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Why Arkansas grandparents may not be able to adopt grandkids

If Arkansas children have ended up in foster care, as more than 4,600 currently are, because their parents are no longer around or unable to care for them, it may seem obvious that state agencies would reach out to other family members, such as grandparents who are able and willing to give them a good home, and that judges would allow that. However, some Arkansas grandparents are frustrated with the difficulties they are encountering getting that chance.

In some cases, a bad relationship with one or both of the child's parents may be behind a decision not to allow grandparents to adopt or even foster their grandchildren. The fact that many of these grandparents and other family members who would like to take the children are on fixed incomes and in often below the poverty level may be an issue as well. Representatives with the Arkansas Department of Human Services, however, acknowledge that the foster care system is overwhelmed with children.

Another concern is that if one of the parents were to abuse to the child, that person's parents may be unwilling to believe that the abuse occurred. Obviously, it's not healthy to place children with those who may not accept reality or try to make excuses for the behavior. The Arkansas DHS director suggests that if grandparents want to improve chances of getting custody of their grandchildren, they "get involved as quickly as possible to get that grandparent certification so that they can be considered as a relative placement." Don't wait until toward the end of the process to start showing up in court.

One judge says that she makes adoption decisions based on what's in the best interests of the children involved. Those best interests, at least for some judges, may not be to place children with relatives, no matter how much they want to care for them.

If you want to adopt your grandchild or another family member's children, it's wise to seek advice from an experienced Arkansas family law attorney as early as possible. He or she can advise you on how to improve your chances of success and protect your rights throughout the process.

Source: KATV.com, "Grandparents' rights: Fostering and adopting in Arkansas," Marine Glisovic, Feb. 25, 2016

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