A common question is whether an adoptive parent must be certified to adopt. The first step is to evaluate the relationship between the adoptive parent and child. Foster parents do not require formal certification to adopt a foster child, as their licensing meets this requirement.
Certification is not required for the “spouse of the birth or legal parent of the child to be adopted or is an uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent or great-grandparent of the child of the whole or half-blood or by marriage or adoption.” (A.R.S. 8-105 https://www.azleg.gov/viewdocument/?docName=https://www.azleg.gov/ars/8/00105.htm)
There are a few other relatives that might not require certification. However, this is uncommon. It requires a death of the family member/parent AND the child residing with the other relative for over 24 months. In the event of multiple adoptions within 3 years, after the first adoption, the prior certification must only be updated to report changes in circumstances.
If it is not waived, what does certification entail?
Preadoption certification or becoming Certified to Adopt starts when either the Department of Child Safety or an outside agency conducts an investigation. This is not a criminal investigation, but an evaluation of fitness to adopt. Once the investigation is complete, a Home Study will be prepared.
The prospective adoptive parents will also need to submit their Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance cards and a cleared Central Registry search. Then, everything is submitted to the Court in the form of an Application. If approved, an adoption certification number will be issued. The certificate is good for 12-18 months and can be renewed.
Brittany Labadie is the Managing Partner at Lewis Labadie. She has been working with Lewis Labadie since it opened. Her current focus is with adoption cases, including juvenile adoptions, adult adoptions, foster care adoptions, same-sex adoption, surrogacy adoptions, and when necessary termination of parental rights. She works throughout the State of Arizona.