Flagstaff Adoption Attorney

Our law firm can assist with private agency and direct adoptions, as well as adoptions involving foster children in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety

Adoption should be a wonderful experience, but without the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney, mistakes could threaten your opportunity to become an adoptive parent. At Mangum, Wall, Stoops & Warden, P.L.L.C., we are Flagstaff adoption attorneys who offer comprehensive legal support for persons looking to parent a child through adoption. No matter what specific adoption path you choose, you can rely on our legal and practical experience to help you avoid obstacles during the placement process.

Types of Arizona adoptions

Once you have made the decision to adopt, there are still many important choices to make. Our Flagstaff adoption attorneys offer knowledgeable guidance, as you review some of the following options:

  • Private adoption agency — Frequently, prospective parents will turn to an licensed adoption agency for their adoption. These agencies work with pregnant mothers and adoptive families to find suitable matches. While these organizations usually have substantial experience handling placements, not everyone is the same, so our attorneys can help you evaluate various agencies and ensure that they have a reliable record.
  • Independent or direct adoptions — In some circumstances, the expecting birth parent(s) will select the adoptive parents without the assistance of a private adoption agency or government program. While independent, or direct, adoptions can reduce some of the procedure and costs associated with adoption, special care is required because the parties handle everything on their own. In these situations, the involvement of an attorney is essential.
  • Public agency/foster care adoptions — Some children in state foster care are not able to be returned to their biological parents. In situations where a child’s parents are unfit and the DCS has terminated the parents’ parental rights, these children can then be adopted. Our law firm has been involved with foster/adopt situations for over thirty (30) years. Parents who adopt through DCS avoid expenses associated with private adoptions and are eligible to receive adoption subsidies to help with the costs of raising their son or daughter.
  • Stepchild adoption — Stepchild adoptions can be straightforward, as long as, the child’s other biological parent is willing to consent to their child’s adoption. If the child’s biological parent is not willing to consent to the child’s adoption, then in some situations, a petition to terminate that parent’s parental rights may be a possible way to proceed for purposes of the child’s adoption.
  • International adoptions — Some families opt to adopt a child from another country. This requires adherence to the laws and practices of the child’s birth nation and familiar with the Hague Adoption Convention.

The adoption process in Arizona

The following summary provides general information which should be further discussed with your attorney. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice, and does not cover specific situations or problems that may pertain to your particular case. “A.R.S.” as used herein, refers to the Arizona Revised Statutes, copies of which are available from your attorney.

1.          CONSENT

Arizona law requires an Arizona consent to adoption may only be signed by the birth parent if more than seventy-two hours after the birth of the child. A.R.S. §8-107. The time period for the signing of a consent to adoption varies from state to state. If you are doing an adoption in a state other than Arizona, you will need to consult with an attorney familiar with that state’s adoption statutes. If the adoption involves a child with Native American heritage, the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act may apply in addition to state law. It is the practice of our law firm to arrange for the birth parent to have their own lawyer, who will review the consent to adoption with the birth parent. This arrangement is to protect the adoptive parents as well as the birth parent.


Once an Arizona consent to adoption is signed, it is irrevocable unless the parent can demonstrate that their consent was obtained through fraud, duress or undue influence. A.R.S. §8-106(D).


In Arizona, payment of the birth parent’s living expenses must be approved by the court. Adoptive parents can advance up to $1,000.00 to the birth parent without prior court approval, however, living expenses exceeding $1,000.00 must receive court approval before being paid. A.R.S. §8-114 (B). The birth mother’s living expenses may include rent, utilities, and clothing. Providing funds for living expenses does require the birth parent to later sign a consent to adoption. Additionally, if the adoption does not occur, the birth parent has no legal obligation to repay the funds received for living expenses.

4.           OPEN ADOPTION

An “open” adoption is one where, after the Decree of Adoption is entered, the birth parent may receive information about the child or in some circumstances, have contact with the child. In Arizona, the statute governing “open” adoptions is A.R.S. §8-116.01. Such statute provides that agreements regarding future contact and communication entered into by birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) must be in writing and approved by a court. The adoptive parent(s) may terminate contact or communication at any time if the adoptive parent(s) believes that communication is not in the adopted child’s best interest. Failure to comply with the communication agreement is not a basis for overturning an adoption.


If a child has Native American ancestry, you should consult an attorney to determine whether the adoption is subject to the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)is a federal law that—if applicable-must be followed in addition to state law. Because the Indian Child Welfare Act has very specific requirements, it is essential for an attorney to be involved with such adoption. Our law firm’s adoption attorneys have successfully completed hundreds of ICWA adoptions over the past several decades.

 6.         CHILDREN BORN OUT-OF-WEDLOCK/A.R.S. §8-106

Pursuant to A.R.S. §8-106, a biological father, who is not married to the child’s mother and is not listed on the child’s birth certificate does not have the same rights as the father of a child born during the couplets marriage.

Arizona law requires the birth mother to sign a notarized affidavit listing any potential birth father(s). Notice must then be served on each potential father informing them of the pending adoption; that said potential father has the right to grant or withhold his consent to the adoption; the right to seek custody of the child, and his financial responsibility regarding the child, should paternity be established. The notice will also inform the potential father that he must initiate a paternity proceeding within thirty days being served the notice. Failure of the potential father to initiate paternity proceedings within thirty days of receipt of the notice will bar the potential father from bringing or maintaining any future action to assert an interest in the child. The potential father can be served the Arizona notice during the pregnancy of the mother, which is the best situation, if this is possible.

A.R.S. §8-106.01

Additionally, Arizona has a putative father registry. A.R.S. 8-106.01, which states a putative father must register within thirty (30) days after the child’s birth. Failure to register means a putative father’s consent to the adoption is not required and notice of the adoption proceedings need not be provided to him. If a potential father files with the Putative Father Registry, then you must serve that person the Arizona Notice to Birth Father (A.R.S. §8-106), as discussed above.


Arizona law specifies grounds upon which a court may free a child for adoption by terminating the parents’ rights. The bases for termination of parental rights are statutory and should be reviewed with your attorney in the event your adoption involves a birth parent that has not consented to adoption.


In order to adopt in Arizona, (unless you are a stepparent or close relative, as specified by the statute), you will need to be certified as acceptable to adopt. A.R.S. §8-105. The certification process will include fingerprinting, a criminal background check and a home study.


In the event the child you are adopting is born in another state, you will need to comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The ICPC process requires the State of Arizona ICPC office and the ICPC office in the other state to approve the child being moved to Arizona by the adoptive parents. In the event the ICPC applies to your adoption, you will need to discuss its mandatory requirements with your attorney.


Adoption subsidies are not available for private/direct placement adoptions. Adoption subsidies are only available for adoptions accomplished through a licensed adoption agency or the State of Arizona. The subsidies are to assist a family that adopts a child with “special needs” (A.R.S. §8-141, A.R.S. §8-142, A.R.S. §8-161). Please consult your attorney regarding the availability, eligibility, type, and limitations regarding adoption subsidies.


It is the recommendation of this law firm that a social security number not be obtained for the child until after the adoption is finalized. The adoptive parent(s) can obtain an IRS identification number prior to the adoption being finalized.


The maximum federal adoption tax credit allowed for qualified adoption expenses as of 2023, is $15,950.00 per child. The adoption tax credit is an amount subtracted directly from your tax liability and thus, is a dollar for dollar credit versus a reduction in your taxable income. Qualifying adoption expenses may include attorney’s fees, court costs, travel costs, and any other expenditures directly related to the adoption. The tax credit is not available for stepparent adoptions. You need to consult with the IRS website or your accountant to learn at what income level does the tax credit begin to phase out.


If the adoption involves a newborn, please obtain the hospital’s internal rules governing how the hospital will respond to the adoptive parents’ involvement with the child at the hospital. In some instances, the hospital may not discharge the child directly to the adoptive parents. In other cases, the hospital is willing to allow the child to be discharged from the hospital directly to the adoptive parents. Additionally, arrangements should be made in advance with the hospital for the payment of services and for visiting the child while in the hospital. Our law firm encourages the birth mother and prospective adoptive parent(s) to jointly tour the hospital during the birth mother’s pregnancy. The adoptive parents and their attorney should always consider arrangements to assist the birth mother during this difficult time period, (e.g., in some situations, arrangements can be made which would allow a mother to have a room on a floor other than postpartum floor of the hospital). Adoptive parents and their attorney should consult with the hospital’s social worker prior to the child’s birth.

Contact a Flagstaff adoption lawyer for a consultation

Mangum, Wall, Stoops & Warden, P.L.L.C. are experienced Flagstaff adoption attorneys who advise those considering adoption and represent them throughout the placement process. To schedule a consultation regarding adoptions, please call Jay McCarthy at 928-779-6951 or contact us online.


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