Birth mothers in Arkansas have a lot of choices. Not only can they choose to provide for their child and to share the joy of parenthood with an adoptive family, they can choose how much and what kind of communication they want to have with the child they bear. They have choices about the kind of birth experience they want to have. And they have choices about the adoptive family they want to work with. A birth mother’s choices include many important decisions, and Arkansas law specifies many of these options.

Can a birth mother choose her child’s adoptive family?

In a private adoption, a birth mother can literally choose her baby’s adoptive family. If she has a friend or relative whom she wants for her child’s adoptive parent, and that friend or relative agrees, they can adopt the baby.

With an agency adoption, the birth mother will have a chance to learn about the adoptive families who are looking for an infant. She will be able to choose a family she feels good about.

Birth moms can also set some preferences for adoptive families. For example, Arkansas law allows an expectant mother to request an adoptive family of the same religion as her own. A Christian mother can ask that her child be placed in a Christian home, a Jewish mother can ask that her child be placed in a Jewish home, and so on.

Specifically, the law says, “If the genetic parent or parents of the child 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 that is knowledgeable and appreciative of the child’s religious background.”

This means that a Catholic birth mother could request a Catholic adoptive family. If no Catholic family was available, the baby could be placed in the home of a Protestant family that understood and appreciated Catholicism. However, the agency will try to honor the religious preference of the mother.


Arkansas law also says, “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.” So, a mother of Italian heritage would not be allowed to insist on an adoptive family of Italian heritage. An adoption agency might try to meet her wishes, but the court could not refuse to finalize the adoption on those grounds.

Many other factors might play a role in the birth mother’s choices,  but they are not part of the laws on adoption in Arkansas. For example, a birth mother might prefer an older couple, a family with several children, or adoptive parents with musical talent. These kinds of preferences are not included in Arkansas adoption law.

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