Arizona Adoption Laws
Many times the cases that occur before family law are some of the most difficult and emotional situations. Adoption proceedings however, tend to be a time to celebrate. This blogpost will describe the basics of Arizona adoption proceedings.
Adoption is a legal proceeding that requires prospective parents to be certified by the Arizona court to be acceptable to adopt children. The Arizona Department of Child Safety is the state body that regulates adoption.
Prospective parents must fill out an application with the Department and undergo a certification process. This will include:
- Written application
- Adoption orientation and training
- A certification investigation and report to the court that considers the prospective adoptive parents’ fitness to adopt children.
The investigation will include an in-depth look at finances, physical and mental health, moral fitness, and a background check. Parents will be required to provide fingerprints for every adult in the household. Investigations will also interview friends and family as references. Parents must be a resident of Arizona to be eligible to adopt.
Single persons may adopt. However, if the state is determining between an equally fit single person to adopt and an equally fit couple to adopt, the state will give preference to the couple. Same-sex couples can also file jointly as a couple to adopt.
Any minor child may be adopted if both of the biological parents’ parental rights have been terminated.
Arizona allows birth parents to consent to adoption 72 hours after the birth of the child. Consent must be in writing, signed by both birth parents, and witnessed by two or more credible witnesses over the age of 18.
In this setting, a couple or person works with a licensed adoption agency to set up a relationship between adoptive parents and a couple or mother who is looking to give their child up for adoption. Consent must be given by both the birth mother and birth father, if the birth father was married to the mother at the time of conception or has otherwise established paternity. Children over age 12 may be adopted with their consent.
Private adoption is not a small financial challenge, especially if parents are working with a specific birth mother to adopt the child at birth. In this situation, the adoptive family is responsible for medical and hospital care, counseling fees, legal fees, agency fees, and living expenses for the birth mother. If living expenses exceed $1,000, the adoptive parents must file a motion with the court to allow the payment.
The court will determine what living expenses are necessary and reasonable. The court will account into the birth family’s current standard of living and what is necessary to support the child and mother. At least 10 days prior to the adoption petition being heard, the adoptive parents must file a verified account of all expenses paid in connection with the adoption. The birth mother will sign an affidavit claiming her understanding of this agreement.
Foster Care Adoption
The other option is to adopt a child who is already in the foster system. There are thousands of children in the foster care system in Arizona looking for a home. An investigation and application is required just like a private adoption. The state of Arizona contracts with licensed agencies to conduct the home studies and beginning the process. The state will consider if the home is the best place to meet the safety, social, emotional, physical, and mental health needs of the child. The state is clear that the Department focuses on finding families for the children, not children for families.
Click here for information on stepparent adoption in Arizona.