Adoption finalization in Georgia can feel exciting and scary at the same time. You have been anticipating these moments for quite some time. While part of you is relieved it is almost complete, another part may be feeling a bit anxious for this part of the process. In a way, the legalization of an adoption is like a birth because it’s the day your child becomes yours forever. Adoptive families anticipating finalization in Georgia can expect a number of legal steps, including termination of parental rights, post-placement visits, the finalization hearing and, finally, receiving the final decree of adoption.
It is legally required in all 50 states that parental rights be terminated before an adoption hearing can proceed. In Georgia, birth parents can legally consent to the termination of parental rights any time after the birth of the child. Once the birth parents’ parental rights are terminated, voluntarily or involuntarily, the adoptive family can continue with an adoption hearing and other post-placement requirements to obtain the final decree of adoption in Georgia.
After a child is placed in the adoptive home, adoptive families will need to undergo a series of post-placement visits with their social worker. These visits are done to ensure the adoptive parents and the child are all adjusting well to the placement and that the adoption truly is in the best interest of the child. This is also the adoptive family’s chance to ask any questions they may have about raising an adopted child and to learn about the post-placement services and resources that are available to them in Georgia.
The finalization hearing is usually celebrated in voluntary adoption placements. This is the anticipated day in which the child who is being placed for adoption finally has a forever home. The judge will order a final decree of adoption, and the adoption will become permanent. Adoptive and birth family members may be present at the hearing, as well as the child who is being placed for adoption. You can read a more detailed guide to the finalization hearing here.
This is the final step in the finalization process of adoption. The definition for the final decree of adoption from USLegal.com is:
“Decree of Adoption is the document that a judge signs to finalize an adoption. It formally creates the parent-child relationship between the adoptive parents and the adopted child, as though the child were born as the biological child of its new parents. It places full responsibility for the child on its new parents and changes the name of the child to the name selected by its new parents, and orders a new birth certificate to be prepared and issued for the child. If the parental rights of the biological parents of the child are being terminated by way of their voluntary consents as part of the adoption action, the Decree will also formally terminate those parental rights.”
In every open adoption, there is a post-placement agreement. This agreement outlines all post-placement contact that is to occur between a birth mother and the adoptive family and adopted child. This contact may include phone calls, letter updates, pictures and one-on-one visits. Drawing up this agreement before the adoption takes place avoids a lot of miscommunication in the future. While the post-placement agreement may naturally change over time, it is always there to guide both the birth mother and adoptive parents in the basics of their relationship.
In the state of Georgia, an adoption post-placement agreement is legally enforceable if and only if it is drawn up before the course of the legal hearing procedures.
According to Georgia statutes, a postadoption contact agreement may provide for privileges regarding a child who is being adopted or who has been adopted, including, but not limited to, visitation with such child, contact with such child, sharing of information about such child, or sharing of information about birth relatives.
The finalization process should be a celebration, and the final hearing should be the party. This is a time to cherish what you have gained. Adoptive parents are encouraged to make a big deal out of finalization for their family and loved ones, along with honoring the birth mother that chose them to provide her child a forever home.
If you find yourself with more questions about adoption finalization in Georgia, and would like to discuss your state laws with someone who is knowledgeable, please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-ADOPTION.
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