Whether you are hoping to add to your family or are considering an adoption plan for your baby, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about adoption in Arkansas. Below, find Arkansas adoption and foster care resources, agencies and information about how to adopt in Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville and beyond.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Arkansas
Adoption processes and qualifications are determined by state laws. If you are interested in adopting a child in Arkansas, the following guidelines will help you better understand the rules and regulations for adoption in your state.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Arkansas?
A husband and wife or unmarried adult may adopt in Arkansas. A married person may adopt without his or her spouse if the spouse consents to a stepparent adoption, if the spouse and petitioner are legally separated, or if the failure of the spouse to join in the adoption is due to prolonged absence, unavailability, incapacity, or unreasonably withholding consent.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Arkansas?
Adoptive parents in Arkansas may pay for expenses incurred by the birth parents for prenatal, delivery and postnatal care, including housing costs, food, clothing, general maintenance and medical expenses. The adoptive family will also pay fees for adoption services, including the home study, supervision and criminal records checks.
Before the hearing on the adoption petition, the prospective adoptive parents must file with the court a full accounting of all payments made in connection with the adoption.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Arkansas?
Prospective foster parents in Arkansas must complete foster-adoptive parent training, background checks, a home assessment, assessment of financial stability and an in-depth home study. More information about becoming a foster parent is available through the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Arkansas?
The State Registrar of Vital Statistics will prepare and register and Arkansas birth certificate for a foreign-born person who is not a U.S. citizen when a final adoption decree was entered by an Arkansas court and upon receipt of:
- An adoption certificate
- Proof of the child’s birth date and place
- A request by the court, the adoptive person, or the adopted person once he or she is 18 or older
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Arkansas?
These issues are not addressed in Arkansas statutes.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Arkansas
As a prospective birth parent, you likely have questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Arkansas. The following will help answer some of your questions about Arkansas adoption laws.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
Consent can be given any time after the baby is born. Consent must be executed in the presence of the court or in the presence of a person authorized to take acknowledgments. If the consent does not name the adopting person, it must contain a statement that the person giving consent is doing so voluntarily irrespective of disclosure of the name or identification of the adoptive parent.
If the parent giving consent is a minor, the consent must be signed by a court-appointed guardian ad litem. The signing must be made in the presence of an authorized representative of the Arkansas-licensed adoption agency taking custody of the child, a notary public or a judge.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In Arkansas, consent must be executed by:
- The child’s mother
- The child’s father, if:
- He was married to the mother during or after the baby’s conception
- He is the baby’s adoptive father
- He has custody of the child when the adoption petition is filed
- He has a written order granting him legal custody when the adoption petition is filed
- He proves that a significant custodial, personal or financial relationship existed with the child prior to filing the adoption petition
- Any person having legal custody or power to consent
- The court having jurisdiction to determine custody of the minor
- The spouse of the minor to be adopted
When is consent not needed?
Consent is not required of:
- A parent who has deserted or abandoned a child
- A parent who does not have custody of the child and has failed significantly to communicate with the child or to provide for the care or support of the child for at least one year
- A parent who has relinquished their right to consent or whose rights have been terminated
- A parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective
- The parent of an adult who is being adopted
- The legal guardian or custodian of a child who has failed to respond in writing to a request for consent within 60 days or who is found to be withholding consent unreasonably
- The spouse of the adopted person if the court finds that the spouse will not consent due to prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or unreasonably withholding consent
- A putative father who signed an acknowledgment of paternity or filed with the putative father registry but failed to establish a significant relationship with the child prior to the adoption petition being filed
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
Consent is irrevocable after the entry of the final adoption decree. Consent may be withdrawn within 10 calendar days of signing or of the child’s birth, whichever is later. The court may waive the 10-day period for filing a withdrawal of consent for agencies, children over age 10 who consented to the adoption, or biological parents in a stepparent adoption.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Arkansas adoptions?
Arkansas has a putative father registry, which allows putative fathers to receive notice of legal proceedings pertaining to a child for whom the man has registered. However, to have rights to a child, a putative father must establish a significant custodial, personal or financial relationship with the child.
A man is considered to be the father of a child if he and the child’s mother execute an acknowledgment of paternity. These acknowledgments constitute a conclusive finding of paternity and create a legal parent-child relationship between the father and child. These acknowledgments also form the basis for establishment and enforcement of a child support or visitation order.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Arkansas
Before an adoption or foster care placement can be made in Arkansas, the prospective parents must complete an approved home study. The home study assesses parents’ ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child. Below, find more information about what to expect throughout the Arkansas home study process.
What is included in the Arkansas home study process?
The Arkansas home study assesses the prospective adoptive family’s mental health, emotional stability, physical health, financial status, ability to cope with stress and crisis, child-caring skills, discipline practices, religious affiliation and stability, including the stability of the adoptive parents’ marriage, if applicable. The study also considers at least three confidential personal references, the adjustment and wellbeing of other children residing in the home and a safety assessment of the home. Criminal records checks and child abuse registry checks will be performed.
Who is included in the home study process?
All members of the adoptive family are included in the Arkansas home study.
Who will conduct the home study?
The Arkansas home study is conducted by a social worker or agency.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Arkansas?
The Arkansas home study will not be approved if the individual seeking to adopt is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of legally valid marriage.
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?
The home study must be current within one year prior to the adoptive placement.
What are the post-placement study requirements for Arkansas?
At least two post-placement visits must be made before a final adoption decree is issued. One visit must be in the adoptive family’s home.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Arkansas?
Stepparent adoptions, adult adoptions and relative adoptions within the second agree do not require that the adopting parent submit expense reports to the court.
What are the pre-placement requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
Foster families are eligible for a streamlined adoption process if they are selected to be the adoptive family of their foster child. The department will complete the adoptive home study within 45 business days and will not require the family to attend training.
To begin the home study process in Arkansas, contact one of these trusted home study providers in your state:
- American Adoptions (AR)
American Adoptions is one of the largest domestic adoption agencies in the country and offers both international and domestic home study services throughout the state of Arkansas.
- Arkansas Home Study and Counseling Services
Sarah Clay is a licensed certified social worker with a private practice offering adoption home study and counseling services.
- Grace Adoptions
Grace Adoptions is a licensed child placement agency in Central Arkansas that provides faith-based services for children, birth parents and adoptive families.
Arkansas Adoption Professionals
Whether you are an expectant mother making an adoption plan or hopeful parents considering adoption, your adoption professional can help guide you through the process and offer more information about adoption in Arkansas. These adoption professionals are experienced in completing Arkansas adoptions and can help you reach your adoption goals:
For more information about foster care and foster-to-adopt in Arkansas, visit Arkansas Foster Family Services.
Things to do in Arkansas
If you find yourself spending some time in the Natural State, whether you are waiting for ICPC clearances so you can return to your home state, or you are visiting a prospective birth mother in her home state of Arkansas, here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay:
- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville)
- Garvan Woodland Gardens (Hot Springs)
- Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (Eureka Springs)
- Blanchard Springs Caverns (Mountain View)
- Little Rock Central High School (Little Rock)
For more information about traveling to Arkansas, visit http://www.arkansas.com/.