The Basics of Foster Care Adoption in Arizona
Are you ready to start a family but unsure if adopting an infant is right for you? For potential adoptive parents willing to adopt an older child, adoption through foster care in Arizona can be a satisfying way to build a family.
Adopting from foster care in Arizona isn’t for everyone, but it can be rewarding. Private adoption offers a shorter path to adoption and maximum control throughout the process, but adoption through foster care in AZ has its own benefits. However, if you’re considering AZ foster parent adoption, there may be a few areas of concern you should think about.
Here, we want to help you understand the process, a few of the reasons some families choose foster care adoption in AZ, and what challenges you may face with adoption through foster care in Arizona.
Maybe you’re still not sure how you’d like to begin your adoption journey, and that’s okay. A good first step in charting your course involves speaking with a licensed adoption professional, and we want you to know we’re here for you. To speak with one of our specialists today, simply call 1-800-ADOPTION or complete our online form.
Now, let's dive a little deeper into foster care adoption in Arizona and what it could mean for your family.
What’s Foster Care Adoption in Arizona?
Foster care adoption in Arizona is the adoption of a child in foster care after their biological parents’ rights have been terminated by the court. In AZ foster care adoption, a child can be adopted by their foster parents or another adoptive family that’s met Arizona’s eligibility criteria. You can pursue a straight adoption through foster care in Arizona, or you may choose to pursue a form of AZ foster parent adoption called fostering to adopt.
At any given time, there are about 13,500 children in Arizona’s foster system. A lot of those kids are eligible for adoption. American Adoptions focuses on domestic infant adoption, but we understand that every adoption journey is unique. You may choose to pursue adoption from another country through international adoption, or you may choose to grow your family through foster care adoption in Arizona.
Is Adopting from Foster Care in Arizona Similar to Private Adoption?
In some ways, foster care adoption in AZ is similar to private domestic adoption. However, there are some key differences to consider.
In Arizona, adoption through foster care works much like state foster care adoption in other states. First, a child must be placed in the care of the foster system. That can result from many different situations, but the common thread is that the child is removed from the home of the birth parents due to some adverse condition. The main goal of the foster system is to eventually reunite the biological parents and the child once the adverse conditions are remediated.
That can be difficult for some prospective parents considering foster care adoption. There’s a possibility that biological family reunification prevents an adoption opportunity. That can make adoption out of the foster care system in AZ less appealing for some hopeful families. If you’re concerned about that, then domestic infant adoption may be better for you since there’s no reunification risk in private adoption.
In some cases, adoption from foster care in AZ is possible, though. After the parental rights of the biological parents are terminated, the state may turn first to the child’s biological relatives to identify a permanent family to adopt them. That’s not always a viable option, though, which means foster family adoption in AZ can move forward.
How Does a Hopeful Family Pursue Foster Care Adoption in Arizona? [6 Steps]
Because no two scenarios are exactly alike, the adoption process may vary due to the child’s circumstances and the parents’ chosen way of adopting out of the foster care system in AZ. That said, most families follow the steps below for foster system adoption in AZ.
Step 1: Set Your AZ Foster Care Adoption Goals
So you think Arizona foster care adoption is the way to go for you. There are three paths you can choose to pursue. Do you mainly want to become a temporary foster parent? Do you want to foster to adopt? Or, are you seeking a direct adoption in foster care in AZ? You must decide this before moving forward because your choice will impact your path.
Step 2: Find an AZ State Foster Care Adoption Professional
Adoption professionals will guide and support you throughout the process. In foster care adoption in Arizona, there are specialized public agencies that facilitate the process, so you’ll need to contact one of them to get started. Though not the case in every state, Arizona allows hopeful parents to select an agency that best suits them, just like with other kinds of adoption.
Step 3: Go Through AZ Adoption Foster Parent Training
Most foster and adoptive parents must attend pre-adoption parenting classes before moving forward with foster parent adoption in AZ. That training may include:
- PS-MAPP (Permanence and Safety-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting)
- PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education.)
Training can be delivered online and in person. The online course includes 11 sessions, while the in-person version requires 15 classes
Step 4: Submit an Application for Adoption Through Foster Care in AZ
The next step is applying for adoption through foster care in Arizona. As part of the application process, you’ll provide information about your life and your experience with children. You’ll also undergo child abuse and neglect checks and a general criminal background check.
Step 5: Undergo a home study from a licensed professional
The adoption home study is a critical step in any adoption journey. The same is true with foster care adoption in Arizona. Hopeful foster or adoptive parents must complete an Arizona home study conducted by a licensed home study professional, as is the case with any form of adoption.
If you haven’t yet found a home study professional, you may be happy to know that American Adoptions is licensed to perform home studies in Arizona.
Step 6: Wait for the perfect placement
If your plan is to foster while waiting for an adoption opportunity, you’re in luck. Your wait time will likely be short. There are approximately 13,500 waiting children in Arizona’s foster system, and about 3,600 need homes now.
However, if direct foster care adoption in Arizona is your goal, there’s a good chance your wait for a match may be much longer. If you don’t want to foster and want the shortest possible wait time, private domestic adoption may be a better choice for your family.
What are the Requirements for Foster Care Adoption in Arizona?
The requirements for foster care adoption in Arizona are a little different from the criteria for private domestic adoption. To be eligible for foster care adoption in AZ, potential parents must meet the following requirements:
- Are single, married, divorced or widowed
- Meet minimum age requirements (21 to foster, 18 to adopt)
- Own or rent your home or apartment
- Pass an FBI and local criminal background check and have a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety
- Are lawfully present in the United States
- Complete the required training to become a foster parent/ adoptive parent
Pros and Cons of Foster Care Adoption in Arizona
Adoption out of the foster care system in Arizona offers a rewarding way to build a family if you don’t necessarily wish to adopt an infant. That said, it’s wise to consider these pros and cons of foster care adoption in AZ before deciding.
Pros of Foster Care Adoption in Arizona
- Reduced wait time for placement if fostering to adopt: There are almost always more children in foster care waiting for adoption than available adoptive parents. Every kid deserves a stable, loving home, a supportive family, and a chance to grow into the person they’re destined to be. Arizona foster parent adoption gives you a way to provide all those things for a child in need. If you foster to adopt, you’ll probably have a placement soon after fulfilling the requirements. On the other hand, direct adoption through foster care in AZ usually leads to wait times longer than those in private domestic adoption. For example, the average wait time with American Adoptions is 9-12 months, but straight adoption through foster care in AZ can take several years, and there’s a chance a permanent adoption never happens at all.
- Disrupted adoptions are rare: A disrupted adoption is tough for everyone involved. The risk of a disruption is much lower in Arizona foster care adoption because children in foster care can’t be adopted until the parental rights of their birth parents are exhausted. There’s little chance a parent can regain custody of the child after foster care adoption in AZ. (It’s important to note that with American Adoptions, disrupted adoptions rarely occur, as we have a 96% success rate in private adoptions. We strive to prevent disruptions by pre-screening birth mothers and giving them counseling and support throughout their decision. We also reduce financial risk for prospective adoptive parents through our industry-leading adoption financial protection program, so you get a full refund on adoption costs if an adoption disruption occurs.)
- Lower overall expense: It’s no secret that domestic and international infant adoptions are costly (almost $50,000 in some cases.) For some families, that is an obstacle to growth through adoption. Foster care adoption in AZ is far less expensive, and you can get financial assistance to offset any foster care adoption costs.
Cons of Foster Care Adoption in Arizona
- Tough childhood circumstances lead to trauma: Children awaiting adoption through foster care in AZ have often endured some degree of hardship during their childhood. That can lead some children in AZ foster care adoption to have difficulty adjusting to their new situation, which will require them to work with a counselor. For the adoptive parents, that can mean additional investments of time, emotion, and funds needed to help your child adapt in your home. You won’t experience that with private domestic infant adoption because your baby will grow up in the safe, loving home you provide.
- Open adoption isn’t usually possible: Private adoption offers adoptees the benefit of open adoption, which often helps them overcome feelings of rejection and grief while learning who they are and where they come from. Open adoption usually isn’t available in foster care adoption in AZ. Because of the nature of foster care placement and the adverse circumstances that often lead up to it, there’s usually little or no communication with the biological parents once their parental rights have been terminated by the court.
- Extra steps involved: In foster care adoption in AZ, you must complete additional training that isn’t usually required for hopeful parents in private domestic adoption. That can slow down the process, and attendance at training may be difficult for hopeful parents to manage. For example, the PS-MAPP training spans 10 weekly sessions. There is no such required training for private domestic adoption, however.
- Fostering-to-adopt can be emotionally taxing: Hopeful parents pursuing foster care adoption in AZ sometimes begin by “fostering to adopt” if the child’s parents still have their parental rights. But termination of parental rights isn’t inevitable, and the process can stretch on for years. That’s sometimes difficult for adoptive families to process. The foster system is primarily concerned with restoring children to their birth parents. Adoption is a secondary option available only when the parental rights of the birth parents are exhausted. Some potential parents are disappointed when an opportunity for permanent adoption through foster care in AZ never comes. The best way to ensure you get a permanent adoption opportunity is to pursue private domestic adoption. Once adoption papers are signed by the birth parents, your child will become fully yours to love and raise.
Closing Thoughts on Foster Care Adoption in Arizona
Foster care adoption in AZ is a noble act of love for a child in need of a stable, loving home. Giving a child the life they deserve through AZ foster system adoption allows you to build the family you’ve always dreamed of having while doing something kind for another person.
Still unsure about whether AZ foster care adoption or private adoption is right for you? We can help you get the information and answers you need to explore your options. To speak with an experienced professional today, complete our online form or call 1-800-ADOPTION.
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