Adoption is the creation by law of the relationship of parent and child between two individuals. Adoption terminates the relationship and all rights and responsibilities previously existing between the child and it’s natural parents. The adoption process is closely regulated by the state.
The primary purpose of these regulations is to advance the welfare of minors by; (i) protecting minors from unnecessary separation from their original parents, (ii) facilitating the adoption of minors in need of adoptive placement by persons who can give them love, care, security, and support, (iii) protecting minors from placement with adoptive parents unfit to have responsibility for their care and rearing, and (iv) assuring the finality of the adoption.
The secondary purposes are; (i) to protect biological parents from ill-advised decisions to relinquish a child or consent to the child’s adoption, (ii) to protect adoptive parents from assuming responsibility for a child about whose heredity or mental or physical condition they know nothing, (iii) to protect the privacy of the parties to the adoption, and (iv) to discourage unlawful trafficking in minors and other unlawful placement activities.
As your lawyer, it is my responsibility to see that the statutory requirements for adoptive placements are strictly complied with. Being sure that my clients are fully informed about and understand the adoption process is an essential part of this process.
There are various types of Adoption; a private adoption is where an adoptive couple is working on a private adoption; an interstate adoption is where an adoptive couple is working with a birth mother on an interstate adoption; an agency adoption is where an adoptive couple is working with an in-state or an out-of-state adoption agency to locate a baby. There are also relative adoptions and step-parent adoptions.
Frequently Asked Adoption Questions
Most prospective adoptive parents locate children available for adoption through:
- Friends and relatives networking
- Private adoption agencies, if you choose to use an agency
- County departments of social services; if you are on their list
No. No one may solicit children for adoptive placement, except a licensed child placement agency. Only a licensed agency may advertise in any periodical or newspaper, or by radio television, or other public medium. Violation of this provision is a crime in Georgia. For this reason, you may want to work with an agency to locate a birthmother who will place her baby with you.
An approved Home Study is required in all adoptive placements. It may be prepared by a licensed child placement agency for a fee. The home study should be completed prior to the placement of the child with the couple or as soon as possible once a baby is placed with you by a birthmother. The approved home study will be filed with the Court and reviewed by the Judge. The home study will address some of the following issues in addition to the agency requirements:
- Age and date of birth, nationality, race, or ethnicity, and any religious preference of the prospective parents
- Marital and family status and history, including the presence of any children born to or adopted by the individual and any other children in the household
- Physical and mental health, including any addiction to alcohol or drugs
- Educational and employment history and any special skills
- Property and income, and current financial information provided by the individual
- Reason for wanting to adopt
- Any previous request for an assessment or involvement in an adoptive placement and the outcome of the assessment or placement
- Whether the individual has ever been a respondent in a domestic violence proceeding or a proceeding concerning a minor who was allegedly abused, dependent, neglected, abandoned, or delinquent, and the outcome of the proceeding
- Whether the individual has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation
- Whether the individual has located a parent interested in placing a child with the individual for adoption, and a brief, non-identifying description of the parent and the child
- Any other fact or circumstance that may be relevant to a determination of the individual’s suitability to be an adoptive parent, including the quality of the environment in the home and the functioning of any children in the household
Obtain and file the necessary documents. The first step is to obtain Consents from the biological parents. The mother will complete an Affidavit Regarding the Biological Father indicating the name, last known address and marital status of the parents. A petition will filed by the prospective adoptive parents seeking the court’s approval of the adoptive placement. The consents and affidavit will be filed with the petition. A copy of the background information sheets about the child’s health, social, educational and genetic history provided by the placement agency or parents and a copy of any court order or pleading concerning custody or visitation with the child will also be filed with the petition. Finally, a document will be filed with the petition identifying any individual whose consent may be required, but has not been obtained at the time of filing the petition.Once the petition is filed, notice of the petition will be served on any person whose consent was necessary but had not been obtained. The court may order the preparation and filing of a report by the agency that placed the child or that prepared the preplacement assessment or will appoint an independent adoption authority to do the post placement visit and file a Court Report. The report is to provide information to assist the court in determining whether the adoptive placement is in the best interest of the child and must be completed within 50 days of the receipt of the order. The petitioners must also file an affidavit accounting for any payment made in connection with the adoption.
The hearing or disposition will occur no later than six (6) months after the petition is filed, unless the court extends the time. Usually within 20 days after the petition has been filed, the court will set a date for a final hearing on the petition providing all documents have been filed with the Court.
The biological mother’s consent may not be obtained until after the birth of the child. The biological parents have ten (10) days from the day they sign to revoke their surrender or consent not counting weekends or holidays. The biological mother will sign the documents usually 24 – 48 hours after the birth of the baby to ensure that the mother is free from the influence of medications that might affect her capacity to give a valid consent. The biological father can sign prior to the birth of the baby or anytime after the birth of the child. If it is an agency adoption, the agency must provide a consent to adoption form to the attorney after the 2nd post-placement visit is finished to file with the Court.
Yes. The individual who gave the consent may revoke by giving written notice to the person specified in the consent by hand delivery or by certified mail on or within ten (10) days from executing the document, inclusive of weekends and holidays. The prospective adoptive parents must immediately upon request, return the child to the person who gave the consent.
A petition must be filed within 60 days of the placement of a child for adoption. A final hearing for adoption will be set within approximately 20 days from the filing of the petition. A final hearing is usually scheduled for 60-70 days after the Petition is filed depending on the Judge’s Court schedule.
The adopting parents can pay on the birthmother’s behalf any and all expenses which shall come due by reason of the pregnancy and the birth of the baby which are medically demanded. These medical expenses could include hospitalization, pharmaceutical, obstetrical, laboratory, counseling and related costs. Please understand that only medical expenses are allowed to be paid by the adoptive couple in adoptions under the requirements of Georgia Law and that no circumvention or attempt to violate those laws are intended by any parties hereto.
Medical expenses incident to the birth of the child could be covered by your medical insurance policy. Check your policy for specific provisions and for coverage on the minor child. All medical expense deposits are due two (2) weeks prior to the birthmother’s due date. The medical expenses will be determined once it is known if the birthmother has insurance or is covered by medicaid.Generally, all legal expenses are the responsibility of the adopting parents. Legal expenses are reimbursable up to varying limits under some corporate benefits packages. There is also an IRS tax credit of up to $12,500 for adoption expenses.
Adoption arrangements which include plans for continuing contact between natural and adoptive parents or allow natural parents to have continuing contact with adopted children are called semi-open or open adoptions and must be agreed to by each party.There is now an Agreement that can be entered pursuant to the provisions of O.C.G.A. Section 19-8-27 and can be litigated if it is not upheld. But it should not be a precondition to the adoptive placement. The consent of the biological parents must be unconditional. Such arrangements also will not invalidate an adoptive placement. Generally, the biological parents become legal strangers to the child once the adoption is final. They have no legal right to any further contact. They may be treated just like any other stranger. They are subject to civil and criminal laws which limit unwanted intrusions.