For an adoption to be successful in Arizona, whether it be a private/agency adoption, a stepparent adult, a relative adoption, or an adoption through the Arizona Department of Child Safety, the child must be “legally free” for adoption. In Arizona, this means the birth parents consented to the adoption of the child, a judge terminated the birth parents’ rights, or the birth parents are deceased.
Who Can Be Adopted?
A child under the age of 18 years who is in Arizona legally may be adopted. Adults who are over the age of 18 may also be adopted depending on the relationship of the adoptee, or the person being adopted, and the person adopting.
Who Can Adopt?
Any adult Arizona resident, whether married, unmarried, or legally separated, may adopt a child as a single parent. A married couple may adopt a child together. Same-sex couples can also adopt in Arizona. You may adopt through an adoption agency or you may work directly with the birth parents.
If you are unrelated to the child, you will need to be either certified to adopt the child or be a licensed foster parent. If you are related to the child, you may still need to be certified or licensed. If you are a grandparent, a great-grandparent, a sibling, an aunt, an uncle, or a cousin, you do not need to be licensed or certified. However, it is important you understand the differences between being a licensed foster parent and a non-licensed foster parent.
There are special requirements that must be followed if the child is considered an Indian Child under the Indian Child Welfare Act. It is very important that your adoption professional follow both the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act and Arizona’s laws governing an Indian Child. Not following these federal and state laws may put your adoption at risk.
Stepparent adoptions are important to ensure a sense of togetherness within a family. The stepparent adoption allows both parents (the birth parent and stepparent) to be the legal parents of the child. This is important for inheritance rights, insurance, schools, medical professionals, and most importantly, for the family unit itself. Because a stepparent is a legal stranger to the child, if the birth parent passes without completing a stepparent adoption, then the child’s custody may refer back to the second birth parent.
In Arizona, there is no requirement as to how long you and your spouse must be married before your spouse completed the stepparent adoption. However, there may be additional requirements depending on the length of your marriage. If your marriage is less than one year, then you will need to have a social study completed to present to the judge your family and ensure that the adoption would be in the child’s best interest. If you have been married for more than one year, you should not need to complete a social study. That being said, it is always up to the judge as to whether to order a social study completed.
In Arizona, adults may adopt other adults who are over the age of 18 years old. However, Arizona law only allows adult adoptions in certain situations where specific relationships exist. In adult adoptions, the birth parents of the adoptee (the person being adopted) does not need to be notified of the adoption.
As with any kind of adoption in Arizona, the child must be legally free for adoption for a relative to adopt. Relatives may include grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins. In Arizona, depending on the relationship between the child and adoptive parent, certification may not be required.
Private & Agency Adoptions
In Arizona, if you are not related to the child either biologically or through adoption, you must become certified by an Arizona court to adopt. Certification can be a fairly in-depth process and may require a social worker coming to your home, meeting you and your family, and providing information to a judge requesting that you become certified to adopt a child. You will need a licensed adoption agency or licensed social worker to request to the court that you become certified to adopt.
Adoption Agency Involvement
Adoption agencies provide resources and support for birth parents and adoptive parents. There are options for selecting an adoption agency. If you decide to use an adoption agency, make sure you make the right choice for you and your family. You may consider local Arizona adoption agencies or a national adoption agency that is licensed in Arizona. It is important to do your own research on the best fit for you.
Adoptive Parents must be married to adopt jointly. If one of the parents is the legal parent of the child, the second parent may complete a stepparent adoption of the child to ensure that the child has two legal, loving, and supportive parents.