Who Can Adopt a Child in Arizona?
An individual or married couple may adopt a child in Arizona, and a step-parent may adopt their spouse's child if the spouse is the child's only legal parent. This applies equally same-sex couples.
The primary restriction on two parties adopting a child together is that they must be married, meaning that an unmarried couple may not adopt a child jointly.
Relatives, step-parents, and foster parents frequently adopt, as well as individuals and couples through either a direct placement adoption or working with private adoption agencies.
Who Must Be Certified to Adopt?
Unless you are a close relative, a step parent, or a licensed foster parent seeking to adopt a child placed with you by the Department of Child Safety, you must be certified to adopt before filing an adoption petition. See A.R.S. § 8-105(A)
If you are not certified, and not exempt, you must seek temporary custody within five days of placement. See A.R.S. § 8-108. Consult an attorney immediately if you have any questions about whether or not you need to petition the court for an order granting you temporary custody of a child you wish to adopt. The failure to comply with the certification statutes may otherwise jeopardize your ability to adopt.
What is an Adoption Home Study/Certification?
Before an individual who is not a blood relative, step-parent, or current foster parent approved by the Department, may adopt a child, a certification study must be conducted by an officer of the court, an adoption agency, or an agency contracted by the Arizona Department of Economic Security. Although they do not need to undergo a full home study, blood relatives will still need to be obtain fingerprint clearance cards and pass a background check before adopting.
The purpose of home study is to determine whether a prospective adoptive parent is a fit and proper person to adopt a child. The home study will include:
1. A complete social history.
2. The financial condition of the applicant.
3. The moral fitness of the applicant.
4. The religious background of the applicant.
5. The physical and mental health condition of the applicant. This will require a current written statement by a physician or nurse practitioner regarding the applicant's health.
6. Any court action for or adjudication of child abuse, abandonment of children, dependency or termination of parent-child relationship in which the applicant had control, care or custody of the child who was the subject of the action.
7. Whether the person or persons wish to be placed on the central registry established in subsection M of this section. And,
8. All other facts bearing on the issue of the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents that the court, agency or department may deem relevant.
Certification to adopt is valid for eighteen months after approval by the court, and must be renewed after that timeframe.