Approximately 600,000 children spend time in the United States foster care facilities every year. These children could spend years in group homes and other facilities before they are adopted. Unfortunately, some children will never be adopted at all. Adopting a child into your family can not only give an innocent child a fresh start but can also change your life in amazing ways. If you wish to learn more about the adoption process in Arkansas, you should contact an experienced Fayetteville adoption lawyer today. At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, we are dedicated to providing you with the legal representation you need to ensure your adoption process goes smoothly. Our firm is here to explain how long adoption proceedings in Arkansas take.

Arkansas Requirements for Adoption

Adoption is the process used when an adult takes legal responsibility for a child that is not their own. While children are usually the subject of an adoption, it is possible to adopt any person whether they are a child or an adult. The adopting party can also be a relative of the adoptee like a grandparent or an aunt. However, Arkansas law requires that either the adopting party or the adoptee must be a resident of Arkansas.

In Arkansas, the following category of people are eligible to apply for the right to adopt another person:

  • Married spouses
  • An unmarried adult
  • The unmarried father or mother of the person who is being adopted
  • A married person acting of their own volition without their spouse (for example, being adopted by a step-parent)

It is important to note that the qualifications for adoption may change if the Department of Human Services (DHS) is involved in the adoption process. For example, DHS requires an adopting party to be at least 21 years old and cannot be older than 65, while married applicants must show evidence of a solid relationship. The requirements for adoption applicants can vary depending on the agency handling the adoption process.

To learn more about applying to be an adoptive parent in Arkansas, continue reading and speak with an experienced Fayetteville family law lawyer.

Steps in the Arkansas Adoption Process

There are several steps that must be followed to complete the adoption process successfully. As mentioned, the procedure used and the amount of time it takes for an adoption proceeding to conclude depend on the agency conducting the adoption. The following is a list of procedures generally followed by adoption agencies.

Petition for Adoption

To initiate an adoption, the individual seeking to adopt has to file a petition with the clerk of the court. Our firm can help you prepare your adoption application to ensure that all procedures are followed.

Obtain Consent

The next step is to seek consent for adoption from the biological parents of the child. However, consent can be gained in other ways. For example, if the State of Arkansas has revoked the parental rights of the biological parents, an applicant does not need their consent to adopt a child. Additionally, a biological parent can also lose their parental rights if they abandoned or did not support their child for a period longer than a year.

Sworn Affidavit

The applicant is required to provide the agency with information regarding their expenses and other finances in relation to their petition to adopt.

Consult with Putative Father Registry

If the applicant is seeking to adopt a child that was born to an unmarried woman, they must consult with the Putative Father Registry. This agency will provide the applicant with a statement regarding whether the putative father is listed on the registry. If the father is listed, he must be notified of the adoption proceedings.

Home Study

Arkansas requires a thorough investigation of the applicants that wish to become adoptive parents. A social worker will check the state of the applicant’s home as well as any individuals that live in the home with the applicant. If anyone over the age of 18 resides in the home, they will be subject to a criminal background check.

This and other processes not listed here will take at least six months to conclude. The child to be adopted must live in the adoptive home for at least six months to determine whether it is a suitable environment where they can thrive. After the situation is evaluated, the court will issue a final decree of adoption.

Our Arkansas Family Law Attorneys are Prepared to Help with Your Adoption Proceedings

If you and your spouse are considering adopting a child in Arkansas, consult with an experienced Arkansas family law attorney today. The adoption attorneys at Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP possess decades of combined legal experience, and we would be proud to use that knowledge to represent you. Let our firm help you with the complex legal proceedings involved with adoption so that your transition is easy for you and the newest addition to your family. To schedule a confidential legal consultation, call Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP at (479) 439-9840, or contact us online.