Everything to Know About Adoption Finalization in Arkansas
How to Receive Your Final Decree of Adoption in AR
As an adoptive parent, you’ve most likely been looking forward to your Arkansas adoption finalization hearing for a long time because it’s the day when a judge finally makes your child legally yours, and the legal adoption process is officially over. It’s a day to celebrate!
First, though, it helps if you understand exactly what will happen when you petition to the judge for a final decree of adoption. This process varies slightly in each state, so keep in mind that you will have to follow all laws specific to Arkansas.
Fortunately, when you work with American Adoptions to add a child to your family, your specialist will help you prepare for your adoption finalization in Arkansas. They will explain what you can expect and coordinate with your attorney to ensure you are comfortable and ready for what this legal process will require.
If you’re an expectant birth parent, you do not have to worry about appearing at the Arkansas adoption finalization. This is only required of the adoptive parents.
If you aren’t yet working with our agency, you can always call our specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION or contact us online to learn about this service and more. We also offer professional assistance at our local offices, at:
103 S. 3rd Street
Rogers, AR 72756
In the meantime, to help you learn more, we’ve gathered some basic information about the Arkansas adoption finalization process below.
Before the Adoption Finalization Hearing in Arkansas
Between the day your child is placed with you and the day he or she becomes legally and irrevocably yours, a few conditions must be satisfied. These are required to confirm the validity and legality of your child’s adoption.
Your specialist and attorney will work with you through each of these processes to ensure your Arkansas adoption finalization can move forward:
Termination of Parental Rights: Before you can become your child’s legal guardians, his or her prospective birth parents must terminate their parental rights. In Arkansas, prospective birth parents can voluntarily consent to adoption at any point after a child is born. After consent is given, there will be a 10-day revocation period, during which they can legally withdraw consent. Your attorney will inform you of the prospective birth parents’ rights during this time.
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) Clearance: If you don’t reside in Arkansas but have traveled to the state to adopt your child, you will have to comply with ICPC regulations. ICPC serves as a checks-and-balances system between states to ensure that all adoptions are completed ethically and legally.
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Clearance: If your child has any Native American heritage, you will have to comply with ICWA regulations. ICWA was enacted to help preserve Native American tribes and families and requires additional steps of anyone adopting a Native American child.
- Post-Placement Visits: Before an Arkansas adoption finalization can occur, the social worker who completed your home study will also complete post-placement visits. These are to ensure that the child is adjusting well in his or her new home.
What to Expect at the Arkansas Adoption Finalization Hearing
Once all finalization requirements have been met, it’s time for the big day!
Most adoption finalization proceedings last around 30 to 60 minutes, so it’s safe to assume the hearing will be relatively brief. The hearing will take place in your county court, so feel free to invite family and close friends, and bring a camera if you want pictures to remember the day. Many judges will be happy to pose for a selfie or two!
Before photo ops, though, a few things must happen:
Step 1: You and your spouse will stand in front of the judge with your child and your attorney. You will be sworn in.
Step 2: Your attorney will ask you to introduce yourselves, and he or she will advise the judge that the adoption should take place. Testimony will be provided. If your child is old enough, he or she may also be asked to testify that the adoption should take place.
Step 3: You will verify for the judge that you intend to provide your child with a safe, loving home. The judge will then sign the final decree of adoption!
After the Arkansas adoption finalization hearing, you’ll receive a new birth certificate for your child that lists you as the “natural parents.” Beyond that, your adoption is complete!
However, remember that adoption is really a lifelong process. After the Arkansas adoption finalization hearing, remember that you still have a responsibility to talk about adoption with your child and to maintain your open adoption relationship with his or her birth parents.
“It’s 110 percent worth it, no matter what. What we’re really dealing with at the end of the day is your family. No matter how difficult they can be, they gave us that gift under circumstances I can’t even begin to imagine. You don’t forget that,” said Jaime, an adoptive mother we had the privilege of working with.
Remember: When you work with American Adoptions, your specialist will coordinate with your attorney to prepare you for this legal process. It can be nerve-wracking, but we will be there by your side every step of the way.
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