When it comes to adoption, each state has its own laws to keep the practice both ethical and legal. If you’re thinking about pursuing adoption in Arkansas, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with those laws. Always ask your attorney if you have legal concerns about your adoption. The following information should not be considered legal advice, but simply an informational guide about local adoption laws.
Adoption laws in Arkansas state that both married and unmarried adults are eligible to adopt. In some instances, a married person can adopt alone; these include stepparent adoptions, instances in which the hopeful adoptive parent is legally separated from his or her spouse, or if the spouse who isn’t joining the adoption has been absent, incapacitated, or is unreasonably withholding consent.
Arkansas adoption laws allow adoptive parents to pay birth parent expenses for prenatal, delivery and postnatal care. This includes all adoption service fees (such as the home study and background checks), as well as the birth parents’ housing, food, clothing and other costs in addition to medical expenses.
It’s important to note, however, that the adoptive parents have to file a full record of all money spent in an adoption with the court for a judge to review.
Who must consent?
The birth mother
The birth father in certain circumstances
Any person who has legal custody of the child
The court having jurisdiction over the child if a parent does not have legal rights
When is a child required to consent?
A child age 12 or older must consent to his or her own adoption, unless the court decides it’s within the child’s best interests and dispenses with the requirement for consent.
When is parental consent not necessary?
If a parent has deserted or abandoned a 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 his/her rights terminated
If a parent has been declared incompetent or mentally defective
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When can consent be withdrawn?
A birth parent can withdraw consent within 10 days of giving it.
Any hopeful adoptive parent in Arkansas must complete a home study prior to adopting. A home study assesses each adoptive family member’s mental and physical health, financial standing, emotional stability, discipline practices and child-caring skills. Each study will also require three personal references, a safety assessment of the home and background checks.
An Arkansas social worker or adoption agency will complete the home study, and all members of an adoptive family will be assessed. Single parents can meet an Arkansas home study’s requirements, but a home study will be denied if a single parent is cohabiting with a sexual partner he or she is not legally married to.
If a home study was completed more than a year prior to placement, it must be renewed before a family can adopt.
American Adoptions is a national agency, and, as such, is licensed to complete adoptions and home studies in Arkansas. For more information about pursuing adoption with American Adoptions, call 1-800-ADOPTION, or request free information here.
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