Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Georgia that you become familiar with Georgia’s adoption laws.
Georgia adoption laws are in place to protect the birth parents, the prospective adoptive parents, and the child being adopted. You will want to find an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer who is very knowledgeable in the Georgia adoption laws.
We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Georgia involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.
Click on the following to jump to an area of interest:
- Adoption Requirements in Georgia
- Adoption Consent in Georgia
- Georgia Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
- Georgia Adoption Advertising Laws
- Birth Parent Expenses in Georgia
- Accessing Adoption Records in Georgia
- Post Adoption Contact Laws in Georgia
- When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Georgia?
With so many aspects of Georgia’s adoption laws and their corresponding policies, it is impossible to cover them all in one article. We will, however, dive into many facets of the adoption laws in Georgia.
You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Georgia, as laws and policies do change.
Can you adopt without a lawyer? How much do adoption attorneys cost? Learn all that and more by visiting Adoption Lawyers in Georgia: Do You Need an Adoption Attorney? where we also give you step-by-step instructions on how to vet an adoption lawyer.
Adoption Requirements in Georgia
- 25 years of age
- At least 10 years older than the child
- Spouse must be 10 years older than the child
- LGBT couples may adopt
- Background checks for all adults in the home
- A Georgia driver’s license
- Drug screening
- Physical exam
It is common knowledge that adoption is costly, but that is not to be confused with a false expectation that a prospective parent should be well off financially. Financial security is important and expected when applying to adopt a child, yet being upper class is not one of those qualifications.
Financial security simply means that you are able to pay your bills, cover your rent or mortgage, and that you have a reliable means of income and transportation. What matters most is that a child is loved, cared for, and kept safe and comfortable.
Learn more about adoption attorneys in our article What Does an Adoption Attorney Do? We Find Out.
Adoption Consent in Georgia
Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Georgia put together for your convenience and is intended to be quicker to digest. For a complete listing of all adoption consent laws in its legal format and in its entirety, visit Georgia’s Adoption Code at Title 19-8-1, courtesy of Justia Law.
It goes without saying that consent to adopt is a huge part of the adoption process. We may forget, however, that there is more involved than the birth mother’s consent.
Other aspect may come into play that you will want to keep in mind.
- The adoptee who is 14 years of age or older must give their consent to the adoption. An exception to this would be if the child is mentally incompetent.
- The presumed father has the right to consent to the adoption.
- The agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished or which holds permanent custody and which has placed the adoptee for adoption.
Georgia Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
Adoption assistance, otherwise know as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Georgia who suffer from physical, mental, and developmental challenges.
These children are at a heightened risk of health problems, learning disabilities, as well as mental health issues. Subsidized adoption provides assistance to adoptive families for medical access, special equipment, therapies, tutoring, and other support services.
In the US, about 90% of the children in foster care are eligible for adoption assistance.
Special Needs Eligibility in Georgia
A child with special needs may qualify for adoption assistance if the child meets one or more of the following circumstances, courtesy of NACAC.
- Noted emotional, physical, or mental issues.
- Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.
- Due to underlining issues in the past, the child is likely to suffer emotional, physical, or mental struggles in the future.
- Has been in the care of a public or private agency or individual other than the legal or biological parent for more than 24 consecutive months.
Georgia Adoption Advertising Laws
Adoption advertising is defined as using a public medium to express an interest in adopting a child or sharing that a child is available for adoption either by print or electronically.
Common means of advertising include:
- Printed Flyers
According to Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-24, courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov, it is unlawful for anyone, including a facilitator, to advertise a child who is available for adoption. It is also illegal for anyone to advertise the desire to adopt.
Adoption entities are the exception and are allowed to advertise.
Adoption entities include such agencies as the Department of Human Resources, a licensed child-placing agency, an intermediary or registered child-caring agency.
Adoption entities must include their Georgia license number. If an adoption attorney is representing the case, they must provide their Georgia State Bar number on any and all advertisements.
Birth Parent Expenses in Georgia
In all states, no person or agency is allowed to accept payment for assisting, placing, or organizing the placement of a child, as this is illegal.
There are some things, however, that adoptive parents may be allowed to pay for in Georgia, but such expenses paid may only be medical care and hospitalization directly associated with the birth of the adoptive child. According to Georgia’s Unlawful Advertisements; Unlawful Inducements; Penalties, Title 19-8-24, Courtesy of Justia Law, the following statement applies:
“As used in this subsection, “inducements” shall include any financial assistance, either direct or indirect, from whatever source, except payment or reimbursement of the medical expenses directly related to the mother’s pregnancy and hospitalization for the birth of the child and medical care for the child.”
Adoptive parents are generally required to file a complete record of expenses related to the adoption that they are covering.
Your licensed adoption liaison will help to ensure that all financial aspects of the adoption process run smoothly and legally.
What do you do, though, if said expenses are paid and the birth mother changes her mind in the end? Adoption Disruption insurance is available for adoptive parents to protect them from such a misfortune for those adopting domestically.
Accessing Adoption Records in Georgia
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-23: Access to Nonidentifying Information
There are times when accessing adoption records is needed for medical reasons, such as helping to diagnose or treat an existing medical ailment.
Under those circumstances, the adoptee, adoptive parents, or a healthcare representative of the adoptee may reach out to the Department of Human Services or the child-placing agency to access the birth parent’s medical history.
If the adoptee is under the age of 18, the adoptive parents may submit a request for medical records. If the adoptee is 18 years of age or older, then he or she may make the request themselves.
In such circumstances, the State Adoption Unit will do their best to contact the birth parents of the adoptee to obtain any known medical history on the biological parents, or relatives of the biological parents of the adopted person.
Information gathered for medical reasons and provided to the adoptee and/or their adoptive parents will include nonidentifying details including the date and place of the adoptee’s birth and the genetic, social, and health history of the birth parents.
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-23: Mutual Access to Identifying Information
An adoptee 18 years of age or older may submit a written request to the department or child-placing agency to receive the name of the adoptee’s birth parent, along with a detailed summary of all information if the following apply:
- The birth parent has submitted unrevoked written permission to release his or her name to the adoptee.
- The identity of the birth parent submitting permission has been verified by the department or agency.
- The department or agency has the records that have been requested.
If a request is made by the adult adoptee and the birth parent has not filed an unrevoked written permission, the department or agency, within 6 months of receipts, will make attempts to contact the birth parent to let them know that a request for information has been made.
The birth parent may at that time file an affidavit consenting or objecting to the disclosure of the information.
If the adoptee disagrees with the final results of the records request, they may file a petition with the court to seek access to information. If the court determines failure to release the identity of each parent would have an adverse impact upon the physical, mental, or emotional health of the adopted person, the permission may be granted.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
Post Adoption Contact Laws in Georgia
Adoptive parents have a right to decide who has contact with their adopted child and when. Many times in an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth family have a mutual and informal agreement regarding contact with the adopted child.
A voluntary, written agreement between all parties may be made so that all parties are on the same page as the their desired means of communication after the adoption is finalized, as well as to make clear what contact is not desired.
An adoptee 14 years of age or older must be a party to the written agreement regarding his or her birth relatives. Birth relatives include:
- A parent, biological father who is not the legal father, grandparents, siblings, half-siblings related by blood or marriage to the adoptee.
These postadoption contact agreements are only enforceable if the agreement was done in writing and signed by all parties.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Georgia?
When your adoption is finalized, court proceedings should immediately include beginning the process of obtaining a new birth certificate for the adopted child that reflects the child’s new last name and adoptive parents.
Do not hesitate to ask your adoption attorney or adoption agency if you need to initiate that process, or if the courts will do that on your behalf.
DISCLAIMER: The above state law information is provided to our readers as a courtesy and is meant to be helpful in offering some insight as to what to expect during your adoption journey. This information is not meant to be viewed as legal advice. In addition, possible changes to state laws may have taken place since the publishing of this article in July 2021.