If you reside in the state of Arizona, you may be wondering what specific laws regarding adoption in Arizona has in place. Every state has their own laws that apply to adoptions, whether they be domestic, international, or through foster care. If you are considering adding to your family through adoption, Arizona has some laws and regulations you should familiarize yourself with. These laws concern who can adopt, how and when birth parents can give their consent to place their child for adoption, and when adoptions can be finalized.
Arizona Adoption Laws
Any adult who is a resident of Arizona is eligible to adopt, with no age or marital requirements. Any adult wishing to adopt in Arizona must be approved by an Arizona adoption home study. The home study includes financial records, criminal background checks, home visits, and more. Individual adoption professionals, such as agencies or lawyers, also have requirements that potential adoptive parents must meet. Depending on the type of adoption you are pursuing (international, domestic, or foster care adoption), there may be more requirements to fulfill. For example, if you are pursuing an international adoption, you will have to fulfill the dossier requirements of the specific country from which you are adopting.
In Arizona, any minor child may be adopted if his or her birth parents’ parental rights have been terminated. According to Arizona adoption laws, birth parents may consent to adoption 72 hours after the birth of the child. In Arizona, consent must be given by the birth mother and the birth father if he was married to the mother at the time of conception or has otherwise established paternity. There is no revocation period, meaning once birth parents have signed adoption consent papers, they cannot change their minds about their decision.
In Arizona, adoption finalization takes place after your home study professional has completed the required number of post-placement in-home visits with your family — once within 30 days of placement, then once every three months until the adoption is finalized. An adoption finalization hearing will be scheduled about six months after the initial placement of your child. This will take place in your local court. Your adoption attorney will let you know when and where the hearing will take place, and what to expect. Typically, these court hearings are short—about 30 to 60 minutes.
Choosing an Arizona Adoption Professional
If you are considering adoption, Arizona has a number of reputable adoption agencies and lawyers who can help you complete an adoption. If you are just beginning your adoption journey, you may be overwhelmed and unsure how to best select a reputable, ethical adoption service provider who would be the best fit for your unique needs. One way to help figure out the best fit for you is to work with an adoption assistant or adoption consultant. An adoption consultant is a professional who works independent of any agency or lawyer and helps adoptive families in their adoption journey. Think of them as a coach or mentor. Many are adoptive parents or previously worked in the adoption industry or other capacities.
- How many adoptive families do you have on your waiting list? How do you manage this list and wait times for adoptive families?
- What is your average wait time from start to finish: how many months until match? How many till placement? How many till finalization?
- Does the state in which you are licensed come to your offices and review your files, personnel records, and make sure your organization is complying with state law and regulations?
- What states are you licensed to work in? What states do you do the most work in?
- How many full-time staff members do you have on staff?
- What is your rate of disrupted adoptions or failed placements?
- Who interfaces with expectant parents? What are their qualifications? Are they the same professional who we will be working with?
- What is the estimated cost to join your organization or agency? Does that include only successful adoption cost estimates?
- How much money could I lose in living and medical expenses if a birth mother changes her mind?
- Will I have to interact directly with the birth mother providing my contact information to her?
- Do you oversee pictures and letters correspondence with birth parents after the adoptive placement?
- What services do you provide for birth families after placement?
- What types of counseling and support services do you provide expectant parents before placing?
- Will I have one specific individual at your organization who I will interact with or will there be multiple employees I will need to interface with? How will I know who to contact when I have a question?
- Can you provide me with phone numbers for adoptive parents who have completed an adoption with your agency? Can I speak with families who experienced a disruption? Can I speak with a family who had a wait significantly longer than your average wait time?
In addition to these questions, make sure any adoption professional you work with has favorable reviews. Check the Internet and the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any formal complaints lodged against them. Other adoptive parents can also be a great resource. Consider joining a support group for adoptive parents, either online or in person, and asking around to see who has had good experiences, and who may have had negative experiences with any of the adoption professionals you are considering working with. Remember that these professionals are overseeing a complicated legal process. You want to ensure they are experienced, ethical, and that they are responsive to your needs and the needs of birth parents. While you may be tempted to choose the professional with the lowest fees, ensure that you are choosing not just the best choice economically, but also the overall best choice of a professional who has the experience and knowledge to ensure you are able to adopt successfully.