- My child’s birth certificate does not have a father’s name on it. My husband would like to have his name on the birth certificate and change my child’s last name to his last name. How do we go about doing this?
You can do that, but it does not change the fact that your husband is not the child’s legal parent. If you want to secure your child’s future and make him/her a legal heir and child of your husband, an adoption is necessary.
2. I want to give my parents custody of my child and take away the biological father’s rights. Can I just sign something and have it notarized?
No; a notarized document cannot change the custody of a child, neither can it terminate the rights of a biological father. In order to terminate the rights of a parent, you must permit your parents to adopt the child. During this process, the rights of the biological father will be terminated. That is the only way to “take away” the father’s rights to the Child.
3. My son and his girlfriend have a baby, and they aren’t able to take care of the baby. What can we do to prevent the State from taking the baby away from them?
There are several ways that can be accomplished to protect the baby from going into foster care. The simplest way of doing that would be to obtain guardianship from your county’s Probate Court. That would place the baby with you (or you and your spouse) and you would be responsible for the baby’s care, financially, medically and educationally. A guardianship does NOT relieve the biological parents of the obligation to pay support on behalf of their child, but it would prevent the Child from being placed into foster care.
4. My daughter’s children are in the custody of DFCS, and she isn’t doing anything to get them back. What can I do?
If a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights has NOT been filed by DFCS, she can surrender her rights to you for the purpose of adoption. Or, you may wish to go through the DFCS training and obtain them on a foster care basis. However, custody would remain with the Department, and the mother could work her case plan and get the children back into her custody. You will need to decide how much involvement you want with the Department, or if you want a permanent solution to the situation. Adoption would be the only permanent solution.
5. My husband and I just adopted our grandchildren. Do we need to have a Will written?
Yes, adopting children is a life change that would require either a revision to your Will or a new Will to be written by an attorney. There are also changes that need to be made to life insurance policies, any retirement accounts, etc.
6. My husband and I have not been able to have children. Do you have a list of available children that we can look at?
No; I am not an adoption agency. A licensed adoption agency will have access to upcoming births of babies that may be placed for adoption. Make sure that you are working with a State licensed adoption agency. Some agencies are from out of state, but they would need to provide you with a copy of their Georgia license. Adoption facilitators who find a “match” for you are illegal in Georgia.
7. My wife and I want to adopt a baby. Do you know of any women who want to give up their baby for adoption?
First, pregnant women make an adoption plan for their baby. They do not “give up” their baby for adoption. It is very rare that a pregnant woman contacts me about placing their baby for adoption. I advise folks like you and your wife to tell everyone they know to tell everyone they know to tell everyone they know that you are wanting to adopt a newborn baby. As mobile as our society has become, within several weeks, several thousand people from many different states will know of your desire to adopt. I have had situations where a baby comes from another state where the baby’s mother was the friend of the daughter of the aunt’s hairdresser who knew of her nephew’s desire to adopt a child. It sounds strange, but it happens.
8. How long is the wait to adopt a healthy white infant from the hospital?
If you are certain that you desire a healthy Caucasian infant, you may desire to sign up with an adoption agency. They will utilize your profile and show it often to young women who are registered with that agency. You will be limited to women represented by that agency, however. I have had folks who had signed up with an agency who ended up finding a baby through their friends/family contacts, and they ended up putting their fees on “hold” for the next child if they wanted to adopt again later.
9. I’ve heard adoption is very expensive. Why is adoption so expensive, and how much does an adoption cost?
Every situation is different in adoption. If you are open to adopting an older child or a sibling group, you might want to considering foster care. Many times, the attorney fees are paid by the State and your out of pocket expenses for an adoption are zero. If you desire a healthy, Caucasian infant, you may be looking at $30,000 or more for an adoption. So the cost depends on the situation. A mother represented by an agency may need 8 months of living expenses, maternity clothing, transportation needs and the use of a cell phone for medical emergencies. When you add in those costs, along with the agency fees, the cost of having a home study written and your attorney fees, the costs can be significant.
10. I heard that the Federal Adoption Tax Credit is gone.
That is untrue. Vigorous action by adoption attorneys and adoptive parents saved this vital benefit. If you qualify, you may receive an adoption credit spread over three years of taxable years. You would need to speak with your tax advisor to determine whether or not you qualify.
11. I just don’t think our family could foster a child. We’d get too attached.
Foster care isn’t for everyone. However, it is an important ministry that your entire family can do together. No matter how long or how short a time you foster a child or a sibling group, your family may be the only stable or “normal” home that child has ever experienced. Additionally, if you decide to adopt through foster care, you may be eligible for a monthly stipend to assist in medical, educational or therapeutic costs for the child/ children. Sibling groups automatically qualify for a monthly stipend, and some older children do as well. Additionally, Georgia offers a State income adoption tax credit and if you qualify, you may get a $2,000 year tax credit per child per year until that child turns 18.
12. I got pregnant while very young and placed my baby for adoption. She would be about 25 years old now. Is there any way I can find out where my child may be and how she is doing?
Georgia has an Adoption Reunion Registry, and you may register with them. Georgia is changing the law which prohibited registering with the Reunion Registry until the age of 21, and the minimum age will soon be 18. If your daughter has also registered with the Reunion Registry, contact between you and your daughter will be arranged through the Registry. You can opt for as much contact or as little contact as you are comfortable with in your current life situation.
13. My ex-husband disappeared shortly after our divorce and I haven’t heard from him in several years. His parents have continued to see their grandchildren, but they either don’t know or won’t tell where my ex-husband is. He hasn’t paid full child support in years, and hasn’t visited with my kids, either. Every once in a while I get a $50 money order from him, but not regularly. I’d like my current husband to adopt my kids. Can this be done?
Absolutely! In Georgia, a parent is obligated to financially provide for their children, especially when there is a court order to do so. Additionally, the parent is required to maintain meaningful contact with the children. There are requirements for notification to the legal parent when an adoption is filed, because if your husband were to adopt the children, the legal father’s parental rights must be terminated. If his parents are not honest with you about his whereabouts, then social media is another way an individual can be located. Sometimes it is necessary to place a legal notice in the newspaper in order to terminate a parent’s rights to a child. I much prefer personal notice if at all possible.
14. My husband and I adopted a child five years ago in Georgia. We have been contacted by the biological parents saying that they want the Child back. We are scared that something might happen. What can we do?
This is an excellent reason to only use the legal services provided by a qualified adoption attorney. Adoption law is very complicated, and the laws in Georgia are being drastically changed this year (2018). I would reach out to the attorney who finalized the adoption and make sure that all of the paperwork was done correctly. If every law was followed and the documents were all done absolutely correctly, then it would be very difficult or nearly impossible to overturn an adoption in Georgia after the adoption has been final for six months. Of course, every situation is different and I would advise you to seek out the counsel of a qualified adoption attorney to look over your case.
15.We can’t afford an attorney to do our adoption. We found some documents online and are going to do it ourselves. My friend did her own divorce and she said it was really easy.
It is extremely dangerous to attempt to use online documents to file and finalize your own adoption. Georgia law is very specific about the different kinds of adoptions and the different documents and notification requirements for each specific kind of adoption. Although you can purchase a “do it yourself” divorce kit at the courthouse, and buy “fill in the blank” adoption forms, I have been appointed by several judges as a special master to properly prepare adoption documents so that an adoption can be finalized. In the end, the clients ended up having to pay me for my services which would have been less expensive had I been retained to start the adoption process from scratch.