Want to Adopt?
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.
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.
Open vs. Closed Adoption
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.
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
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
Finalizing An Adoption
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 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
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.
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