Some of the happiest days of our lives are when we adopted our children.  Taking photos with the judge, dressing our children in cool outfits, inviting family and friends, and receiving gifts from those who helped us along the way was a really cool experience.  My wife and I have personally adopted 3 children in Arizona, and it has been a great experience!  Of course, all experiences vary, but here is what you need to know if you want to adopt in the Grand Canyon State.

1)    You don’t need to go broke when adopting in Arizona!

Our family explored the possibility of adopting internationally at one time, but the costs involved were astronomical.  One alternative for us was adopting through the foster care system, which cost virtually nothing!  We found out that application fees, home study fees, pre-service training fees, and most attorney fees are waived. The only costs we incurred were improvements to our home and property, first aid/CPR training, fingerprinting, adoption physicals, and other minor costs.  Another alternative for us was adopting privately through our local county attorney’s office.  This cost us hundreds of dollars rather than thousands.  Of course, it helped that we already had an identified child when pursuing this option.

2)    Teens need homes too!

Babies are so cute and cuddly!  When we think of adoption, babies are the first to come to mind.  But adolescents need permanency as well.  According to the Children’s Bureau, toddlers aged 1-5 are adopted most often.  In Arizona, toddlers are adopted 53% of the time vs. teens aged 11-15, who are adopted 12% of the time.  Teens aged 16 and up are adopted only 3% of the time.  This means the younger a child is, the more likely he or she is to receive a forever home.  This opposite prospect is much worse.  The longer a teen stays in foster care, the more likely he is to bounce from home to home.  If he “ages out” of the system (leaves foster care at age 18) without being adopted, the more likely he is to become unemployed, homeless, or incarcerated.

Find more information on The Children’s Bureau site.

3)    ASU has a great scholarship program!

One of the things that keep parents up at night is “How am I going to pay for my child’s college education?”  This is not a for us because we adopted from the foster care system.  In Arizona, children who have entered foster care as a teen can receive full-ride scholarships to Arizona State University.  This should be a source of relief for adoptive parents.  There are also scholarships for Native American foster youth who hope to attend college too.

For more information on ASU’s Arizona Foster Youth Programs, visit their site here.

4)    The vast majority of adoptive parents receive an adoption subsidy.

We receive an adoption subsidy for two of the children we adopted in Arizona.  It comes in handy because our children are considered special needs, and it helps to offset the costs that come along with special needs. In Arizona, about 75% of all adoptive parents receive an adoption subsidy.  An “adoption subsidy” is a grant distributed on a monthly basis that is provided to a child with special needs. Special needs may include any type of physical, mental, or developmental disability or emotional disturbance.   According Arizona Statute Chapter 1, Article 2, 8-144, “The adoption subsidy may continue through the age of twenty-one if the individual is enrolled in and regularly attending school unless the person has received a high school diploma or certificate of equivalency.”  The subsidy varies from child to child depending on his or her special needs.

Visit their site for more information on the Arizona Revised Statutes.

Adoption in has been a great experience for us.  In some cases, we were armed with knowledge and were properly informed.  In other cases, we learned “on the job.”  Either way, if you choose to adopt in Arizona, search for resources you will need before making the leap.  By doing this you will set yourself up for a successful adoption and create a truly “forever family.”

For more information on Arizona adoption, visit Adoptuskids.org.