relative adoptions, sometimes this happens when the legal or biological parents consent to the adoption and sometimes it is first necessary to file a Termination of Parental Rights case against one or both parents.
Every adoption involves the legal process of transferring parental rights and responsibilities from one parent to another. Whether you are pursuing infant adoption, foster care adoption, international adoption, or relative or stepparent adoption, the process will involve termination of parental rights, background checks, and legal finalization.
However, stepparent and relative adoptions differ somewhat in legal process and home study requirements. For example, the home study is significantly limited for stepparents and close blood relatives. In Arizona, it usually consists of a background check with the Department of Child Services and a fingerprint clearance. We can help you understand the legal requirements to complete your stepparent or relative adoption and walk you through each step from beginning to finalization.

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Chandler, Arizona 85248


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