Usually, both birth parents must consent before a child can be adopted in Arkansas. If the child is 12 years or over, however, the child must also consent to the adoption. Adopting an older child requires written consent from the child.

Every state has an age at which kids need to agree to their adoption. 14 is the most common age, but in some states it is as low as age 10. In Arkansas, kids 12 and up must agree to be adopted. The reason for this is that a child of this age is old enough to understand what it means to be adopted and to make an informed decision on the subject.

Adoption is a permanent, legal relationship. It is essential that everyone involved should understand and agree to the process.

The exceptions

There are exceptions to this rule. For example, a child who has a disability which prevents them from making an informed decision may not be required to consent before an adoption.

The court can also decide that adoption is in the child’s best interests and waive the requirement for consent.

In most cases, however, adopting an older child requires consent.

Why not consent?

Why would a child choose not to be adopted? There have been sad cases: a biological father whose parental rights were terminated told his son that he wouldn’t love him any more if he allowed himself to be adopted. The emotional burden was enough to make the child decide he didn’t want to be adopted. Another child felt they were too old to have a parent and wanted independence. Sometimes the reasons are not related to the adoptive family.

But an older child who chooses not to be adopted is in a difficult position. At 12, they can’t care for themselves, and they need a parent. In the case of a stepchild, it might be disappointing and even sad to have a beloved child who lives in your home refuse to be adopted, but you can continue in your current relationship. The child will not have the legal rights of a biological child, however, without the adoption. If you had hoped to adopt a niece, nephew, or grandchild, it can be heartbreaking to see that child continue in an uncertain situation. It’s important to be sure that the child understands the ramifications of their decision.

Adopting a teen

When adopting a child 12 or older, the requirement for consent can complicate the situation. If you are prepared to fight for a “best interests” ruling from the court to overrule the child’s objections, you will need an expert adoption lawyer to support you and your family through the process.

You should also have an adoption lawyer to make sure that your child’s written consent is prepared for the court appropriately, so that the process of adoption is not stalled. An experience adoption lawyer can guide you and support you through the process.

Heimer Law specializes in Arkansas adoption. Use our simple contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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