- General Information
- Independent/ Private Adoptions
- Private/ Public Agency Adoptions
- DFCS adoptions
- Relative Adoptions
- Step-parent Adoptions
- International Adoptions
- Interstate Adoptions
- Contested Adoptions
What are the legal requirements for who can adopt in Georgia?
Georgia law requires that adoptive parents be: (1) at least 25 years old, or married and living with their spouse; (2) at least 10 years older than the child they seek to adopt; (3) residents of Georgia for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition; and (4) financially, physically and mentally able to have permanent custody of a child.
Where should my husband and I file our Petition for Adoption?
The petition should typically be filed in the county where the prospective adoptive parents reside. There are exceptions to this rule, however, and upon good cause the petition may be filed in the county of the child’s domicile or the country where any child-placing agency having legal custody of the child is located.
What about the rights of the biological parents?
Before an adoption can be finalized it is required that the legal rights of any living biological or legal parent with respect to the child be either surrendered or terminated. The rights of a child’s biological father who is not the legal father differ from the parental rights of a legal father in a variety of important ways. You should discuss the respective rights of the biological mother and of any biological and/or legal father with your adoption attorney to ensure they are appropriately handled.
Does an older child need to consent to the adoption?
If the child to be adopted is 14 years of age or older, the child must also provide his or her written consent, and this consent must be acknowledge in the presence of the Court at the final hearing.
Private Agency Adoption
Private agency adoptions are adoptions in which the child is placed with the adoptive parents through a licensed child placing adoption agency. A pre-placement home study, criminal background check, child’s background information form, and agency’s written consent to the adoption are among the important requirements of a private agency adoption.
Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Adoptions
Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) adoptions involve the adoption of children who have been in DFCS custody in the foster care system. DFCS adoptions have the same basic requirements as private agency adoptions. Most often these children qualify for adoption assistance which can help with legal fees, provide a monthly stipend, and Medicaid for the child. It is critical that you apply and (if the child qualifies) are approved for adoption assistance before finalizing a DFCS adoption.
Independent/ Private Adoptions
In an independent or private adoption the child is not placed by an adoption agency or DFCS. Instead, the child is placed directly with prospective adoptive parents by the child’s biological mother, or by both biological parents, often with the involvement of an adoption attorney. Also, in independent adoptions the prospective adoptive parents are not a step-parent or close relative of the child (which would make it a step-parent or relative adoption). A pre-placement home study and criminal background check are still required, and that function is often carried out by a licensed adoption agency or qualified social worker.
In a stepparent adoption, the petition is in the name of the step-parent wishing to adopt the child. However, the consent of the spouse of the petitioner (i.e. the child’s custodial parent) must be provided. It is also necessary for the parental rights of the non-custodial parent to either be surrendered or to be terminated in court before the spouse of the custodial parent may adopt the child. A pre-placement home study is not required for a step-parent adoption, but a criminal background check and court report (verifying the facts in the petition) is typically required before finalization of the adoption.
In order to file a relative adoption, the petitioner must be related by blood or marriage to the child as a grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, or sibling. Other relatives, even though related by marriage or blood, such as cousins (although still relatives) do not meet the definition of relatives for the purpose of “relative adoption”. A pre-placement home study is not required for a relative adoption, but a criminal background check and court report (verifying the facts in the Petition) are typically required before finalization of the adoption.
An interstate adoption is when you live in one state and the child that you are seeking to adopt lives in another state. If you are adopting a child that does not live in your state, it is imperative that you comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) statute of both states before you transport the child from their state to yours.
Your attorney is the best person to advise you regarding your compliance with the ICPC. However, here are some general facts about the ICPC. Georgia has appointed an Interstate Compact Administrator who is an employee of the Department of Human Service (DHS). Essentially the ICPC requires that before a child be sent from one state to another, the ICPC administrator of the “sending” state must furnish appropriate public authorities in the “receiving” state a written notice of intention to bring the child into the receiving state for the purpose of adoption, along with the required documentation.
My husband and I adopted our child from a foreign country. Is it necessary to readopt, or “domesticate” our adoption, in the United States?
If you were granted a full and final decree of adoption for your child in the foreign country and your child was issued an IR-3 or IH-3 immigrant visa, you are not required under federal law to readopt your child, or “domesticate” your foreign adoption, in the United States. For children entering the U.S. with an IR-4 or IH-4 visa, where the adoption was not completed overseas, re-adoption within the United States is a requirement.
My wife and I were granted a legal Guardianship of our child in the foreign country allowing us to bring our child to the United States for adoption.
In the case where you were given a legal Guardianship (or custody) by the foreign country giving you permission to bring the child into the United States for the purpose of adoption, you will need to finalize your adoption as soon as possible in your home state upon your return to the United States. United States citizenship can then be applied for and obtained for your child.
If we received a Final Decree of Adoption in the foreign country, are there reasons we would want to consider readopting or “domesticating” our foreign decree in the U.S.?
Even if you are not required to domesticate your foreign adoption (re-adopt), there are important practical reasons to domesticate your foreign adoption in your home state. Domesticating your foreign adoption decree allows you to obtain an United States birth certificate (“Certificate of Foreign Birth”) for your child from your home state and will make obtaining certified copies of your child’s birth certificate easier in the future. Additionally, domesticating your foreign decree will allow you to legally change your child’s name. It also provides you with an American adoption decree should your foreign decree ever be lost, damaged, or called into question.
Contested adoptions are cases in which the birth mother or birth father, or both, or even an extended family member is contesting the adoption. Contested adoptions can be costly and difficult cases involving court hearings and extensive litigation. As such you should retain an adoption attorney with significant litigation (courtroom) experience to represent you in such matters.
The answers provided on the Frequently Asked Questions pages and other published pages on this website are only generalized statements believed to be accurate at the time the corresponding web pages were published. Do not rely on or act upon any information found on this website; rather, use the information to help you form and articulate questions for your attorney regarding your particular legal matter. The information provided on this website DOES NOT constitute an attorney/client relationship. The members of Georgia Adoption & Family Law Practice offers no legal advice until an engagement contract is executed by Attorney Vernadette R. Broyles and by an approved client of Georgia Adoption & Family Law Practice and an appropriate retainer for legal services is received… DO NOT send confidential information to the Georgia Adoption & Family Law Practice without expressed consent from Attorney Vernadette R. Broyles.