Frequently Asked Questions
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- Adoptive Parents
- Adult Adoption
- Arizona Adoption Law
- Arizona Safe Haven Baby Laws
- Assisted Reproduction
- Birth Parents
In a direct placement adoption and most agency adoptions, the expectant parent selects the adoptive family for her child.
Any adult resident of Arizona, whether married, unmarried, legally separated, or divorced, is eligible to qualify to adopt children. A married couple may jointly adopt. Arizona law restricts unmarried couples from jointly adopting a child.
In Arizona, people wishing to adopt must have a home study which looks at their personal background and their home to determine whether they are suitable to have a child placed in their custody. A criminal background check and child abuse clearance are a part of this study. The home study is reviewed by the court and the family is then certified as acceptable to adopt.
In other states, the family must have a home study completed by a licensed agency that recommends adoption by the family. This study also includes a criminal background check and child abuse clearance.
A child under the age of 18 who is legally free for adoption and present in the state at the time the petition to adopt is filed may be adopted. “Legally free” means that the parents of the child have signed consents to the adoption, or pursuant to Arizona law, their consent is unnecessary, or their parental rights have been terminated by court order, or they are deceased.
On April 1, 2008 the United States ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Effective on that date, all adoptions of children not citizens of the United States are governed by the Hague Convention. A child is typically considered “habitually resident” in his or her country of citizenship. If the Hague Convention is in force between the United States and the child’s country of citizenship, the requirements of the Hague must be followed if the child is to be legally adopted and eligible for U.S. citizenship. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Anyone considering the adoption of a child born in another country should consult with an experienced adoption attorney.
No. All legal fees and costs are paid by the adoptive parents.
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.
Absolutely! We strongly encourage your participation in counseling. Our office works with very experienced counselors who can provide you with support. Counseling does not cost you anything.
An agency adoption is one in which the birth parents of the child relinquish their parental rights to an Arizona licensed adoption agency. The agency becomes the legal custodian of the child and has the right to place the child for adoption and consent to the adoption. Many agencies allow birth parents to choose an adoptive family from the prospective adoptive clients of the agency.
A private or direct placement adoption is one in which the birth parents give their consent to adopt directly to the family that they have chosen as adoptive parents. In these adoptions, the child is usually discharged from the hospital directly into the custody of the adoptive parents.
If you were married at the time of conception or at any time during the pregnancy, your husband must consent to the adoption. If you were not married, the father can be served with a notice that you have made an adoption plan. If he doesn’t file a paternity action within thirty days of being served with that notice, his consent to the adoption is not necessary.
Yes. The decision about whether to see the baby in the hospital and how much time you want to spend with the baby is entirely yours.
Most birth parents considering an adoption plan request an open adoption. There is no set definition of an open adoption, and openness can vary from meeting the adopting parents prior to the birth of the child to ongoing communication and visits after the adoption. Arizona law allows the birth parents and adoptive parents to enter into a written agreement regarding contact and communication after the adoption.
Birth parents cannot sign a consent to adoption until 72 hours after the birth of the child. Consents, once given, are irrevocable unless obtained by fraud, duress, or undue influence.
No. The baby can go directly to the adoptive parents from the hospital.
Most likely, no. However, some states require your consent to the adoption to be done before a judge.
Yes, Arizona allows adopting parents to assist a birth parent with her living expenses. A court order is required to pay reasonable and necessary living expenses exceeding $1,000.00.
Safe Haven Baby Laws are laws that allow a woman to relinquish her unharmed baby to a safe place without repercussions to her. The laws were passed in the hopes of curtailing infant abandonment and infanticide. Safe Haven Baby Laws have been enacted in many states.
The first choice is to determine whether you want to work with an adoption agency or do a direct placement adoption with the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney. Whichever choice you make, you must be certified by the court as acceptable to adopt before a petition to adopt can be filed. You must also be certified before an attorney can present you to an expectant parent seeking an adoptive placement for their child. You must also be certified to bring a child born outside of Arizona into this state for the purpose of adoption.
Adult adoptions provide forever families with a pathway to create a legally recognized relationship by allowing an adult person to adopt a person over the age of 18.
ART/Surrogacy is a pathway for a couple or a single woman experiencing infertility issues, a same-sex couple, or a single man to have a child who may or may not be biologically related to them.
Yes. Arizona permits birth parents and adoptive parents to enter into a written agreement specifying what contact and communication shall be maintained between the parties after the adoption.
If the birth mother is married, her husband’s consent to the adoption is necessary, even if he is not the biological father. If DNA evidence of paternity rules out the husband as the father of the child, his consent may not be necessary.
For potential fathers who are not married to the mother, a notice must be served to them advising them of the mother’s adoption plan. The potential father has 30 days from the date the notice is served to file a paternity action in the Superior Court and to have the mother served with a copy of the paternity paperwork. If he does not file the paternity action and serve the mother within 30 days, his consent to the adoption is not required.
The Arizona putative father registry is for fathers who may have conceived a child so they can file a claim of paternity. By filing with the registry, the father is entitled to notice of a mother’s adoption plan. A father can register at any time during the pregnancy and up to 30 days after the birth of the child. A father who fails to register within 30 days after the child’s birth waives his right to notification of any adoption proceeding involving the child, and his consent to the adoption is not required. Lack of knowledge of the pregnancy is no excuse for failing to register. The fact that the father had sexual intercourse with the mother is deemed to be notice to him of the pregnancy.
ICPC is an agreement between the 50 states to ensure that a child moving from one state to another to be adopted is being placed into a suitable home with adoptive parents who are qualified to adopt. Administrators of the compact in both the sending state, where the child was born or currently resides, and the receiving state, where the adoptive parents reside, review the adoption paperwork, including the home study, before granting approval for the child to leave the sending state and travel to the receiving state.
In Arizona, adoptive parents cannot get approval to bring a child home from another state unless they are currently certified by the Superior Court as acceptable adoptive parents or are licensed foster parents. The compact does not apply to a parent, stepparent, grandparent, adult sibling, aunt, uncle, or guardian.
The Indian Child Welfare Act, usually referred to as ICWA, is federal law that protects an Indian Tribe’s right to be involved with children who are members of the tribe or eligible for membership. A birth mother who is a member of a tribe, but who does not live on the reservation, may make a voluntary adoption plan for her child. Consents to the adoption of an Indian Child cannot be given until 10 days after the birth of the child. The consent to adopt can be withdrawn by the Indian parent at any time and for any reason, up until a final decree of termination or adoption is entered.
The federal government has provided for a tax credit to assist adoptive parents with the expenses of an adoption. The credit phases out based on your modified adjusted gross income. The tax rules that govern how the credit is claimed and the amount of the credit are determined by the year your adoption was finalized. You will need to check with your own tax preparer to be certain that you qualify for and receive all of the benefits of this credit.
The list below shows the maximum adoption credit that can be claimed, per child, by year:
- 2017 – $13,570
- 2018 – $13,840
- 2019 – $14,080
- 2020 – $14,300
- 2021 – $14,440
- 2022 – $14,890
- 2023 – $15,950
If the child being adopted qualifies for the adoption subsidy program, the child is deemed “special needs” by the IRS and the full amount of the tax credit is available, regardless of whether or not any expenses were incurred in the adoption. Special needs children are usually those who come through the Department of Child Safety.
Arizona recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states, even if those marriages occurred before Arizona began recognizing same-sex marriage.
A woman, or her agent, can relinquish her unharmed infant, less than 30 days old, at a Safe Haven location and that person will not face criminal charges. She must hand her baby to a person or, if available at certain hospitals only, she may place her baby in a Safe Haven drawer. She must tell the worker that this is a safe haven baby. No questions about her identity will be asked.
Safe Haven locations are:
- any Hospital
- any Ambulance
- any on-duty Fire Station
- any Designated Church (must have signage posted)
- any Designated Adoption Agency (must have signage posted)
Arizona Safe Baby Haven Foundation has a crisis hotline at 866.707.2229 or www.azsafebabyhaven.org.
Certification involves a home study and background check conducted by an Arizona licensed adoption agency. You will have to be fingerprinted so that a criminal records check can be completed through the FBI. The entity conducting the investigation submits a report and recommendations to the court in the county where you reside and a judge will determine if you should be certified as acceptable to adopt. This process takes approximately 4-6 months to complete.
- Any person between the ages of 18 years and 21 years.
- Any person who is the stepchild, niece, nephew, cousin, or grandchild of the adopting person, regardless of age.
- Any person who is the foster child of the adopting person, placed with the adopting person as a minor, and who has maintained a familial relationship with the adopting person for a period of five or more years, regardless of age.
ART/Surrogacy offers individuals and couples who cannot have a child otherwise, the option of having a child who is genetically related to them. It gives parents a measure of control over the prenatal care of their child and offers them the chance to be involved with the pregnancy. There is the certainty of having a child and the ability to determine legal parentage before or shortly after the child’s birth.
The babies are transferred to the care of an Arizona licensed adoption agency that places the baby for adoption with one of its waiting families. The babies do NOT go into state custody or the foster care system.
Arizona law permits the court to grant prospective adoptive parents temporary custody of a child pending completion of the certification process. A court hearing is required, and this must be requested within 5 days of your obtaining custody of the child.
Traditional surrogacy occurs when a woman agrees to be inseminated with either the intended parent’s sperm or donated sperm and to carry the child for the intended parent(s) to raise. The traditional surrogate is the biological and genetic mother of the child. Gestational surrogacy is when a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy for another person or couple. The woman is often referred to as a “carrier.” The carrier is not genetically related to the child.
There are many reasons why somebody would want to adopt an adult, but the main reason is to legalize the loving parent-child relationship that has existed in a family. For example:
- An aunt raised her nephew all his life.
- A stepparent who has been in his/her step-children’s lives for decades, but never got around to formally adopting the children.
- A same-sex person whose marriage is now recognized by the state can adopt their spouse’s child, even if that child is now an adult.
- A rekindled relationship between birth mother and her child, after she placed them for adoption as an infant.
- Other reasons may include legally recognizing a person as a child for military benefits, retirement benefits, and for estate planning purposes.
Yes. The Arizona Department of Health Services, Bureau of Vital Records will place both parents’ names on the child’s birth certificate, just as in any other adoption. The names will be identified as “parent” and “parent.”
If there is legal work to be completed on behalf of adoptive parents in Arizona, we can represent you no matter where you live.
The goal is to have the intended parents’ names on the baby’s birth certificate shortly after the child’s birth. We do this by obtaining a court order determining the parentage of the child. While every effort is made to obtain a parentage order pre-birth, there are some issues that may arise which may prevent an order from being entered prior to the child’s birth. It is important to be aware of all possible outcomes and the options available to you.
Same-sex couples will be treated no differently from other couples and individuals adopting. Like any adopting family, it is important for couples and individuals to find the right match with an adoption service provider. Adoptive families want to ensure that there is a trusting and supportive relationship built between the family and provider helping create their forever family.
We welcome expectant parents who are looking to make an adoption placement to contact our office. However, we do not look for expectant parents to match up with adoptive parents.
Intended parents who have created embryos from their own eggs and sperm or with donated eggs or sperm who have completed their family or have decided not to proceed with any further attempts to have a family may wish to donate their embryos to another family rather than have them destroyed or given to medical researchers.
Absolutely! Expectant parents frequently choose LGBTQ families for their children.
No. Adoptive parents may match with an expectant mother who resides in Arizona. Adoptive parents who reside in another state must file a Petition to Adopt in accordance with their own state laws.
A stepparent adoption is the adoption of a child by the spouse of the child’s legal parent. Because their marriages are recognized by the State of Arizona, same-sex couples can complete stepparent adoptions.
Many states allow second parent adoptions, an adoption by two people who are not married. Arizona law does not allow for second parent adoptions. For two people to jointly adopt a child, they must be married. Because Arizona recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex couples can jointly adopt a child, or one spouse may adopt the child of the other spouse.
We handle foster care adoptions, direct placement adoptions, agency adoptions, ICPC adoptions, ICWA adoptions, stepparent adoptions, grandparent adoption, relative adoptions, and adult adoptions.
If the father is not married to the mother, Arizona law requires that he be served with a Potential Father Notice. This notice advises him that the mother has made an adoption plan and requires him to file a paternity action within 30 days if he has an objection. If he does not file the lawsuit within the time limit, his consent to the adoption is not required.