A stepparent in Arizona who would like to adopt their stepchild must obtain consent from both of the child's birth parents. This means that the stepparent's spouse and the stepchild's other birth parent must agree to the adoption. If consent from the other birth parent is easily obtained, a stepparent adoption can happen relatively quickly.
Other kinds of adoption usually take much longer than stepparent adoption. In a stepparent adoption, the stepparent will not have to spend time on a waiting list or fulfill requirements like home visits. However, a stepparent adoption can sometimes be difficult if the other birth parent refuses to provide consent. By agreeing to the stepparent adoption, the other birth parent is effectively surrendering all of their parental rights which may include visitation.
Stepparent adoptions are usually easier when the other birth parent does not have a relationship with their child. A parent like this may view surrendering their parental rights in a positive light, as it will release them from their duty to pay child support. If the other parent is not involved in their child's life but still won't consent to the stepparent adoption, the stepparent may take steps to have the other birth parent's parental rights terminated. This could be done by proving that the other birth parent is unfit or abandoned the child.
A stepparent who is having a difficult time obtaining consent for an adoption might want to enlist the help of a family law attorney. In an effort to help the stepparent achieve their goal, an attorney might work to facilitate communication with the other birth parent. If that doesn't work, an attorney could represent the stepparent in a petition to have the other birth parent's parental rights terminated due to abandonment or another issue.
Source: Findlaw, "Do I need consent from the birth parents to adopt my stepchild?", December 16, 2014