Adoption of Grandchild by Grandparent In Arkansas

X appeals the Independence County Chancery Court's denial of her petition to adopt her minor granddaughter, XX.

On appeal, appellant contends that the chancellor abused his discretion by refusing to allow her to present new evidence that would support her request to be an adoptive parent.

Appellant requests that this court remand this matter to the chancellor to hold a hearing on the merits. We affirm.

We review chancery cases de novo, giving due deference to the chancellor's superior ability to judge the demeanor and credibility of witnesses and reverse only if the chancellor's findings are clearly erroneous.L v., 48 Ark. App. 192, 893 S.W.2d 344 (1995).

A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support it, the court on reviewing the entire evidence is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made. G v. Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs., 58 Ark. App. 337, 952 S.W.2d 183 (1997).

XX., the minor child, has been in the custody of Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS) for the past six years. on September 24, 1998, an order terminating the rights of her parents was entered, giving ADHS the authority to consent to any adoption of the child.

That same order also denied appellant's petition to intervene for guardianship and for grandparent visitation rights. at no time did appellant appeal that denial.

On January 6, 1999, appellant filed a petition for adoption of the minor child. the petition acknowledged that ADHS needed to consent to the adoption.

ADHS filed a motion to dismiss appellant's petition on January 13, 1999, stating, among other things, that ADHS did not consent to the adoption. the trial court denied appellant's petition for adoption on April 14, 1999, finding that ADHS did not consent to the adoption.

Appellant claims that the trial court dismissed her petition without allowing her an opportunity to prove herself an acceptable adoptive parent. Appellant maintains that the trial court based its determination on old information from prior hearings and failed to consider new evidence. We find that appellant's argument is misplaced.

In this instance, the pleadings alone established that appellant failed to meet a statutory requirement for being an adoptive parent.

Consent of the person lawfully entitled to custody of a minor child is required for an adoption. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-9-206 (a) (Repl. 1998). Here, ADHS has custody of XX but has not consented to the adoption. In fact, on January 13, 1999, ADHS filed a motion to dismiss appellant's petition for adoption.

Within that motion, ADHS clearly stated that it did not consent to the adoption of XX. by appellant. Finally, on March 29, 1999, the chancellor held a hearing on the matter where ADHS opposed appellant's petition for adoption.

A petition to adopt must state the name of any person whose consent to the adoption is required, but who has not consented, and facts or circumstances that excuse the lack of the required consent. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-9-210 (a)(8)(Repl. 1998).

Appellant conceded in her petition to adopt that ADHS had the power to consent to the adoption, but failed to state why such consent should be excused.

Upon review, we find no reason why ADHS's consent should be excused. Because appellant failed to meet the statutory requirements for adoption, the trial court's denial of the petition was proper.

Furthermore, appellant asserts that she is entitled to adopt XX. because she is a relative of the minor child. Appellant's son is the biological father of XX., and appellant acknowledges in her petition that her son had his parental rights terminated.

When appellant's son's rights were terminated, any rights appellant may have had as a grandparent were also terminated.

A grandparent's rights are derivative of their child's parental rights and as a result are terminated when the child's parental rights are terminated. S v. Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs., 314 Ark. 92, 858 S.W.2d 122 (1993).

Because familial ties between appellant and the child have been severed, appellant cannot rely on any derivative rights as a basis for her being the preferred person to adopt the minor child.

Appellant also asserts that her son signed over his parental rights to her, and therefore, he had no parental rights that could be terminated in 1998.

However, appellant presented no evidence to the chancellor that her son had signed over his parental rights to her or that she was the legal guardian of the minor child.

We are unable to say that the chancellor erred in denying the petition for adoption because appellant failed to meet a statutory requirement for being an adoptive parent.