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Tempe Adoption Lawyer

Adopting a child or allowing your child to be adopted is an incredibly emotional experience for all involved persons, but is done with the same goal and intent of allowing a child to have a life they might not otherwise have if not for the adoption. As a mother, Tempte adoption attorney Adriana Blanchette understands the emotions associated with wanting what’s best for a child and the sacrifices parents might make to allow that to happen.

Whether you’re a prospective adoptive parent or are a parent who is relinquishing their rights to allow their child to be adopted, Blanchette Law PLLC is ready to help you with the compassion that you deserve. Call  (602) 881-1748 or use the online contact form to schedule your consultation. 

In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about adoption and the process for all who are involved.

tempe adoption lawyer

Information for Adoptive Parents

Eligibility to Adopt

A person may be single, married, divorced, or widowed to adopt a child in Arizona, and they must:

  • Be lawfully present in the United States
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Own or rent your home or apartment
  • You and all adults in your household must pass an FBI and local criminal background check and have a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety
  • Have the financial resources to provide for the child’s needs.

In addition to the above, there may be additional requirements that apply to the type or circumstances of the adoption.

Stepparent Adoption (Same-Sex and Heterosexual Marriages)

Arizona allows stepparent adoptions for same-sex married partners and those of the opposite sex.

When one spouse adopts the other’s biological child, the adopting parent will be granted rights they wouldn’t otherwise have, including the right to make important decisions for the child, such as:

  • Medical care
  • Education
  • Religion and spirituality.

It’s very important for adoptive parents to make decisions on their child’s behalf. Should the biological parent become incapactiated and unable to fully care for the child, the adoptive parent can make sound legal decisions for their child(ren).

tempe adoption lawyer same sex

Spouses must meet the following requirements in order to qualify for adopting a child in Arizona after separation or divorce:

  • The biological parent and adopting parent must be married for at least one year
  • The adopting parent must have lived with the child for at least six months
  • The biological parent spouse must consent to the adoption
  • As for the other biological parent, they must either consent, or their rights must be terminated by a court based on the circumstances of the case such as if their location is unknown or it’s otherwise determined that terminating their and granting the adoption is in the child’s best interests
  • If the minor child is over 12 years old, they must consent to the adoption.

Stepparent adoptions are simple, especially when both biological parents consent, and unlike other forms of adoption, a social study isn’t required.

Adult Adoptions

In Arizona, you may adopt an adult without any familial relationship if they are between the ages of 18 to 21 years old and they consent to the adoption. When adopting an adult with a familial relationship, there’s no age restrictions of the adoptee, but all other legal requirements must be met.

The most common reason for adult adoptions are to formalize an existing relationship, for example, if you have a foster child who has just turned eighteen, or for inheritance purposes as the adoption makes it easier to leave financial assets or property to the adoptee.

To adopt an adult in Arizona, you need:

  • An agreement of adoption which states that all parties have agreed to assume a parent-child relationship and accept all associated duties and obligations.
  • If the adopting parent is married, their spouse must agree to the adoption in writing.

Unlike when adopting a minor child, consent of the adoptee’s biological parents isn’t required unless they are the adopting parent’s spouse.

Adopting an Unborn Child

When adopting an unborn child, there are additional steps compared to the types of adoptions discussed above, including finding an adoption agency or expectant mother. Blanchette Law PLLC has resources and networks to help you find a suitable adoption opportunity.

To be approved for adoption, you must be certified to adopt and must complete a home study by an Arizona licensed adoption agency social worker which will assess and evaluate you as the prospective adoptive parent(s) and any adult members of your home to determine if you are fit and ready to adopt.

The home study takes a few months to complete then is submitted to the judge for review. If approved, the judge will issue you a Certification of Adoption.

In Arizona, the birth parents aren’t responsible for any expenses involved in the adoption process. Instead, the prospective adopting parents must pay for the birth mother’s fees and expenses, including her:

  • Legal fees
  • Counseling fees
  • Hospital and medical care for the birth mother and baby, including prenatal care and the birth
  • Reasonable necessary living expenses to assist her financially during the pregnancy and to preserve her health and that of the baby such as maternity clothes, transportation, groceries, and utilities. The judge must approve payment of living expenses that total over $1,000.

The birth mother cannot consent to the adoption until the child is at least 72 hours old. Once she grants consent, she can’t take it back unless her attorney can prove that she was forced to make the decision through coercion or threats.

After you receive the mother’s consent, you are granted physical custody of the baby, however, you will have post-placement visits by an Arizona-licensed adoption agency within 30 days of placement and every 90 days until the adoption has been finalized.

Special Considerations for Native American Children

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) established minimum Federal standards to protect the best interests of Indian Children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families through the unique values of Indian culture.

tempe adoption lawyer native american

Under the ICWA, an “Indian child” is defined as any unmarried person under the age of 18 who is either:

  • A member of a federally recognized Indian Tribe; or
  • The biological child of a member of a federally recognized Indian Tribe and s eligible for membership in a federally recognized Indian Tribe.

An ICWA Notice is a notice issued when an involuntary child custody proceeding involves an Indian child, including involuntary foster-care placements and termination-of-parental-rights proceedings.

When adopting a child who either is or is believed to be a member of a federally recognized Indian Tribe, it’s imperative to work with a Tempe adoption lawyer to ensure that all ICWA requirements and provisions are met.

Adoption Process

To adopt a child or adult in Arizona, follow these steps:

1. Consult with an Adoption Attorney

The first important step of the adoption process is to consult with experienced Tempe adoption attorney Adriana Blanchette. Adriana and her team at Blanchette Law PLLC will help you develop an adoption plan, ensure that you complete all necessary background checks, and begin the process with the court.

2. Investigation by Court Investigator

If you’re adopting a stepchild, a child whom you fostered, or an adult, a court investigator will be assigned to conduct a thorough investigation of you, your home, the adult members of your household, and they will likely speak with the prospective adoptee to ensure that you are financially fit to adopt them and that the child will live in a safe home.

3. Attend Your Finalization Hearing

If all paperwork was properly submitted, you completed and passed all required background checks and the court’s investigation, and either the biological parent(s) consented to the adoption or their rights were terminated by the court, your adoption will be granted at a hearing. You’ll then want to obtain a certified copy of the decree of adoption from the court so that the birth certificate and other documents can be amended and issued.

Information for Birth Mothers

At Blanchette Law PLLC, we understand that adoption can be emotional for birth mothers. We work with all involved parties to ensure that your wishes are respected, and that the child ends up in a loving and caring home. We’ll assist you with:

  • Legal assistance with birth certificate changes
  • Legal representation during the adoption process
  • Representation at the finalization hearing
  • Filing the necessary documentation with the court
  • Facilitating the payment of your living expenses
  • Ethical and legal termination of the biological father’s parental rights
  • Resources for connecting with adoptive parents.

Things to Consider About Adoption

Adoption is a significant decision with many responsibilities and obligations for everyone involved. Before you make this important step, consider the following:

Your Rights as a Birth Parent

In Arizona, you can’t relinquish your parental rights or consent to the adoption until 72 hours after birth, but you can’t withdraw your consent after it’s been given unless you can prove that you only provided it under undue influence, coercion, duress, or fraud. As such, it’s critical to ensure you’re ready to relinquish your parental rights before signing the adoption papers.

Support During Pregnancy

When contemplating adoption as an expectant mother, it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and your decision, including friends, family, and adoption professionals you can trust, such as your counselor, social worker, medical staff, and even your Tempe adoption lawyer.

tempe adoption lawyer pregnancy

If you feel uncomfortable about the individuals involved during the adoption process, tell your lawyer right away. If you’re already in the process and feel as though your interests aren’t being protected, contact Blanchette Law PLLC right away.

Finding Adoptive Parents

If you already have someone who’s ready to adopt your baby such as a friend or family member, we can walk you through all the necessary legal steps to finalize the adoption.

If you don’t have any prospective adoptive parents in mind, Adriana Blanchette will connect you with adoption professionals who specialize in locating adoptive parents. When enlisting those professionals you can express your preferences for the terms of the adoption.

Open or Closed Adoption

Arizona laws allow birth parents to maintain contact with the child and the adoptive parents after the adoption process, if that’s their wish, called an “open adoption.” An adoption is said to be “closed” if the birth parents do not wish to keep in touch with the adoptive parents.

Providing Notice to the Birth Father

In Arizona, you must notify the birth father before beginning the adoption process. You must be honest about the identity of the birth father to ensure that the adoption process is done in accordance with the relevant Arizona laws. The adoption may proceed if you’re uncertain of the biological father’s identity or if the father doesn’t support the decision.

Adriana Blanchette Provides Compassionate, Personalized Care for Adoptive Parents and Birth Mothers

Whether you’re a birth mother looking for a suitable home for your child or an adoptive parent, Adriana Blanchette, an experienced Tempe adoption lawyer, and her team at Blanchette Law PLLC are here to serve you. Call (602) 881-1748 to schedule a consultation.

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