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Understanding Adoption Records in Arizona [A Guide]

As a birth parent or adoptee, have you ever wondered how you can access the information contained in Arizona adoption records? Maybe you wanted to see if a reunion was possible, but met a wall when searching for identifying details about the other party.

Unfortunately, finding a way to access adoption records in Arizona isn’t always easy. That’s because Arizona is one of many states that seals adoption records and only allows them to be opened under certain circumstances. ‘

However, Arizona adoption records law provides a way for getting some adoption information under the right circumstances. A licensed confidential intermediary can review sealed adoption records in Arizona with the agreement of the parties involved, which means unsealing adoption records in Arizona is possible.

This guide to adoption records in Arizona is not meant to serve as legal advice, and you should always consult with an adoption attorney if you wish to open adoption records in Arizona. In the meantime, read on to learn more about adoption record searches and how to open adoption records in Arizona.

1. What is an adoption records search in Arizona?

An adoption records search in Arizona is when one of the three members of the adoption triad (which includes the adoptee, adoptive parents, and birth parents) wishes to find information about the birth. Such searches are necessary because in the past, the majority of adoptions were closed, meaning no information was exchanged among the parties at the time of placement.

These days, many adoption agencies like American Adoptions encourage birth parents and adoptive families to engage in open adoptions, so the need for adoption records searches may not be as great. For example, in an open adoption in Arizona, our team can ensure that the desired information is shared and contact is made between members of the adoption triad.

2. Who engages in adoption records searches in Arizona?

Any of the three members of the adoption triad can decide to initiate an adoption records search in Arizona. However, there may be other interested parties who begin a records search, including adult adoptees, birth siblings, birth parents, or family members who are conducting genealogical research.

Why would you want to begin an adoption records search in Arizona?

For many people who initiate adoptions records searches, the reason for doing so is clear. For example, adoptees may want closure or an explanation of why they were placed for adoption. Adoption records searches may also bring needed birth family medical information for adoptees and their adoptive parents. Birth parents sometimes struggle with the lack of knowledge about the life their child had in the adoptive home and require information for closure.

3. Are adoption records for Arizona publicly available?

The answer is no. Arizona is one of 24 states that has closed adoption records, meaning the records are sealed to the public until a period of 99 years has elapsed after the birth of the adoptee. Therefore, records are not accessible unless certain conditions are met.

For example, though Arizona adoptions records access is restricted under Arizona adoption record law, as an adoptee you can petition the court to unseal the documents. Here’s how to unseal adoption records in Arizona:

  1. Contact the country clerk in the county in which you were adopted and ask for guidance on filing a petition to unseal your Arizona Department of Health adoption records.

  2. You can complete the petition process and file your petition with the court of record in the county in which you were adopted.

  3. You’ll meet with a judge in the county where you were adopted to discuss your reasons for wanting to unseal the adoption records. The majority of successful petitions feature medical necessity as justification for unsealing the records.

  4. If the judge rules against your petition, you can work with a confidential intermediary, who can gain access to Arizona sealed adoption records.

4. What is a confidential intermediary and what does one do?

In Arizona, a confidential intermediary is a licensed professional who acts on behalf of one or more members of the adoption triad to gain access to Arizona state adoption records. In Arizona, confidential intermediaries are licensed by the state to access adoption records and gain the consent of involved parties to share the information.

A confidential intermediary is not allowed to access information and share it at their discretion, however. The goal of accessing sealed adoption records in Arizona is to initiate communication with the parties involved in the adoption. If all parties agree that information can be shared, then the intermediary can facilitate the exchange of information.

5. What is the Arizona Confidential Intermediary Program?

Founded in 1992, the Confidential Intermediary Program is the licensing body which licenses and governs confidential intermediaries in the state of Arizona. It is administered by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Those who serve as confidential intermediaries must receive ongoing training to ensure they understand the process and the Arizona adoption records law surrounding it. Confidential intermediaries are also trained to be sensitive to the needs of adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, and others who may use the confidential intermediary service.

6. What is the Arizona Sibling Information Exchange?

The Sibling Information Exchange, or SIX, is an extension of the Arizona Confidential Intermediary Program. It was created by the Arizona legislature in 2007 and allows former dependent children to find and exchange information with their siblings.

Under Arizona adoption records law, brothers and sisters from birth parents, adoptive parents, or stepparents are considered siblings and can utilize the Sibling Information Exchange service. 

7. Who may use Arizona’s Confidential Intermediary Program?

There’s a long list of participants in adoption who are eligible to use the Confidential Intermediary Program in Arizona to access Arizona adoption records. Those who are eligible to use the program include the following:

  • Adoptive parents of an adoptee who is 18 years of age or older, or the adoptees guardian is the adoptive parents are deceased

  • An adoptee who is at least 18 years of age

  • The adoptee’s spouse if the adoptee is deceased and the spouse is legal guardian of the adoptee’s child

  • Any child of an adoptee who is over the age of 18

  • Either of an adoptee’s birth parents

  • The parent of a birth parent who is deceased

  • A biological sibling of the adoptee who is 18 years of age

8. Are there other ways to find adoption information in Arizona?

Because Arizona is a closed records state, there’s no legal mechanism to compel the opening of sealed adoption records in Arizona without the consent of the involved parties. However, there is no prohibition against voluntary sharing of information between the parties involved in adoption.

First, many adoption agencies promote the benefits of open adoption, which means that information can be shared freely between all sides of the adoption triad. At American Adoptions, we encourage birth mothers and prospective adoptive parents to consider open adoption in closed states such as Arizona.

There are online adoption records databases where adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents can voluntarily submit information that can help others find them. Arizona also maintains an adoption records registry that contains basic information on adoptions recorded in the state.

Closing Words About Adoption Records in Arizona

Just because Arizona is a closed record state doesn’t mean your hunt for information related to your adoption is futile. Arizona adoption records law establishes a path of hope for those who want to find out more about an adoption in which they were involved.

At American Adoptions, we encourage open post-adoption contract arrangements whenever it suits the wishes of birth parents and prospective adoptive families. Our team of adoption specialists consists of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents, so we know how important the exchange of information in adoptions can be.

To speak with an adoption specialist about adoption records and the benefits of open adoption, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION or get free adoption information here.

Disclaimer
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.