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How to Finalize Your Adoption in Arizona

And What to Expect at Your AZ Adoption Finalization Hearing

By the time you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, you’re probably feeling immense relief and joy because you will have been through a long, emotional journey.

This will be one of the happiest, most exciting moments of your life — but the adoption process isn’t quite finished yet. Before your child is officially a legal and permanent member of your family, you’ll need to go through a process known as adoption finalization in Arizona.

It may come as a surprise that this step of the process does not occur until several months after your child has been placed with you. Understanding the steps to finalize your adoption in Arizona, and being prepared for them, will help the post-placement process go smoothly.

“I just love to tell people about it because it’s such an amazing thing and a great opportunity to shed a positive light on adoption. Whatever opportunity I have, I talk about their stories just to be able to say, you know, adoption is a beautiful thing,” said Kristin about her experience with adoption.

Your adoption specialist will be with you every step of the way to make sure your Arizona adoption finalization is a breeze.

If you have questions or concerns as you wrap up your adoption process with our agency, you can always reach your specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION or get free information online. Keep in mind that while we’ve done our best to include some helpful information about this process in the article below, nothing on this page should be considered legal advice — for that, you’ll want to work closely with your Arizona adoption attorney.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about adoption finalization in Arizona.

The Post-Placement Process

Before you can receive your final decree of adoption in Arizona, there are a few legal items that need to be completed, including birth parent consents, any necessary ICPC clearances, and post-placement visits.

  • Step 1: Get necessary consents. First, the birth parents need to officially consent to the adoption. This generally takes place a few days after the baby is born; prospective birth mothers just need to wait a minimum of 72 hours after birth before signing. To be legal, this consent has to be given in writing and be witnessed by two or more credible witnesses who are at least 18 years old. An attorney will ensure the consents are completed correctly so there are no delays in your Arizona adoption finalization.

  • Step 2: Receive ICPC and ICWA clearances, if applicable. After placement, you’ll also want to make sure you’re complying with any applicable laws and regulations, like the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (if you travel across state lines to adopt your child) and/or the Indian Child Welfare Act (if you adopt a child with Native American heritage). Your adoption specialist and attorney will let you know if these regulations apply to your adoption and guide you through the process to receive any necessary clearances.

  • Step 3: Complete the post-placement study. After you take your child home, your Arizona home study professional will complete a number of post-placement visits with your family — generally once within 30 days of placement, then once every three months until the adoption is finalized. These visits will be similar to your pre-placement home study visits; your social worker just wants to observe your child in his or her new home and answer any questions you might have as you all adjust to life as a new adoptive family.

  • Step 4: Attend your Arizona adoption finalization hearing. An adoption finalization hearing will be scheduled about six months after the initial placement of your child. This will take place in your local court. Your adoption attorney and American Adoptions specialist will let you know when and where the hearing will take place and help you prepare for this exciting moment!

Your Arizona Adoption Finalization Hearing [What to Expect]

At the adoption finalization hearing, you will be given permanent, legal custody of your child when the judge issues the final decree of adoption. This is the final step in the Arizona adoption process, and a big cause for celebration. Families often invite extended family and friends to the hearing and have someone photograph the event.

The judge will review your adoption files prior to your schedule court appearance, so the AZ adoption finalization hearing typically lasts only 30–60 minutes. Here is what you can typically expect at your hearing:

  • Your family, adoption attorney and sometimes your social worker will be sworn in before the judge.

  • You will be asked some identification questions, along with questions about why you want to adopt, how your family is adjusting to the new member, and how you will continue to provide a loving, safe home for this child.

  • The judge concludes with any final statements or questions for you or your social worker, then signs the final decree of adoption.

  • If you’d like, your family and the judge may take a group photo with the final decree of adoption.

Now, your child’s adoption is officially finalized and the AZ adoption process is complete!

The Final Decree of Adoption is Issued in Arizona [What Happens Next]

After adoption finalization in Arizona, you will want to get a new social security number and amended birth certificate for your child — one that recognizes the child’s new last name. Your American Adoptions specialist will continue to be available as a resource for information and support. They can also facilitate ongoing communication between you and your child’s birth family.

For additional information about domestic infant adoption with our agency, or to start your own adoption process, call 1-800-ADOPTION or get free information now.

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