Adoption, including step-parent adoption

Adoption in Arizona

An adoption is the legal process by which an individual becomes the legal "parent" of a child that is not biologically theirs.  The most common adoptions in Arizona include step-parent adoptions, grandparent adoptions, and couples seeking to adopt children for personal reasons.  Usually, besides an age requirement, there are no restrictions to adoption in the United States.  It is, however, slightly more difficult for single persons to adopt a child than for married couples.

Step-parent Adoption:

When a person wishes to adopt their step-child through a “Step-Parent Adoption” it is a relatively easy process so long as the biological parent of the child consents to the adoption.  When the biological parent consents to the adoption, and  the step-parent has been legally married to the child’s birth parent for at least one year and has lived with the child for at least 6 months, A.R.S. § 8-112 only requires that a step-parent submit to a criminal records check and a central registry check before they can adopt the child. If the biological parent does not consent to the adoption, a termination of their parental rights must occur before the adoption can take place.

Grandparent and Family Adoption:

When a grandparent wishes to adopt their grandchild, it is also a relatively easy process so long as the biological parents of the child consent to the adoption.  Similar to a step-parent adoption, A.R.S. § 8-112 only requires the grandparents to submit to a criminal records check and a central registry check as long as the prospective adoptive parent is the child’s adult sibling by whole or half blood or is the child’s aunt, uncle, grandparent or great-grandparent.  Additionally the child must have resided with the prospective adoptive relative for at least six months.  If the biological parent does not consent to the adoption, a termination of their parental rights must occur before the adoption can take place.

Foster Child Adoption:

When a person wishes to adopt a foster child, the adoptive parent(s) must be certified by the court as acceptable to adopt the child(ren).  The certification process includes:

  • ·         A written application;

  • ·         An adoption orientation and training;

  • ·         A certification investigation and report to the court that considers the prospective adoptive parents’ fitness to adopt the children.

Additionally, the parental rights of the biological parents must be terminated before the adoption can proceed.  The State will also appoint a lawyer (i.e. a “Guardian Ad Litem“) on behalf of the child to make sure their rights are protected during the Termination of Parental Rights proceeding.

Home Study:

Adopting parents may be required to complete a pre-placement “Home Study” in preparation for the adoption process.  The Home Study will involve a social worker who will interview the prospective parents and conduct a background investigation.  This will include a criminal history, financial history, familial history, and a medical examination.  Lastly, the social worker will want to tour the prospective parents’ home in order to make sure they can adequately provide for the potential adoptive child.

The Berkshire Law Office has experience in the entire adoption process, and, if necessary, experience in the termination of parental rights before the adoption can occur. 

Contact us for assistance in your adoption matter.