Georgia statutes address certain aspects of adoption law. The following information outlines the issues that Georgia’s adoption statutes address. There are certain details that Georgia adoption law does not address, like what would deny a home study evaluation.
If you find yourself in a gray area regarding adoption law, please consult with your adoption attorney. If you do not already have an adoption attorney, call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn about how you can obtain legal representation for adoption. Remember that this article does not serve as legal advice.
To adopt a child in Georgia, you must meet the following requirements:
Be at least 25 years old or married and living with your spouse
Be at least 10 years older than the child you are adopting
Be a resident of Georgia for at least six months
Be financially, physically and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child
If you are married, you must file to adopt jointly. In a stepparent adoption, the stepparent’s spouse does not need to join in the adoption petition.
Only a child-placing agency may advertise that a person or entity will adopt a child or place a child for adoption. Adoptive parents and parents seeking to place their child for adoption may only communicate by private written letters or oral statements. Your adoption specialist at American Adoptions can help you find an adoption opportunity and mediate contact to ensure all laws are being followed.
Georgia’s adoption laws require a home study to be done before filing a petition for adoption, according to the following statute:
Prior to the date set by the court for a hearing on the petition for adoption, it shall be the duty of a child-placing agency appointed by the court or any other independent agent appointed by the court to verify the allegations in the petition for adoption, to make a complete and thorough investigation of the entire matter, including a criminal records check of each petitioner, and to report its findings and recommendations in writing to the court where the petition for adoption was filed. The department, child-placing agency, or other independent agent appointed by the court shall also provide the attorney for petitioner with a copy of the report to the court. If for any reason the child-placing agency or other agent finds itself unable to make or arrange for the proper investigation and report, it shall be the duty of the agency or agent to notify the court immediately, or at least within 20 days after receipt of the request for investigation service, that it is unable to make the report and investigation, so that the court may take such other steps as in its discretion are necessary to have the entire matter investigated.
In Georgia, the home study includes at least three visits on separate days. At least one visit must take place in the home, and all family members must be seen and interviewed. Parents will be interviewed together and separately. The following information will be gathered:
Motivation to adopt
Physical description and social background of each family member
Evaluation of parenting practices
Summary of each family member’s health history and current condition
Informal assessment of each family member’s emotional and mental health
Evaluation of the understanding of and adjustment to adoptive parenting
Evaluation of the prospective adoptive parents’ finances and occupations
Description of the home and community
Statements regarding the results of criminal records and child abuse and neglect registry checks
At least three character references, including:
At least one reference from an extended family member not residing with the adoptive family
A reference from a prospective adoptive parent’s former employer if the parent has worked with children in the past five years
In Georgia, it is legal for potential adoptive parents to pay for, or reimburse, medical expenses related to the pregnancy for the birth mother. However, no other expenses may be paid on the birth mother’s behalf. This means any expenses incurred beyond pregnancy medical expenses cannot be paid for or reimbursed by the potential adoptive parents.
According to Georgia adoption law, a man is considered a child’s legal father if:
He has legally adopted the child
He was married to the child’s biological mother at the time of conception or birth, unless his paternity was disproved by the court
He married the legal mother of the child after the child was born and recognized the child as his own, unless his paternity has been disproved
He has been determined to be the father by a final paternity order
He legitimized the child by a final order and has not surrendered or had his rights to the child terminated
A man who wishes to acknowledge paternity or the possibility of paternity of a child before or after birth may register with the state’s putative father registry. His registration may be used to establish an obligation to support the child. Registration also entitles him to notice of an adoption proceeding or proceedings to terminate parental rights.
The father of a child born out of wedlock may also legitimize his relationship with the child by petitioning the court to have legal custody or guardianship of the child. The child’s mother will be served and provided an opportunity to be heard. The court may pass an order declaring the father’s relationship with the child legitimate.
Surrender or termination of parental rights may not be required when the court determines that:
The parent abandoned the child
The parent cannot be found after a diligent search has been made
The parent is insane or incapacitated from surrendering such rights
The parent has failed to exercise proper prenatal care or control due to misconduct or inability
The parent has failed to communicate or make a bona fide attempt to communicate with the child in a meaningful, supportive, parental manner for a period of one year or longer prior to the filing of the adoption petition without justifiable cause
The parent has failed to provide for the care and support of the child as required by law and the court for one year or longer prior to the filing of the adoption petition, and the court determines that the adoption is in the best interests of the child
Adoption laws in Georgia allow for a birth mother to have a certain period in which she can change her mind regarding choosing adoption for her child after placement of the child with the adoptive family. In Georgia, the revocation period is 10 days after signing.
Whichever court in Georgia holds the hearing for adoption and issues the final decree of adoption shall also maintain the adoption records, kept locked and safe. Interested parties may petition for access to the records. The child who was placed for adoption can petition for these records as well. However, adoptive parents will be notified and have the opportunity in front of a judge to state if they believe that obtaining these records would cause harm to the child.
Understanding adoption laws in Georgia is important for potential adoptive families. When you work with American Adoptions, you will be connected with an adoption attorney. This attorney will ensure that the adoption process complies with Georgia adoption law and that you will receive a final decree of adoption. Educate yourself on the laws regarding adoption in your state.
If you need further information or have a specific question, please contact your adoption attorney or call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION for further assistance.
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