Infant Adoption in Arizona

Infant Adoption in Arizona

What is the first step toward adopting an infant or young child in Arizona? This is a question our staff is often asked. The Adoption Home Study is a key part of becoming ready to accept custody of a baby or child (under age 18) through the legal adoption process. A home study is a written report which is completed by a social worker employed by a Licenses Adoption Agency. The home study report must be completed by an agency licensed in the prospective adoptive parent’s state of residence.

The home study process involves a series of interviews (some can be Zoom) between the Hopeful adoptive parent(s) and the Social worker assigned to writing the report. The first interview is generally a session explaining the adoption home study process to the clients. They are provided with a list of documents required (see below) and given an outline to write their autobiography (see attached).  They are required to submit updated medical reports, letters of reference, financial statements, IRS tax returns and vital documents.

Documents required for the Home Study

  1. Autobiographies
  2. Birth Certificates (a certified copy of each family members birth certificate must be shown from Vital Records in their state of birth).
  3. Copies of Drivers Licenses
  4. Marriage Certificate
  5. Divorce Decrees (if applicable)
  6. Medical Statement for each adoptive parent and siblings if applicable
  7. Verification of Employment
  8. IRS Tax return for previous year – form 1040 (first two pages)
  9. Five Letters of Reference (2 relative & 3 non-relative) These letters must provide Name, Address, Phone Number and Nature of Relationship to Adoptive Parents.
  10. Pet Vaccinations (if applicable)
  11. Resumes for Adoptive Parents
  12. Child Protection Clearances DCS (agency provides forms) required for all adults living in household.
  13. Finger Print Clearance Cards required for all adults living in household.
  14. Guardianship Statement: Who have you chosen and Why (along with contact information).
  15. Financial Worksheets (2) (Monthly Budget, & Assets & Liabilities)
  16. List of all Adoption Education Experiences: including classes, workshops & reading materials.
  17. Copy of Medical, Home, Auto and Life Insurance
  18. Copy of Military Discharge papers (if applicable)

The second face to face visit is usually an individual visit, where the social worker asks the client questions about his/her childhood, teenage years, dating & relationship history, educational and  professional experiences. Each adult applicant meets individually with the social worker. After this a home visit is set up so the Social Worker is able to assess the suitability of the potential adoptive parent(s) home and life style. The focus is on safety issues and /or risks for an infant of child placed in the home. A tour of the house and grounds is completed, with special concern being given to bodies of water (pools, hot tubs or ponds), guns and ammunition present in the house (storage facility) and animals in the house. The home visit typically last 1 to 2 hours. Children in the family over the age of 7 are interviewed face to face at this time. The question of Guardianship is often brought up during the home visit to establish who the client(s) have chosen to assume this role for any child/children they may legally adopt in the future.

Once all of the required documents have been submitted the social worker completes the home study report and signs off on it, either recommending the client be approved or denied approval to adopt a child. The main reason people are denied approval to adopt is due to having a serious criminal history.

In Arizona there is an additional step to the Home Study process, which includes a Judge reviewing and signing off on the report. The paperwork which accompanies the home study to court is called an Order of Certification. Once a Juvenile Judge has read over and signed the Adoption Certification Order the clients are approved to adopt an infant or minor child in the state of Arizona. The initial order is valid for a period of 18 months. If the adoption has not occurred during this time period the hopeful adoptive parents may request the home study agency provide them with an Update of their home study report, which is once again submitted to court for a judges review and signature. This second certification order is approved for a twelve month period of time and can be extended twice.

Once a client has received the Adoption Order of Certification signed by the Judge they are legally prepared to accept custody of an infant or child for the purpose of legal adoption. They may choose to sign up with a licensed adoption agency in their state or out of state to await being chosen by birth parents to adopt a child.

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