In Arizona, 82% of children adopted from foster care are adopted by their relatives or foster parents. Although some foster parents are also certified adoptive parents, most people do not become foster parents in order to adopt. Regardless of the initial reason a person becomes a foster parent once reunification with the parents fails CPS will often ask the child’s current placement if they are willing to provide a permanent home for the child.
How do you adopt a child in foster care? It’s often a little scary because these families weren’t preparing to adopt. They shouldn't worry though, the adoption procedure is essentially the same as any other adoption and much of it is a little easier. Below are the differences:
FIRST, the child must legally free for adoption.
CPS is represented by the Attorney General’s Office and they will handle the parental consents or termination of parental rights. That means you don’t have to do anything except watch and wait and that’s hard enough.
Can the parents appeal? Yes, and in CPS cases the biological parents are provided a court appointed attorney if they appeal the termination, so appeals are more common. The appeal should be decided before an adoption is granted. This can delay the adoption by 6-8 months. Flowchart of Juvenile Court Appeals
SECOND, the prospective adoptive parents must be approved to adopt.
You may have to become certified to adopt if you are unrelated to the child see Adoption Certification. However, the process is simplified for foster parents because many of the requirements such as, fingerprint background checks and Child Abuse Central Registry checks were completed during licensing. Most of the home study is also complete and your agency can convert the licensing home study to be used for certification.
Grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles do not need to be certified. If the relatives haven’t been licensed for foster care then a home study must be completed. The adoptions case manager will refer you for the home study.
THIRD, the family must select an attorney.
Unlike a private adoption the prospective adoptive parents don’t already have an attorney and they need select one. Adoption subsidy will cover the attorneys fees. There is a list of attorneys who have agreed to accept the amount paid by subsidy without any out of pocket expense paid by the family. This attorney is going to help your family with one of the biggest moments or your life, the decision is an important one, because this will change your life forever. How to Choose An Attorney and Questions You Need to Ask
FOURTH, the family will apply for adoption subsidy.
Subsidy is usually not available unless the child is adopted from foster care. Adoption subsidy is a federal subsidy to encourage the adoption of special needs children. The case manager will submit the application and you will be notified before the adoption about the monthly subsidy rate the child will receive.
Beware! Subsidy must be approved BEFORE the adoption is final or you will not be able to apply for subsidy.
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