If you live in Arizona and are considering adoption, either as an expectant mother or prospective adoptive parents, you are likely wondering the same thing: How does adoption work in my state?
The following guide provides all the Arizona adoption information you need, from the qualifications for adoptive parents to the rules and regulations for placing a child for adoption in Phoenix, Tucson, Meza, Glendale and beyond.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Arizona
Adoption laws may seem overwhelming, but if you are considering adopting a child in Arizona, it is important to understand adoption qualifications, processes and procedures in your state. The following information details the rules and regulations for adopting a child in the Grand Canyon State.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Arizona?
Any adult resident of the state is eligible to adopt, as long as they can meet the safety, social, emotional, physical and mental health needs of the child. A husband and wife may adopt jointly.
If all relevant factors are equal and the choice of adoptive parents is between a married man and woman certified to adopt and a single adult certified to adopt, the married couple will receive preference for placement.
Other relevant factors for consideration include:
- Marital status, length and stability of the adoptive parents’ marital relationship
- Placement with the child’s siblings
- Established relationships between the child and the adoptive family
- The adoptive family’s ability to meet the child’s needs and financially provide for the child
- The wishes of a child who is 12 or older
- The wishes of the child’s birth parents unless their rights have been terminated by the court
- The availability of relatives, current or former foster parents to provide support to the adoptive family and child
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Arizona?
Each state has laws regulating the expenses that can be paid by adoptive families. Arizona courts may approve any money paid to the birth parents for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the adoption, including medical and hospital care, counseling fees, legal fees, agency fees, living expenses and other costs the court finds reasonable and necessary. For birth parent living expenses that exceed $1,000, the adoptive parents must file a motion with the court to permit the payment.
In determining reasonable and necessary living expenses, the court will consider the birth parents’ current standard of living, the standard of living necessary to preserve the health and welfare of the birth parent and the child, and the existence of alternative financial resources for the birth parent. Birth parent expenses that the court finds to be unreasonable are not allowed.
An attorney may be paid for services in connection with the adoption, but only in amounts approved by the court. No one can be directly or indirectly compensated for giving or obtaining consent to place a child for adoption.
At least 10 days before an adoption petition is heard, prospective adoptive parents must file a verified accounting of all fees paid or agreed to be paid in connection with the adoption, including all living expenses accompanied by an affidavit signed by the birth mother that confirms she understands that the payment of these expenses does not obligate her to place her child for adoption.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Arizona?
If you are at least 21 years old and a legal resident of Arizona, you meet the qualifications to be a foster parent in Arizona. The following provides more information about the steps to become a foster parent in Arizona.
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Arizona?
The certificate of foreign birth shows that the adopted person was born in a foreign country, is not a U.S. citizen, has gone through a completed adoption process in a foreign country before coming to the United States and has an IR-3 stamped passport.
Before receiving the certificate of foreign birth, the adoptive parent must submit an adoption decree or other official document finalizing the adoption in the child’s birth country, and a copy of the passport showing the IR-3 stamp.
If the adopted person does not have an IR-3 stamped passport, an adoptive parent must submit either of the following:
- An original state of Arizona certificate of adoption
- A certified court order of adoption issued by an Arizona court and proof of the date and place of the adopted person’s birth
- If the child was not adopted in Arizona, a state-issued court order recognizing the adoption
The state registrar will not create a certificate of foreign birth for a child that was born in a foreign country and who was a U.S. citizen at the time of birth. In such cases, a birth certificate may be obtained through the U.S. Department of State.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Arizona?
The use of advertisements in adoption is not addressed in Arizona statutes. Only licensed adoption agencies and their employees may solicit or accept employment or engagement, for compensation, to locate or obtain a child for adoption or to assist in the placement of a child for adoption.
An attorney licensed to practice law in Arizona may assist and participate in direct adoption placements and may receive reasonable compensation, but may not be involved in the choice of a specific adopting parent. Before an adoption petition is granted, an attorney assisting in the placement or adoption must file an affidavit stating that there has been compliance with these requirements.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Arizona
Every state has laws and regulations in place to protect birth parents’ rights throughout the adoption process. If you are living in Arizona and are considering placing your baby for adoption, this section will give you the information you need about executing consent, birth father rights, and more.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
Consent may be given 72 hours after the birth of the child. All consent to adoption must be in writing, signed by the person giving the consent and witnessed by two or more credible witnesses who are at least 18 and who subscribe their names in the presence of the person giving consent, or be acknowledged before a notary public.
The consent will designate an agency or division to place the child for adoption or the particular person or persons authorized to adopt the child by the person giving the consent.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In Arizona, consent must be given by:
- The birth or adoptive mother
- The father if he was married to the mother at the time of conception, is the adoptive father or has otherwise established paternity
- Any guardian or agency that has been given the child to place for adoption
- The guardian of an adult parent if one has been appointed
If child being adopted is 12 or older, he or she must consent to the adoption in open court.
When is consent not needed?
Consent is not necessary when:
- The adult parent currently has an appointed guardian
- The parent’s parental rights have been terminated by court order
- The parent has previously consented to an agency’s or the division’s placement of the child for adoption
- A potential father has failed to file a paternity action and has not complied with all applicable requirements within 30 days of receiving notice
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
Consent is irrevocable upon signing unless obtained by fraud or duress.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Arizona adoptions?
In Arizona, a man is considered a child’s legal father if:
- He was married to the child’s mother at any time in the 10 months immediately preceding the child’s birth, or if the child is born within 10 months after the marriage is terminated
- Genetic testing affirms at least a 95 percent probability of paternity
- A birth certificate is signed by the unmarried mother and father
- A notarized or witnessed statement is signed by both parents acknowledging paternity
Any man who is seeking paternity, wants to receive notice of adoption proceedings and is the father or claims to be the father of a child should file a notice with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in the Department of Health Services. Forms for filing the notice of a claim of paternity are available in the Department of Health Services, the office of the clerk of the Board of Supervisors in each county, every hospital, every licensed child-placing agency, the Department of Economic Security, sheriff’s offices, jails, prisons, State Department of Corrections facilities and Department of Juvenile Corrections Facilities.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Arizona
For many adoptive parents in Arizona, the home study is one of the most stressful steps of the adoption process. The following information will help calm your fears and answer your questions about what to expect during your Arizona home study.
What is included in the Arizona home study process?
Adoptive applicants must submit a financial statement and physician’s statement of physical health, and prospective adoptive parents and each adult member of the household must certify whether they are awaiting trial or have ever been convicted of a criminal offense. State and federal criminal records checks will be conducted. The home study will also include an investigation of the prospective parents to determine whether they are fit to adopt.
The investigation and report will include the following elements:
- A complete social history
- Financial conditions
- Religious background
- Physical and mental health conditions
- Any court action for or adjudication of child abuse, abandonment of children, dependency or termination of parent-child relationship
- All other information relevant to the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents
The social study must be submitted to the court at least 10 days before the hearing on the adoption petition. The social study will include information about the child’s adjustment to the adoptive parents’ home, the parents’ suitability to adopt, the existing and proposed arrangements regarding custody of the child, criminal records checks and any other information relevant to the adoption proceedings.
Who is included in the home study process?
The prospective adoptive parents and any adult members of their household must be included in the study.
Who will conduct the home study?
The home study will be completed by the division or agency, or a person or agency designated by the court.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Arizona?
The adoption entity will consider factors bearing on the prospective adoptive parents’ fitness to adopt, including:
- Their ability to financially provide for the child and their history of providing financial support to their other children, including compliance with court-ordered child support obligations
- Past disturbances or events in their immediate family, such as involuntary job separation, divorce, death of a spouse, child or parent, and any history of child maltreatment
- Their age and health
- The length and stability of their marriage, if applicable
The report will specifically note any instances when an applicant has been charged with, convicted of, or is awaiting trial on charges of certain criminal offenses and any instances when an applicant has lost care, custody or parental rights to a child as a result of a dependency action or action to terminate parental rights.
If the home study is denied, the applicant will receive written notice of the unfavorable recommendation and an explanation of their right to petition the court for review.
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?
The home study investigation and report must be completed within 90 days after the application for adoption certification has been accepted. Within 60 days of receiving the investigation report, the court will certify the applicant as acceptable or unacceptable to adopt children. The certificate remains in effect for 18 months and may be extended for additional one-year periods if the court finds there have been no material changes in circumstances that would affect the acceptability of the applicant to adopt.
What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Arizona?
When a child is placed for adoption, a case manager from the adoption entity will visit the home within 30 days of placement. This visit ensures that the adoptive parent received all available non-identifying information on the child, allows the parent or child to express any questions or concerns about the adoption process or placement, ensures that the family has addressed the educational needs of the child and has made appropriate child care arrangements.
Following the initial visit, the case manager will visit the adoptive family at least once every three months until the adoption is finalized. If the child has special needs, the visits will occur at least once a month. The case manager will interview all members of the household and discuss the following issues with the adoptive parents, if appropriate for the child’s age and development:
- The child’s impact on familial relationships
- How the child and the extended family view each other
- Each family member’s role in caring for the child
- How the parent is coping with the child’s needs
- How the child challenges or tests the placement and the family’s reaction
- The family’s perception of the child’s sense of identity
- The child’s adjustment to their school environment
If it is developmentally appropriate, the case manager may privately interview the child about his or her feelings about the adoption.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Arizona?
The home study requirements do not apply if the prospective adoptive parents is a stepparent, uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent or great-grandparent of the child by whole or half-blood, marriage or adoption. Additional, the requirements for a certification study do not apply in the following scenarios:
- The birth or legal parent is deceased, but the parent had legal and physical custody of the child at the time of death and the child has resided primarily with the spouse of that parent during the 24 months prior to the parent’s death.
- The relative of the child is deceased, but at the time of death, that person had legal and physical custody of the child and the child has resided primarily with the relative’s spouse during the 24 months prior to the relative’s death.
If the prospective adoptive parent is the child’s stepparent, adult sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent or great grandparent and the child has resided with the prospective adoptive parent for at least one year, the social study may consist only of the criminal records checks and central registry records check.
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?
Any interstate placement of a child is subject to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
If the child to be adopted has resided with the foster parent for at least six months and the foster parents are licensed by the state, the social study may only of the central registry records check and a review of any material changes in circumstances that affect the prospective adoptive parents’ ability to adopt the child.
When a foster child is age five or older, a case worker may privately interview the child and all members of the adoptive family’s household who are age five or older about their feelings toward the adoption before the adoption consent is signed.
When a child is placed for adoption with their foster parents, a case manager will conduct home visits at least every two months from the time the legal consent for adoption has been signed until the adoption is finalized.
To start the home study process, contact one of these trusted Arizona home study providers:
- American Adoptions
American Adoptions is one of the largest domestic adoption agencies in the country. They provide both international and domestic home study services throughout the state of Arizona.
- Southwest Adoption Services
Southwest Adoption Services is a licensed Arizona adoption agency that provides domestic and international adoption home studies for certification, post-placement/post-adoption reports to Arizona adoptive families.
- Adoption Choices of Arizona
Arizona Adoption Professionals
For more information about adoption in Arizona or to begin the adoption process, contact one of these local adoption professionals:
- American Adoptions
- Heather Strickland – Arizona Adoption Attorney
- Agape Adoption Agency
- Building Arizona Families
- Mother Goose Adoptions
- Dillon Southwest
For more information about foster care in Arizona, visit the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
Things to do in Arizona
Arizona is known for its sunny weather and beautiful desert landscapes. If y our adoption journey leads you to meet prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval in the Grand Canyon State, be sure to take advantage of all it has to offer:
- Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon National Park)
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson)
- Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix)
- Four Corners Monument
- Saguaro National Park
Find more information about traveling to Arizona at http://www.visitarizona.com/.