Adoption Attorneys in Arkansas Working Tirelessly and Advocating for Families
Choosing adoption is not a decision that is taken lightly, whether you are considering adopting a child into your home or placing one in adoption. There have likely been multiple conversations, concerns expressed, and a lot of emotions surrounding this decision. The process can feel overwhelming, but with the right advocates in place for you, it doesn’t have to be.
At OMG Law Firm, we have worked with many families that are considering adoption. The laws about adoption vary from state to state, so having a team of attorneys experienced specifically in Arkansas adoptions can set you up for success and alleviate some of the stress this decision can bring. Contact OMG Law Firm today at (870) 336-6505 to learn more about your options, and let’s work together to make a plan that works for you and your family moving forward.
Who Can Adopt a Child?
Under Arkansas law, both a married couple and an unmarried couple can adopt a child. Single parents are also able to adopt in some situations, and these are reviewed by the courts on a case-by-case basis for approval. If you are currently separated and the divorce hasn’t been finalized, your partner is incapacitated, or you have other reasons to adopt alone while legally married, these are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, as well. Legislation regarding adoption is ever-evolving, meaning there are more options than there used to be in terms of who can adopt.
What Are The Official Requirements?
All eligible adoptive parents must become approved prior to welcoming a child into their home. The approval process, which may take six to nine months to complete, requires the parent to attend a series of adoption classes (called PRIDE—Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education). Other state requirements include:
- Participation in a home study
- Thorough criminal background checks
- A check to confirm that the home does not have a history of abuse or neglect
- Positive references
- Medical evidence that everyone in the family is in good health
How Long Does The Process Take?
Once a parent has been approved, the time period from application to adoption will mostly depend on how soon a child of their preferred adoption age is available. After a child has been placed, it generally takes about a year for the adoption to be finalized.
Are There Adoption Fees In Arkansas?
There are no fees associated with adopting a child who is in state care. Private adoptions and adoption agencies will likely involve fees.
Is There Any Post-adoption Support?
There are many support services available to adoptive parents for up to a year after the adoption has been finalized. They include access to support groups, family counseling, and other assistive programs.
What Is A “Legal Risk Adoption Placement”?
A legal risk adoption placement enables children to be placed in pre-adoptive homes before the rights of their parents have been terminated. They are technically not free for adoption until the court officially terminates all parental rights, which creates uncertainty for the prospective family.
What Does Legal Consent Mean?
When a mother or legal guardian of a child is ready to put a child up for adoption, they must give legal consent, which means that they have relinquished their rights to the child. This is a necessary legal step in the adoption process, and consent must be provided by the biological mother, and in some situations, the father must provide legal consent as well. If a court has jurisdiction over a child because a parent doesn’t have legal rights to the child, the court will provide consent. If the child to be placed for adoption is at least the age of twelve, they must consent to the adoption as well, unless the court deems it in the best interests of the child to be placed into adoption.
In some situations, the consent of a birth parent isn’t necessary. These situations are less common and can result when a parent has failed to communicate with or support their child for at least a year, they have abandoned their child, the parent has had their rights terminated legally, or they are deemed incompetent.
Legal guardians are notified of the request of consent when necessary, and if they have not responded for more than 60 days or they are unreasonably withholding consent, their consent may be declared unnecessary by the courts as well.
Consent can be withdrawn legally for up to ten days after it was given in the state of Arkansas. This allows for time for either parent to change their mind for a set period of time. Each state has its own set of adoption laws specific to that state. If you are considering adopting a child out of state, consult your family law attorney regarding what those specific laws look like in terms of consent as well as withdrawal of consent timelines.
What is a Home Study?
Family courts in Arkansas place the safety and best interest of children as their top priority. They want to make sure that they are thorough in their reviews before finalizing an adoption to ensure it is in the best interest of the child. Part of this process includes a home study completed by a licensed social worker or an adoption agency.
A home study reviews things such as the home itself as well as the lives of the prospective parents. Is the home itself a safe and welcoming environment for the child? Things like home inspections or insurance evaluations may come into play during this part of the review.
Aspects of the prospective parent’s lives are evaluated closely as well. Things like their mental and physical health will be evaluated as well as their emotional stability, their parenting styles when it comes to discipline practices and basic care for the child, and more. Each of their financial positions is reviewed as well. If there are unforeseen health concerns or economic issues that arise, will they be able to continue to provide a stable environment for the child? This isn’t a black and white area, as most households can’t prepare for everything, but the ability to establish that there is a plan in place should emergencies pop up is beneficial.
Are there other children in the home already? Are they well taken care of and well-adjusted children? Their well-being and care are thoroughly vetted as well.
Background checks are completed on each parent, and if there are items such as child abuse or assault convictions, the home study would reveal this to the judge and allow them to act accordingly.
Personal references are also required during the home study. Each prospective parent must have three personal references. Examples of things that are included in a reference are how long this person has known the prospective parent and in what capacity, what they feel the parent’s strengths are, items that establish their character, and what makes the reference think the parent is a good candidate for adoption, among other things.
Part of the home study also includes post-placement visits, one of which is required to take place in the home. This is an additional step to remain thorough and keep the best interests of the child as a priority. It can also be a necessary extra step that can reveal dishonest references or other steps that prospective parents may have taken to avoid a negative home study result.
Can I Hire Any Attorney in Arkansas?
An adoption decision is as private as it is personal, and we respect that. On top of the emotions that are generally involved in the process, there are many complex laws in place when it comes to adoption as well. These are there to protect children, as well as mothers who are considering adoption.
Hiring an attorney with specific experience in adoptions in your state can mean streamlining the process, navigating the courts and necessary timelines with confidence based on experience, and more. This allows you to spend more time focusing on readying your household for adoption. We have multiple years of navigating these intricate laws and handling adoption cases, giving us a unique perspective in dealing with the laws surrounding adoption in Arkansas.
At OMG Law Firm, we not only have experience in handling the laws surrounding adoption but also the emotions that adoption can carry with it. We have helped many families over the years to realize their dreams, and we are thoroughly prepared to help you as well. Contact our Jonesboro, Arkansas offices today at (870) 336-6505 to get started.