Adopting a child can be a fulfilling and generous undertaking. It can also be complicated due to the confusing state and federal requirements surrounding eligibility. It is reasonable to have some questions about whether you are a viable candidate to adopt a child in Arkansas or what the application process will require.
Whether you can adopt a child in Arkansas depends on several factors, including your age, living circumstances, and the medium through which you are attempting to adopt the child. There are different regulations for adoptions of relatives, adoptions through private agencies, adoptions through government programs, and international adoptions. Applicants for adoption in Arkansas must typically be over the age of 21, have stable and safe living conditions, and possess the physical ability to meet the requirements of parenthood. Depending on the avenue through which you hope to adopt, there may be additional requirements.
Getting all the information upfront is important for ensuring that your adoption process doesn’t include any surprises. The dedicated Fayetteville family law attorneys at Gunn Kieklak Dennis LLP can walk you through the process of applying for adoptive parent status step by step. For a consultation on your adoption candidacy in Arkansas, call us at (479) 439-9840.
Eligibility Requirements for Adopting a Child Through DHS in Arkansas
In order to qualify to adopt a child through Arkansas’ Department of Human Services (DHS), you will need to submit an application that exhibits that you meet the criteria for an adoptive parent. The DHS’ Division of Children and Family Services handles adoptions of children who are currently in the foster system.
The criteria for adoption from the foster system through DHS are extensive. Applicants should be at least 21 years old, but no more than 45 years older than the child that they are hoping to adopt. Single individuals and married couples may both apply, but married couples must be able to demonstrate a stable relationship. Applicants must submit to a physical examination to ensure that they do not have any health conditions that would conflict with their ability to effectively parent. If there are other children in the home of the opposite sex, each child must have their own separate bedroom. If the adoptive home includes pets, the dangerous nature of the pet must be considered.
All adult members of the household must submit to a fingerprint background check, and no minor in the household can have a criminal record. Applicants will be evaluated on their ability to provide financial, educational, emotional, and medical resources without relying solely on state assistance. Applicants are also required to complete a CPR and basic First Aid certification course.
Following your application, the state will conduct an in-person adoption assessment known as a home study. A representative will visit your home and interview you to find out more about your abilities as a potential adoptive parent. Key areas of focus in a home visit include communication skills, lifestyle, relationships, preferences and expectations for children, problem-solving, and potential child abuse or neglect.
Eligibility Requirements for Adopting a Child Through a Private Adoption Agency in Arkansas
If you are hoping to adopt a child through a private adoption organization or foundation, the requirements won’t change all that much. Private agencies abide by similar guidelines to the DHS, as they are bound either by statute or by governing principles.
Private adoption organizations may choose to impose more restrictions on prospective adoptive parents than are imposed by statute for the DHS. As privately operating organizations, they are permitted to add many types of restrictions, such as increased financial requirements, marriage or relationship requirements, or narrower age limits.
There are benefits to private agencies, however. Representatives of private agencies are usually more accessible, and the adoption process typically moves faster through private agencies than it does through the DHS foster system.
Eligibility Requirements for Adopting an International Child in Arkansas
Just like with private adoption, international adoption applicants must meet the examination requirements that are prescribed for DHS adoptions. However, international adoption applicants will also have to satisfy federal and international regulations in order to be approved. Whether you may adopt a child from a particular country depends on whether government policy allows for intercountry adoption between that country and the United States. Each country has its own unique requirements for hopeful adoptive parents. If you are interested in adopting a child from a specific country outside the United States, our family and adoption lawyers can explain the particular requirements and lay out your options.
Who is Eligible to Be Adopted in Arkansas?
There is no age requirement for adoptees. You can legally adopt anyone in Arkansas so long as one of the parties is a citizen of the state. For relative adoptions, such as adoptions of step-children or grandchildren, there are special procedures in place that allow you to conditionally bypass many of the traditional requirements that accompany the adoption process. Speak with our attorneys for more information about the requirements that come with your relative adoption.
How Long Does an Adoption Take in Arkansas?
A typical adoption may take any number of months to complete, and depends on whether the adoption is facilitated by a state or independent agency. Further, legal adoption is established in most cases only once an adoptee has lived with their adoptive parent or parents for six months. For relative adoption cases, this time condition is usually waived.
Interested in Adopting in Arkansas? Call Us for Help Today
At Gunn Kieklak Dennis LLP, we want nothing more than to help you grow your family. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you complete the application process so that you can focus on becoming a parent. To speak with us about your candidacy, call us at (479) 439-9840.