Private, Independent Adoptions:
Many hopeful adoptive parents seek to find a placement of a baby, either prior to birth or shortly thereafter, by networking with friends, coworkers and relatives. Our society is more mobile than ever before, and one might have contacts scattered all over the United States. If you are successful in obtaining a “match” through an independent source, it is imperative that you have already completed the ICPC (Interstate Compact for Placement of Children) home study process and have been approved to adopt. Otherwise, an out of state placement can be slowed or even halted without prior home study approval. An approved home study must be completed by a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed child placing agency in Georgia.
I always recommend working with an adoption professional in the State where the Child was born to make sure the paperwork is properly completed and ICPC approval is obtained, and upon the adoptive parents’ return to Georgia, my office can proceed with finalization of the adoption in Georgia.
Georgia law is changing this September (2018) to permit private adoptive parents to pay certain valid living expenses of a birthmother. You will need to be cautious as to the laws and regulations and rely on your adoption attorney to guide you through the new laws and restrictions on advertising for an adoption as well as providing funds to a birthparent or birthparents.
Many hopeful adoptive couples choose to engage the services of an adoption agency. Please insure that the agency you choose is licensed to work in Georgia. Many agencies will prepare your home study on your behalf and will seek to “match” you with a biological mother or biological parents on your behalf. These birth parents may reside in Georgia, or in other States. The regulations for an ICPC adoption (mentioned above) are stringent and are there to protect Children from unauthorized travel for the purpose of adoption between states.
Adoption facilitators who are not licensed adoption agencies in Georgia are illegal and should not be utilized. An Agency may provide a biological mother with living expenses to assist her during the pregnancy
Adoption through Foster Care:
Presently, there are approximately 13,000 children available for adoption through the foster care system in Georgia. Most of these are older children, sibling groups, special needs children, and are of different ethnicities and backgrounds. For those prospective adoptive parents who wonder why a 16 year old teen wants to be adopted, the answer is simple. Everyone desires a “home” to go to at Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays, and everyone wants a parent to visit on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or both. No matter their age, children need permanency and a sense of belonging.
Children who age out of the foster care system in Georgia are more likely to become homeless, addicted to drugs, fail to complete high school, become criminal offenders, and bear children who end up in the foster care system themselves. The involvement and encouragement of a parent or parents to complete high school, work hard in academics and extra-curricular activities, who urge their child to enroll and complete higher education or technical education can transform the lives of foster children who are adopted, no matter their age.
As with any adoption, careful review of all of the documents are necessary to insure that the necessary laws were followed in termination of parental rights, notice to the necessary parties and the drafting of the Petition for Adoption and the Decree of Adoption. With the overload in the foster care system and our Juvenile Courts, it is more important than ever before for the adoption attorney to carefully examine each and every document in the chain of events to make sure that all legal requirements have been met.
Adopting as a Relative
The numbers of grandparents, aunts & uncles and even siblings raising a new generation of children in Georgia is staggering. Although these relative caregivers may have the protection of a guardianship through the Probate Court, or custody via the Juvenile Court or Superior Court, that protection ends at the death of the caregiver. When that situation arises, the Child can actually be returned to the parent who was unable to raise the Child in the first place. There are no safeguards in place that would allow a Child to receive Social Security death benefits if their grandparent-guardian passes away. The only way to achieve permanent safety and security is through adoption. The new adoption laws have lowered the age wherein a sibling can legally adopt their younger sibling or siblings. The adoption by a relative requires either the termination of parental rights of the parents or the surrender of rights by the parents.
The documents, legal requirements for surrender or termination of parental rights, notice requirements for parties are all required to conform specifically to this kind of adoption and there can be no deviation in the paperwork.
Adopting as a Stepparent:
Even if no father is listed on the birth certificate, at some point a male inseminated the mother of the Child, resulting in a pregnancy and the creation of a biological father-relationship with a Child. Even if the identity of the biological father is truly unknown, certain requirements must be met in order to insure the proper language is utilized in both the Petition for Adoption and the subsequent Decree of Adoption.
The law is clear as to the minimum requirements which must be met in order for a parent’s rights to be terminated. An experienced adoption attorney will be able to properly prepare both the Petition for Adoption and the Motion for Termination of Parental Rights in such a manner which will provide proper notice to the parent whose rights are sought to be terminated. Each parent, unless they surrender their rights, has the right to be heard in Court as to whether or not they have met the statutory requirements to maintain and retain their parental rights.
Children aged 14 or older must consent in writing and in Court to the adoption and any subsequent name change, if requested.
Re-adopting a Child from another Country
This is actually called a domestication of a foreign adoption, but it is commonly referred to as a “re-adoption”. The Russian “adoption ban” has resulted in a slowing-down of international adoptions, however, countries such as India, Guatemala, Korea, China, Bulgaria, Columbia, the Phillipines, and Haiti continue to be a resource for adoptive parents who desire to adopt internationally. Compliance with the Hague Convention Treaty on international Adoptions is required in order for a Child to obtain US citizenship. Ethiopia recently (Jan 2018) banned intercountry adoptions. If you intend to adopt internationally, please carefully select an adoption agency to assist you in the specific country where you intend to adopt, as each country’s laws and requirements are different.
Yes, it is possible to adopt an adult! Many times, an adult stepchild will seek to be adopted by the stepparent who raised them or was influential during their formative years. Again, there is a specific procedure that must be followed in preparing a Petition for An Adult Adoption and the making of a case before a judge, so it is highly recommended that you seek out an adoption professional to complete your adult adoption.