What Is the Adoption Process After Termination of Parental Rights?

Couple completing adoption paperwork

While each adoption case is unique, all adoptions involve the transfer of parental rights from one parent to another. The termination of parental rights is a complex legal process and does not mark the end of the road in the adoption journey. There are hurdles in the adoption process after termination of parental rights that prospective parents must still overcome before unifying their family once and for all.

At the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC, we are well-versed in navigating the complexities of this process and have the experience necessary to achieve the outcome you and your family deserve. Consider connecting with us at (602) 560-7494 to discuss your next steps today.

What Is Termination of Parental Rights in Arizona?

Termination of parental rights in Arizona refers to the process of permanently ending a parent’s legal rights, duties, responsibilities, and privileges to their child. If a child’s safety and wellbeing is in jeopardy, an individual can file to terminate parental rights. If the petition is successful, the parent-child relationship will be legally terminated.

What Are the Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights?

Arizona Revised Statutes § 8-533, lists eleven grounds for the termination of parental rights. It is important to note that these grounds do not automatically terminate parental rights. Rather, they provide reasons for a petitioner to ask the court to terminate a parent’s rights and responsibilities. The court has the discretion to approve or deny the petition based on the unique circumstances of the case.

What Is the Adoption Process After Termination of Parental Rights?

After parental rights have been terminated, the question of child custody becomes critical. Arizona courts must evaluate the situation and determine the most safe and stable living arrangement for the child. Their health, safety, and overall well-being will be the top priority during this process, and the next steps will depend on the unique circumstances of the case.

If the child was residing with the parent whose rights have been terminated, they may be placed with a relative or other suitable individual. If there are no relatives available, the child may be placed in foster care – a temporary living situation in which trained caregivers support the child and help them thrive in a new home environment.

Adoption and termination of parental rights often go hand-in-hand. It is important to understand that while the termination of parental rights is a necessary precursor before adoption, it does not always directly lead to an adoption. To successfully adopt a child following the termination of parental rights, you must be eligible to adopt and able to prove that the transfer of parental responsibilities is in the best interest of the child. 

For Relatives

At the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC, we often help family members like stepparents, grandparents, and adult siblings with the adoption process after termination of parental rights. For family members, the adoption process may be streamlined, assuming the biological parents agree to terminate their parental rights. Courts generally prefer to place children with relatives as opposed to placing them in foster care, which tips the scales in favor of family members.

If parents agree to the adoption, the process will move forward based on the rules and requirements of Arizona law. You may file a Petition to Adopt and begin the process. Your health, emotional preparedness to adopt, and financial ability to care for the child will be evaluated and the court will make a determination about the placement of the child.

For Foster Parents

Termination of parental rights and the adoption process is often an uphill battle for foster parents, particularly in cases where the biological parents do not want to relinquish their rights and responsibilities. While biological parents must terminate their rights before the adoption process can be initiated, the legal severing of parental rights is not legally complete until the adoption has been granted.

Once parental rights have been successfully terminated, however, foster parents may pursue adoption of the child. A period of supervision is generally required, during which a case worker will assess the safety and stability of the home and eventually make a recommendation for the adoption. If the case worker motions for the foster parents to take over parental rights, the foster care adoption process may move forward.

How Can We Support You During the Adoption Process After Termination of Parental Rights?

At the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC, we guide families through all stages of the adoption process in Arizona, keeping the child’s best interests at the forefront of every decision. Our team understands the complicated emotions and circumstances that accompany adoption, and we treat every family with respect, compassion, and the utmost care. To speak with us about the process of terminating parental rights and adopting a child into your family, consider scheduling a free consultation with our team at (602) 560-7494 to learn more today.