If you’ve spent some time considering foster care adoption in Arkansas, you likely have a lot of questions. There’s a lot of information about foster care adoption for you to process, because it can be a little uncertain. There are several types of adoption, and some families find foster care to be the perfect fit for their situation and what they’re looking for. Foster care comes with its own challenges, but it can be an amazing way to grow your family.
What is Foster Care Adoption in Arkansas?
The Arkansas foster care adoption process may vary based on your individual circumstances and the professional you work with. That’s why, as a hopeful adoptive parent, it’s important to contact a foster care agency early in the process to get a better understanding of what adopting a child from foster care looks like.
In most cases, when you adopt a child through foster care in Arkansas, you will likely adopt a child who is older, part of a sibling set, or has medical or emotional special needs. This type of adoption can be challenging, so it’s important that you’re prepared and have everything you need to start this journey with your family.
To help you get a better look at the foster care adoption process in Arkansas, here’s a quick overview.
Step 1: Contact a Foster Care Agency
One of the first steps to adopt a child through foster care is to contact a foster care adoption agency in Arkansas. Your agency will connect you with an adoption specialist or caseworker who will be by your side to explain everything you need to know.
Step 2: Attend Foster Parent Training and Orientation
Before a hopeful adoptive parent can adopt, they’ll need to attend foster parent training and orientation, also known as “pre-service” training. You’ll learn helpful information on what’s expected of a hopeful parent, connect with other hopeful parents and get answers to any questions or concerns you may have.
Step 3: Complete a Home Study
A home study can be the lengthiest and most overwhelming part of the adoption process. It requires background checks, reviewing important documents, scheduling interviews and home visits with a social worker and more. With so much involved, it can quickly become a stressful time for hopeful adoptive parents. But keep in mind that your social worker will address any of your concerns and walk you through every step.
Step 4: Prepare for Adoption and Placement
Once you complete your home study, you will then be matched with an adoption opportunity. Depending on what your adoption goals are, your wait time to be matched could vary significantly. If you’re pursuing an adoption straight from foster care, your wait will depend on how open you are to different adoption opportunities. The more open you are, the quicker you will be matched. Waiting to be matched can sometimes be hard but try not to get discouraged no matter how long it takes.
Step 5: Submit a Petition to Adopt
Once your child is placed into your care, you will have some time to transition before you can officially adopt. Remember, your child’s biological parents’ rights must be terminated by the court before you legally adopt them. Once the waiting period is over, you can petition to adopt. If your petition is approved, you’ll be ready for the final step of the foster care adoption process.
Step 6: Finalize Your Adoption
Once all the previous steps have been completed, you’re on your way to finalization. Your finalization hearing will last 30-60 minutes, as the judge will have already reviewed your adoption ahead of time to ensure it complies with state laws. This step marks the official completion of the process for adopting a foster child, and it’s an important milestone for every adoptive parent.
People Who Consider Foster Care Adoption and Who Can Adopt
Foster care adoption in Arkansas is a great option for many families and life situations. For example, parents who have been fostering a child who cannot be reunited with their birth family, families who want to help a child quickly in need of a home, or families who want to adopt but may not have the funds for other adoption methods.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent or adopting through foster care in Arkansas, you have to meet these general requirements:
- Be at least 21 years of age and healthy enough to care for a child
- Have no more than a 45-year age gap between you and the foster child you wish to adopt
- Be either single or in a two-parent home with a stable relationship
- Have a home in which each bedroom has at least 50 square feet of space per occupant
- Be able to provide all children of opposite sexes over four years of age with separate bedrooms
- Keep any and all firearms locked and stored in a secure location separate from ammunition
- Not smoke around children
- Pass background checks
If you meet those prerequisites for becoming a foster parent or adopting a child through foster care in Arkansas, there are some additional requirements you will have to fulfill:
- Complete CPR and Standard First Aid certification
- Complete 30 hours of pre-service training
- Meet all Minimum Licensing Standards set forth by the Child Welfare Agency Review Board and the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education
- Meet all policy requirements set forth by the Division of Children and Family Services
- Be a resident of Arkansas, if you wish to foster-to-adopt and not just adopt a child outright
- You will also need to refrain from corporal punishment and will need to support the child in exercising their own religious beliefs
Start Your Foster Care Adoption Journey
Foster care can be such a rewarding experience. With all types of adoption, it’s essential for hopeful adoptive parents to go through all the pros and cons to make sure foster care adoption is the right decision for your family.
However, when you adopt a child through foster care in Arkansas, you’re opening up your heart and home to a child in need of a family.
If you’re considering this path for your family, there’s a lot to learn and it can get overwhelming. To get all the information you need, reach out to an Arkansas foster care adoption program near you.