2017 Arkansas Code
Title 9 - Family Law
Subtitle 2 - Domestic Relations
Chapter 9 - Adoption
Subchapter 2 - Revised Uniform Adoption Act
§ 9-9-212. Hearing on petition -- Requirements

Universal Citation: AR Code § 9-9-212 (2017)
  • (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    • (1) Before any hearing on a petition, the period in which the relinquishment may be withdrawn under § 9-9-220 or in which consent may be withdrawn under § 9-9-209, whichever is applicable, must have expired.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;
      • (B) A person whose consent is dispensed with upon any ground mentioned in § 9-9-207(a)(1), (2), (6), (8), and (9); and
      • (C) Any putative father who has signed an acknowledgement of paternity or has registered with the state's Putative Father Registry.
    • (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 Human Services shall not be ordered by any court to conduct an adoptive home study, unless:
        • (A)
          • (i) The court has first determined the responsible party to be indigent; or
          • (ii) The child to be adopted is the subject of an open dependency-neglect case and the goal of the case is adoption; 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 performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in compliance with federal law and regulation on the adoptive parents and all household members eighteen and one-half (181/2) years of age and older, excluding children in foster care.
        • (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.
        • (C) If the Department of Human Services has responsibility for placement and care of the child to be adopted, the home study shall include a national fingerprint-based criminal background check performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in compliance with federal law and regulation on the prospective adoptive parents and all household members eighteen and one-half (181/2) years of age or older, excluding children in foster care.
        • (D) Upon request by the Department of Human Services, local law enforcement shall provide the Department of Human Services with local criminal background information on the prospective adoptive parents and all household members eighteen and one-half (181/2) years of age and older who have applied to be an adoptive family.
      • (6) A Child Maltreatment Central Registry check shall be required for all household members age fourteen (14) and older, excluding children in foster care, 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 performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation are not required for international adoptions as they are already a part of the requirements for adoption of the United States Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services.
      • (8) Each prospective adoptive parent shall be responsible for payment of the costs of the criminal background checks, both the in-state check and the Federal Bureau of Investigation check if applicable, and shall be required to cooperate with the requirements of the Department of 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 of Human Services, if it is conducting the home study, or to the court in which the adoption petition will be filed.
        • (B) The Department of Arkansas State Police shall forward all information obtained from the national fingerprint-based criminal background checks performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to either the Department of Human Services, 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:
          • (i) Keep a record of the national fingerprint-based criminal background checks performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the court;
          • (ii) Permit only the court and the employees of the clerk's office with an official reason to view the information in the national fingerprint-based criminal background check;
          • (iii) Not permit anyone to obtain a copy of the national fingerprint-based criminal background check; and
          • (iv) Permit a person specifically ordered by the court to view the information in the national fingerprint-based criminal background check.
        • (D)
          • (i) The Department of Human Services shall share the information obtained from the criminal records check and the national fingerprint-based criminal background checks only with employees of the Department of Human Services who have an official business reason to see the information.
          • (ii) Unless specifically ordered to do so by the court, the Department of Human Services shall not share the information obtained from the criminal records check and the national fingerprint-based criminal background checks with persons not employed by the Department of Human Services.
  • (c)
    • (1) 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.
    • (2) The home study shall not be waived when the case is a fast-track adoption of a Garrett's Law baby under § 9-9-702.
  • (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 to conduct a home study unless:
      • (A)
        • (i) The court has first determined the responsible party to be indigent; or
        • (ii) The person to be adopted is the subject of an open dependency-neglect case and the goal of the case is adoption; 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.
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