Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Arkansas that you become familiar with Arkansas adoption laws.
Arkansas adoption laws are in place to protect the birth parents, the prospective adoptive parents, and the child being adopted. You will want to find an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer who is very knowledgeable in the Arkansas adoption laws.
We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Arkansas involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.
Click on the following to jump to an area of interest:
- Adoption Requirements in Arkansas
- Adoption Consent in Arkansas
- Arkansas Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
- Arkansas Adoption Advertising Laws
- Birth Parent Expenses in Arkansas
- Accessing Adoption Records in Arkansas
- Post Adoption Contact Laws in Arkansas
- When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Arkansas?
With so many aspects of Arkansas adoption laws and their corresponding policies, it is impossible to cover them all in one article. We will, however, dive into many facets of the adoption laws in Arkansas.
You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Arkansas, as laws and policies do change.
Can you adopt without a lawyer? How much do adoption attorneys cost? Learn all that and more by visiting Adoption Lawyers in Arkansas: Do You Need an Adoption Attorney? where we also give you step-by-step instructions on how to vet an adoption lawyer.
Adoption Requirements in Arkansas
- Must be 21 years of age to adopt.
- No more than 45 years older than child.
- Single adults may adopt.
- A two-parent home must have a stable relationship.
- LGBT partners may adopt.
- Must pass a physical and no big health problems.
- Thorough background check.
It is common knowledge that adoption is costly, but that is not to be confused with a false expectation that a prospective parent should be well off financially. Financial security is important and expected when applying to adopt a child, yet being upper class is not one of those qualifications.
Financial security simply means that you are able to pay your bills, cover your rent or mortgage, and that you have a reliable means of income and transportation. What matters most is that a child is loved, cared for, and kept safe and comfortable.
Learn more about adoption attorneys in our article What Does an Adoption Attorney Do? We Find Out.
Adoption Consent in Arkansas
Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Arkansas put together for your convenience and is intended to be quicker to digest. For a complete listing of all adoption consent laws in its legal format and in its entirety, visit Title 9 – Family Law Subtitle 2 – Domestic Relations Chapter 9 – Adoption Subchapter 2 – Revised Uniform Adoption Act, courtesy of Justia US Law.
Section 9-9-206: Persons Required to Consent to Adoption – Consideration for Relinquishing Minor for Adoption
It goes without saying that consent to adopt is a huge part of the adoption process. We may forget, however, that there is more involved than the birth mother’s consent.
Other aspect may come into play that you will want to keep in mind.
- The adoptee who is 12 years of age or older must give their consent to the adoption. An exception to this would be if the child is mentally incompetent.
- The presumed father has the right to consent to the adoption, if:
- The father was married to the mother at the time the minor was conceived or at any time thereafter;
- The minor is his child by adoption;
- He has physical custody of the minor at the time the petition is filed;
- He has a written order granting him legal custody of the minor at the time the petition for adoption is filed;
- A court has adjudicated him to be the legal father prior to the time the petition for adoption is filed;
- He proves a significant custodial, personal, or financial relationship existed with the minor before the petition for adoption is filed; or
- He has acknowledged paternity under § 9-10-120(a).
- Any person lawfully entitled to custody of the minor or empowered to consent.
- The court having jurisdiction to determine custody of the minor, if the legal guardian or custodian of the person of the minor is not empowered to consent to the adoption.
- The spouse of the minor to be adopted.
Arkansas Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
Adoption assistance, otherwise know as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Arkansas who suffer from physical, mental, and developmental challenges.
These children are at a heightened risk of health problems, learning disabilities, as well as mental health issues. Subsidized adoption provides assistance to adoptive families for medical access, special equipment, therapies, tutoring, and other support services.
In the US, about 90% of the children in foster care are eligible for adoption assistance.
Special Needs Eligibility in Arkansas
A child with special needs may qualify for adoption assistance if the child meets one or more of the following circumstances, courtesy of NACAC.
- Severe psychological or medical issues that will require ongoing care.
- Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.
- A child two years of age or older.
- Due to underlining issues in the past, the child is likely to suffer emotional, physical, or mental struggles in the future.
Children adopted from private adoption agencies may be eligible for an adoption subsidy, but only if the children are eligible for federal (title IV-E) adoption assistance.
Section 9-9-410: Subsidy Agreements – Duration
Subsidies that the adoptee is receiving will end when the child turns 18 years of age, or the benefits available to him or her under the subsidy agreement are provided by other state or federal programs or the adoptive parents no longer qualify for a subsidy under the current rules for subsidized adoptions.
A subsidy arrangement may be prolonged until the adoptee reaches the age of 21 years of age if the child has has a documented disability or condition that prevents the child from existing independently from the adoptive family. This requires applying for supplemental security income benefits prior to the child turning 18 years of age and have been denied.
Arkansas Adoption Advertising Laws
Adoption advertising is defined as using a public medium to express an interest in adopting a child or sharing that a child is available for adoption either by print or electronically.
Common means of advertising include:
- Printed Flyers
While researching the adoption advertising laws for Arkansas, we found that there are currently no mentions of adoption advertisement use in the state of Arkansas. Per ChildWelfare.gov, as of July 2020, adoption advertising is not addressed in the statues reviewed.
There are currently 18 states without regulations on adoption advertising, and Arkansas is one of those states.
Birth Parent Expenses in Arkansas
In all states, no person or agency is allowed to accept payment for assisting, placing, or organizing the placement of a child, as this is illegal.
There are some things, however, that adoptive parents may be allowed to pay for in Arkansas. These things include:
- Legal fees
- Adoption agency fees
- Prenatal visits
- Living expenses
- Hospital costs
In each state, adoptive parents are generally required to have a documented record of expenses related to the adoption that they are covering.
Your licensed adoption liaison will help to ensure that all financial aspects of the adoption process run smoothly and legally.
What do you do, though, if said expenses are paid and the birth mother changes her mind in the end? Adoption Disruption insurance is available for adoptive parents to protect them from such a misfortune for those adopting domestically.
Accessing Adoption Records in Arkansas
Section 9-9-803: Access to Adoption File
As of August 1, 2018, one may submit a written request for a copy of an adoption file from the Arkansas Department of Health.
This written request must include the requester’s address as well as a notarized signature. Upon receipt of the requestor’s application, the Department of Health will mail the adoption file to the address provided on the application.
Keep in mind that if the adoption file contains a form submitted under § 9-9-802(a)(2)(A)(i), the department will likely remove the birth parent’s name from the adoption file prior to mailing it to the requestor.
If, however, the form under § 9-9-802(a)(2)(A)(ii) is submitted after the adoption file was mailed to the requestor, a second adoption file may be mailed to the requestor that includes the birth parent’s name.
There are other variables, so be sure to visit Section 9-9-803: Access to adoption file for further details.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
Post Adoption Contact Laws in Arkansas
Adoptive parents have a right to decide who has contact with their adopted child and when. Many times in an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth family have a mutual and informal agreement regarding contact with the adopted child.
Post adoption contact laws are not mentioned in the statutes, courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Arkansas?
When your adoption is finalized, court proceedings should immediately include beginning the process of obtaining a new birth certificate for the adopted child that reflects the child’s new last name and adoptive parents.
Do not hesitate to ask your adoption attorney or adoption agency if you need to initiate that process, or if the courts will do that on your behalf.
DISCLAIMER: The above state law information is provided to our readers as a courtesy and is meant to be helpful in offering some insight as to what to expect during your adoption journey. This information is not meant to be viewed as legal advice. In addition, possible changes to state laws may have taken place since the publishing of this article in July 2021.