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Your Guide to Georgia Adoption Laws

The Adoption Laws in GA You Should Know

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 join our agency and receive references for legal representation. Always remember that this article does not serve as legal advice.

Who Can Adopt?

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 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.

Who Can Advertise for Adoption?

A new Georgia adoption law that went into effect in September 2018 banned advertisements and adoption payments from facilitators. Because this can be a complicated area of adoption law, it is important to work with an adoption professional like American Adoptions or a local adoption attorney to understand adoption laws in Georgia regarding advertising and facilitators. Your adoption specialist at American Adoptions can help you find an adoption opportunity and mediate contact to ensure all laws are being followed.

Home Study Laws in Georgia

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

Adoption Expenses

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.

Who is The Legal Birth Father in Georgia?

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.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Adoption

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

Revocation Period

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 four days after signing.

Adoption Records

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.

Additional Georgia Adoption Laws and Information

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 about Georgia adoption laws, please contact your adoption attorney. To learn more about our adoption programs or get started with us today, call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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