The Arkansas Court of Appeals today overturned a lower court decision that blocked the adoption of a child because of objections from his biological father, who hadn’t seen the child in eight years or provided child support for most of that time.
Testimony in the case from Faulkner County was that the biological father contended prison sentences and lack of cooperation from the child’s mother, with whom he’d lived for a time in 2006 and 2007 but not married, explained his lack of support or visitation.
The mother is now married and her husband treats the child as his own. He sought to adopt. The biological father objected. Judge H.G. Foster ruled that there was justifiable cause for the father’s lack of contact and declined to approve the adoption.
In an opinion written by Judge Raymond Abramson, the Court of Appeals reversed Foster. The law favors a natural parent, he wrote, but said the”undisputed evidence” showed the biological father had no relationship with the child since 2011, paid no child support from 2010 to the filing of the adoption petition in 2017, last visited the child in 2011 and sent the child only two letters, in 2011 and 2013. “He lost his preference as the natural parent when he ignored his parental duties and shifted them” to the mother’s husband, who has fulfilled the role of father, Abramson wrote. The lower court erred in finding it was in the child’s best interest for the adoption to be denied.