Arkansas Lawmaker ‘Forced’ To Re-Home Adopted Children, Attorney Says

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)- The attorney for an Arkansas lawmaker from West Fork released a statement Thursday (March 5) in response to claims in published reports that he and his wife put their adopted children in the care of a man who was later convicted of sexually assaulting one of them.

Jennifer Wells of Wells Law Firm, PLLC in Little Rock sent 5NEWS the following statement on behalf of Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork:

"Rep. and Mrs. Harris have suffered a severe injustice. Due to threats of possible abandonment charges, they were unable to reach out to [the Arkansas Department of Human Services] for help with children who presented a serious risk of harm to other children in their home. Upon the advice of both a psychiatrist and a pediatrician, they were forced to move the children to the home of trusted friends, who had a lot of experience with children with reactive attachment disorder. Rep. and Mrs. Harris are devastated about the outcome of that decision, but faced with no good option, they did the best that they knew how."

This week reports published in Arkansas Times, a weekly newspaper in Little Rock, indicate Rep. Harris, re-homed two adopted girls with Eric Frances of Bella Vista. Court records show Francis later pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting one of them.

Harris was unavailable Thursday for comment, but he said on Facebook that he and his wife, Marsha, plan to hold a news conference Friday at 4 p.m.

Right now it's legal in Arkansas for parents to give their adopted children to other families to raise. But a Fayetteville lawmaker wants that to be done only with court approval.

House Bill 1648 by Rep. Greg Leding would prohibit the private transfer of adopted children except to relatives. Leding, D-Fayetteville, told 5NEWS on Thursday (March 5) that he was surprised to learn adoptive parents can hand their children over to other families without telling authorities.

"To be quite honest, I think most of us down here in Little Rock were completely unaware that this was possible," said Leding, pictured above at a recent legislative forum in Fayetteville.

State officials said that practice, calling re-homing, has happened without approval from authorities nine times in the past two years that they know of. The state is working with Leding to require court approval before re-homing occurs, said Amy Webb, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Leding said he's concerned for adopted children, so he wants to make sure the re-homing of an adopted child is managed by the courts.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement the recent media stories raise legitimate concerns, adding "the public policy issues pertaining to it should be addressed as soon as possible. Our children deserve nothing less than our full attention and utmost care.”

15 comments

  • Sean

    Unbelievable abuse takes place in Arkansas by state agencies.

    Michael Hamby greenwood city attorney has knowledge of this abuse, but he’s a very busy man seeing as how he has to cover his own family’s abusive nature.

    • PAMELA WILLIAMS

      I DO NOT KNOW WHO THIS PERSON IS WHO IS GOING BY “FED-UP” ,BUT YOU STOLE MT LABEL,QUIT

  • Irishrose29

    Re-homing adopted children happens much more often than you think. Rueters did several articles about this a year ago. People advertise on fb and Craig’s list to re-home their adoptees. The adopter is often most ill-equipped to care for the child (often international adoptees, taken from their native cultures, language, food, etc. and brought to “their new home” not even understanding what that means. Behavior problems ensue. Adopters may then further the muddy picture with another adoption or bio children being born. The adoptee is then re-homed for the danger they present. While I agree that the behaviors displayed can be unbelievably difficult and even dangerous, it is this whole system of adoption that needs intervention, oversight and overhauling….stop creating more and more damaged children.

  • Linda Rosa

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), as officially defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), is characterized by a child being one of two things: either very withdrawn or overly friendly with unfamiliar people. RAD is a rare disorder, and it has no aggressive features.

    But there is a quack, catch-all diagnosis conflated with “RAD” that is the invention a highly abusive fringe psychotherapy called “Attachment (Holding) Therapy” — which uses coercive restrain as therapy, and other aversives. This unrecognized “RAD” has a ridiculously long laundry list of signs, including violent behaviors.

    “RAD vs AD”
    http://www.childrenintherapy.org/attachmentdisorder.html

    APSAC and the APA’s Division on Child Maltreatment recommend that child welfare workers investigate where the phony “RAD” diagnosis or Attachment Therapy/Parenting has been used. I has been associated with several high profile criminal child abuse and death cases.

    • Mark

      Democrats couldn’t ask for a bigger bunch of fanatical idiots to further their cause.. You can’t put a dollar amount on the damage these clowns in little rock have done to the right wing tea bag party.. It’s a national embarrassment..

  • Phillip

    Of course the government has a long history of doing such a great job of caring for special needs children (sarcasm).

  • cheryl and jayson lawson

    My name is Jayson Lawson and my daughter Jayslin Arianna Raine Lawson was taken from me for no reason and I had no chance to get her back because I am Deaf. I would like for Governor Asa Hutchinson’s help with getting her back to me where she belongs DHS in Northwest Arkansas is very bad because they take away children from Deaf parents and Judge Stacy Zimmerman is a horrible judge because if she sees a Deaf parent they don’t get but one chance but people who can hear gets three chances. There are total 12 children from Deaf parent(s), but I don’t need one chance because I am completely innocent. Even Benton County did that to my Deaf wife took her son and gave him to his father who abused him and we have evidence and FOIA and have went to court over it and she still not get him back. This is happening to Deaf parent(s) in three counties Madison, Washington and Benton.

    Deaf Hero Guy

  • TS

    Story says “Arkansas Lawmaker Forced”. I believe the only person ‘forced’ was a six year old little girl placed in an unsafe home. The legislator needs to be recalled or fired. He may have broken no laws but I do not want him on any committee to pass judgment on how children are cared for.
    And who in their right mind does not want sprinkler systems for day care children who are handicapped. Oh, that’s right Rep. Justin Harris of West Fork, the rehoming man to which Channel Five did not give his full name. He netted $600,000.00 of your tax money to pay for children’s day care. He is not the sort of person I want to give one penny.

  • momo55

    Key point is that after he fired the molester for “poor performance” and “not showing up” as a teacher at the school he and his wife owned, he entrusted that fired from the job, untrustworthy man with mentally compromised children who were too much for him and his dedicated wife to handle. Really? What really smells is he maybe fired the him for far worse indiscretions and this man, his wife and his Attorney want to say what on camera?

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