Gay couple adoption in Arizona is difficult, but not impossible. In 2011, the state Legislature passed an adoption law that required any private or state-funded adoption agency to favor married couples over single people when selecting new homes for children who need them. Since same sex marriage is illegal in Arizona, the law effectively made it more difficult for gay couples to adopt children.
When the Arizona adoption laws were passed, gay rights activists proclaimed that the adoption law discriminated against homosexuals. The activists said that research showed no difference in emotional health between children raised in same sex marriage households versus children raised in traditional households.
Conservatives, however, lauded the Arizona adoption laws when they were passed in 2011, pointing to research that shows children flourishing more in traditional households that are headed by a male father and female mother, versus households headed by homosexual couples.
Arizona law is generally hostile to both same sex marriage and gay couple adoption. The constitution explicitly defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and Arizona doesn’t recognize domestic partnerships, even if the partnerships were legally created in other states that recognize gay marriage. Voters approved the constitutional amendment barring gay marriage in 2008.
Although subsequent statewide polls have showed the majority of Arizonans actually support gay marriage, the fact that a constitutional amendment passed makes the ban more difficult to overturn.
The combination of Arizona adoption laws favoring married couples and the inability for gay couples to form legally recognized unions creates a quandary for gay couple adoption.
The best bet for homosexual people who want to adopt a child in Arizona is for one half of the couple to try to adopt a child as a single person. Single, gay people have successfully adopted children in the state. There is no law that prevents them from doing so.
Unfortunately, this means that if the partner with custody passes away, the second partner would have no legal right to keep the children, unless the couple prepared for a transition through legal documents prepared by a family lawyer. If something happened to the second partner, or the couple broke up, the children would not be able to receive any federal benefits or child support from the non-custodial partner.
Sometimes second-parent adoption is possible, where one partner adopts the same sex partner’s children. Arizona law doesn’t explicitly say that same sex partners can have joint custody of a child, and so this option isn’t automatically available to all couples.
Contacting a gay couple adoption attorney in Arizona can help same sex marriage partners examine their options and determine the best way to proceed.