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Child Adoption Laws
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Child Adoption Laws
Arkansas


We hope to help you learn more about the child adoption laws in the State of Arkansas.  Please note that while we have tried to be as current as possible, laws are occasionally rewritten and/or amended; accordingly, the Arkansas adoption law provided below may have errors, omissions, or may not be the most current version. Please remember that this information should not be used as the basis for making any legal decision. Please use appropriate resources and an attorney's advice when making legal decisions.

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Arkansas Legislation

Arkansas Adoption Law
Title 9: Family Law
Subtitle 2:Domestic Relations
Chapter 9: Adoptions
Subchapters 1-7

(This page was last updated on 08/02/13.)

Chapter 9.
Adoption.

Subchapter 1. General Provisions.

9-9-101. Surrender of custody of minor by hospital or birthing center.

9-9-102. Religious preference - Removal of barriers to interethnic adoption - Preference to relative caregivers for a child in foster care.

9-9-103. Adoption home studies affidavit.

Subchapter 2. Revised Uniform Adoption Act.

9-9-201. Short title.

9-9-202. Definitions.

9-9-203. Who may be adopted.

9-9-204. Who may adopt.

9-9-205. Jurisdiction - Venue - Inconvenient forum - Disclosure of name.

9-9-206. Persons required to consent to adoption - Consideration for relinquishing minor for adoption.

9-9-207. Persons as to whom consent not required.

9-9-208. How consent is executed.

9-9-209. Withdrawal of consent.

9-9-210. Petition for adoption.

9-9-211. Report of petitioner's expenditures.

9-9-212. Hearing on petition - Requirements.

9-9-213. Required residence of minor.

9-9-214. Appearance - Continuance - Disposition of petition.

9-9-215. Effect of decree of adoption.

9-9-216. Appeal from and validation of adoption decree.

9-9-217. Confidentiality of hearings and records.

9-9-218. Recognition of foreign decrees affecting adoption.

9-9-219. Application for new birth record.

9-9-220. Relinquishment and termination of parent and child relationship.

9-9-221. Uniformity of interpretation.

9-9-222. Repeal and effective date.

9-9-223. Termination of rights of nonparental relatives.

9-9-224. Child born to unmarried mother.

Subchapter 3. Children in Public Custody - Consent to Adoption.

9-9-301. Adoptions under prior law validated.

9-9-302. [Repealed.]

9-9-303. Administrative reviewers of petitions for appointment of guardian.

9-9-304. [Repealed.]

Subchapter 4. Children in Public Custody - Subsidized Adoption.

9-9-401. Title.

9-9-402. Definitions.

9-9-403. Purpose.

9-9-404. Administration - Funding.

9-9-405. Promulgation of regulations.

9-9-406. Records confidential.

9-9-407. Eligibility.

9-9-408. Subsidy agreement required - Commencement of subsidy.

9-9-409. Subsidy amounts.

9-9-410. Subsidy agreements - Duration.

9-9-411. Subsidy agreements - Renewal, termination, or modification.

9-9-412. Appeals.

Subchapter 5. Voluntary Adoption Registry.

9-9-501. Definitions.

9-9-502. Penalty.

9-9-503. Registry - Establishment and maintenance.

9-9-504. Registry - Operation.

9-9-505. Compilation of nonidentifying history.

9-9-506. Disclosure of information.

9-9-507. Maintenance of records.

9-9-508. Rules and regulations.

Subchapter 6. Legal Representation.

9-9-601. The Governor's Pro Bono Adoption Service Award.

Subchapter 7. The Streamline Adoption Act.

9-9-701. Streamlined adoptions by the Department of Health and Human Services.

9-9-101. Surrender of custody of minor by hospital or birthing center.

(a) After a consent to adoption under § 9-9-208 or a relinquishment of parental rights under § 9-9-220 is executed with regard to a minor in the physical custody of a hospital or birthing center within the State of Arkansas, the biological mother of a minor child may authorize the release of the child from the hospital or birthing center to the petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the minor child, the child placement agency licensed under the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act, § 9-28-401 et seq., the Division of Children and Family Services, or the attorney acting on behalf of any of the foregoing entities.
(b)(1) A hospital or birthing center release form under this section must:

(A) Be executed in writing;

(B) Be witnessed by two (2) credible adults;

(C) Authorize the petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the minor child, the licensed child placement agency, the division, or the attorney acting on the behalf of any of the foregoing entities to obtain any medical treatment, including circumcision of a male child, reasonably necessary for the care of the minor and to authorize any physician or medical services provider to furnish additional services deemed reasonable and necessary; and

(D) Be verified before a person authorized to take oaths.

(2) If a hospital or birthing center surrenders custody of a minor child to the petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the minor child, a licensed child placement agency, the division, or the attorney acting on behalf of any of the foregoing entities, the hospital or birthing center releasing the minor shall not be liable to any person because of its acts if the hospital or birthing center has complied with this section.

(c)(1) A hospital or birthing center shall comply with the terms of a release executed under this section without requiring a court order.

(2) Once the hospital or birthing center release form described in subsection (b) of this section is presented to the hospital or birthing center, the hospital or birthing center shall discharge the minor child to the petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the minor child, a licensed child placement agency, the division, or the attorney acting on the behalf of any of the foregoing entities after the hospital or birthing center is presented photo identification of the receiving party.

 

History. Acts 1971, No. 169, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-125; Acts 1987, No. 1060, § 8; 2001, No. 1737, § 1.

 

9-9-102. Religious preference - Removal of barriers to interethnic adoption - Preference to relative caregivers for a child in foster care.

(a) In all custodial placements by the Department of Human Services in foster care or investigations conducted by the Department of Human Services pursuant to court order under § 9-9-212, preferential consideration shall be given to an adult relative over a nonrelated caregiver provided that the relative caregiver, meets all relevant child protection standards and it is in the child's best interest to be placed with the relative caregiver.
(b) The Department of Human Services and any other agency or entity which receives federal assistance and is involved in adoption or foster care placement shall not discriminate on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the adoptive or foster parent or the child involved nor delay the placement of a child on the basis of race, color, or national origin of the adoptive or foster parents.

(c) If the child's genetic parent or parents express a preference for placing the child in a foster home or an adoptive home of the same or a similar religious background to that of the genetic parent or parents, the court shall place the child with a family that meets the genetic parent's religious preference, or if a family is not available, to a family of a different religious background which is knowledgeable and appreciative of the child's religious background.

(d) The court shall not deny a petition for adoption on the basis of race, color, or national origin of the adoptive parent or the child involved.

 

History. Acts 1987, No. 857, § 1; 1995, No. 956, § 1; 1997, No. 216, § 1.

 

9-9-103. Adoption home studies affidavit.

(a) Upon the request of any interested party, agency, or the court, the petitioner in any adoption proceeding shall file with the court an affidavit stating the number of adoption home studies conducted on the petitioner's home prior to the filing of the petition.
(b) A copy of each adoption home study performed shall be attached to the affidavit.

 

History. Acts 1993, No. 598, § 1.

 

9-9-201. Short title.

This subchapter may be cited as the "Revised Uniform Adoption Act".

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-201.

 

9-9-202. Definitions.

As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) "Child" means a son or daughter, whether by birth or by adoption;

(2) "Court" means all probate courts in this state, or the juvenile divisions of the chancery courts when exercising jurisdiction over adoption cases pursuant to §§ 9-27-301 - 9-27-345 and, when the context requires, means the court of any other state empowered to grant petitions for adoption;

(3) "Minor" means an individual under the age of eighteen (18) years;

(4) "Adult" means any individual who is not a minor;

(5) "Agency" means any person certified, licensed, or otherwise specially empowered by law or rule to place minors for adoption;

(6) "Person" means an individual, corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership or association, or any other legal entity;

(7) "Abandonment" means the failure of the parent to provide reasonable support and to maintain regular contact with the child through statement or contact, when the failure is accompanied by an intention on the part of the parent to permit the condition to continue for an indefinite period in the future, and failure to support or maintain regular contact with the child without just cause for a period of one (1) year shall constitute a rebuttable presumption of abandonment;

(8) "Neglect" means the failure or refusal, including acts or omissions, of a person legally responsible for the care and maintenance of a child:
(a) To prevent the abuse of the child when the person legally responsible knows or has reasonable cause to know the child is or has been abused; or
(b) To provide the necessary food, clothing, shelter, and education required by law, or medical treatment necessary for the child's well-being, which causes or threatens to cause the significant impairment of the child's physical, mental, or emotional health, except when the failure or refusal is caused primarily by the financial inability of the person legally responsible and no services for relief have been offered or rejected, or when the child is being furnished with treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer, in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof in lieu of medical treatment.

(9) "Refusal to consent" means the unreasonable refusal to consent by a parent not having custody of a child to the termination of parental rights contrary to the best interest of the child;

(10) "Abuse" means any injury, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation inflicted by a person upon a child other than by accidental means, or an injury which is at variance with the history given of it.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 2; 1985, No. 879, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-202; Acts 1993, No. 758, § 2.

 

9-9-203. Who may be adopted.

Any individual may be adopted.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 3; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-203.

 

9-9-204. Who may adopt.

The following individuals may adopt:
(1) A husband and wife together although one (1) or both are minors;

(2) An unmarried adult;

(3) The unmarried father or mother of the individual to be adopted;

(4) A married individual without the other spouse joining as a petitioner, if the individual to be adopted is not his spouse; and if:

(i) The other spouse is a parent of the individual to be adopted and consents to the adoption;

(ii) The petitioner and the other spouse are legally separated; or

(iii) The failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to consent to the adoption is excused by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of consent.


History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 4; 1979, No. 599, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-204.

 

9-9-204. Who may adopt.

The following individuals may adopt:
(1) A husband and wife together although one (1) or both are minors;

(2) An unmarried adult;

(3) The unmarried father or mother of the individual to be adopted;

(4) A married individual without the other spouse joining as a petitioner, if the individual to be adopted is not his spouse; and if:

(i) The other spouse is a parent of the individual to be adopted and consents to the adoption;

(ii) The petitioner and the other spouse are legally separated; or

(iii) The failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to consent to the adoption is excused by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of consent.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 4; 1979, No. 599, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-204.

 

9-9-206. Persons required to consent to adoption - Consideration for relinquishing minor for adoption.

(a) Unless consent is not required under § 9-9-207, a petition to adopt a minor may be granted only if written consent to a particular adoption has been executed by:
(1) The mother of the minor;

(2) The father of the minor 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 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, or he proves a significant custodial, personal, or financial relationship existed with the minor before the petition for adoption is filed;

(3) Any person lawfully entitled to custody of the minor or empowered to consent;

(4) 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;

(5) The minor, if more than ten (10) years of age, unless the court in the best interest of the minor dispenses with the minor's consent; and

(6) The spouse of the minor to be adopted.

(b) A petition to adopt an adult may be granted only if written consent to adoption has been executed by the adult and the adult's spouse.

(c) Under no circumstances may a parent or guardian of a minor receive a fee, compensation, or any other thing of value as a consideration for the relinquishment of a minor for adoption. However, incidental costs for prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care may be assessed, including reasonable housing costs, food, clothing, general maintenance, and medical expenses, if they are reimbursements for expenses incurred or fees for services rendered. Any parent or guardian who unlawfully accepts compensation or any other thing of value as a consideration for the relinquishment of a minor shall be guilty of a Class C felony.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 6; 1979, No. 599, § 2; 1985, No. 467, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-206; Acts 2005, No. 437, § 1.

 

9-9-207. Persons as to whom consent not required.

(a) Consent to adoption is not required of:
(1) a parent who has deserted a child without affording means of identification or who has abandoned a child;

(2) a parent of a child in the custody of another, if the parent for a period of at least one (1) year has failed significantly without justifiable cause (i) to communicate with the child or (ii) to provide for the care and support of the child as required by law or judicial decree;

(3) the father of a minor if the father's consent is not required by § 9-9-206(a)(2);

(4) a parent who has relinquished his or her right to consent under § 9-9-220;

(5) a parent whose parental rights have been terminated by order of court under § 9-9-220 or § 9-27-341;

(6) a parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective if the court dispenses with the parent's consent;

(7) any parent of the individual to be adopted, if the individual is an adult;

(8) any legal guardian or lawful custodian of the individual to be adopted, other than a parent, who has failed to respond in writing to a request for consent for a period of sixty (60) days or who, after examination of his or her written reasons for withholding consent, is found by the court to be withholding his or her consent unreasonably;

(9) the spouse of the individual to be adopted, if the failure of the spouse to consent to the adoption is excused by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of consent;

(10) a putative father of a minor who signed an acknowledgement of paternity but who failed to establish a significant custodial, personal, or financial relationship with the juvenile prior to the time the petition for adoption is filed; or

(11) a putative father of a minor who is listed on the Putative Father Registry but who failed to establish a significant custodial, personal, or financial relationship with the juvenile prior to the time the petition for adoption is filed.

(b) Except as provided in §§ 9-9-212 and 9-9-224, notice of a hearing on a petition for adoption need not be given to a person whose consent is not required or to a person whose consent or relinquishment has been filed with the petition.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 7; 1977 (Ex. Sess.), No. 22, §§ 1, 2; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-207; Acts 1989, No. 496, § 8; 2003, No. 650, § 2; 2005, No. 437, § 2.

 

9-9-208. How consent is executed.

(a) The required consent to adoption shall be executed at any time after the birth of the child and in the manner following:
(1) If by the individual to be adopted, in the presence of the court;

(2) If by an agency, by the executive head or other authorized representative, in the presence of a person authorized to take acknowledgments;

(3) If by any other person, in the presence of the court or in the presence of a person authorized to take acknowledgments;

(4) If by a court, by appropriate order or certificate.

(b) A consent which does not name or otherwise identify the adopting parent is valid if the consent contains a statement by the person whose consent it is that the person consenting voluntarily executed the consent irrespective of disclosure of the name or other identification of the adopting parent.

(c) If the parent is a minor, the writing shall be signed by a court-ordered guardian ad litem, who has been appointed by a judge of a court of record in this state to appear on behalf of the minor parent for the purpose of executing consent. The signing shall be made in the presence of an authorized representative of the Arkansas licensed placement agency taking custody of the child, or in the presence of a notary public, or in the presence and with the approval of a judge of a court of record of this state or any other state in which the minor was present at the time it was signed.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 8; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-208; Acts 1991, No. 774, § 1.

 

9-9-209. Withdrawal of consent.

(a) A consent to adoption cannot be withdrawn after the entry of a decree of adoption.
(b)(1) A consent to adopt may be withdrawn within ten (10) calendar days after it is signed or the child is born, whichever is later, by filing an affidavit with the probate clerk of the circuit court in the county designated by the consent as the county in which the guardianship petition will be filed, if there is a guardianship, or where the petition for adoption will be filed, if there is no guardianship. If the ten-day period ends on a weekend or a legal holiday, the person may file the affidavit the next working day. No fee shall be charged for the filing of the affidavit. The court may waive the ten-day period for filing a withdrawal of consent for agencies as defined by § 9-9-202(5), minors over ten (10) years of age who consented to the adoption, or biological parents if a step-parent is adopting.

(2) The consent shall state that the person has the right of withdrawal of consent and shall provide the address of the probate clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the guardianship will be filed, if there is a guardianship, or where the petition for adoption will be filed, if there is no guardianship.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 9; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-209; Acts 1991, No. 774, § 2; 1995, No. 1284, § 1; 2003, No. 1185, § 7; 2005, No. 437, § 3.
9-9-210. Petition for adoption.

(a) A petition for adoption signed and verified by the petitioner, shall be filed with the clerk of the court, and state:
(1) The date and place of birth of the individual to be adopted, if known;

(2) The name to be used for the individual to be adopted;

(3) The date the petitioner acquired custody of the minor and of placement of the minor and the name of the person placing the minor; and a statement as to how petitioner acquired custody of the minor;

(4) The full name, age, place, and duration of residence of the petitioner;

(5) The marital status of the petitioner, including the date and place of marriage, if married;

(6) That the petitioner has facilities and resources, including those available under a subsidy agreement, suitable to provide for the nurture and care of the minor to be adopted and that it is the desire of the petitioner to establish the relationship of parent and child with the individual to be adopted;

(7) A description and estimate of value of any property of the individual to be adopted;

(8) The name of any person whose consent to the adoption is required, but who has not consented, and facts or circumstances which excuse the lack of his normally required consent, to the adoption; and

(9) In cases involving a child born to a mother unmarried at the time of the child's birth, a statement that an inquiry has been made to the putative father registry and either:

(A) No information has been filed in regard to the child born to this mother; or

(B) Information is contained in the registry.

(b) A certified copy of the birth certificate or verfication of birth record of the individual to be adopted, if available, and the required consents and relinquishments shall be filed with the clerk.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 10; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-210; Acts 1989, No. 496, § 6.

 

9-9-211. Report of petitioner's expenditures.

(a) Except as specified in subsection (b) of this section, the petitioner, in any proceeding for the adoption of a minor, shall file, before the petition is heard, a full accounting report in a manner acceptable to the court of all disbursements of anything of value made or agreed to be made by or on behalf of the petitioner in connection with the adoption. The petitioner shall file a sworn affidavit showing any expenses incurred in connection with:
(1) The birth of the minor;

(2) Placement of the minor with petitioner;

(3) Medical or hospital care received by the mother or by the minor during the mother's prenatal care and confinement;

(4) Services relating to the adoption or to the placement of the minor for adoption which were received by or on behalf of the petitioner, either natural parent of the minor, or any other person; and

(5) Fees charged by all attorneys involved in the adoption, including those fees charged by out-of-state attorneys.

(b) This section does not apply to an adoption by a stepparent whose spouse is a natural or adoptive parent of the child, or to an adoption where the person to be adopted is an adult, or where the petitioner and the minor are related to each other in the second degree.

(c) The petitioner shall file a signed, sworn affidavit verifying that all expenses as required by this section have been truthfully listed and shall be informed by the court as to the consequences of knowingly making false material statements.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 11; 1985, No. 107, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-211.

 

9-9-212. Hearing on petition - Requirements.

(a)(1) Before any hearing on a petition, the period in which the relinquishment may be withdrawn under § 9-9-220 or in which consent may be withdrawn under § 9-9-209, whichever is applicable, must have expired.
(2) No orders of adoption, interlocutory or final, may be entered prior to the period for withdrawal.

(3) After the filing of a petition to adopt a minor, the court shall fix a time and place for hearing the petition.

(4) At least twenty (20) days before the date of hearing, notice of the filing of the petition and of the time and place of hearing shall be given by the petitioner to:

(A) Any agency or person whose consent to the adoption is required by this subchapter but who has not consented; and

(B) A person whose consent is dispensed with upon any ground mentioned in § 9-9-207(a)(1), (2), (6), (8), and (9).

(5)(A) When the petitioner alleges that any person entitled to notice cannot be located, the court shall appoint an attorney ad litem who shall make a reasonable effort to locate and serve notice upon the person entitled to notice; and upon failing to so serve actual notice, the attorney ad litem shall publish a notice of the hearing directed to the person entitled to notice in a newspaper having general circulation in the county one (1) time a week for four (4) weeks, the last publication being at least seven (7) days prior to the hearing.

(B) Before the hearing, the attorney ad litem shall file a proof of publication and an affidavit reciting the efforts made to locate and serve actual notice upon the person entitled to notice.

(b)(1)(A) Before placement of the child in the home of the petitioner, a home study shall be conducted by any child welfare agency licensed under the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act, § 9-28-401 et seq., or any licensed certified social worker.

(B) Home studies on non-Arkansas residents may also be conducted by a person or agency in the same state as the person wishing to adopt as long as the person or agency is authorized under the law of that state to conduct home studies for adoptive purposes.

(2) The Department of Health and Human Services shall not be ordered by any court, except the juvenile division of circuit court, to conduct a home study, unless:

(A) The court has first determined the responsible party to be indigent; and

(B) The person to be studied lives in the State of Arkansas.

(3) All home studies shall be prepared and submitted in conformity with the regulations promulgated pursuant to the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act, § 9-28-401 et seq.

(4)(A) The home study shall address whether the adoptive home is a suitable home, and shall include a recommendation as to the approval of the petitioner as an adoptive parent.

(B) A written report of the home study shall be filed with the court before the petition is heard.

(C) The home study shall contain an evaluation of the prospective adoption with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption and any other information the court requires regarding the petitioner or minor.

(5)(A) The home study shall include a state-of-residence criminal background check, if available, and national fingerprint-based criminal background check on the adoptive parents and all household members age sixteen (16) and older.

(B) If a prospective adoptive parent has lived in a state for at least six (6) years immediately prior to adoption, then only a state-of-residence criminal background check shall be required.

(6) A child maltreatment central registry check shall be required for all household members age ten (10) and older as a part of the home study, if such a registry is available in their state of residence.

(7) Additional national fingerprint-based criminal background checks are not required for international adoptions as they are already a part of the requirements for adoption of the federal Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.

(8) Each prospective adoptive parent shall be responsible for payment of the costs of the criminal background checks and shall be required to cooperate with the requirements of the Arkansas State Police and the child maltreatment central registry, if available, with regard to the criminal and central registry background checks, including, but not limited to, signing a release of information.

(9)(A) Upon completion of the criminal record checks, the Department of Arkansas State Police shall forward all information obtained to either the department if it is conducting the home study, to the agency, to the licensed certified social worker, or to the court in which the adoption petition will be filed.

(B) The Arkansas State Police shall forward all information obtained from the national fingerprint-based criminal background checks to either the department, if it is doing the home study, or to the court in which the adoption petition will be filed.

(C) The circuit clerk of the county where the petition for adoption has been or will be filed shall keep a record of the national fingerprint-based criminal background checks for the court.

(c) Unless directed by the court, a home study is not required in cases in which the person to be adopted is an adult. The court may also waive the requirement for a home study when a stepparent is the petitioner or the petitioner and the minor are related to each other in the second degree.

(d)(1) After the filing of a petition to adopt an adult, the court by order shall direct that a copy of the petition and a notice of the time and place of the hearing be given to any person whose consent to the adoption is required but who has not consented.

(2) The court may order a home study to assist it in determining whether the adoption is in the best interest of the persons involved.

(3) The Department of Human Services shall not be ordered by any court, except the juvenile division of circuit court, to conduct a home study unless:

(A) The court has first determined the responsible party to be indigent; and

(B) The person to be studied lives in the State of Arkansas.

(4) All home studies shall be prepared and submitted in conformity with the regulations promulgated pursuant to the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act, § 9-28-401 et seq.

(e)(1) Notice shall be given in the manner appropriate under rules of civil procedure for the service of process in a civil action in this state or in any manner the court by order directs.

(2) Proof of the giving of the notice shall be filed with the court before the petition is heard.

(3) Where consent is not required, notice may be by certified mail with return receipt requested.

(f) When one (1) parent of a child or children is deceased, and the parent-child relationship has not been eliminated at the time of death, and adoption proceedings are instituted subsequent to such decease, the parents of the deceased parent shall be notified under the procedures prescribed in this subchapter of such adoption proceedings, except when the surviving parent-child relationship has been terminated pursuant to § 9-27-341.

(g)(1)(A) Except as provided under subdivision (g)(2) of this section, before placement for adoption, the licensed adoption agency or, when an agency is not involved, the person, entity, or organization handling the adoption shall compile and provide to the prospective adoptive parents a detailed, written health history and genetic and social history of the child that excludes information that would identify birth parents or members of a birth parent's family.

(B) The detailed, written health history and genetic and social history shall be set forth in a document that is separate from any document containing information identifying the birth parents or members of a birth parent's family.

(C) The detailed, written health history and genetic and social history shall be clearly identified and shall be filed with the clerk before the entry of the adoption decree.

(D) Upon order of the court for good cause shown, the clerk may tender to a person identified by the court a copy of the detailed, written health history and genetic and social history.

(2) Unless directed by the court, a detailed, written health history and genetic and social history of the child is not required if:

(A) The person to be adopted is an adult;

(B) The petitioner is a stepparent; or

(C) The petitioner and the child to be adopted are related to each other within the second degree of consanguinity.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 12; 1979, No. 599, §§ 3, 4; 1983, No. 324, § 1; 1985, No. 445, §§ 1, 2; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-212; Acts 1991, No. 774, § 3; 1991, No. 1214, § 1; 1993, No. 1204, § 1; 1995, No. 1067, § 1; 1997, No. 1106, § 1; 2003, No. 650, § 3; 2005, No. 437, § 4; 2005, No. 1689, § 1.

 

9-9-213. Required residence of minor.

A final decree of adoption shall not be issued and an interlocutory decree of adoption does not become final until the minor to be adopted, other than a stepchild of the petitioner, has lived in the home for at least six (6) months after placement by an agency or for at least six (6) months after the petition for adoption is filed.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 13; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-213; Acts 1999, No. 518, § 1.

 

9-9-214. Appearance - Continuance - Disposition of petition.

(a) The petitioner and the individual to be adopted shall appear at the hearing on the petition, unless the presence of either is excused by the court for good cause shown.
(b) The court may continue the hearing from time to time to permit further observation, investigation, or consideration of any facts or circumstances affecting the granting of the petition.

(c) If at the conclusion of the hearing the court determines that the required consents have been obtained or excused and the required period for the withdrawal of consent and withdrawal of relinquishment have passed and that the adoption is in the best interest of the individual to be adopted, it may (1) issue a final decree of adoption; or (2) issue an interlocutory decree of adoption which by its own terms automatically becomes a final decree of adoption on a day therein specified, which day shall not be less than six (6) months nor more than one (1) year from the date of issuance of the decree, unless sooner vacated by the court for good cause shown.

(d) If the requirements for a decree under subsection (c) have not been met, the court shall dismiss the petition and the child shall be returned to the person or entity having custody of the child prior to the filing of the petition.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 14; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-214; Acts 1991, No. 774, § 4.

 

9-9-215. Effect of decree of adoption.

(a) A final decree of adoption and an interlocutory decree of adoption which has become final, whether issued by a court of this state or of any other place, have the following effect as to matters within the jurisdiction or before a court of this state:
(1) Except with respect to a spouse of the petitioner and relatives of the spouse, to relieve the biological parents of the adopted individual of all parental rights and responsibilities, and to terminate all legal relationships between the adopted individual and his or her biological relatives, including his or her biological parents, so that the adopted individual thereafter is a stranger to his or her former relatives for all purposes. This includes inheritance and the interpretation or construction of documents, statutes, and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption is decreed, which do not expressly include the individual by name or by some designation not based on a parent and child or blood relationship. However, in cases where a biological or adoptive parent dies before a petition for adoption has been filed by a step-parent of the minor to be adopted the court may grant visitation rights to the parents of the deceased biological or adoptive parent of the child if such parents of the deceased biological or adoptive parent had a close relationship with the child prior to the filing of a petition for step-parent adoption, and if such visitation rights are in the best interests of the child. The foregoing provision shall not apply to the parents of a deceased putative father who has not legally established his paternity prior to the filing of a petition for adoption by a step-parent. For the purposes of this section, "step-parent" means an individual who is the spouse or surviving spouse of the biological or adoptive parent of a child but who is not a biological or adoptive parent of the child.

(2) To create the relationship of parent and child between petitioner and the adopted individual, as if the adopted individual were a legitimate blood descendant of the petitioner, for all purposes including inheritance and applicability of statutes, documents, and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption is decreed, which do not expressly exclude an adopted individual from their operation or effect.

(b) An interlocutory decree of adoption, while it is in force, has the same legal effect as a final decree of adoption. If an interlocutory decree of adoption is vacated, it shall be as though void from its issuance, and the rights, liabilities, and status of all affected persons which have not become vested shall be governed accordingly.

(c) Sibling visitation shall not terminate if the adopted child was in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and had a sibling who was not adopted by the same family and before adoption the circuit court in the juvenile dependency-neglect or families in need of services case has determined that it is in the best interests of the siblings to continue visitation and has ordered visitation between the siblings to continue after the adoption.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 15; 1983, No. 324, § 2; 1985, No. 403, § 2; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-215; Acts 1995, No. 889, § 1; 2005, No. 437, §§ 5, 6.

9-9-216. Appeal from and validation of adoption decree.

(a) An appeal from any final order or decree rendered under this subchapter may be taken in the manner and time provided for appeal from a judgment in a civil action.
(b) Subject to the disposition of an appeal, upon the expiration of one (1) year after an adoption decree is issued, the decree cannot be questioned by any person including the petitioner, in any manner upon any ground, including fraud, misrepresentation, failure to give any required notice, or lack of jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter unless, in the case of the adoption of a minor, the petitioner has not taken custody of the minor or, in the case of the adoption of an adult, the adult had no knowledge of the decree within the one-year period.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 16; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-216.

 

9-9-217. Confidentiality of hearings and records.

(a) Notwithstanding any other law concerning public hearings and records:
(1) All hearings held in proceedings under this subchapter shall be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than essential officers of the court, the parties, their witnesses, counsel, persons who have not previously consented to the adoption but are required to consent, and representatives of the agencies present to perform their official duties.

(2)(A) Adoption records shall be closed, confidential, and sealed unless authority to open them is provided by law or by order of the court for good cause shown.

(B)(i) When an adoption is filed or heard pursuant to §§ 9-27-301 et seq., any portion of the court file relating to the adoption shall be maintained separately from the file of other pending juvenile matters concerning the juvenile who is the subject of the adoption or the family of the juvenile.

(ii) Once final disposition is made in the adoption proceedings, the adoption file shall be transferred from the clerk who is the custodian of juvenile records to the clerk who is the custodian of records.

(iii) The entry of the adoption decree will be entered by the clerk in the book containing adoption records.

(iv) The clerk shall assign the file a docket number, shall prepare an application for a new birth record as provided in this section, and shall maintain the file as if the case had originated as an adoption case.

(v) No filing fee shall be assessed by the clerk upon the transfer and creation of the new adoption file.

(vi) Any adoption record shall be handled as provided in this section.

(C)(i) In the event an adoption record is randomly selected to be audited for determination of compliance with requirements found in federal laws pertaining to periodic and dispositional review of foster care cases, the Administrator of Adoptions of the Department of Health and Human Services is authorized to open the file notwithstanding any section in this subchapter prohibiting disclosure of adoption records.

(ii) It shall be the responsibility of the administrator to procure and provide from this file all records pertinent to the federal requirements under review.

(iii) The remainder of the record shall remain sealed. Such portions of the record that may be removed shall be returned to the sealed file upon completion of the federal audit.

(iv) No one shall be permitted to review the removed portion of the record except in an official capacity, and, except for uses required by the federal audit in compliance with state and federal statutes and regulations, such a person shall be bound to keep the contents of such records confidential.

(D)(i) In the event the department has the opportunity to enhance its federal funding by a review of its adoptions records, then the administrator is authorized to open such files notwithstanding any section in this subchapter.

(ii) It shall be the responsibility of the administrator to procure and provide from this file all records pertinent to the review.

(iii) The remainder of the record shall remain sealed.

(iv) The portion of the record that may be removed shall be returned to the sealed file upon completion of the review.

(v) No one shall be permitted to review the removed portion of the record except in an official capacity, and, except for uses required to provide for the enhancement of possible federal funding in compliance with state and federal statutes and regulations, such a person shall be bound to keep the contents of such records confidential.

(E)(i) In the event that an adoptive family contacts the department and indicates a desire for the placement of a subsequent child and no more than five (5) years have lapsed since the adoption file has been sealed, the department is authorized to unseal the adoption file notwithstanding any section in this subchapter.

(ii) It shall be the responsibility of the administrator to remove the home study from the file and make a copy of the home study.

(iii) The remainder of the file shall remain sealed.

(iv) The administrator shall return the home study to the file, which shall then be resealed.

(v) The department shall be permitted to use a copy of the original home study.

(vi) The adoptive family shall be permitted to use a copy of the original home study with a petition to adopt a subsequent child from the department if the original home study is accompanied by an update.

(b) The provisions of this section shall not prohibit the disclosure of information pursuant to § 9-9-501 et seq.

(c) All papers and records pertaining to adoptions prior to May 19, 1986, are declared to be confidential and shall be subject to disclosure only pursuant to this section.

(d)(1) All records of any adoption finalized in this state shall be maintained for ninety-nine (99) years by the agency, person, entity, or organization that handled the adoption.

(2) If the agency, person, entity, or organization that handled the adoption ceases to function, all adoption records shall be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services or another licensed agency within this state with notice to the department.

 

History. Acts 1986 (2nd Ex. Sess.), No. 23, §§ 2, 3; A.S.A. 1947, §§ 56-223, 56-224; Acts 1993, No. 758, § 3; 1999, No. 945, §§ 1, 2; 2003, No. 650, § 4; 2003, No. 1166, § 1; 2005, No. 1685, § 2.

 

9-9-218. Recognition of foreign decrees affecting adoption.

A decree of court terminating the relationship of parent and child or establishing the relationship by adoption issued pursuant to due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction within or without the United States shall be recognized in this state. The rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this state shall be determined as though the decree were issued by a court of this state.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 18; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-218.

 

9-9-219. Application for new birth record.

Within thirty (30) days after an adoption decree becomes final, the clerk of the court shall prepare an application for a birth record in the new name of the adopted individual and forward the application to the appropriate vital statistics office of the place, if known, where the adopted individual was born and forward a copy of the decree to the Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, for statistical purposes. The division may issue a birth certificate for any child born in a place whose law does not provide for the issuance of a substituted certificate.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 19; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-219.

 

9-9-220. Relinquishment and termination of parent and child relationship.

(a) With the exception of the duty to pay child support, the rights of a parent with reference to a child, including parental right to control the child or to withhold consent to an adoption, may be relinquished and the relationship of parent and child terminated in or prior to an adoption proceeding as provided in this section. The duty of a parent to pay child support shall continue until an interlocutory decree of adoption is entered.
(b) All rights of a parent with reference to a child, including the right to receive notice of a hearing on a petition for adoption, may be relinquished and the relationship of parent and child terminated by a writing, signed by an adult parent, subject to the court's approval.

If the parent is a minor, the writing shall be signed by a guardian ad litem who is appointed to appear on behalf of the minor parent for the purpose of executing such a writing. The signing shall occur in the presence of a representative of an agency taking custody of the child, or in the presence of a notary public, whether the agency is within or without the state, or in the presence and with the approval of a judge of a court of record of this state or any other state in which the minor was present at the time it was signed. The relinquishment shall be executed in the same manner as for a consent to adopt under § 9-9-208.

(1)(A) The relinquishment may be withdrawn within ten (10) calendar days after it is signed or the child is born, whichever is later.

(i) Notice of withdrawal shall be given by filing an affidavit with the probate clerk of the circuit court in the county designated by the writing as the county in which the guardianship petition will be filed if there is a guardianship, or where the petition for adoption will be filed, if there is no guardianship. If the ten-day period ends on a weekend or legal holiday, the person may file the affidavit the next working day.

(ii) No fee shall be charged for the filing of the affidavit.

(B) The relinquishment shall state that the parent has this right of withdrawal, and shall provide the address of the probate clerk of the circuit court in which the guardianship will be filed if there is a guardianship, or where the petition for adoption will be filed if there is no guardianship; or

(2) In any other situation, if notice of the adoption proceeding has been given to the parent and the court finds, after considering the circumstances of the relinquishment and the continued custody by the petitioner, that the best interest of the child requires the granting of the adoption.

(c) In addition to any other proceeding provided by law, the relationship of parent and child may be terminated by a court order issued under this subchapter on any ground provided by other law for termination of the relationship, or on the following grounds:

(1) Abandonment. (A) A child support order shall provide notice to the non-custodial parent that failure to pay child support or to visit the child for at least one (1) year shall provide the custodial parent with the right to initiate proceedings to terminate the parental rights of the non-custodial parent.

(B) If the notification clause required by subdivision (c)(1)(A) of this section is not in the child support order, the custodial parent, prior to termination of parental rights, shall notify the non-custodial parent that he or she intends to petition the court to terminate parental rights.

(C)(i) The non-custodial parent shall have three (3) months from the filing of the petition to pay a substantial amount of past due payments owed and to establish a relationship with his or her child or children.

(ii) Once the requirements under subdivision (c)(1)(C)(i) of this section are met, the custodial parent shall not be permitted to proceed with the adoption nor the termination of parental rights of the non-custodial parent.

(iii) The court may terminate parental rights of the non-custodial parent upon a showing that:
(a) Child support payments have not been made for one (1) year or the non-custodial parent has not visited the child in the preceding year and the non-custodial parent has not fulfilled the requirements of subdivision (c)(1)(C)(i) of this section; and
(b) It would be in the best interest of the child to terminate the parental relationship.

(D) The provisions of subdivisions (c)(1)(A) - (C) of this section apply only to child support orders entered after August 13, 2001.

(2) Neglect or abuse, when the court finds the causes are irremediable or will not be remedied by the parent.

(A) If the parents have failed to make reasonable efforts to remedy the causes and such failure has occurred for twelve (12) months, such failure shall raise the rebuttable presumption that the causes will not be remedied.

(B) If the parents have attempted to remedy the causes but have failed to do so within twelve (12) months, and the court finds there is no reasonable likelihood the causes will be remedied by the eighteenth month, the failures shall raise the rebuttable presumption that the causes will not be remedied.

(3) That in the case of a parent not having custody of a child, his consent is being unreasonably withheld contrary to the best interest of the child.

(d) For the purpose of proceeding under this subchapter, a decree terminating all rights of a parent with reference to a child or the relationship of parent and child issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in this or any other state dispenses with the consent to adoption proceedings of a parent whose rights or parent and child relationship are terminated by the decree and with any required notice of an adoption proceeding other than as provided in this section.

(e) A petition for termination of the relationships of parent and child made in connection with an adoption proceeding may be made by:

(1) Either parent if termination of the relationship is sought with respect to the other parent;

(2) The petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the person, the legal custodian of the child, or the individual standing in parental relationship to the child or the attorney ad litem for the child;

(3) An agency; or

(4) Any other person having a legitimate interest in the matter.

(f)(1) The petition shall be filed and service obtained according to the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.

(2) Before the petition is heard, notice of the hearing and the opportunity to be heard shall be given the parents of the child, the guardian of the child, the person having legal custody of the child, a person appointed to represent any party in this proceeding, and any person granted rights of care, control, or visitation by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(g) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, a relinquishment of parental rights with respect to a child executed under this section may be withdrawn by the parent, and a decree of a court terminating the parent-child relationship under this section may be vacated by the court upon motion of the parent if the child is not on placement for adoption and the person having custody of the child consents in writing to the withdrawal or vacation of the decree.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 20; 1985, No. 879, §§ 2-4; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-220; Acts 1991, No. 774, § 5; 1991, No. 1214, § 2; 1995, No. 1184, § 22; 1995, No. 1284, § 2; 1995, No. 1335, § 6; 1997, No. 1227, § 15; 1999, No. 518, § 2; 1999, No. 945, § 3; 2001, No. 1779, § 1; 2003, No. 1185, § 8; 2003, No. 1743, § 1.

 

9-9-221. Uniformity of interpretation.

This subchapter shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states which enact it.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 21; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-221.

 

9-9-222. Repeal and effective date.

(a) The following acts and laws and parts of laws in conflict herewith are repealed as of the effective date of this subchapter:
(1) Act 369 of 1947;

(2) Act 254 of 1953;

(3) Act 265 of 1953;

(4) Section 17 of Act 303 of 1969.

(b) Any adoption or termination proceedings pending on the effective date of this subchapter are not affected thereby.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 735, § 22.

 

9-9-223. Termination of rights of nonparental relatives.

Except as provided in this subchapter with regard to parental rights, any rights to a child which a nonparental relative may derive through a parent or by court order may, if the best interests of the child so require, be terminated in connection with a proceeding for adoption or for termination of parental rights.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 879, § 5; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-222.

 

9-9-224. Child born to unmarried mother.

In all cases involving a child born to a mother unmarried at the time of the child's birth, the following procedure shall apply:
(a) Upon filing of the petition for adoption and prior to the entry of a decree for adoption a certified statement shall be obtained from the putative father registry stating:

(1) The information contained in the registry in regard to the child who is the subject of the adoption; or

(2) That no information is contained in the registry at the time the petition for adoption was filed.

(b) When information concerning the child is contained in the putative father registry at the time of the filing of the petition for adoption, notice of the adoption proceedings shall be served on the registrant unless waived by the registrant in writing signed before a notary public. All confidential information regarding the adoptive parents and the child to be adopted shall be removed from the notice prior to being served to the registrant. Service of notice under this section shall be given in accordance with the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure, except that notice by publication shall not be required.

(c) Upon receipt of notice, the registrant, if he wishes to appear and be heard, shall file a responsive pleading within the time limits set in the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.

 

History. Acts 1989, No. 496, § 7; 1999, No. 1229, § 1.

 

9-9-301. Adoptions under prior law validated.

All adoptions that have been granted by the probate courts of this state under authority of Acts 1947, No. 369, § 7 [repealed], when the guardian appointed was appointed under the guardianship procedures outlined under Acts 1911, No. 215, § 12 [repealed] and Acts 1947, No. 369, § 20 [repealed], are confirmed and made valid.

 

History. Acts 1977, No. 195, § 4; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-129.

 

9-9-302. [Repealed.]

 

9-9-303. Administrative reviewers of petitions for appointment of guardian.

(a)-(e) [Repealed].
(f)(1) There shall be created within the Administrative Office of the Courts up to two (2) positions for the administration of reviews of the status of children for whom a petition has been filed or granted for appointment of a guardian with the power to consent to adoption or for termination of parental rights.

(2) The persons appointed as administrative reviewers shall serve under the direction of the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts and shall be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, conditioned upon the approval of the circuit judge in the affected area.

(3) The persons so appointed shall hold office at the pleasure of the Chief Justice and shall possess the same qualifications and shall be subject to the same restrictions as circuit judges.

(4) The persons so appointed shall receive such salaries as may be fixed by the biennial appropriations salary act for the Administrative Office of the Courts.

(5) The persons so appointed shall not engage, directly or indirectly, in the practice of law and shall hold no other office or employment.

(6) The persons so appointed shall, in addition to the functions set forth in this subsection, perform such additional duties as may be prescribed by the Chief Justice.History. Acts 1977, No. 195, § 2; 1985, No. 322, § 1; 1985, No. 424, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-127; Acts 1987, No. 778, § 2; 1989, No. 273, § 47.

9-9-304. [Repealed.]

9-9-401. Title.

This subchapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Arkansas Subsidized Adoption Act" and includes only state-funded adoptions.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 8; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-137; Acts 1999, No. 945, § 4.

 

9-9-402. Definitions.

As used in this subchapter:
(1) "Child" means a minor as defined by Arkansas law; and

(2) "Special needs" means a child who is not likely to be adopted by reason of one (1) or more of the following conditions:

(A) The child has special needs for medical or rehabilitative care;

(B) Age;

(C) A racial or ethnic factor;

(D) A sibling relationship; or

(E) A child who is at high risk for developing a serious physical, mental, developmental, or emotional condition if documentation of the risk is provided by a medical professional specializing in the area of the condition for which the child is considered at risk.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 2; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-131; Acts 1999, No. 945, § 5; 2005, No. 437, § 7.

 

9-9-403. Purpose.

The purpose of this subchapter is to supplement the Arkansas adoption statutes by making possible through public financial subsidy the most appropriate adoption of each child certified by the Department of Human Services as requiring a subsidy to assure adoption.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-130.

 

9-9-404. Administration - Funding.

(a) The Department of Health and Human Services shall establish and administer an ongoing program of subsidized adoption by persons who are determined by the department to be eligible to adopt under this subchapter and who are financially unable to otherwise adopt as determined by the department using a means-based test.
(b) Subsidies and services for children under this program shall be provided out of funds appropriated to the department for the maintenance of children in foster care or made available to it from other sources.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 3; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-132; Acts 2005, No. 437, § 8.

 

9-9-405. Promulgation of regulations.

The Department of Human Services may promulgate regulations consistent with this subchapter.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 7; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-136.

 

9-9-406. Records confidential.

All records regarding subsidized adoption shall be confidential and may be opened for inspection only under the provisions of § 9-9-217.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 4; 1981, No. 858, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-133.

 

9-9-407. Eligibility.

(a) A family is initially eligible for a subsidy for purposes of adoption if:
(1)(A) No other potential adoptive family is willing and able to adopt the child without the use of a subsidy.

(B) In the case of a child who has established significant emotional ties with prospective adoptive parents while in their care as a foster child, the Department of Health and Human Services may certify the child as eligible for a subsidy without searching for families willing to take the child without a subsidy.

(C) In the case of a child who will be adopted by members of his or her biological family, the department may certify the child as eligible for a subsidy without searching for families willing to take the child without a subsidy;

(2) The department has determined the family to be eligible pursuant to a means-based test;

(3) The child is in the custody of the department; and

(4) The child has been determined by the department to have special needs.

(b)(1) Annually, the department shall redetermine eligibility on each state adoption subsidy.

(2) A state adoption subsidy shall cease if the adoptive family is no longer:

(A) Eligible for the subsidy based on the means-based test; or

(B) Providing care and support for the adoptive child.

(c) A child who is a resident of Arkansas when eligibility for a subsidy is certified shall remain eligible and receive a subsidy, if necessary for adoption, regardless of the domicile or residence of the adopting parents at the time of application for adoption, placement, legal decree of adoption, or thereafter.

(d) A family is eligible for a legal subsidy for purposes of adoption if:

(1) The child is in the custody of the department; or

(2)(A) The child was in the custody of the department;

(B) Legal custody was transferred to a relative or other person; and

(C) The juvenile division case remains open pending the child obtaining permanency.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 4; 1981, No. 858, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-133; Acts 1999, No. 518, § 3; 2005, No. 437, § 9.

 

9-9-408. Subsidy agreement required - Commencement of subsidy.

(a) When parents are found and approved for adoption of a child certified as eligible for a subsidy and before the final decree of adoption is issued, there must be a written agreement between the family entering into the subsidized adoption and the Department of Health and Human Services.
(b)(1) Adoption subsidies, the amount of which in individual cases shall be determined through agreement between the adoptive parents and the department but shall be no more than the current foster care board rate, may commence with the adoption placement or at the appropriate time after the adoption decree and may vary with the circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child as well as the availability of other resources to meet the child's needs.

(2)(A) State adoption subsidy agreements shall be for no more than one (1) year.

(B) The department shall redetermine eligibility each year as outlined in this subchapter and shall enter into an annual agreement only if the adoptive family remains eligible for an adoption subsidy.

(3)(A) In the case of the special needs child whose eligibility is based on a high risk for development of a serious physical, mental, developmental, or emotional condition, the adoption subsidy agreement shall provide for no adoption subsidy until the child actually develops the condition.

(B) No subsidy payment shall be made until adequate documentation is submitted by the adoptive parents to the department showing that the child has now developed the condition.

(C) Upon acceptance by the department that the child has developed the condition, the adoption subsidy shall be retroactive to the date the adoptive parents submitted adequate documentation that the child developed the condition.

(c)(1) When a child is determined to have a causative preexisting condition which was not identified or known prior to the final decree of adoption and which has resulted in a severe medical or psychiatric condition that requires extensive treatment, hospitalization, or institutionalization, an adoption subsidy may be approved.

(2) Upon the approval of the subsidy, the adoptive parents shall also be entitled to receive retroactive subsidy payments for the two (2) months prior to the date such subsidy was approved.

(3) This subsection will apply only to adoptive placements made on or after April 28, 1979.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 5; 1985, No. 482, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-134; Acts 1993, No. 800, § 1; 2005, No. 437, § 9[10].

 

9-9-409. Subsidy amounts.

(a) The amount of the subsidy may be readjusted periodically with the concurrence of the adopting parents, which may be specified in the adoption subsidy agreement, depending upon a change in circumstances.
(b) The subsidy may be for special services not covered by any other available resource, which include health or education services. To ensure the services remain appropriate, the services will be reviewed periodically.
(c) The amount of the time-limited or long-term subsidy may in no case exceed that which would be allowable from time to time for the child under foster family care or, in the case of a special service, the reasonable fee for the service rendered.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 5; 1985, No. 482, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-134; Acts 1999, No. 945, § 6.

 

9-9-410. Subsidy agreements - Duration.

(a) The subsidy agreement shall be binding and constitute an obligation against the State of Arkansas until the adopted child reaches the age of eighteen (18) years or the benefits available to him 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 and regulations for subsidized adoptions.
(b) If funding for the subsidized program is discontinued, all contracts that have been executed under this section and §§ 9-9-408 and 9-9-411 shall continue to be honored and shall be a valid claim against the State of Arkansas in keeping with the original subsidy agreement as long as eligibility for the subsidy continues under § 9-9-411.
(c) The subsidy agreement may be extended until the age of twenty-one (21) years if the child has a documented disability or condition that prevents the child from existing independently from the adoptive family. To be eligible for the extended subsidy, the family of the child must have applied for supplemental security income benefits prior to the child's turning eighteen (18) years and have been denied.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 4; 1981, No. 858, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-133; Acts 1999, No. 945, § 7.

 

9-9-411. Subsidy agreements - Renewal, termination, or modification.

(a)(1) When subsidies are for more than one (1) year, the adoptive parents shall present an annual sworn certification that the adoptive child remains under their care and that the condition that caused the child to be certified continues to exist.
(2) The subsidy agreement may be continued in accordance with the terms by entering into a new agreement each year but only as long as the adopted child is the legal dependent of the adoptive parents and the child's condition continues, except that, in the absence of other appropriate resources provided by law and in accordance with Arkansas regulations, it may not be continued after the adopted child reaches majority.
(b) Termination or modification of the subsidy agreement may be requested by the adoptive parents at any time.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 4; 1981, No. 858, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-133.

 

9-9-411. Subsidy agreements - Renewal, termination, or modification.

(a)(1) When subsidies are for more than one (1) year, the adoptive parents shall present an annual sworn certification that the adoptive child remains under their care and that the condition that caused the child to be certified continues to exist.
(2) The subsidy agreement may be continued in accordance with the terms by entering into a new agreement each year but only as long as the adopted child is the legal dependent of the adoptive parents and the child's condition continues, except that, in the absence of other appropriate resources provided by law and in accordance with Arkansas regulations, it may not be continued after the adopted child reaches majority.
(b) Termination or modification of the subsidy agreement may be requested by the adoptive parents at any time.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 4; 1981, No. 858, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-133.

 

9-9-412. Appeals.

Any subsidy decision by the Department of Human Services which the placement agency or the adoptive parents deem adverse to the child shall be reviewable according to the provisions of § 20-76-408.

 

History. Acts 1979, No. 1109, § 6; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-135.

 

9-9-501. Definitions.

As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) "Adoptee" means a person who has been legally adopted in this state;

(2) "Administrator" means the person charged with maintenance and supervision of the registry and may include the administrator's agents, employees, and designees;

(3) "Adoption" means the judicial act of creating the relationship of parent and child where it did not exist previously;

(4) "Adoptive parent" means an adult who has become a parent of a child through the legal process of adoption;

(5) "Adult" means a person eighteen (18) or more years of age;

(6) "Agency" means any public or voluntary organization licensed or approved pursuant to the laws of any jurisdiction within the United States to place children for adoption;

(7) "Birth parent" means:

(A) The man or woman deemed or adjudicated under laws of a jurisdiction of the United States to be the father or mother of genetic origin of a child; or

(B) A putative father of a child if his name appears on the original sealed birth certificate of the child or if he has been alleged by the birth mother to be and has in writing acknowledged being the child's biological father. A putative father who has denied or refused to admit paternity shall be deemed not to be a birth parent in the absence of an adjudication under the laws of a jurisdiction of the United States that he is the biological father of the child;

(8) "Genetic and social history" means a comprehensive report, when obtainable, on the birth parents, siblings of the birth parents, if any, other children of either birth parent, if any, and any parents of the birth parents, which shall contain the following information:

(A) Medical history;

(B) Health status;

(C) Cause of and age at death;

(D) Height, weight, eye color, and hair color;

(E) Where appropriate, levels of educational and professional achievement;

(F) Ethnic origins; and

(G) Religion, if any;

(9) "Health history" means a comprehensive report of the child's health status at the time of placement for adoption and medical history, including neonatal, psychological, physiological, and medical care history;

(10) "Mutual consent voluntary adoption registry" or "registry" means a place provided for in this subchapter where eligible persons may indicate their willingness to have their identity and whereabouts disclosed to each other under conditions specified in this subchapter; and

(11) "Putative father" means any man not deemed or adjudicated under the laws of the jurisdiction of the United States to be the father of genetic origin of a child who claims or is alleged to be the father of genetic origin of the child.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 957, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-138; Acts 1987, No. 1060, § 1; 2003, No. 650, § 5.

 

9-9-502. Penalty.

(a)(1) No person, agency, entity, or organization of any kind, including, but not limited to, any officer or employee of this state and any employee, officer, or judge of any court of this state shall disclose any confidential information relating to any adoption, except as provided by statute or pursuant to a court order.
(2) Any employer who knowingly or negligently allows any employee to disclose information in violation of this subchapter shall be subject to the penalties provided in subsection (b) of this section, together with the employee who made any disclosure prohibited by this subchapter.
(b) Any person, agency, entity, or organization of any kind which discloses information in violation of this subchapter shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 957, § 3; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-140; Acts 1987, No. 1060, § 2.

 

9-9-503. Registry - Establishment and maintenance.

(a)(1) A mutual consent voluntary adoption registry may be established and maintained by any licensed voluntary agency involved in an adoption.
(2) Persons eligible to receive identifying information shall work through the agency involved in the adoption. If that agency has merged or ceased operations, a successor agency may assume possession of the files for the purpose of establishing, maintaining, and operating the mutual consent voluntary adoption registry concerning those adoptions.
(3) Any licensed voluntary agency may delegate or otherwise contract with another licensed voluntary agency with expertise in post-legal adoption services to establish, maintain, and operate the registry for the delegating agency.
(4) If any agency ceasing to operate does not transfer adoption records to another licensed agency, it shall provide all records required to be maintained by law to the Department of Human Services.

(b) The department shall establish and maintain a mutual consent voluntary adoption registry for all adoptions arranged by the department or may contract out the function of establishing and maintaining the registry to a licensed voluntary agency with expertise in providing postlegal adoption services, in which case the agency shall establish and maintain the registry that would otherwise be operated by the department.

(c) The department shall keep records of every adult adoptee and birth parent reunited through the use of the mutual consent voluntary adoption registry.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 957, § 6; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-143; Acts 1987, No. 1060, § 4; 2001, No. 409, § 2.

 

9-9-504. Registry - Operation.

(a)(1) The adult adoptee and each birth parent and each individual related within the second degree whose identity is to be disclosed may voluntarily place his or her name in the appropriate registry by submitting a notarized affidavit stating his or her name, address, and telephone number and his or her willingness to be identified solely to the other relevant persons who register.
(2) No registration shall be accepted until the prospective registrant submits satisfactory proof of his or her identity in accord with regulations specified in § 9-9-503.
(3) The failure to file a notarized affidavit with the registry for any reason, except death, shall preclude the disclosure of identifying information to those persons who do register.

(b)(1) Upon registering, the registrant shall participate in not less than one (1) hour of counseling with a social worker employed by the entity that operates the registry; if a birth parent or adult adoptee is domiciled outside the state, he shall obtain counseling from a social worker employed by a licensed agency in that other state selected by the entity that operates the registry.
(2) When an eligible person registers concerning an adoption that was arranged through an agency which has not merged or otherwise ceased operations, and that same agency is not operating the registry, the entity operating the registry shall notify, by certified mail within ten (10) business days after the date of registration, the agency which handled the adoption.

(c) In any case where the identity of the birth father was unknown to the birth mother, or where the administrator learns that one (1) or both birth parents are deceased, this information shall be shared with the adult adoptee. In those cases, the adoptee shall not be able to obtain identifying information through the registry, and he or she shall be told of his or her right to pursue whatever right otherwise exists by law to petition a court to release the identifying information.

(d) The following shall be matching and disclosure procedures:
(1) Each mutual consent voluntary adoption registry shall be operated under the direction of an administrator;
(2) The administrator shall be bound by the confidentiality requirements of this subchapter and shall be permitted reasonable access to the registry for the purposes set forth in this subchapter and for such purposes as may be necessary for the proper administration of the registry;
(3) A person eligible to register may request the administration to disclose identifying information by filing an affidavit which sets forth the following:

(A) The current name and address of the affiant;

(B) Any previous name by which the affiant was known;

(C) The original and adopted names, if known, of the adopted child;

(D) The place and date of birth of the adopted child; and

(E) The name and address of the adoption agency or other entity, organization, or person placing the adopted child, if known. The affiant shall notify the registry of any change in name or location which occurs subsequent to his or her filing the affidavit. The registry shall have no duty to search for the affiant who fails to register his or her most recent address;

(4) The administrator of the mutual consent voluntary adoption registry shall process each affidavit in an attempt to match the adult adoptee and the birth parents or individuals related within the second degree. The processing shall include research from agency records, when available, and when agency records are not available, research from court records to determine conclusively whether the affiants match;

(5) The administrator shall determine that there is a match when the adult adoptee and a birth parent or individual related within the second degree have filed affidavits with the mutual consent voluntary adoption registry and have each received the counseling required in subsection (b) of this section;

(6) An agency receiving an assignment of a match under the provisions of this subchapter shall directly or by contract with a licensed adoption agency in this state notify all registrants through a direct and confidential contact. The contact shall be made by an employee or agent of the agency receiving the assignment. The employee or agent shall be a trained social worker who has expertise in postlegal adoption services.

(e)(1) Any affidavits filed and other information collected shall be retained for ninety-nine (99) years following the date of registration.

(2) Any qualified person may choose to remove his or her name from the registry at any time by filing a notarized affidavit with the registry.

(f) A mutual consent voluntary adoption registry shall obtain only information necessary for identifying registrants. In no event shall the registry obtain information of any kind pertaining to the adoptive parents or any siblings to the adult adoptee who are children of the adoptive parents.

(g) All costs for establishing and maintaining a mutual consent voluntary adoption registry shall be obtained through users' fees charged to all persons who register.

(h) Beginning January 1, 2002, the Department of Health and Human Services shall place the affidavit form for placement on the mutual adoption registry on the department's internet site.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 957, § 7; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-144; Acts 1987, No. 1060, §§ 5, 6; 2001, No. 409, § 1; 2003, No. 650, § 6.

 

9-9-505. Compilation of nonidentifying history.

(a) Prior to placement for adoption, the licensed adoption agency or, where an agency is not involved, the person, entity, or organization handling the adoption shall compile and provide to the prospective adoptive parents a detailed, written health history and genetic and social history of the child which excludes information which would identify birth parents or members of a birth parent's family and which shall be set forth in a document that is separate from any document containing such identifying information.
(b) Records containing the nonidentifying information and which are set forth on a document that is separate from any document containing identifying data:

(1) Shall be retained by the agency or, when no agency is involved, by the person, entity, or organization handling the adoption, for ninety-nine (99) years. If the agency or person, entity, or organization who handled the adoption ceases to function, that agency or intermediary shall transfer records containing the nonidentifying information on the adoptee to the Department of Health and Human Services, except that a licensed agency ceasing operation may transfer the records to another licensed agency within this state, but only if the agency transferring the records gives notice of the transfer to the department; and

(2) Shall be available upon request throughout the time specified in subdivision (b)(1) of this section, together with any additional nonidentifying information that may have been added on health or on genetic and social history, but which excludes information identifying any birth parent or member of a birth parent's family or the adoptee or any adoptive parent of the adoptee, to the following persons only:

(A) The adoptive parents of the child or, in the event of death of the adoptive parents, the child's guardian;

(B) The adoptee;

(C) In the event of the death of the adoptee, the adoptee's children, the adoptee's widow or widower, or the guardian of any child of the adoptee;

(D) The birth parent of the adoptee; and

(E) Any child welfare agency having custody of the adoptee.

(c) The actual and reasonable cost of providing nonidentifying health history and genetic and social history shall be paid by the person requesting the information.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 957, § 8; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-145; Acts 1987, No. 1060, § 7; 2003, No. 650, § 7.

 

9-9-506. Disclosure of information.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the information acquired by any registry shall not be disclosed under any sunshine or freedom of information legislation, rules, or practice.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person, group of persons, or entity, including any agency, may file a class action to force the registry to disclose identifying information.

(c) In exceptional circumstances, specified papers and records pertaining to particular adoptions may be inspected by the adoptee, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents if the court granting the adoption finds by clear and convincing evidence that good cause exists for the inspection.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 957, § 4; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-141.

 

9-9-507. Maintenance of records.

All records of any adoption finalized in this state shall be maintained for ninety-nine (99) years by the agency, entity, organization, or person arranging the adoption.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 957, § 2; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-139.

 

9-9-508. Rules and regulations.

The Department of Human Services shall issue such rules and regulations as are necessary for implementing this subchapter.

 

History. Acts 1985, No. 957, § 5; A.S.A. 1947, § 56-142; Acts 1987, No. 1060, § 3.


——————————

9-9-601. The Governor's Pro Bono Adoption Service Award.

(a) The Governor shall award the Governor's Pro Bono Adoption Service Award by proclamation in recognition of the efforts and sacrifice of those attorneys who provide adoption services on a volunteer basis.
(b) Those receiving the Governor's Pro Bono Adoption Service Award shall be selected from a list of names that may be submitted annually to the Governor by judges, attorneys, the Department of Human Services, and other related organizations, agencies, and professional associations.

 

History. Acts 2001, No. 1273, § 1.

 

9-9-701. Streamlined adoptions by the Department of Health and Human Services.

(a)(1) A family who adopts a child from the Department of Health and Human Services shall be eligible for the streamlined adoption process if the family chooses to adopt another child from the department.
(2) The adoptive family is not eligible for the streamlined adoption process if more than five (5) years have passed since the adoptive family finalized the adoption of a child placed by the department in the adoptive home.

(b)(1) One (1) year after the placement of a child in the adoptive home and except as provided in subdivision (b)(2) of this section, the adoptive family shall be eligible for placement of a subsequent child in the adoptive home for the purposes of adoption.

(2) When the subsequent child to be placed in the adoptive home is the sibling of a child already placed in the adoptive home, the adoptive family may be immediately eligible for adoption of the sibling.

(c) Upon contact by the adoptive family and if one (1) year has passed since placement of a child in the adoptive home, the department shall:

(1)(A) Obtain a copy of the original home study completed on the adoptive family.

(B) If needed, the department shall unseal the adoption file from the previous adoption pursuant to § 9-9-217(a) in order to obtain a copy of the original home study on the adoptive family; and

(2) Complete an update to the original home study within forty-five (45) business days from contact by the adoptive family.

(d) The adoptive family shall be required to obtain updated criminal background checks and central registry checks as outlined in this chapter.

(e) The department shall not require the adoptive family to attend training.

(f) The department shall place the adoptive family in the pool of waiting adoptive families eligible to adopt a child from the department upon:

(1) Completion of the updated home study that is favorable; and

(2) Receipt of the:

(A) Criminal background check; and

(B) Central registry check.

(g)(1) A family who has a foster child in its home who was placed by the department shall be eligible for the streamlined adoption process if the department selects the family 's parents to be the adoptive parents of the foster child.

(2) Upon selection, the department shall complete the adoptive home study within forty-five (45) business days.

(3) The department shall not require the foster family to attend training.

 

History. Acts 2005, No. 1685, § 1.

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