Introduction to Adoptions in Georgia
Adoptions in Georgia are one of the most exciting aspects of The Edwards Law Group family law practice. It is one of the many ways parents can welcome a new child into their home. The experience, while sometimes difficult and anxiety invoking, can be one of the most rewarding experiences that parents can experience. There are several different ways to welcome a child into your home as an adoptive parent.
Our attorneys are experienced and compassionate, and we take the business of helping your family very seriously. We represent families of all kinds, including gay and lesbian individuals on their journey to parenthood.
Adoption is the social, emotional, and legal process where children are not raised by biological parents, and they become legal members of another family.
Types of Adoptions in Georgia
A parent’s spouse may want to legalize his or her relationship with the spouse’s child who is their non-biological child or step-child. This can be accomplished through a stepparent adoption. It is one of the most common types of adoptions. The process runs smoothly when everyone agrees that a stepparent adoption is in the child’s best interest.
These adoptions are often accomplished through a surrender of the natural parent’s parental rights to a relative who is related to the child. This can include a grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle, great aunt, great uncle, or sibling. Other relatives may become involved and seek to adopt the child.
Adoption of Adult Persons
In Georgia, adult persons may be adopted by giving written consent to the adoption. Cases like these can be filed in either the county in which the person seeking to adopt lives.
They can also be filed in the county where the adult being adopted lives. If the court is satisfied that there is no reason why the adoption should not be granted, the court will enter a decree of adoption. The court can also change the name of the adopted adult.
Once the adoption is final, the relation between each petitioner and the adopted adult is the same legal relation of parent and child. Often adults who have a stepparent and want the relationship solidified will do so through an adult adoption. Sometimes a godparent will adopt an adult godchild. Other times two adults who have a strong emotional parent/child relationship will pursue an adult adoption. Check out the case of John Goodman of Texas who adopted his adult girlfriend to avoid paying a legal judgment!
Agency Non-Relative Adoption
These are adoptions through which the placement agency is a private one. This type of adoption follows the termination of parental rights. After a designated period of time, usually a few months, the child will then be available and eligible for adoption. At that point, an individual who is qualified to adopt a child may petition the Court for adoption. That individual is usually someone who has developed a relationship with the child.
Second Parent Adoption
Second parent adoption is a legal procedure that allows same-sex couples who are not married, to adopt their partner’s child. This type of adoption involves one parent who already has legal rights of the child and a second parent that is petitioning for joint rights. In this adoption, the child’s legal parent consents to the child being adopted by his or her spouse or domestic partner. This results in two legal parents of the child. During the action, the court may request that a home study be completed for the home of the prospective parent.
LGBTQIA clients need to be aware that many counties in Georgia will not necessarily approve this adoption. An attorney is usually necessary to ensure the process is less complicated. If the parties are married, a Step-Parent Adoption would be the appropriate vehicle under which to travel.
Private Adoptions in Georgia
- Stepparent Adoption
A parent’s spouse may want to legalize his or her relationship with the spouse’s child who is their non-biological child or step-child. This can be accomplished through a stepparent adoption. This is one of the most common types of adoptions. When everyone agrees that a stepparent adoption is in the child’s best interest, the process runs smoothly. At the end of the process, the child has the benefit of having a parent who wants to be, and participates, in that child’s life. The change in the law makes this an option available to same-sex couples who are legally married.
- Single Adoption
Individual adoption is the traditional type of adoption where an unmarried person seeks to adopt a child that has been put for adoption by the birth parent(s) or by the State. Georgia law does not specifically prohibit a person from adopting simply because he or she is gay.
- Second Parent Adoption
Second parent adoption in Georgia is a legal procedure that allows same-sex couples who are NOT married to each other to adopt their partner’s biological. The procedure also those who are NOT married to each other to adopt children without terminating the first parent’s right as a parent.This adoption gives the child two legal guardians, and it is, usually, the best adoption for a gay, committed relationship.
Gay adoption is not legal in Georgia, however, parents can protect their families by applying for guardianship. Guardianship does not provide the same legal rights as adoption.
Public Adoptions in Georgia
These adoptions are facilitated through a public sector agency that is charged with providing for the welfare of the child. They involve children who are most often in the custody of the Department of Family and Children Services.
Many children in “DFCS” custody are there because of substantiated allegations of abuse and neglect by their former custodians; usually their parents. DFCS has the right to petition the court to terminate parental rights if the parent does not complete the case plan. The children are then available for adoption by persons who will care for them.
Contact your local Department of Family and Children Services Office. These adoptions are very cost-effective in comparison with the fees associated with a private adoption. The prospective parent incurs attorney’s fees and court costs. On occasion, there is also financial assistance available for public adoptions including children considered to be “special needs” children, as defined by Georgia Law.