What Is Required to Adopt in Arizona?
Adopting a child in need of a safe and loving home is a dream that many people have. Thousands of children across the United States are in the system and looking to have a family to call their very own and you could be the loving family that they have also been dreaming of. Adding a child via adoption is a great way to grow your family, but you must navigate some legalities first.
One of the primary decisions you must make on the road to adoption involves the type of adoption that will be the most suitable for your family. This is essential because each type of adoption has a different set of unique requirements, and you’ll want to be sure that you are on the correct path when you begin filing your documentation.
What Are the Requirements to Adopt in Arizona?
Before you can begin the adoption process in Arizona, you must make sure you are eligible to do so. Eligibility for child adoption is the state’s way of making sure each adopted child is going to a home that is safe for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
The eligibility requirements are also a way for you to demonstrate that you are stable and capable of providing the type of home environment conducive to successfully raising a child. The state needs to help all children in need of adoption to find a family system to thrive within. Again, there are three different types of adoption, but these are the general eligibility requirements that apply, regardless of the type of adoption you choose.
General qualifications to adopt in Arizona include:
- Being single, married, divorced, or widowed
- Being at least 18 years of age
- Owning or renting a home or apartment
- Successfully passing FBI and local criminal background checks.
- Having a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card that has been issued by Arizona’s Department of Public Safety
- Lawfully residing in the United States
These eligibility requirements put you on the path of starting your adoption journey. Once you have met these requirements, you will be certified and licensed to adopt by the court. There are more type-specific eligibility requirements for adoption that will be discussed shortly.
Types of Adoptions in Arizona
Three primary types of child adoption are available in Arizona. They are private domestic adoption, foster care adoption, and international adoption. Each of these adoption types has specific requirements that must be met before you can adopt a child. It is important to break down each type of adoption so you can see if you qualify and if it is the best type of adoption for your family.
Private Domestic Adoption
Private domestic adoption is the route taken by many families looking to adopt because it has several major benefits. Bitner-Laird, L., Gallagher, D., Bess, R., & Kenney, O. (2020). Ensuring the cradle won’t fall: opportunities for research related to private domestic infant adoption in the US. Fam Support … Continue reading First, private domestic adoption can provide families with a direct path to infant adoption in Arizona. Eligible prospective parents hoping to adopt a newborn are then able to be selected by expecting birth parents for a baby from birth. In Arizona, private adoption is determined before the baby’s birth so that the child can be immediately welcomed by his or her new family.
Foster Care Adoption
Foster care adoption, also known as foster-to-adopt, is another popular option for prospective parents looking to adopt a child in Arizona. When children enter foster care, the end goal is to have the child reunite with his or her parent(s) once the parent(s) have made the necessary changes to qualify to have their child returned to their care. Ponciano, L. (2010). Attachment in foster care: The role of maternal sensitivity, adoption, and foster mother experience. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 27(2), 97-114. Retrieved May 29, … Continue reading Unfortunately, reunification is not always possible and other solutions must be considered for a fostered child. When a child in foster care becomes available for adoption, his or her foster parent(s) are eligible to adopt the child and make them a permanent part of the family.
Foster parents who have already been licensed in the state of Arizona and have been providing foster care for a child for at least six months can complete checks with the child abuse registry, as well as a criminal records check to adopt their foster child. The state will also review the foster family to ensure the family is fit to care for the child long-term. Once the adoption process is initiated, a caseworker will pay a bi-monthly visit to the family for welfare checks until the adoption has been finalized.
International adoption in Arizona is a great option for prospective parents who wish to adopt a child from a foreign country and bring them to the United States. The procedure for adopting a child internationally will depend on the country you wish to adopt from because the laws for adoption vary worldwide. Bartholet, E. (2010). International adoption: The human rights position. Global Policy, 1(1), 91-100. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1758-5899.2009.00001.x International adoption is a process that must be conducted with expertise and precision because several government agencies are involved.
The steps for completing an internal adoption in Arizona include:
- Choosing a country to adopt from
- Choosing an Arizona-based agency that specializes in international adoption
- Completing an International Home Study Evaluation
- Applying for international adoption in Arizona
- Filing paperwork to make the child eligible for adoption
- Filing for a travel visa
- Flying to the child’s country
- Bringing your new child home
- Finalizing the adoption once you arrive back in Arizona
What Will Disqualify You From Adopting a Child in AZ?
Aside from failing to meet one or more of the eligibility requirements above, one primary reason people are disqualified from adopting in Arizona is a criminal conviction for certain felonies. Felonies related to drugs, assault, battery, sex trafficking, or human trafficking will disqualify someone from adoption in Arizona unless he or she is the birth parent of the child.
When agency officials perform background checks, they will look for violence-related criminal charges for all household members over the age of 14. Screening in this manner helps them determine if an adoptive household is a safe environment for a child. If they determine that there is a potential threat of harm in the household, you will be disqualified from the adoption process.
Lastly, it is important to note that in Arizona there are no adoption laws that specifically set all eligibility requirements for adoption, but a private agency can create its requirements for the prospective parents they choose to help adopt. Like most other aspects of the adoption process, disqualifiers should be discussed with professionals and thoroughly made understood by anyone looking to adopt a child.
How Do I Start the Adoption Process in Arizona?
You can start the adoption process by contacting an attorney as well as an authorized, licensed adoption agency in your county. Keep in mind that you are not limited to using an agency in your county, but they can be a great resource for information as you start the adoption process. You should specify the type of adoption you wish to pursue so that the agency can provide you with the correct information for your adoption method.
How Do You Privately Adopt in Arizona?
Private adoption in Arizona is unique because it involves the adoption of a child that begins before the child’s birth. Many prospective parents seeking a private adoption want to do so because they specifically want to adopt a child that they can raise from birth.
Fertility issues are often at play behind the scenes for many parents who want to adopt infants, and private adoption can give those who struggle to conceive the next best experience outside of actual childbirth. Open adoption may also influence prospective parents to go the route of private adoption because they recognize the value of the child having contact with his or her birth parent(s).
Private adoption has several components that must be completed to qualify prospective parents for adopting an infant. They include:
- Finding the right adoption agency
- Completing the required Home Study
- Waiting for a child to be put up for private adoption
- Making contact with the birth parent(s) and being selected
- Being present for the child’s birth and receiving the baby at the hospital
- Completing 3 home visits with agency officials within 90 days of taking the newborn baby home from the hospital
Six months after the 90-day home visit condition is met, your attorney can schedule your family for an official date of adoption known as a finalization hearing. The hearing will go over your adoption process, verifying that it was done legally, and will end with the signing of the adoption decree by a judge.
Costs to Adopt a Child
When it comes to costs, there are no officially stated financial criteria in Arizona for adopting a child. You must, however, be able to financially provide for a child, and your long-term finances and earning potential should be taken into consideration. Adoption professionals will look into your financial situation to determine how prepared you are to financially support a child that you adopt because they have to make sure a child placed in your care will have a stable upbringing.
The type of adoption will greatly influence the costs you can expect to pay. Private adoption costs vary greatly depending on the fees of the adoption agency, attorney fees, and other professional services needed. In the state of Arizona, prospective parents can help an expecting birth mother with care expenses before a child is born. Some ways prospective parents help expecting birth mothers are to cover medical bills or help with living expenses such as rent or utilities.
How Long Does It Take to Adopt in Arizona?
The length of time for an adoption to be completed varies based on the type of adoption. For example, the average length of time it takes to adopt a child from foster care is 4-6 months from start to finish. Private adoptions in Arizona generally take 6 months until the official adoption decree, and international adoptions initiated in Arizona can take approximately a year (or longer), similar to the time frame of other states in the U.S.
Does Arizona Pay You to Adopt a Child?
Private adoption can cost thousands of dollars to complete, and many prospective parents have to make sacrifices to afford to adopt a child. Argys, L. & Duncan, B. (2013). Economic incentives and foster child adoption. Demography, 50 (3), 933-954. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-012-0166-0 But when an eligible child is adopted through Arizona’s Department of Child Safety (DCS), the adoption process is free. When you adopt a child through the Department of Child Safety you become eligible to receive a monthly adoption subsidy. This subsidy will be paid to you until the child turns 18 years old. Additionally, DCS will provide for the child’s health insurance needs and cover any legal fees for an adoption attorney.
Choosing an Adoption Attorney
An adoption attorney’s services are required in every type of adoption. Pollack, D. (2016). Adoption Attorneys and Human Service Departments: Working Better Together. Wurzweiler School of Social Work: Faculty publications. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from … Continue reading Some families even decide to make their adoption attorney their primary specialist for the duration of the adoption process.
Adoptive families who work with an adoption attorney can expect several benefits:
- Adoption attorneys are state-regulated experts in state adoption laws
- Adoption attorneys offer many of the same services as adoption agencies
- Your adoption attorney is only interested in representing your family
- Selecting an adoption attorney as your primary adoption specialist can help you make more informed decisions regarding your options and ensure that your adoption is being conducted legally and ethically
Adoption is an exciting way to grow your family and so many amazing children could use the love, protection, and nurturing that you have to offer. Understanding how to navigate and successfully meet the legal requirements for adoption in Arizona is key. Once you have decided to adopt, it would be wise to have professional help from attorneys with expertise in adoption matters.
Jonathan Roeder, Co-Founder of The Valley Law Group, is an Arizona native who has dedicated his life and career to the service of others. After graduating salutatorian of his high school class, Jonathan attended beautiful and prestigious Pepperdine University, where he majored in Political Science. During his tenure at Pepperdine University, his passion for helping others grew after securing a clinical position with a residential treatment center for juveniles with substance addictions. Post-graduation, Jonathan returned to Arizona and served as a residential manager for mentally and physically disabled homes.
|↑1||Bitner-Laird, L., Gallagher, D., Bess, R., & Kenney, O. (2020). Ensuring the cradle won’t fall: opportunities for research related to private domestic infant adoption in the US. Fam Support Brief Math Policy Res, 1-7. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from https://www.mathematica.org/-/media/publications/pdfs/family_support/2020/adoption-brief.pdf|
|↑2||Ponciano, L. (2010). Attachment in foster care: The role of maternal sensitivity, adoption, and foster mother experience. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 27(2), 97-114. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from https://link.springer.com/journal/10560|
|↑3||Bartholet, E. (2010). International adoption: The human rights position. Global Policy, 1(1), 91-100. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1758-5899.2009.00001.x|
|↑4||Argys, L. & Duncan, B. (2013). Economic incentives and foster child adoption. Demography, 50 (3), 933-954. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-012-0166-0|
|↑5||Pollack, D. (2016). Adoption Attorneys and Human Service Departments: Working Better Together. Wurzweiler School of Social Work: Faculty publications. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12202/4128|