Adoption in Arizona can be confusing. Understanding the different types of adoptions and what’s required of adoptive parents, makes it much easier.

step-parent adoption in Arizona-McMurdie Law & MediationIs it time to adopt your step-child you have been raising for many years? Or, has something happened in your family and you must step in to become the parent of a child in your extended family?  Is your family and marriage strong that adopting your step-child would make it even stronger?

Adoption is a wonderful way to unite and grow families.  It allows children the love and care of two parents and gives parents an opportunity to form an extended, loving family.

Adoption requirements in Arizona are designed to ensure the safety of adopted children, to help prepare prospective adoptive parents and to ensure the legal rights of all parties. This article will cover the basics, but as with all legal matters, consulting an experienced family law attorney is recommended.  McMurdie Law & Mediation has been delighted to handle the adoption of minor children and adult children as well.

Here’s a start on understanding the basics of adoption in Arizona.

What is adoption?

Adoption is a legal process by which a child, who will no longer be raised by their birth parents, becomes a full and permanent legal member of another family. It’s not just about paperwork, though–adoption is also about creating permanent and loving families for children who need them most.

Adoption can be open or closed, domestic or international, through private or government agencies (or both). It’s important to understand all of these different types of adoptions so you know what type of adoption may be right for you and your family.

What are the different types of adoption in Arizona?

There are several types of adoption in Arizona. The most well-known is domestic adoption, which occurs when a child born in the United States is adopted by parents who aren’t biologically related to them. Domestically adopted children are sometimes referred to as “conventional” or “traditional,” though these terms can be misleading because they suggest that other types of adoptions are somehow less legitimate or acceptable than domestic ones.

International adoptions involve bringing foreign-born children into the United States for permanent residency with new families. These adoptions may be arranged by private parties or agencies, but all must meet certain standards set forth by Congress under federal law (the International Adoption Act). There are many reasons why people pursue international adoptions–some feel urged by a calling to help orphans find homes; others want a child who looks like them; still others seek out specific racial characteristics or physical traits that don’t exist among local kids available for adoption through Arizona state agencies like DHS (Department of Human Services). Because of their high costs and complicated nature, however–not every orphanage will allow you access; they might even reject your application outright–it’s best not think about pursuing this type until you’ve done considerable research first!

Private adoptions occur when biological parents give up custody rights voluntarily without involving any third-party organizations whatsoever.” This means there won’t be any paperwork involved either; just an agreement between yourselves stating what happens next once things start getting serious between us two love birds!”

Step-parent adoptions can be a complex process. This is considered a significant legal action that requires a home study by an adoption agency that is licensed to testify of their evaluation of the family and provide a report that the family is certified to adopt.  After adoption, step-parents have all the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent.

stepparent adoption in Arizona-McMurdie Law & MediationDoes the birth parent get a say in the adoption?

There are several ways for birth parents to give their child up for adoption.

  • They can choose the adoptive parents, and the adoption agency will then work with the chosen family to complete an adoption plan.
  • They can choose whether or not they want any involvement in the process after placement. This may include visiting with their child, being updated on his or her progress through school, etc., as well as whether or not contact should continue after he/she turns 18 years old (and has reached legal age).
  • In the case of step-parent adoption, the uninvolved parent must first either relinquish parental rights, or their parental rights are terminated by a judge in our juvenile court. These choices are determined by your specific situation and what would be best for everyone involved–including yourself!

What if the Mother wants to give up her child, however the birth father objects to the adoption?

Arizona law gives the birth father the right to object to his child’s adoption. The birth father must file a petition within 30 days of being served with notice of any pending adoption proceedings (meaning after someone files an adoption petition). If this does not happen within 30 days from when they were served with notice their rights will automatically terminate.

What’s required of adoptive parents in Arizona?

In order to adopt a child in Arizona, you may be married, single, divorced or widowed, but you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Own or rent a home or apartment
  • Pass criminal background checks (local and FBI)
  • Have a level 1 fingerprint clearance card issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety
  • Be a legal U.S. resident.
  • Complete an approved home study and have it approved by an adoption agency or court.

What are open adoptions?

Open adoptions are when the biological parents participate in the process of placing the child with an adoptive family. They may also continue to have contact after the adoption is finalized.

Open adoptions can be used for either domestic or international adoptions. In Arizona, open adoptions are most common when adopting older children (ages 7+) as opposed to infants because they allow both sides of the family to get to know each other before finalizing legal ties through court proceedings.

How is 3rd Party Adoption different than open adoption by two parents?

In a step-parent or other third-party adoption, after the severance of the uninvolved parent who either waives by consent their parental rights, or they are severed by the court, then the Juvenile Court will schedule an adoption hearing.  The severance hearing can be challenging if the uninvolved parent contests.  In contrast, the adoption hearing is a short celebratory event in which families are invited, the judge allows photos and the new birth certificate can be processed. After Covid, many juvenile courts are holding adoption hearings via video and they can be celebratory too, with special backgrounds and families also attending through their video portal.

adoption in Arizona-McMurdie Law & Mediation What happens after the adoption?

After adoption in Arizona, an amended birth certificate is issued with your name(s) listed as the parent(s), and reflecting your child’s new last name.

The adoption decree gives you all parental rights and responsibilities for your child, including:

  • The right to make decisions regarding education, medical care and other needs of the child;
  • The responsibility for providing financial support for the child
  • A duty not to abuse or neglect the adopted person; and
  • The right to inherit property from an adopted person if there is no spouse or issue surviving him/her at death.

The process of adoption in Arizona can be a little confusing at first, but once you understand the different types of adoptions available and what’s required of adoptive parents, it becomes much easier. If you’re considering adoption for yourself or someone else in your family then we hope this article helped shed some light on options for expanding your family through adoption in Arizona, contact McMurdie Law and Mediation because we specialize in third-party or step parent adoptions. For a free phone consultation contact us at (480) 777-5500.