ARKANSAS IN ADOPTION NEWS

Adoption in Arkansas is going through some changes. Some changes that seem to be going backwards. There is currently a bill going through the legislature trying to ban single parent adoption. This bill is namely being aimed at gays and lesbians in their state.

Here is what their state courts recently decided. Here is the link and here is the story:

Court reverses rulings denying unmarried parents’ right to adopt
Friday, Jun 6, 2008

By Rob Moritz
Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday overturned two lower court decisions from Pope County that denied adoption rights to single biological parents.

In both cases, Circuit Judge Gordon William McCain Jr. misinterpreted state law in ruling the unmarried parents were not eligible to adopt their own child, the high court said, ordering new hearings.

A spokeswoman for the Family Council Action Committee said Thursday’s decisions would have no affect on the group’s proposed initiated act to ban unwed couples from adopting or serving as foster parents.

“These decisions are just saying that an unmarried person may adopt and our proposal does not stop single-parent adoptions,” Martha Adcock said.

The measure’s name and ballot title have received Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s approval and supporters are trying to collect nearly 62,000 signatures of registered voters by July 7 to put the measure on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

In one of the Pope County adoption cases, a biological father petitioned to adopt his child, of whom he already had been granted custody. The child’s mother had consented to the adoption.

However, McCain denied the petition, expressing concern that terminating the mother’s parental rights would end her financial responsibility to the child.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court said the judge’s ruling was contrary to state law.

Section 9-9-204(3) of the Arkansas Code states “the unmarried mother or father of the individual to be adopted” may adopt.

The law addresses only who may adopt, the court noted, saying McCain’s “policy concern” was a “question that should be addressed by the Legislature.”

“Parental rights and the integrity of the family unit have always been a concern of this state and their protection regarded as a proper function of the courts,” Justice Jim Gunter wrote.

“Construing the statute just as it reads, it clearly allows for an unmarried father to adopt his own child, and therefore, is unambiguous,” Gunter wrote, “… and we should not interpret the statute to say something that it clearly does not.”

In the other case, the child’s biological mother filed a petition to adopt her young child, stating that no father had been involved in the child’s life and, after an inquiry was sent to the state Department of Human Services, no matching claim was found in the Arkansas Putative Father Registry.

The circuit judge again cited “public policy reasons” in denying the adoption.

The Supreme Court repeated its ruling in the first case in reversing the second and sent both cases back to circuit court for consideration of each adoption petition on its merits.

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