12 Questions About Arkansas Adoption Laws
Starting the Arkansas adoption process is an exciting step for any growing family. But, it can be intimidating when you consider the complex legalities of the adoption process. We’re here to help.
It might be useful to do some research on your own so you can familiarize yourself with important adoption laws in Arkansas. This article provides some basic information to get you started. However, you should remember that this article shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. Always consult with your Arkansas adoption attorney about your individual circumstances. If you’d like help connecting with an Arkansas adoption professional, you can contact us at any time.
In the meantime, here are some important Arkansas adoption laws to be aware of.
Arkansas Adoption Laws You Need to Know
Who can adopt a child in Arkansas?
Adoption laws in Arkansas state that a husband and wife, or unmarried adult can adopt. A married person may adopt without their spouse in some situations, like if the spouse consents to stepparent adoption, if the spouse and petitioner are legally separated, or if the failure of the spouse to join the adoption is due to prolonged absence, unavailability, incapacity, or unreasonably without consent.
Additionally, it is important to be aware of agency requirements that go above and beyond that of Arkansas adoption laws. While the law allows unmarried individuals to adopt, there are agencies that will only work with married couples. Be sure to check with any adoption professional you are considering about their specific requirements.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Arkansas?
Arkansas adoption statutes allow adoptive parents to cover expenses for prospective birth mothers relating to 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 (with the help of their adoption agency) must file with the court a full accounting of all payments made in connection to the adoption.
For further clarification, these financial payments to prospective birth mothers are offered as adoption financial assistance. They are not payment to prospective birth mothers for adoption (paying a woman for her child is illegal). The Arkansas state recognizes that many women who choose adoption face financial pressure, so this process allows for adoptive families to step in and help relieve some of that pressure.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Arkansas?
According to Arkansas adoption statutes, prospective foster parents in Arkansas must complete foster-adoptive training, background checks, assessment of financial stability and an in-depth home study. More information about becoming a foster parent in Arkansas 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 an Arkansas birth certificate for an international-born child who is not a U.S. citizen when a final adoption decree was entered by an Arkansas court and receipt of:
- An adoption certificate
- Proof of the child’s birth date and place
- A request by the court, the adoptive parents or the adopted person once they are 18 or older
Arkansas Adoption Laws on the Consent Process
Before an Arkansas adoption can be final, the legal consent process must occur. Consent to adoption occurs when a prospective birth mother or other legal guardian voluntarily relinquishes their rights to a child, so that the child can be placed with an adoptive family.
Who must consent to the adoption?
According to Arkansas adoption statutes, people who may need to consent to adoption (depending on the situation) include:
- The prospective birth mother
- The prospective birth father (in certain circumstances)
- Any person who has legal custody of the child
- The court having jurisdiction over the child if the parent does not have legal rights
When is it required for a child to consent to their adoption?
According to Arkansas state adoption laws and policies, any child over the age of 12 must consent to their adoption, unless the court decides it’s within the child’s best interest and dispenses with the requirement for consent.
When is parental consent not necessary?
In certain circumstances, prospective birth parent consent may not be necessary in adoption. Keep in mind that this is a rare occurrence, especially in domestic infant adoption. Situations where prospective birth parent consent may not be necessary include:
- If a parent has deserted or abandoned the child
- If a parent has failed to communicate with or support the child for at least one year
- If a parent has relinquished rights or has had their rights terminated
- If a parent has declared mentally defective or incompetent
- If a legal guardian has failed to respond to a request for consent for 60 days or is unreasonably withholding consent
- If a putative father has acknowledged paternity or is listed on the putative father registry but has failed to establish a relationship with the child
When can consent be withdrawn?
This law differs from state to state, but Arkansas adoption laws state that a prospective birth parent can withdraw consent within ten days of giving it. If you live in Arkansas but find an adoption opportunity in a different state, your adoption specialist should familiarize you with adoption laws in that state. That way, you can know what to expect regarding prospective birth parent rights.
Home Study and Post-Placement Laws in Arkansas
Before any family adopts, the hopeful adoptive parents must complete a home study. The home study assesses the parent’s ability to provide a stable, welcoming home to a child. Below, you’ll find more information and frequently asked questions about what to expect during the Arkansas home study process and post-placement laws.
What is a home study?
A home study assesses each adoptive family member’s mental and physical health, financial standing, emotional stability, discipline practices and child caring skills. Each home study in Arkansas will require three personal references, a safety assessment of the home and background checks. The home study also considers the wellbeing of other (if any) children in the home, criminal record checks and child abuse registry checks will be performed.
Who will complete my home studies?
Arkansas adoption laws require a state-licensed social worker or adoption agency to complete their home study, and that all members of the adoptive family are assessed. Single parents can meet Arkansas home study requirements, but a home study will be denied if a single parent is cohabitating with a sexual partner if they are not legally married.
Do I have to renew my home study?
If the home study was completed more than a year prior to placement, it must be renewed before a hopeful family can adopt.
What about post-placement visits?
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. Stepparent adoptions, adult adoptions and relative adoptions within the second agree do not require do not require that the adopting parent submit expense reports to the court. 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 home study within 45 business days and will not require the family to attend training.
Learn More about Arkansas Adoption Laws
We hope this article helped answer some of the questions you might have about Arkansas adoption laws. Although, it might be useful to do some research on your own so you can familiarize yourself with important adoption laws in Arkansas. This article provides some basic information to get you started. However, you should remember that this article shouldn’t be taken as legal advice, so always consult with your Arkansas adoption attorney about your individual circumstances.
If you’d like help being connected with an Arkansas adoption professional, you can contact us at any time.