To many couples, adoption is the ultimate dream. It provides a loving home to children who don’t have a biological family who can care for them. But how does adoption work in Georgia? There are a number of methods prospective adoptive parents can take, all of which can require lengthy legal work and help from an adoption attorney Atlanta. FBA Law can help you learn all you need to know about adoption in GA starting with this ultimate guide.
Who is involved in Adoption in GA?
- Courts: Adoption decisions are made in court by a judge, who decides whether to terminate the biological parent’s rights and grant permanent custody and parental rights to the adoptive parents.
- Biological Parents: During this process, it is important to consider the biological parents and make sure that they are confident that they have made the right choice for them and their child before terminating their rights.
- Adoption Attorney: An adoption attorney helps guide all parties involved throughout the process of the adoption. Navigating the courts and all the legal procedures can be difficult which is why an adoption attorney can be so beneficial.
Requirements For Prospective Adoptive Parents in Georgia
- The petitioner is at least 25 years of age or married to someone at least 25 years of age
- The petitioner is at least 10 years older than the child
- The petitioner is a resident of Georgia
- The petitioner is physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially capable of handling permanent full-time custody of the child
The Different Types of Family Adoptions in Georgia
Family adoptions, also known as private or independent adoptions, are when prospective adoptive parents already have a connection with a specific child, whether they are step-parents looking to adopt or a relative looking to provide guardianship to a child who doesn’t have any.
Step Parent Adoption
Step-parent adoption is one of the most common forms of adoption in the United States. Not only is it a symbol of becoming a family but it is a legal way of ensuring that step-parents take responsibility for the child financially and legally. One of the first pieces of the adoption process is to have the biological parent’s rights terminated and to have the consent of the custodial parent.
Terminating the rights of a biological parent is not always an easy task and there are several ways this can happen. First, it’s important to note that if the biological parent is deceased, then only the approval of the legal guardian is needed. The second way to terminate rights is if the biological parent voluntarily agrees to relinquish their rights and executes the appropriate documentation to do so. The third way is that the Court will consider the request to terminate a parent’s rights who has not consented to the termination. Ultimately, the court will decide who should have parental rights to a child. Sometimes, the courts will only terminate parental rights in extreme cases where the parent has been proven to be negligent and unfit. However, when there is a Petition for Adoption where another adult is willing to step in as a parent, there is a higher likelihood that the termination request will be granted. And with an Atlanta adoption attorney, you’ll have significantly better chances of the request being granted.
Relative adoption offers a unique opportunity for a child to maintain their important family bond. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, great-grandparents, great-uncles and great-aunts are all potential family members who can adopt and provide a loving and supportive home for a child in need. Relative adoption allows for the child to be raised in familiar cultural or religious traditions, which can bring a sense of comfort and stability during a potentially difficult time. Other blood relatives or relatives by marriage, such as cousins, can also adopt, they will require a different form of adoption.
Common Reasons for Relative Adoption:
- Death of a parent
- Child abuse, neglect, or abandonment
- Substance abuse, addiction
- Mental health issues
- Inability of parents to care for the child
- Teen pregnancy
- Immigration issues
How Do Adoptions Work in Georgia
The specific timeframe can vary based on factors like the court system, and individual circumstances, but usually, the process will take several months, if not longer. It’s important to consult with an adoption lawyer to understand the legal considerations involved in adoption in GA. Despite every case being unique, these four steps are typically apparent in every adoption process.
1. Termination of Parental Rights
There are strict laws in place that require a parent to either consent to the surrender of their parental rights or the petitioner must demonstrate a valid reason as to why the parent’s rights should be terminated. This decision should not be made lightly, as it not only affects the parent but also the child involved. It’s important to consider all factors before making any decisions and to ensure that the best interests of the child are always at the forefront of any proceedings.
One of the initial steps of adoption in GA is the home study, which is typically required to evaluate your suitability to become an adoptive parent. However, there is some good news for stepparents and relative adoptions: the court may agree to waive this requirement and opt for a simple investigation instead. If you’re in this situation, your lawyer can help you petition the court and prepare for the investigation. It’s important to understand the legal requirements and be proactive to ensure a smooth adoption process.
3. File Legal Petition for Adoption
Completing the necessary legal forms and filing them with the court can be a daunting task, but it’s a crucial step in the adoption process. You want to make sure that your paperwork is thorough and complete before submitting it to avoid any delays or complications. The good news is that with a bit of research and the support of a knowledgeable adoption attorney Atlanta, you can navigate the legalities of adoption with confidence.
4. Final Court Hearing
The final court hearing is a significant moment in the relative adoption process in Georgia and is the last step before the adoption is legally recognized. During the hearing, a judge will review all the necessary documentation and ensure that everything is in order. This is a crucial step in ensuring that the child is placed in a safe and stable home with a relative who loves and cares for them. For both the adoptive family and the child, the final court hearing marks the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, one filled with love, support, and hope for the future.
How to File an Adoption Petition in Georgia
Where is an adoption petition filed?
In most cases, prospective adoptive parents file adoption petitions in the county in which the adoptive parents live. In some situations, the adoption petition can be filed in other counties such as where the child lives, where the adoption agency is based, or where the child was born (if it’s within a year since birth).
What information is included in an adoption petition?
- Personal information of the petitioner such as full name, age, date of birth, marital status, and permanent address
- Personal information of the child such as name, sex, date of birth, place of birth, and citizenship/immigration status
- Information regarding the placement of the child with the petitioners
- Information about the current guardian or custodian of the child
- Whether any individual has custody or visitation rights with the child
- Legal affidavits and certificates attesting to the accuracy of the information in petition
- Filing fees and deposits as required by the court
Adoption is a life-changing decision and a wonderful way to expand your family and provide a child with a loving home. However, the legal process of adoption can be complicated and overwhelming. That’s where an adoption attorney comes in. By hiring an experienced adoption attorney Atlanta like FBA Law, you will have a legal guide who will help you navigate the entire process, from start to finish.
We will ensure that your rights are protected, provide you with advice, and advocate on your behalf. With the support of an adoption attorney Atlanta, you can focus on what’s most important – welcoming your new family member into your home. So, don’t hesitate – contact FBA Law Firm, an experienced family attorney today and start your journey toward a happy and successful adoption!