Over the years, MyersStrickland has been proud to help build thousands of Arizona families through foster care adoption. Whether you are interested in adopting a child currently in your care, or being matched with waiting children, we can help you reach your adoption goals.
Learn more about our foster care adoption services, and find additional information about Arizona foster care and foster-to-adopt placements below.
- Adopting a Foster Child with MyersStrickland – Find out how MyersStrickland can help you legally reach your foster care adoption goals.
- Foster to Adopt in Arizona – Learn about foster parenting and the possibility of it leading to a permanent placement.
- Private Adoption vs. Foster Care Adoption – Compare private adoption costs, wait times, requirements and more with adoptions completed through the state foster care system.
- Pros and Cons of Foster Care Adoption – Discover the benefits and challenges of adopting a foster child in Arizona.
- Why Choose Us? – Here is why MyersStrickland is the right choice for your foster adoption.
Contact us any time to ask a question or take the next step toward growing your family through foster care adoption.
Adopting a Foster Child with MyersStrickland
Every year, MyersStrickland has the privilege of legally finalizing several hundred foster care adoptions, helping these children secure loving, permanent homes. This equates to more than 5,000 foster parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings and other relatives who have opened their hearts and homes to Arizona’s children in need.
We work closely with Arizona’s Department of Child Safety and other adoption agencies that serve children who have already had their parents’ parental rights terminated. These children are legally free for adoption and looking for their forever families. Once an adoptive family is found, our firm will ensure the adoption successfully reaches legal finalization.
Who might adopt a foster child?
- A relative of the child, including grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles and adult siblings.
- Foster parents who have cared for the child or who may be currently caring for the child.
- Prospective adoptive parents who are interested in adopting a child from foster care.
What services does MyersStrickland provide to legally finalize a foster care adoption in Arizona?
Relatives, foster parents or prospective adoptive parents who want to adopt a child who is in the legal custody of the State will need an attorney to complete all of the legal work of the adoption. We help finalize a majority of Pima County’s foster care adoption cases by offering the following services to soon-to-be parents:
- Conduct initial meeting with the prospective parents
- Provide education about adoption subsidies and tax credits
- Complete legal paperwork which is filed with the court
- Accompany parents to finalization hearing and answer all of the judge’s questions
- Complete all steps in order for the parents to receive the child’s new birth certificate
- Secure payment for legal services from subsidy moneys so there are no out-of-pocket expenses for the adoptive family
Completing foster care adoptions and helping provide these children with permanent homes is one of the most rewarding things we do as an adoption law firm. If you are a relative or foster parent of one of these children, or a parent interested in adoption a foster child, we will do everything we can to assist you throughout this journey.
Please contact us today to learn more about adopting a child through foster care.
Adopting From Foster Care in Arizona
Adopting a foster child who has been in your care can be a rewarding experience, as well as a low-cost form of adoption. However, most foster care placements are temporary, as the child’s reunification with his or her biological parents is always the state’s primary goal. This can make foster-to-adopt placements challenging and unpredictable. Hopeful parents should carefully consider all of their options before deciding to pursue a foster-to-adopt placement.
The following article provides a closer look at fostering to adopt in Arizona, as well as its benefits, challenges and alternatives that hopeful parents should consider when growing their families.
What is fostering to adopt?
In the United States, family reunification is always the primary goal of the foster system until it is determined that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to their biological family. While most foster children either return to their biological parents or other relatives, some foster children do become available for adoption. In these cases, the child’s caseworker will often give the child’s foster parents the first opportunity to adopt the child. These are known as foster-to-adopt placements.
While most foster children will return to their biological families, more than half of the children who do become available for adoption are placed with their foster families. Of the 49,693 foster children adopted in 2014, 52 percent (25,185) were placed with their foster families, while 32 percent were placed with relatives and 14 percent were placed with other adoptive parents.
Foster to Adopt in Arizona Process
Foster parents who have already been licensed by the state and who have provided foster care for the child for at least six months may only need to complete a child abuse registry and criminal records check to be able to adopt, as well as a review of any significant changes in circumstances that would affect their ability to adopt. If the foster child to be adopted is at least 5 years old, a case worker may privately interview the child and other members of the adoptive household about their feelings toward the adoption.
After the child is placed for adoption with the foster parents, a caseworker will visit the family at least once every two months until the adoption is finalized.
Every foster care adoption process involves legal paperwork and a finalization hearing. MyersStrickland has helped finalize a majority of Pima County’s foster care adoption cases and can provide all of the necessary legal services through every step of the foster care adoption process.
Benefits and Challenges of Fostering to Adopt
If you are interested in adding to your family, foster parenting may seem like an intriguing option because of the lack of wait time and cost.
However, foster parents must understand that most, if not all, of their foster children will only live with them temporarily. A child may stay with the foster family for weeks, months or even years, only to then be reintegrated into their biological families.
It is often uncertain when a child will become legally free for adoption, if ever. For foster parents who have provided long-term care and grown attached to their foster children, this uncertainty can be challenging, and reunification can be a difficult, painful experience. For this reason, foster parenting is recommended for couples that want to provide temporary care for children who have been abused, neglected, or removed from their biological parents for a variety of other reasons.
Providing temporary care, comfort and security to a child in need can be a rewarding experience. Foster parents who can meet the challenges of fostering are highly regarded, as they fill a very important role that not everyone is comfortable providing.
Adopting a Waiting Child from Foster Care
Hopeful parents who are interested in adding to their family permanently may want to consider other forms of adoption. There are many children in the foster system who have been legally freed for adoption and are waiting for their forever home.
Adopting a waiting child from foster care provides many of the same benefits as a foster-to-adopt placement. These adoptions usually involve a low cost and wait time and give adoptive parents the opportunity to provide a child in need with a loving, permanent family, without the uncertainty of the foster-to-adopt process or the possibility of reunification.
As with any form of adoption, foster care adoption also poses certain challenges. Children adopted from the foster system may have been exposed to prior trauma, which can create attachment issues and emotional struggles for children and their parents. Adoptive parents should do careful research and weigh all of their options before creating an adoption plan. For more information on foster care and foster-to-adopt in Arizona, visit the following resources:
Whether you are seeking to adopt a foster child that is currently in your care or a waiting child from the foster system in Arizona, MyersStrickland can help you reach your adoption goals. Learn more about our services for parents adopting from the Arizona foster system, or contact us today to begin your foster care adoption process.
Domestic Infant Adoption vs. Foster Care Adoption
As a prospective adoptive parent, you have many options available to you, including the type of adoption you want to pursue. Comparing and contrasting private adoption and foster care adoption will help you determine which option is right for your family.
Private adoption, or domestic infant adoption, is the adoption of a child, usually an infant, who is voluntarily placed for adoption by his or her birth parents. Foster care adoption, or state adoption, is the adoption of a child in the foster system whose biological parents’ rights have been terminated by the State.
There are many variables involved in adoption, and every adoption is different. However, there are some general similarities and differences to consider when comparing domestic infant adoption vs. foster care adoption.
Whether you choose to pursue domestic infant adoption or adopt through the Arizona foster care system, both forms of adoption connect hopeful parents to children who need loving, permanent homes, and both allow you to become parents with full, legal rights to your child. In addition, there are some similarities in the legal adoption process and qualifications for adoptive parents:
- Legal Process: While the steps of the legal process are often different, both forms of adoption involve the transfer of custody and parental rights from one parent to another. In all cases, an attorney is required to legally finalize the adoption. Learn more about the legal services involved both in foster care adoptions and domestic infant adoptions on our website.
- Home Study: Every adoptive parent, regardless of the form of adoption they choose, must complete an Arizona home study. The home study evaluates prospective adoptive parents and any adult member of the adoptive parents’ homes to determine whether the placement is in the best interests of the child to be adopted.
As you consider the type of adoption that is best for your family, there are many significant differences to take into account. Private adoptions and state adoptions can vary widely in factors such as cost, wait time and more.
- Cost: Adopting through the state foster system is often the least expensive form of adoption, while private adoptions involve many services and specialists, increasing overall costs. There are very few expenses associated with foster care adoptions other than home study fees, and in some cases, families who adopt through the state may even receive a stipend.
- Wait Time: In both types of adoption, there are many variables that can impact a family’s wait time. The primary goal of the foster system is family reunification, and a child’s birth parents are often given multiple opportunities to work toward reunification before their parental rights are terminated. As a result, families who choose foster-to-adopt face long wait times until finalizing an adoption. Private adoption generally have a shorter wait time than families who choose foster to adopt. However, if a family chooses to adopt a waiting child, one who’s parents’ parental rights have already been terminated, the wait time decreases.
- Birth Parent Relationship: In more than 90 percent of private adoptions, the adoptive family maintains some sort of relationship with the child’s birth parents. The circumstances vary for children adopted from foster care, but closed adoptions are much more common through the foster system.
- Emotional Challenges: Every adoption is an emotional journey with many ups and downs, but foster care adoptions may present some unique challenges during and after the process. Parents who are fostering to adopt may be disappointed if the child is reunified with his or her biological family, especially if the foster parents have had months or even years to bond with the child. Additionally, parents who are able to adopt from the foster system may find themselves raising a child with a history of abuse, neglect or other trauma, which can present emotional challenges for the child as well as the parents.
As a hopeful adoptive parent, it is up to you to carefully consider all of these factors when deciding what type of adoption is best for your family. Contact us today for more information about adopting through domestic adoption or foster care.
Pros and Cons of Foster Care
Whether you are a current foster family or a hopeful parent considering adoption, understanding the pros and cons of foster care will help you decide whether this is the best way for you to grow your family.
Advantages of Foster Care Adoption
Thousands of Arizona families have been built through the foster care system. For these parents, children and their relatives, the advantages of foster care adoption are immeasurable. Here are just a few reasons to consider adopting from foster care:
- You provide a child with a permanent home. Every child needs and deserves a stable, permanent home, and there is no greater gift than opening your doors to a child in need. When you are matched with a child that is meant to be a part of your family, the benefits of adopting a foster child are everlasting.
- It is inexpensive. Many people hoping to expand their families are concerned that adoption is not financially feasible. While domestic and international adoption can be expensive, foster care adoption is a very affordable alternative — in many cases, the state may even provide adoptive families with a stipend.
- Foster care adoptions are less likely to disrupt. In domestic adoption, the birth mother is in control of her adoption plan and may change her mind at any time before the adoption is complete. This is called an adoption disruption. In foster care adoption, the birth parents’ rights are terminated before the child is available for adoption. Because the birth parents cannot change their minds, foster care adoptions rarely disrupt.
- Wait times are shorter than other forms of adoption. There are many waiting children in the foster care system who are ready for adoption immediately. The following resources can provide more information about the children who are currently available for adoption in Arizona:
Disadvantages of Foster Care Adoption
While foster care adoption can be an incredibly fulfilling way to build your family, it is not for everyone. The advantages of adopting a foster child must be weighed against some of the more challenging aspects adopting from the foster system. Here are three of the most common disadvantages of foster care adoption:
- Many foster children face unique challenges. For a number of reasons, many foster children are considered “special needs.” This can simply mean that a child is older or part of a sibling set, or that the child has a mental, physical or developmental disability. Prospective adoptive parents must be honest about the types of special needs they are comfortable with, as it would be unfair to both parties if they adopted a child whose needs they cannot meet.
- There are few infants available for adoption in foster care. Because biological parents are given multiple attempts to work toward reunification before their parental rights are terminated, most children who are placed in foster care do not become available for adoption until they are older. For couples hoping to adopt an infant, private domestic adoption may be a more viable option.
- Bonding may be more difficult for foster children. Many children in the foster system have experienced abuse, neglect or other trauma, which can create emotional issues that make it more difficult for them to bond with new parents. To facilitate the bonding process, some families choose to foster to adopt so they have an opportunity to live with and get to know the child before adopting.
The decision of whether to grow one’s family through the Arizona foster care system is an important one, and we hope this information provided you some insight into the various benefits, and challenges, adopting a foster child may present your family.
If you still have questions about foster care adoption, or if you are ready to take the next step, please contact us for more information about foster care adoption in Arizona.
Why Choose Us?
Growing your family through a foster care adoption is an important legal matter. How do you decide who is the best adoption attorney for your family and your situation? While online research is very helpful, the best way to choose a qualified adoption attorney is to ask questions. Below are questions you want to ask the attorney, or his or her staff, to decide if he or she has the adoption experience to best serve you. After all, protecting your family’s legal relationships is important to you.
1. How many foster care adoptions have you done in the past year?
Not all foster care adoptions are alike, and subject matter expertise comes from successfully handling numerous, even hundreds, of adoptions. There is no substitute for experience.
Every year, MyersStrickland has the honor of legally finalizing hundreds of foster care adoptions. In 2017 alone, our team handled the adoptions of over 500 children from foster care — in addition to serving many more step-parents, brave birth mothers and adoptive parents pursuing private adoptions in Arizona.
We pride ourselves on our personalized service. You are not simply a case, you are a family, and we tailor our advice and services to your needs.
2. If I work with your office, who will you represent in the adoption? Me? The State? Can you give me legal advice? Do you have any potential conflicts if you represent me?
You deserve to be represented by an independent adoption attorney who can give you legal advice and counsel you without a potential conflict. This is likely the first time in your foster care experience that you have the opportunity to seek unbiased and confidential guidance about your family’s situation. Don’t miss the chance to work with a qualified independent adoption attorney who can answer your questions.
When you hire MyersStrickland to handle your adoption case, our Firm represents you, as the adoptive family, only. We have no contracts or affiliations with the State of Arizona or the Department of Child Safety. Therefore, we can provide your family with sound legal advice and advocate for you. Because we held no role in the dependency case, we are truly your independent representative free of any conflicts of interest.
3. Will I meet with an attorney or a paralegal/legal assistant?
If growing your family through a foster care adoption is an important legal matter, shouldn’t you actually meet with an attorney? Your foster care adoption should be important enough to the office you hire that you have an appointment with an adoption attorney before you step foot in the courthouse.
Every foster care adoption handled by MyersStrickland is important to us. You will meet with Attorney Heather Strickland or Attorney Jessica Graves to discuss your family’s adoption and to review all legal documents before you sign anything. In the meeting, the Attorney can provide you with legal advice, prepare you for the finalization hearing, and inform you of the next steps in your adoption and beyond.
4. What services will you provide for me and my family?
There is more to completing a foster care adoption than just paperwork. Find out what services the attorney is going to provide to you and your family to ensure a smooth process from start to finish.
When you work with MyersStrickland to complete your adoption, we will do everything we can to assist you through this journey. Our legal foster care adoption services include:
- A meeting with an Attorney to discuss your foster care adoption
- Completion of all necessary legal paperwork, which is filed with the court
- Representation at your finalization hearing
- Education about available adoption subsidies, tax credits, and post-adoption support services
- Obtaining a new birth certificate for your child after finalization
- Securing payment for legal services from subsidy moneys so you pay no out-of-pocket adoption expenses
- And more
5. How many hours of adoption-specific training have you received?
Foster care adoptions, and adoptions in general, are a unique area of the law — it is not just family or juvenile law. Competent representation in an adoption requires your attorney to have extensive continuing legal education specific to adoptions.
Attorney Heather Strickland’s practice focuses exclusively on adoption and assisted reproduction law. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA), a prestigious national organization of attorneys who have demonstrated expertise in adoptions and commitment to ethical practices. Heather is currently the only AAAA member in Tucson. As a Fellow, she has access to and regularly attends outstanding adoption-specific continuing legal education. In addition, Heather Strickland is a frequent contributor to continuing legal education courses on the topic of adoption, and she regularly lectures at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law.
Heather Strickland’s contributions to adoption and child welfare earned her recognition as a 2017 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI).
Heather’s demonstrated history of commitment to building families speaks for itself. When you choose to work with MyersStrickland to finalize your Arizona foster care adoption, you are not only receiving unparalleled legal adoption services — you are also receiving the peace of mind that your adoption is being completed legally, ethically and as efficiently as possible.
To learn more about completing your foster care adoption with MyersStrickland, or to get started with your legal adoption process, please contact us today.