Situated in the Southeast United States, Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, the Sonoran Desert, and the Hoover Dam. Arizona is the 48th state to join the United States; its capital, Phoenix, is anchored in the Valley of the Sun. If you are expecting in Arizona and considering placing your child, here are the top ten things to know about Phoenix adoption.
1. You have options
Learning you are unexpectedly expecting can be a scary, unnerving, and rattling time. For some, the idea of parenting a child, or parenting another child, may not seem daunting. But for others, an unplanned pregnancy is just that—unplanned. Though it may feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you, know you have three options. You may choose to terminate the pregnancy, parent the child, or place the child for adoption. If you are reading this article, you may be considering adoption in Phoenix.
Now may not be a good time in your life to parent a child for a variety of reasons. You may have unmet educational or vocational goals, be with the wrong partner, feel you are too young or too old, not be financially ready—the list goes on and on. Whatever your reason, know you are not alone. Every year thousands of expectant parents choose to place their child for adoption. You can read birth parent stories firsthand on the Adoption.com website; hearing their stories can help guide your own. You will find that one thing all these stories have in common is that the expectant parents chose adoption because they wanted a better life both for themselves and their child. Adoption is an act of love, and should you choose Phoenix adoption, you will be giving the greatest gift in the world.
2. Adoption is legally binding
A common question expectant parents may have is what adoption is. In short, adoption is the termination of the birth parents’ rights and the granting of those rights to the adoptive parents or state agency. Once a child is adopted, he or she will become the legal family member of the adoptive parents and will be “entitled to all the rights and privileges…as if born to them.” Adoptions require the consent of both the birth parents and the expectant parents and, in the adoption of an older child, the child’s consent is required as well. The final order of adoption is carried out in a court of law before a judge. Because adoption is a legally binding event, both the expectant parents and the prospective adoptive parents must have legal representation before the adoption can be finalized. For expectant parents considering Phoenix adoption, your adoption agency or adoption facilitator can help coordinate your legal representation.
3. It’s a two-person decision
Just as it took two people to become pregnant, it takes two people to choose to place the child for adoption. In Arizona, a man is considered to be the father of the child if he and the mother were married within the last 10 months or if he signs an acknowledgment of paternity. If the expectant father is in the picture, the conversation about adoption can be a difficult one to have. Before you begin, make sure you are in a safe space. If you need to do so, bring a friend or your social worker. If sharing the news of your pregnancy and your intent to place the child for adoption puts you in harm’s way, your adoption attorney, social worker, or an adoption agency may step in to share the news. If the expectant father is not in the picture, every attempt will be made to find him via the Putative Father Registry. His claim of paternity may be filed at any time before the birth of the child, but must be within 30 days after the birth of the child.
4. There are different types of adoption
When considering Phoenix adoption, you should know that there are essentially two different types of domestic adoption available to you—kinship and private domestic. In kinship adoption, the expectant parents choose a family member to adopt and raise the child. The family member is related by blood to the child, either on the maternal or paternal side, and the child grows up within their biological family. Kinship adoption accounts for roughly 30% of all domestic adoptions in the United States, but it is important to note that most kinship adoptions are from children in foster care. Private domestic adoption is the adoption of an infant by a non-blood-related individual. Every year roughly 20,000 private domestic adoptions take place and, for those considering adoption, this is typically the route expectant parents pursue.
5. You can choose an agency or adoption facilitator
Upon choosing to pursue adoption, expectant parents in Phoenix will decide whether to work with an adoption agency or to use an adoption facilitator. An adoption facilitator will work with you to identify prospective adoptive parents and can aid in finding adoption attorneys and essentially facilitating the adoption; this process is also known as an independent adoption. Some expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents like independent adoptions because they can lead to stronger relationships between the expectant parents and the prospective adoptive parents, but there are drawbacks to independent adoptions. First and foremost, unlike adoption agencies, most adoption facilitators are found through word of mouth. Unless you know someone in Phoenix who might serve in this capacity, it can be daunting to try to find someone who will help you in your adoption journey. Secondly, unlike adoption agencies, adoption facilitators do not have the resources of a nationwide adoption agency. A good nationwide adoption agency, like the Gladney Center for Adoption, can act as a full-service provider through every step of your journey. They can connect you with social workers, adoption attorneys, and support groups, and they can provide a large pool of prospective adoptive parents for you to consider. Additionally, many agencies offer both pre- and post-adoption support services ranging from financial help to ongoing educational and vocational help and training.
6. You can choose the prospective adoptive parents—or not
One question many expectant parents in Phoenix have is whether or not they can choose their child’s prospective adoptive parents. The answer is an absolute yes. Whether you choose to work with an adoption facilitator or an adoption agency, you can look through a wealth of parent profiles and decide what speaks to you. Before beginning your search, take some time to think about in what kind of household you see your child being raised. Are there two parents or just one? Is the house in the suburbs, the city, or a beautiful rural area? What is the makeup of the household? Are there other children in the home or pets? Are you open to placing your child anywhere in the United States or do you wish them to live close? Think about what is important to you. Is religion a big part of life? And if so, do you want that for your child? Are you open to your child being raised in a household that is a different race or ethnicity than your own? Do you hope your child will pursue music, sports, theater, or art?
The number of questions can be overwhelming, so a good place to start is talking with your adoption agency or social worker about what is important to you. Every prospective adoptive parent who has a current adoption profile has gone through the adoption home study process. Through that process, they have been asked about their motivations for adoption and what their hope for their future child is. Part of their parent profile is to share that information with you, the expectant parent, in a video, an essay, a letter, or a photobook. Read through and watch a few profiles. What speaks to you? Remember there are no wrong answers and only you can determine what is best for you and your child.
All that said, if you don’t choose a prospective adoptive parent for your child, that is okay, too. Your adoption agency can choose a prospective adoptive parent on your behalf and you may choose to give your agency parameters on what type of family you would like to see with your child—or not. The choice is completely yours.
7. You can choose an open or closed relationship
Like choosing a prospective adoptive family, you can choose what type of post-adoption contact you would like to have with your child and the adoptive parents. Essentially, there are two forms of post-adoption contact: open and closed. In an open adoption, there is ongoing contact between the members of the adoption triad (the adoptive parents, the adoptee, and the birth parents). Contact may be in the form of letters, phone calls, emails, video calls, or even in-person gatherings. Contact may happen frequently in an open adoption or on a less regular basis like in a semi-open adoption. No two post-adoption relationships are the same, and it is up to you and the adoptive parents to decide on the level of contact that is comfortable for all those involved. In a closed adoption, there is no contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents and the child. The child will grow up knowing they are adopted but will not know the birth parents and may not even have a knowledge of who the birth parents are. That said, most states operate an adoption registry so when a child is 18 years of age he or she may choose to search for their birth parents or vice versa.
In the state of Arizona, post-adoption contracts are legally enforceable if the contract was signed in a court of law and the agreement was approved by the court. The court shall not intervene in a post-adoption contract, however, unless efforts have been made to mediate the situation and meet the parameters of the post-adoption contract.
8. You will receive support at no cost
Another thing to know about Phoenix adoption is that placing a child for adoption will cost you nothing. In the state of Arizona, prospective adoptive parents can provide financial aid to the expectant mother for the expectant mother to retain her current standard of living. This includes housing, food, and clothing. Additionally, legal fees, medical fees not covered by Medicaid, and counseling service fees may be covered by the prospective adoptive parents. When it comes time to file a petition for the adoption of the child, all fees and payments must be presented to the court for consideration before the adoption is finalized.
Additionally, as mentioned above, a good adoption agency will provide ongoing resources post-placement, such as the following: counseling; moral, emotional, and financial support; and even educational and vocational training.
9. You must consent to the adoption
Because adoption is a legally binding event, both the adoptive parents and the birth parents must consent to the adoption. In the state of Arizona, you must wait at least 72 hours after the birth of the child to give consent to the adoption. During this time, you may remain in the hospital with the child or, if you were discharged, either have the child remain with you or with the prospective adoptive parents. Part of your adoption journey will be to decide what your hospital plan and these 72 hours before you consent to the adoption will be like. Remember, you can choose to change your mind at any time. If you decide to parent, that is okay. It is your choice to make. And if you choose to place your child, that will be okay, too. Once consent is given, it becomes irrevocable unless it can be proven that consent was given under fraud or duress.
10. You will become a birth parent
When consent is given, you will officially become a birth parent. The first few days and weeks will be tough so be sure to take care of yourself and to take advantage of all the post-adoption services and counseling your adoption agency provides to you. And congratulations! Adoption is more than just a single event. It is a lifelong journey and you are now a member of an adoption triad; your adoption journey has just begun.Are you considering adoption and want to give your child the best life possible? Let us help you find an adoptive family that you love. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.