Paying for a child is illegal. However, in Arkansas, adoptive families are allowed to provide financial support for birth mothers. The laws on birth mother expenses are very specific, and they require a detailed account of all costs involved. ¬†Under the Revised Uniform Adoption Act, which is the law about adoption in Arkansas, adoptive families must provide a “Report of petitioner’s expenditures” to the court.

This report must be a sworn affidavit including costs associated with all these things:

  • The birth of the child being adopted
  • Placement of the child with the adoptive family
  • Medical or hospital care received by the mother or by the baby during the mother’s prenatal care and confinement
  • Services relating to the adoption which were received by anyone involved in the process
  • Fees charged by all attorneys involved in the adoption, including out-of-state attorneys

This covers a lot of ground! In order to be accepted, the expenses must be necessary, related to the pregnancy and birth, for the mother, and given unconditionally. The expenses can include living expenses such as housing costs, maternity clothes, food, and prenatal vitamins. Transportation to prenatal appointments and the cost of internet or phone connections may also be required for a safe and comfortable pregnancy.

How long can payment continue?

In addition to a complete itemized list of expenses, the report must include the time when the payments were made. For example, if the adoptive parents pay the expectant mother’s rent and utilities, they must disclose the months when they paid these expenses. The payments can only be made during the mother’s pregnancy and confinement.

The law uses an old-fashioned word: “confinement.” We don’t usually talk about a mother’s confinement nowadays, but it refers to the time when she would be unable to work and support herself. This could include time both before and after the birth, depending on the health of the mother and the type of work she does.

The point of providing birth mother expenses is to ensure that an expectant mother is able to make the choice to have her baby and help adoptive parents to grow their family through adoption without financial hardship arising from her decision. The court has a lot of leeway on what expenses they can approve, but typically it is important to avoid the appearance of profiting from that decision. An adoptive family usually could not give an expectant mom a car, for example, or continue paying living expenses for years after the adoption.

Exceptions

Stepparent adoption does not require this expense report. Nor does an adoption by an adult or a kinship adoption by a close relative. Other kinds of adoptions do require this paperwork.

Heimer Law can help you make sure that everything in your adoption process is done correctly under the law. When you have questions, we have answers.

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