Making the decision to adopt a child is the beginning of a deeply fulfilling and enriching story. Not only are you selflessly providing a home to a child in need, but you are opening the doors to the joy of parenthood. While this journey is meaningful and exciting, the process can be equally complicated and emotional, riddled with legal and financial hurdles to overcome before bringing your child home. At the Law Office of Justin Fernstorm PLLC, we help families navigate the Arizona adoption process and provide a lifelong home to children in need. To discuss your situation with our team, consider scheduling a free consultation with us at (602) 560-7494 today.
Am I Eligible to Adopt?
According to Arizona law, any adult resident of the state is eligible to adopt a child. Prospective adoptive families should rent or own a home, successfully pass FBI and relevant local background checks, have a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card granted by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and legally reside in the United States.
Married couples are eligible to adopt a child jointly. It should be noted that Arizona Revised Statute § 8-103 specifies that if all relevant factors are equal, preference will be granted to a married couple. This should not dissuade single individuals from beginning the adoption process, however, as Arizona courts will prioritize the child’s best interests when determining placement.
What Factors Will Be Considered When Placing a Child in an Adoptive Home?
Above all, a child will be placed in a home that meets their health, safety, social, emotional, and physical needs. Some other key factors that will be considered when placing a child in an adoptive home include:
- Marital status, as well as length and stability of the marriage, if applicable.
- Placement with siblings.
- Established relationships between the child and the adoptive family.
- Ability of the adoptive family to meet the needs of the child, including financial security.
- Wishes of the child if they are 12 years of age or older.
- Availability of relatives, foster parents, or other significant persons to provide support to the child and their prospective adoptive family.
- Wishes of the birth parents unless parental rights have been terminated or the court has created a plan for severance and adoption.
How Do I Begin the Arizona Adoption Process?
The first steps of the adoption process in Arizona depend entirely on which kind of adoption you are pursuing. In some situations, you must be certified by the court before adopting a child. If you are related to the child (grandparent, step-parent, aunt/uncle, or sibling), then certification is not necessary. Likewise, if you are a licensed foster parent, you may bypass the certification process.
Becoming Certified to Adopt & the Adoption Home Study Process
To become certified to adopt, you must complete an adoption home study. The home study is used to confirm that you are physically, emotionally, and financially prepared for adoption. During the home study, you will be asked to produce documents such as:
- Medical records verifying that you are physically fit to care for a child.
- Financial statements proving that you can monetarily support a child.
- Background checks.
- Identification information, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc.
In-home visits will also be conducted, during which licensed professionals and social workers will inspect your home and interview members of your family to determine if the environment is safe and stable. While the in-home visits can be stressful and intimidating, home study professionals are not looking for perfection; rather, they want to see that your family is prepared to welcome a new member into the home.
Choosing the right support system to help you navigate your adoption journey is key to successfully initiating the process. You are in control of the friends, family, and professionals who are involved in your adoption. Seeking support from an experienced legal team is often the first step for many families across Arizona. With the Law Office of Justin Fernstorm PLLC by your side during the early stages of the process, you can feel confident that your adoption plan is tailored to your unique needs.
What Happens After Adoption Placement?
The process is not finished after a child has been placed in an adoptive home. Following the adoption placement your home study provider will conduct post-placement visits. The frequency and consistency of post-placement visits will vary from case to case, with the first visit typically happening within a month of placement.
Post-placement visits will continue on a regular basis – usually every 90 days – until the adoption is finalized. These visits are a key part of the Arizona adoption process and are used to assess how well the child is adapting to your home and whether additional services are required to facilitate adjustment.
When Is the Adoption Finalized?
For an adoption to be legally finalized, each step of the process must be successfully carried out according to Arizona law. For many families, this includes a certification to adopt, a home study, legal termination of birth parents’ rights, a proper number of post-placement visits, and a recommendation to adopt.
Once all legal requirements are satisfied, a finalization hearing will be scheduled. This hearing marks the final step of your adoption journey and ensures that your child is a legally recognized member of your family. Following your finalization hearing, your legal adoptive relationship will be established and you will receive your final adoption certificate. For so many Arizona families, the finalization hearing is a joyous occasion and a reason to celebrate!
Take the Next Step in the Arizona Adoption Process With Our Team
If you are considering embarking on the adoption journey, identifying adoption professionals who you can trust is critical. At the Law Office of Justin Fernstorm PLLC, we draw on our extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the Arizona adoption process to provide families with high-quality legal counsel and genuine, compassionate support. From the moment you contact our team until we finalize your adoption, you can rest assured that we will guide and support you through every step. To learn more, consider connecting with us at (602) 560-7494 today.