Proposed Ark. bills would give grandparents more visitation, adoption rights

Bill would give grandparents more rights

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Grandparents in Arkansas may soon have more visitation and adoption rights than before.

Representative Laurie Rushing, of Hot Springs, presented four house bills before the committee today, all in favor of helping grandparents be a part of their grandchildren's lives. Each bill passed out of committee except for one.

The overall goal is to give grandparents more rights. This is a cause near and dear to Rep. Rushing. 

"Today I was surprised at what it's like to be a committee member and get a bill up to this point, and how difficult it is to get anything changed,” said Lorna Nobles, Rushing’s mother.

Nobles spoke on behalf of the bill today. It’s the beginning of an uphill battle. These four bills may seem small at first glance, but could make large impact.

"We were a big part of their lives,” said Rushing. "Arkansas is very good on grandparent rights right now, we're making them even stronger.”

Rep. Rushing is pleading for grandparents across the state and herself.

"For me personally, it does not help my case because I'm dealing with courts in North Carolina. They have horrible, horrible, grandparents’ rights,” said Rushing.

Since her daughter's death in 2016, she hasn't seen her grandchildren.

"I've not seen these children in 9 months. My granddaughter Tara actually lived with me for many years and we raised her and had a wonderful relationship. All of a sudden her husband decided to do this just because he can.” Nobles is fighting for those same kids, her great-grandkids. "The emotional part of this was not what they were talking about, they only talked about the legal parts.”

Imagine being told you could never see your grandchildren again or being denied the ability to adopt them. Those are the circumstances many grandparents around the state of Arkansas, and entire country, are dealing with right now.

"It is emotional for us, we've lost these children. I probably won't see them until they're adults.” Nobles is afraid the committee is missing the point. The house committee questioned whether these bills interfere with parent rights. "I came with a little speech and a heartfelt interest in what's going on, but I didn't understand until after they talked for 30 minutes what this is really all about.”

Rep. Rushing plans to push this legislation in North Carolina as well. She's also working with the National Conference of State Legislatures to possibly make this a nationwide addition in effort to help all grandparents across the nation have common ground no matter where they are.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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