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Adoption

Creating a family through adoption is the most rewarding area of juvenile law.  

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Birth mothers, adoptive parents, step parents, and foster care parents through the adoption process including the termination of the biological parents’ rights or the voluntary relinquishment of those parental rights.  The adoption process can begin with the biological parent’s pregnancy and continue until the adoption order is rendered in court.  Patience and trust are required in  the working relationship of attorney and client.  Emotions can cloud a person’s judgment.

Adoption is a complicated process.
There are state and federal support funds available to adoptive parents: medical/therapeutic services; adoption subsidy and reimbursement; and federal tax credit.

Step Parent Adoption and Blood Relative Adoptions

The majority of adoption cases involve a step parent who adopts his or her spouse’s child, or a grandparent, uncle, aunt or sibling who is entrusted to raise a child by the biological parent (usually the mother).  Once the biological parents have  consented or have had their parental rights terminated, the adoptive parents can obtain a home study from an adoption agency.  The adoption agency gives a report to the court regarding the parents’ background, which provides a criminal background check and a home study.   If the adoption study is favorable, the court usually approves the adoption at a final hearing.

Fostercare Adoption

Many children who are removed from their biological parents to foster care eventually become available for adoption.  Foster care parents are licensed by the State of Arizona to provide safe, caring and supportive homes to children on a temporary basis.  After the children have been in foster care for a year without being returned to their biological parents, Child Protective Service may permanently place them in a foster care home with a case plan of adoption.   Before foster care children are ready for adoption, the biological parents voluntarily relinquish their rights to the agency, or their rights will be terminated by court order.  

Many times, children in foster care have special needs.  Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) is an agency dedicated to the adoption of special needs children.  The foster dare parents are eligible for special needs subsidies to care for the children.  To learn more about becoming licensed foster care parents, you can view the AASK, and the DES website, and Wednesday’s Child, a Channel 12 award winning program featuring foster children and youth who need adoptive homes.  Approximately 53% of adoptions are done by foster care parents.

The Third-Party Adoption of a Newborn

Two parents, who have no blood relationship, may decide to adopt a child.  They can find a birth mother who wants to place a child for adoption through an agency, an attorney, a doctor’s office or other community resource.  After they have met the biological mother and she has chosen them to be the future adoptive parents of her child, they can support her financially through her pregnancy and childbirth. This financial support, however, does not oblige the birth mother to give up the child for adoption.  The birth mother can change her mind and decide to keep the baby after child birth.   By law, the birth parents cannot consent to the relinquishment of parental rights until 72 hours after the baby is born.   The biological father’s rights are either voluntarily relinquished or terminated. 

These adoptions can take up to two years to complete from the beginning of the pregnancy through the final order.  There is no perfect adoption case.  Sometimes the mother wants to give the child up for adoption, but the father does not.    The child may be born prematurely or with complications.   Emotions run high.  Good legal representation is essential to encourage patience and trust among the biological and adoptive parents.

Biological Parents: Adoption is A Challenging Process

If you are a pregnant woman in the Phoenix area and considering the adoption of your baby, you will need an attorney to represent you in the adoption process.  You have certain rights under Arizona law, including adoption counseling, legal representation, court-ordered financial support, and the right to select the adoptive parents for your baby.  You need an attorney who will work with you, who will inform you of your rights, guide you through the process and work to build the best possible future for you and your baby.   The last thing you need to worry about is “how much this will cost you.”   The adoptive parents are expected to pay for your legal fees and your counseling.

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