Pregnant?

If you’re pregnant and curious about the adoption process, we’re here to help answer your questions and provide you with information on your choices.

If you choose to make an adoption plan, we will walk you through an adoption as we have with hundreds of other women, and help you chose the right family for your child. You will have access to counseling, legal representation, assistance with living expenses and medical bills.

Don’t hesitate to Call us at 520-579-5578 or Message Us with any questions you may have.

Learn more about the adoption process with the following Q&A:

 

Birth Mother FAQ

Can a child born to undocumented parents be placed for adoption?

Yes, there is no requirement that the parents be legal residents as long as the baby was born in the United States. If the baby was not born in the United States, international adoption procedures would have to be completed not just Arizona’s procedures.

Can a minor sign legal documents placing her child for adoption without the consent of her parents/legal guardian?

Yes, a teen/woman has the right to consent to the adoption of her child regardless of her age. The minor’s parents do not have to consent to the adoption.

Can the birth mother choose the adoptive parents?

Yes, she may choose the adoptive family from a list of court approved families available through an adoption agency or attorney. She may choose to review non-identifying information and/or she may choose to meet one or more prospective families before selecting one. She may want a relative to adopt her child. Close relatives do have an abbreviated approval process though still need to be approved by the court.

Can the birth mother communicate with the adoptive parents and child after the adoption?

Yes. If the mother chooses an open adoption (where she and the adoptive parents share names and phone numbers and can contact each other directly) or a semi-open adoption (where communication is through a third party, like an agency or attorney), she may participate in a mutually agreed upon level of communication which lasts as long as all parties agree to continue the contact. No one is legally obligated to maintain an informal agreement. Either family may decide to stop contact for any reason.

Arizona law also allows for a more FORMAL, legally binding arrangement called Communication Agreement (ARS 8-116.01). In order to be “enforceable,” the agreement must be in writing, agreed to by all parties, determined by the court to be in the best interest of the child and approved by the court. It is filed with the final adoption order. The court “retains jurisdiction after the decree of adoption is entered” in order to hear motions to enforce or modify the agreement. The court will not enforce or modify an agreement unless the party filing the motion has made a good faith attempt to mediate the dispute.

It is important to note 2 aspects of this law:
The law states an adoption cannot be overturned just because one of the parties fails to comply with this agreement. And, adoptive parent may terminate contact between the birth parent and the adoptive child at any time if the adoptive parent believes that this contact is not in the child’s best interest. When the child is an adult, there are additional options for contact with the birth family, the Confidential Intermediary Program conducts a search or the birth parents may place a consent in the file to be contacted if the adult child requests contact. This release (permission) can be changed at any time by filing a new notarized statement with the court.

Can the father change his mind after signing the legal consents to the adoption?

No, the father cannot change his mind about the adoption AFTER he has signed the consents (legal documents). In Arizona, once the consents are signed they are irrevocable (cannot be changed). The only exception would be if he could prove in a court of law that he signed under fraud, duress or undue influence. Having no funds to provide for the child or being in a bad living situation is not considered duress.

Can the mother change her mind after signing the legal consents to the adoption?

No, the mother cannot change her mind about the adoption AFTER she has signed the legal consent forms (relinquishment). In Arizona, once the consents are signed they are irrevocable (cannot be changed). The only exception would be if she could prove in a court of law that she signed under fraud, duress or undue influence. Having no funds to provide for the child, or being in a bad living situation, is not considered duress.

Can the mother change her mind before signing the legal consents forms (relinquishment) to adoption?

Yes, the mother can change her mind about the adoption any time BEFORE the consents (legal documents/relinquishments) are signed. She has not made a legal decision until she signs the documents and the child is at least 72 hours old. Some mothers don’t decide and sign until have cared for the baby for weeks or months.

Can the mother place the baby anonymously? / Safe Baby (Abandoned Baby or Safe Haven) Law

Yes. This law was passed in 2001, to hopefully save the lives of abandoned newborn babies. It allows mothers to anonymously drop off their newborn baby without fear of criminal prosecution IF (1) the baby is unharmed, (2) is no more than 72 hours old, and (3) is brought to a designated drop off site. Certain places (hospitals, clinics, fire stations, churches, adoption agencies) are allowed to be drop off sites and they must identify themselves with a sign. An adoption process will proceed without the birth parents involvement.

Can the mother see and hold the baby after the birth?

Yes, the new mother can do anything any other mother may choose to do. She has not relinquished any of her parental rights at this time. She has the right to see, hold and care for the baby, and name the baby. However, if she doesn’t want to do any of these things, she has the right not to and still be treated with respect by hospital staff. In adoption, this is referred to as the birthing plan. She is the parent who signs the birth certificate and may choose any name for the baby, including the name the adopting parents selected, if that is her choice.
If she has chosen a family to adopt the baby, she may request THEY be the ones to care for the baby in the hospital. She may also request they be in the delivery room.

Do you offer counseling?

Yes, counseling can be provided for you before and after the adoption. Counseling is offered by not required – You decide if you want counseling.

Does the father of the baby have to be notified of the birth and the mother’s adoption plan?

Yes, the mother is required to identify all potential fathers before an adoption can proceed. If she is married, the husband is notified that he has the same rights as the mother. If the father is not her husband the notice explains what he must do in order to have rights in the adoption decision.

How is the father of the baby notified of the mother’s adoption plan?

The Potential Father Notice is handed to any potential father who lives in Arizona, or it is sent certified mail if he lives out of state. The notice informs him he has been identified as a possible father of the child and outlines his rights and responsibilities. It states he may support the adoption plan, withhold support for the adoption plan and he may also seek custody of the child. In order to have any rights regarding the adoption, he has thirty (30) days from the time he is served notice to complete a paternity action and serve notice to the mother that he has done so. After that time period he cannot come back to claim interest in the baby, unless he can show he was unable to respond within 30 days. When this time has elapsed, and he has not established paternity, the adoption may proceed without his consent.

What expenses can the adoptive parents pay to or on behalf of the birth mother and child?

The adoptive parents or agency can pay for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the adoption or related to the health and welfare of the baby. These expenses may include costs for prenatal and post partum medical care, infant medical care, counseling fees and legal fees. In addition the court may approve living expenses and any other costs the court finds reasonable and necessary to assure the health and welfare of the unborn child; however the court must approve payments of this type that exceed $1,000.

What happens if the birth parents do not agree with each other that adoption should be the plan?

A single woman does not need the consent of the father unless he has established paternity and becomes a legal parent. Any legal parent, including a husband of the mother, must consent to the adoption. The only way an adoption can happen without consent of both legal parents is to have “grounds” for the court to terminate the parent’s rights involuntarily. Grounds include, but are not limited to: abandonment for at least 6 months of the child’s life, abuse or neglect of the child. If there are no grounds to terminate and the father does not allow the adoption, the mother will not be able to place the baby for adoption. If the father wants to gain full custody of the baby, the mother needs to be in agreement or he will have to convince the court that she is ‘unfit.’

What happens if the husband (legal father) is not the biological father?

If the mother is married, her husband is considered the legal father even if he is not the biological father. He must consent to the adoption or his rights must be terminated in court UNLESS his paternity is excluded or another man’s paternity is established.

What happens if the mother does not know who the biological father is or does not know where he is?

The Potential Father Notice may be served by publication (i.e. published in the newspaper) but only after diligent efforts to locate him have been made to serve him in person. A diligent effort means actively trying to find the father by following up on all leads. The notice, including his name and the mother’s, is published once a week for four consecutive weeks. His thirty days within which he must complete a paternity action starts after the fourth and last publication. If the mother does not know the father’s name then the publication names him as John Doe.

What if the mother is mentally ill or cognitively delayed?

Someone who can make an objective evaluation as to competency should do so prior to taking consents to adoption. That could be a mental health professional. If the parent has a guardian assigned for this reason, the guardian would need to sign consents on her behalf.

What rights do birth grandparents have in their child’s decision to place a child for adoption?

In Arizona, grandparents have no legal rights regarding their child’s voluntary decision to place a child for adoption. If the grandparents want to adopt the baby, the birth parents (whether minor or adult) must agree. The mother is required only to notify the father of the baby if she is planning an adoption. If ICWA applies, the Indian Nation must also be notified, by the person/agency facilitating the adoption, and birth grandparents do have rights under the placement preference guidelines.

What types of adoptions are there?

There are open, semi-open and closed adoptions.

Open Adoption: The relationship is between the child, birth parent and adopting parents. There can be visits, phone calls, e-mails and or letters and pictures. A common adoption agreement has one to three visits per year with letters and pictures being sent several times. This allows for the child to know that he or she is loved and cared about by the birth family and a chance to know the birth parent. It also gives the child access to family history, stories, medical information. Some adopting families and birth parents agree to more contact.

Semi-Open Adoption: Letters and pictures are exchanged between the adopting parent(s) and the birth parent(s). This keeps the birth parent current with what is happening in the child’s life. These can be exchanged directly or through an agency.

Closed Adoption: No contact of any kind between the adopting parent(s) and the birth parent(s).

When can the birth mother start the adoption process?

The birth mother may start the adoption process at any time during the pregnancy or after the birth of the baby. The birth mother cannot make a legal decision until after the baby is born. In Arizona the baby must be at least 72 hours old before the mother can sign consents.

When does the mother actually sign the legal documents required for the adoption?

The legal documents cannot be signed before the baby is 72 hours old, and the parents can sign any time after that. A notary and/or two witnesses over the age of 18 sign the papers at the same time. She does not have to go to court.

Will adoption cost me money?

There is no charge to you for any service. In fact, you will have assistance with living expenses and medical bills, access to counseling and legal representation.