Adoption can be a wonderful thing for a child or for the parents-to-be. The attorneys at Owens, Mixon & Heller, P.A. know this better than most. Lance Owens is the proud father of four adopted children and Aaron Heller was adopted as a child. This means that, in addition to our working knowledge of Arkansas law and procedure for adoptions, we understand what you may be going through on a personal level.
An adoption grants legal parental rights in a child for a person who is not the natural parent. The adoptive parent assumes all responsibilities for the child and the child becomes entitled to inherit from that parent just as a natural child would. Likewise, depending on the nature of the adoption, one or more of the natural parents will have their legal rights in the child severed.
Common types of Adoption:
- Step Parent Adoption: Is just what it sounds like. When a step parent wants to adopt his or her step child, the natural parent spouse joins in a petition for adoption. If the other natural parent is cooperative, these adoptions can progress quickly.
- Grandparent Adoption: Also just what it sounds like. Sometimes grandparents raise their grandchildren just as if they were their own children. If the natural parents consent, these can also be relatively simple adoptions. If the natural parents object to the adoption, we can help organize and present the proof necessary to push through the adoption where it is in the best interest of the child.
- Open or Closed Adoption: When neither person seeking a private adoption is related to the child, all of the parties involved usually come to an agreement ahead of time whether the adoption will be “open” or “closed.” An open adoption means that lines of communication will be agreed upon so that the natural parent(s) can communicate with the adoptive parents to an extent. In a closed adoption, the lines of communication between the natural parent(s) and the adoptive parents and adopted child are closed and all records are closed as to prevent contact between the parties.
Public adoptions are generally handled through the Arkansas Department of Human Services, but the attorneys at OMG Law Firm regularly assist clients with private adoptions. Most common are Step-parent or Grandparent Adoptions, in which the child to be adopted is related to one or more of the parents by blood or marriage. These adoptions are typically more streamlined as the court has fewer concerns regarding the placement of the child in homes with familiar relatives.
An adoption requires a petition to the court stating your best reasons why you should be permitted to have legal care and responsibility over a child. Notice must be given to certain persons (such as any natural parents). If the natural parent(s) will consent to the adoption, this is simply a matter of showing the court that you are ready, willing, and able to provide for the child as a parent should. But you may also have to convince the court why the rights of a natural parent should be severed if that natural parent will not consent to the adoption.
If the natural parent(s) will not consent, you must present clear and convincing evidence that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. For example, Arkansas law permits the court to grant an adoption over the objection of the natural parent where that parent has failed to see, support, or communicate with the child for a period of one year. Courts may also grant an adoption where there is a history of abuse or neglect.
In some cases, adoptions are straightforward or uncontested, but in some cases the natural parent may put up a fight. In these cases, we are prepared to fight for your rights in court.
In some adoptions, there are other requirements which may slow down the process. Putative father inquiries, home studies, accountings, and child study reports may be required, depending on the facts in your case. Our attorneys are prepared to navigate these procedural requirements and handle any hearings necessary to complete your adoption.
If you have any questions about any of these concepts, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Owens, Mixon & Heller. We are prepared to answer any questions you may have and to assist you with any of your legal needs.
If you have questions or need assistance now, email Lance Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-870-336-6505.