Before any prospective adoptive parent who is not related to a child (i.e., stepparent, uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent, or great-grandparent) may petition to adopt a child, the person must be certified by the court as acceptable to adopt children. A home study must be conducted by an Arizona licensed adoption agency, an officer of the court, or the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
The home study is required to address:
- A complete social history
- The financial condition of the applicant
- The moral fitness of the applicant
- The religious background of the applicant
- The physical and mental health condition of the applicants
- Any court action for or adjudication of child abuse, abandonment of children, dependency or termination of parent-child relationship in which the applicant had control, care ,or custody of the child who was the subject of the action
- All other facts bearing on the issue of the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents that the court, agency, or division may deem relevant
The home study, along with the recommendation of the agency preparing the study, is filed with the court in the county in which the adoptive parents reside. If the court certifies the prospective adoptive parents as acceptable to adopt, that certification is good for 18 months. If no adoption petition has been filed within that time, certification can be extended for one-year periods if the court determines that there have been no material changes in circumstances that would adversely affect the acceptability of the prospective parents to adopt.