Adopting Your Foster Children in Arizona
If you are a foster parent, you know the feeling of familial attachment to your foster child. You want to care for the child for the long term, give them the best future possible, and commit to being an “official” family. Many foster parents decide to legally adopt their foster children for this reason. In Arizona, foster care adoption is a meticulous process, but with the help of a reliable adoption attorney, the result of this process could be wonderfully life-changing.
Here’s the basic process of foster care adoption in Arizona and other things you need to know as a potential adoptive parent.
How to Adopt Your Foster Child in Arizona
1. Meet the qualification requirements.
To adopt a foster child in Arizona, you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have no conviction of violent crimes, crimes against children, or crimes against a partner.
Being single, married, or widowed will not affect your eligibility. It also does not matter whether you own your home or rent it.
In addition, you must ensure that the child is free for adoption. This happens if the biological parent has provided an adoption consent or if the court has terminated the biological parents’ parental rights. The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) facilitates either of these actions, so you’ll need to coordinate with this agency.
2. Get a certification to adopt.
In Arizona, you need a court certification before adopting a child. If you are married, you and your spouse need to be certified. Contact a licensed adoption agency in your county to initiate the certification process. These agencies conduct home studies on behalf of the court to ensure that potential adoptive parents are qualified to permanently care for children. They will also require you to participate in trainings and submit to background checks.
3. Undergo the transitional period.
If the AZ DCS has selected you as a prospective parent for the child, they will arrange a transitional period of at least six months. There are a few exceptions to this six-month stay, which you may want to discuss with your DCS team.
4. File a Petition for Adoption.
Once you have completed the transition, you may file a Petition for Adoption at the juvenile court in your ZIP code. (In Phoenix, the facility is at 3131 W. Durango, Phoenix, AZ.) Arizona law requires you to have an attorney during the petition process. You and your lawyer will need to attend the adoption hearing as the court finalizes your adoption.
Common Questions About Foster Child Adoption
Why do I need an adoption lawyer?
Under Arizona law, you must have an attorney if you are petitioning for adoption. Any type of lawyer is allowed, but you’ll want to hire an attorney focused on Arizona Family Law. This is a complex branch of law where your lawyer’s experience could be indispensable in achieving an ideal outcome for you and the child.
Bear in mind that not all adoption petitions are granted. A specialized adoption lawyer helps you satisfy all aspects that the court examines and liaises with the DCS and the adoption agency for a smooth adoption process.
How much does it cost to file for adoption in AZ?
Arizona county courts do not charge a filing fee for an adoption petition. Outside of this, you must be prepared for costs such as certification agency fees (typically around $800), lawyer fees, and other associated expenses.
Are there subsidies for foster child adoption?
Under Title XIX of the Social Security Act, a subsidy may be available for children’s medical and legal services and monthly maintenance payments. A child may qualify if they are in the care of the DCS or licensed adoption agencies. Speak with your caseworker or attorney if you wish to explore your subsidy options.
What if the child is my relative?
If you are closely related to your foster child, you do not need to get an adoption certification, although some prospective parents still go through this process for its advantages. These include parent training, support services, and reimbursement for some foster care costs.
Call a Trusted Adoption Lawyer in Arizona
It’s important to work with a trusted adoption attorney to avoid costly mistakes in the process. In Maricopa County and the surrounding areas, the adoption lawyers at Goldman Law have earned the trust of individuals and families who now permanently care for their adopted children. We can help you achieve a smooth adoption process and a favorable result for you and your child.
Consult with Goldman Law for your foster care and adoption needs. Call (602) 698-5520 or use our contact form for a consultation.