Filing for adoption in Arizona is exciting because it represents a new day for your family.
It means your adoption has been finalized, and you can welcome a child into your home permanently. If you’ve considered adoption and initiated the process, you’re likely already looking forward to receiving your final certificate of adoption in Arizona.
Before you can get that state of Arizona certificate of adoption, there are many steps you must complete to finish the process. The path to adoption is long and winding. Through your adoption journey, you’ve probably taken steps such as:
- Researching adoption rules in Arizona
- Waiting for the right adoption opportunity
- Finding an adoption professional to guide you
- Undergoing a formal home study
The pinnacle of your journey will be finalization of your Arizona family court adoption, when you’ll get to welcome your child into your home permanently. What does adoption finalization really mean, and how do you get to that point? Read more to find information about getting a final adoption certificate in Arizona.
What is Adoption Finalization in Arizona?
Finalization of an Arizona family court adoption is the last step in the process. It’s at that point that custody of the child is officially transferred to you and the child becomes a legal member of your family.
In an Arizona family court adoption, finalization only takes place after several legal requirements are fulfilled. Finalization culminates in a court hearing at which the judge examines the details of the adoption and rules that the applicable laws and regulations were followed.
What must happen before finalization?
Before the finalization hearing and issuance of an adoption certificate in Arizona, the requirements set by state law must be fulfilled. They include:
- Termination of Parental Rights: Before a certificate of adoption in Arizona can be pursued, the parental rights of the birth parents must be terminated. Termination of parental rights requires the parental rights of the birth parents must be dissolved in a legal and ethical way. In private domestic adoptions in Arizona, the mother gives consent to adopt a minimum of 72 hours after the child’s birth. The consent to adopt must be witnessed by two adults over the age of 18. In foster care adoptions, parental rights are often terminated by court order.
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children Clearance: Adoptions across state lines must be cleared through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or ICPC. The ICPC ensures the laws of both states are observed and the child is placed in a safe adoptive home.
- Clearance of Indian Child Welfare Act Requirements: The Indian Child Welfare Act is a federal law that protects children of federally recognized Native American tribes. It requires additional court proceedings for Native American children who are being placed for adoption.
- Post-Placement Visits: In an Arizona family court adoption, post-placement visits are required after placement in an adoptive home. The initial visit occurs within 30 days of placement, and every 30 days after until the adoption finalization hearing is held. Post-placement visits help determine whether the child has adapted to life in your home. Additional resources may be offered to speed the adjustment if there are any issues.
Before requesting an Arizona adoption court hearing to obtain an Arizona certificate of adoption, the clearances above must be obtained. Once the legal requirements are satisfied, you and your attorney can file a petition for adoption in Arizona through a court hearing.
Your Finalization Hearing
The finalization hearing marks the final stop in your adoption journey. Your day in Arizona adoption court represents a joyful time for your growing family. Many adoptive families choose to invite friends and family to join them for the momentous occasion.
At the finalization hearing, you will legally become the parent of your child. When the hearing is over, you’ll receive your Arizona certificate of adoption. For many parents, the day of the hearing can be a source of anxiety. However, there’s no reason to enter the hearing with hesitation.
The Arizona adoption court hearing is mostly a formality. The documentation of your home study is complete at that point and the necessary clearances have already been obtained. Your attorneys and adoption professional have submitted the necessary filings and paperwork in advance. That means that very little hinges on the finalization hearing itself.
The hearing simply gives a local judge the chance to examine the adoption process one last time to ensure all legal requirements are fulfilled. And remember — your adoption agency and attorney will be there to guide you along the way. You’re not on your own in ensuring a successful adoption finalization.
What to Expect at Your Finalization Hearing
Some adoptive parents may feel uncomfortable facing a judge in a courtroom under any circumstances. But there’s no reason for the finalization hearing to cause you anxiety. Your attorney and adoption professional will be there along with your friends and family to support you.
The process is simple even though it is an important moment for your growing family. The routine Arizona adoption court hearing is usually over in less than an hour.
Here’s what you can expect at an Arizona adoption court finalization hearing:
- You, your attorney, and your adoption professional will be sworn in before the court.
- Your attorney will introduce you and ask you a few questions about your background and motivations to pursue adoption.
- In foster care adoption, the adoptee will be asked for consent to adopt if over the age of 12.
- The judge may ask you a few questions about your adoption experience and the reasons you chose to adopt.
- The judge will issue a formal Arizona adoption certificate.
After your final adoption certificate in Arizona is issued, you, your child, and your family can celebrate. Your child is now a fully recognized member of your family in every way.
While the Arizona adoption court hearing is the point when the adoption is officially finalized, there may be a few steps left to finish the paperwork and documentation.
For example, you may want to take advantage of Arizona post-adoption services. Such services help adoptees adjust to their new lives and prepare you for any emerging challenges. Arizona post-adoption services may include:
- Information and referral
- Casework services and service planning
- Parent groups
- Parenting programs
- Counseling services
- Respite care
- Residential placement services in critical need situations
- Crisis intervention
You may also want to get an Arizona birth certificate after adoption for your child, or a new Social Security card. Both documents can be changed to reflect your child’s new name after you receive the final certificate of adoption in Arizona. Your attorney can tell you how to get the process started.
In international adoptions, there may be additional steps involved to obtain key documents such as an Arizona birth certificate after adoption. Some international adoptions are finalized in the home country of the child with a full transfer of custody. Still, to finish the immigration process, you should pursue re-adoption or finalization in the U.S., which allows you to get a U.S. birth certificate for your child and full recognition as a U.S. citizen.
Connect With a Professional
Finalization may feel like the final step of your adoption journey, but that’s not the case at all. It’s true your adoption may be final in legal terms. But in many ways, getting a final adoption certificate in Arizona is only the beginning of a lifelong endeavor.
Questions will emerge along the way, and you’ll benefit from Arizona post-adoption services. In that case, adoption agencies can be a great resource as you chart your course after adoption finalization.
Adoption finalization should be a celebration for an adoptive family, so enjoy your big day! After traveling a long road through the adoption process, you can embrace your new role as a parent to a child of your own.