Georgia

Adoption Laws

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-4(a)

A child who has any living parent or guardian may be adopted through the Department of Human Services or any child-placing agency only if each such parent and each such guardian:

  • Has voluntarily and in writing surrendered all of his or her rights to the child to the department or to a child-placing agency and the department or agency thereafter consents to the adoption
  • Has had all of his or her rights to the child terminated by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, the child has been committed by the court to the department or to a child-placing agency for placement for adoption, and the department or agency thereafter consents to the adoption

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-4(b)

In the case of a child age 14 or older, the written consent of the child to his adoption must be given and acknowledged in the presence of the court.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-10

Surrender or termination of rights of a parent shall not be required as a prerequisite to the filing of a petition for adoption of a child of that parent when the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the parent:

  • Has abandoned the child
  • Cannot be found after a diligent search has been made
  • Is insane or otherwise incapacitated from surrendering such rights
  • Has failed to exercise proper parental care or control due to misconduct or inability

Surrender of rights of a parent shall not be required as a prerequisite to the filing of a petition for adoption of a child of that parent if that parent, for a period of 1 year or longer immediately prior to the filing of the petition for adoption, without justifiable cause, has significantly failed:

  • To communicate or to make a bona fide attempt to communicate with that child in a meaningful, supportive, parental manner
  • To provide for the care and support of that child as required by law or judicial decree, and the court is of the opinion that the adoption is for the best interests of that child

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-5

Consent may be executed any time after the birth of the child.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Ann. Code §§ 19-8-4; 19-8-5

The surrender to the department or to a child-placing agency specified in this Code section shall be executed in the presence of a representative of the department or the agency and a notary. A copy shall be delivered to the individual signing the surrender at the time of the execution thereof.

The surrender of a child to be adopted by a third party who is neither the stepparent nor relative of that child shall be executed in the presence of a notary.

A form for the affidavit of surrender can be found in § 19-8-26.

Revocation of Consent Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-9(b)

A person signing a surrender shall have the right to withdraw the surrender by written notice delivered in person or mailed by registered mail or statutory overnight delivery within 10 days after signing. After 10 days, a surrender may not be withdrawn.

The surrender document is not valid unless it states the right of withdrawal.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents [1]

No licensed child welfare agency shall place a child in a foster care home unless the foster parent or parents and other adult persons that reside in the home or provide care to children placed in the home have received a satisfactory preliminary records check determination.

After obtaining the fingerprint records, the department shall notify in writing the agency or license applicant regarding whether the department’s determinations were satisfactory or unsatisfactory for each person for whom an application was received. If any such determinations were unsatisfactory, such homes shall not be used by the child welfare agency as foster care homes.

In addition to any other requirement established by law, the submission of fingerprints shall be a prerequisite to the issuance of a license or authorization for the operation of a foster home or to serve as foster parents as provided in this article. Such fingerprints shall be used for the purposes of fingerprint checks by the Georgia Crime Information Center and the FBI.

Evidence of a record of conviction of certain crimes shall result in an unsatisfactory determination. The crimes included are:

  • Battery, when the victim is a minor
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
  • Sexual offenses
  • Criminal attempt of any of the crimes specified above

In regulation:A home study shall include the results of a criminal records check, as required by law, for each prospective foster parent and any adult residing in the home. When the individuals in the home have not resided in this State for the 5 years preceding their application to foster, the agency shall require additional documentation available through the State child welfare agency in the State in which the applicant resided that the individuals are not listed on the child abuse and neglect registry.

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Ann. Code § 19-8-16; Rules & Regs. § 290-9-2-.06

The court shall require the petitioner submit to a criminal history records check. The petitioner shall submit his or her fingerprints to the Georgia Crime Information Center with the appropriate fee. The center shall promptly transmit the fingerprints to the FBI for a search of bureau records and shall obtain an appropriate report.

The Georgia Crime Information Center also shall promptly conduct a search of its records and any records to which it has access. The center shall notify the court in writing of the presence or absence of any derogatory finding, including, but not limited to, any conviction data regarding the fingerprint records check.

In regulation:The adoption home study shall include the results of a criminal records check, as required by law, for each prospective adoptive parent. When the individuals in the home have not resided in this State for the 5 years preceding their application to adopt, the agency shall require additional documentation available through the State child welfare agency in the State in which the applicant resided that the individuals are not listed on the child abuse and neglect registry.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Code §§ 15-11-58; 15-11-94

The court may terminate a parent’s parental rights when there is clear and convincing evidence of parental misconduct or inability, and the court finds that such termination is in the best interests of the child. The court by order may terminate the parental rights of a parent with respect to the parent’s child if:

  • The parent has willfully failed to comply with a court order to pay child support for a period of 12 months or longer.
  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The child is a deprived child due to the lack of proper parental care or control, the cause of deprivation is likely to continue or will not likely be remedied, and the continued deprivation will cause or is likely to cause serious physical, mental, emotional, or moral harm to the child.
  • The parent is unable to provide adequately for the physical, mental, emotional, or moral condition and needs of the child due to:
    • A medically verifiable deficiency of the parent’s physical, mental, or emotional health
    • Excessive use of or history of chronic unrehabilitated abuse of intoxicating liquors or narcotic or dangerous drugs or controlled substances
    • Incarceration of the parent that has a demonstrable negative effect on the quality of the parent-child relationship
    • Egregious conduct or evidence of past egregious conduct of the parent toward the child or toward another child of a physically, emotionally, or sexually cruel or abusive nature
    • Physical, mental, or emotional neglect of the child or evidence of past neglect of the child or of another child by the parent
    • Injury or death of a sibling that resulted from parental neglect or abuse
  • The child is not in the custody of the parent, and the parent without justifiable cause has failed significantly for a period of 1 year or longer prior to the filing of the petition for termination of parental rights:
    • To develop and maintain a parental bond with the child in a meaningful, supportive manner
    • To provide for the care and support of the child as required by law or judicial decree
    • To comply with a court-ordered plan designed to reunite the child with the parent
  • The parent has been convicted of the murder of the child’s other parent.

A petition for termination of parental rights may also be filed when the court determines that reasonable efforts to reunite the child and parent are not required. Reasonable efforts shall not be required when:

  • The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances that may include, but need not be limited to, abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, and sexual abuse.
  • The parent has:
    • Committed murder of another child of the parent or the other parent of the child
    • Committed voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent
    • Aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent
    • Committed a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent
  • The parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights Ann. Code § 15-11-40

An order of the court shall be set aside if:

  • It appears that it was obtained by fraud or mistake.
  • The court lacked jurisdiction over a necessary party or subject matter.
  • Newly discovered evidence so requires.

An order of the court also may be changed, modified, or vacated on the ground that changed circumstances, in the best interests of the child, require modification of the order.

Any party to the proceeding or any other person having supervision or legal custody of or an interest in the child may petition the court for the relief provided in this section. The petition shall set forth in clear and concise language the grounds upon which the relief is requested.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(3)

The adoptive family must be evaluated in a home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(3)

The home study shall be completed by the adoption agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-3

Any adult person meeting the requirements listed below shall be eligible to apply to the department or a child-placing agency for consideration as an adoption applicant. The person may petition to adopt a child if he or she:

  • Is at least age 25 or married and living with his or her spouse
  • Is at least 10 years older than the child
  • Has been a bona fide resident of the State for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition
  • Is financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(3)

The home study shall include at least three visits on separate days. At least one visit shall be in the home, and the applicant and all other family members shall be seen and interviewed. Prospective adoptive parents shall be interviewed together as well as separately.

The study shall include at least the following information concerning the prospective adoptive family:

  • Motivation to adopt
  • A physical description and social background of each family member
  • An evaluation of parenting practices
  • A summary of health history and condition of each family member
  • An informal assessment of the emotional and mental health of each family member
  • An evaluation of the understanding of and adjustment to adoptive parenting
  • An evaluation of the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ finances and occupation
  • A description of the home and community
  • Statements regarding the results of a criminal records check and a check of the child abuse and neglect registry
  • A minimum of three character references:
    • At least one reference must be from an extended family member not residing with the prospective adoptive family.
    • If a prospective adoptive parent(s) has worked with children in the past 5 years, a reference must be obtained from the former employer(s) for that work experience.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(3)

The home study must be completed prior to the placement of a child in the home. When a family is approved for an adoption placement by a Georgia agency, and a child has not been placed with the family within 1 year of the date of the approval by that agency, there shall be documentation annually of the reason(s) a placement has not been made, and a home study update shall be completed prior to a placement being made.

At a minimum, a home study update must include at least one home visit, the applicant’s current employment status, updated medical reports, changes in family composition, and any changes in types of children requested.

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(7)

The agency caseworker shall make at least two home visits after the placement of the child and prior to the filing of the petition for adoption.

  • The first home visit may be made at any time after the placement of the child.
  • There shall be a minimum of 2 weeks between the required home visits for a child age 12 months or younger.
  • There shall be a minimum of 30 days between the required home visits for a child older than 12 months.

Home visits shall be made with the prospective adoptive family at least once a month prior to the filing of a petition for adoption to verify that the prospective parent(s) are delivering care in a safe and healthy environment to the children in accordance with these rules and regulations and relevant agency policies and procedures. Such visits shall include observation of the child and at least one prospective adoptive parent in the home.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Ann. Code § 39-4-4; Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(7)

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

In regulation: In an interstate adoption placement where Georgia is the State of origin, the requirements for services following an adoption placement may be met by fulfilling the requirements of the receiving State.

Foster to Adopt Placements Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-3; Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(7)

Any adult person, including, but not limited to, a foster parent, meeting the requirements listed below shall be eligible to apply to the department or a child-placing agency for consideration as an adoption applicant. The person may petition to adopt a child if he or she:

  • Is at least age 25 or married and living with his or her spouse
  • Is at least 10 years older than the child
  • Has been a bona fideresident of the State for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition
  • Is financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child

In regulation: When foster parent(s) are adopting their foster child, the foster parents may proceed with the filing of the petition prior to any home visits.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Ann. Code § 19-10A-4

A newborn child who is no more than 1 week old may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Ann. Code § 19-10A-4

The mother of the child may relinquish the child.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Ann. Code §§ 19-10A-2; 19-10A-4

The child’s mother may leave her newborn child in the physical custody of an employee, agent, or member of the staff of a medical facility who is on duty, whether there in a paid or volunteer position.

The term ‘medical facility’ means any licensed general or specialized hospital, institutional infirmary, health center operated by a county board of health, or facility where human births occur on a regular and ongoing basis that is classified by the Department of Community Health as a birthing center, but the term shall not mean physicians’ or dentists’ private offices.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Ann. Code § 19-10A-6

A medical facility shall accept the child for inpatient admission and notify the Department of Human Services when the child is left and at the time the child is medically ready for discharge.

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Ann. Code § 19-10A-7

Medical facilities and their employees, agents, and staff members shall not be liable for civil damages or subject to criminal prosecution for failure to discharge the duties provided for in this chapter. The immunity provided in this chapter shall in no way be construed as providing immunity for any acts of negligent treatment of the child taken into custody.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Ann. Code § 19-10A-4

A mother shall not be prosecuted for the crimes of cruelty to a child; contributing to the delinquency, unruliness, or deprivation of a child; or abandonment of a dependent child because of the act of leaving her newborn child in the physical custody of an employee, agent, or member of the staff of a medical facility who is on duty, whether they are in a paid or volunteer position, provided that the newborn child is no more than 1 week old and the mother shows proof of her identity, if available, to the person with whom the newborn is left and provides her name and address.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Ann. Code § 19-10A-6

Upon notification that the child is medically ready for discharge, the Department of Human Services shall take physical custody of the child within 6 hours. The department, upon taking physical custody, shall promptly bring the child before the juvenile court to determine placement, as required by § 15-11-47.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-24(a)(2)

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 is permitted.

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-13(c)

Payments for services related to the adoption or the placement of the minor are permitted.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-24(a)(2)

It is unlawful for any person or entity to directly or indirectly offer inducements to a birth parent to relinquish his or her child. As used in this subsection, ‘inducements’ shall include any financial assistance, either direct or indirect, from whatever source.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-13(b); Rules and Regs. R. 290-9-2-.06

A fee must be paid to the clerk of the court for the filing of the adoption petition, as established by §§ 15-6-77 and 15-6-77.1.

In regulation:Prior to the acceptance of an application or fees of any kind, a child-placing agency shall provide information to prospective adoptive parent(s) to assist them in making an informed decision about applying to adopt. The information may be in the form of a written handout. The information shall include the agency’s fee schedule and refund policies.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-13(c), (d)

Each petitioner in any adoption proceeding shall file with the petition, in a manner acceptable to the court, a report fully accounting for all disbursements of anything of value made or agreed to be made, directly or indirectly, by, on behalf of, or for the benefit of the petitioner in connection with the adoption, including, but not limited to, any expenses incurred in connection with:

  • The birth of the minor
  • Placement of the minor with the petitioner
  • Medical or hospital care received by the mother or minor during the mother’s prenatal care and confinement
  • Services relating to the adoption or placement of the minor for adoption

Every attorney for a petitioner in any adoption proceeding shall file, in a manner acceptable to the court and before the decree of adoption is entered, an affidavit detailing all sums paid or promised to that attorney, directly or indirectly and from whatever source, for all services of any nature rendered or to be rendered in connection with the adoption provided, however, that if the attorney received or is to receive less than $500, the affidavit need only state that fact.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Ann. Code § 19-8-1

The biological father is the male who impregnated the biological mother resulting in the birth of the child. The legal father is a male who:

  • Has legally adopted a child
  • Was married to the biological mother of the child at the time the child was conceived or was born unless such paternity was disproved by a final order pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 7 of this title
  • Married the legal mother of the child after the child was born and recognized the child as his own, unless such paternity has been disproved
  • Has been determined to be the father by a final paternity order
  • Has legitimated the child by a final order pursuant to § 19-7-22 and who has not surrendered or had his rights to the child terminated

Paternity Registry Ann. Code § 19-11-9(d)(1)

There is established within the department a putative father registry. The putative father registry shall include two types of registrations:

  • Persons who acknowledge paternity of a child or children before or after birth in a signed writing
  • Persons who register to indicate the possibility of paternity without acknowledging paternity

Registrants shall be informed that this registration may be used to establish an obligation to support the child or children and that this registration shall be used to provide notice of adoption proceedings or proceedings to terminate the rights of a biological father who is not a legal father but that registration without further action does not enable the registrant to prevent an adoption or termination of his rights by objecting. All registrants shall be asked to provide information regarding changes in their addresses.

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Ann. Code §§19-7-22; 19-7-46.1

A father of a child born out of wedlock may render his relationship with the child legitimate by petitioning the superior court of the county of the residence of the child’s mother or other party having legal custody or guardianship of the child. The petition shall set forth the name, age, and sex of the child, the name of the mother, and, if the father desires the name of the child to be changed, the new name. If the mother is alive, she shall be named as a party and shall be served and provided an opportunity to be heard.

Upon the presentation and filing of the petition, the court may pass an order declaring that the father’s relationship with the child is legitimate, and that the father and child shall be capable of inheriting from each other in the same manner as if born in lawful wedlock and specifying the name by which the child shall be known.

The appearance of the name or Social Security number of the father, entered with his written consent, on the birth certificate of the child, from the vital records department of another State or the registration of the father, entered with his written consent, in the putative father registry of this State, shall constitute a prima facie case of establishment of paternity, and the burden of proof shall shift to the putative father to rebut such in a proceeding for the determination of paternity.

Required Information Ann. Code §§ 19-11-9(d)(1); 19-7-46.1

The putative father registry shall record the name, address, and Social Security number of any person who claims to be the biological father but not the legal father of a child, and the date of entry of such information.

The department shall keep the putative father registry as current as feasible, adding entries or information to the registry often enough that new registrations or new information regarding registrants, mothers, or children shall be added to the registry no later than 2 business days following receipt of the information from the registrant.

When both the mother and father have signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and the acknowledgment is recorded in the putative father registry, the acknowledgment shall constitute a legal determination of paternity.

Revocation of Claim to Paternity Ann. Code § 19-7-46.1

A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or registration with the putative father registry is subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment prior to the date of the support order, any other order adjudicating paternity, or 60 days from the signing of the agreement, whichever is earliest. Recording such information in the putative father registry shall constitute a legal determination of paternity for purposes of establishing a future order for support, visitation privileges, and other matters under § 19-7-51.

After the 60-day rescission period, the signed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof on the person challenging the acknowledgment. The legal responsibilities of any signatory, including child support obligations, arising from the acknowledgment may not be suspended during the challenge, except for good cause shown.

Access to Information Ann. Code § 19-11-9(e)

The information that is obtained by the department shall only be available to:

  • A governmental department, board, commission, bureau, agency, or political subdivision of any State for purposes of locating an absent parent or putative father to establish or to enforce his obligation of support, of enforcing a child custody determination, or of enforcing any State or Federal law with respect to the unlawful taking or restraint of a child
  • The department, a licensed child-placing agency, or a member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia in response to a request for information for purposes of locating a biological father who is not the legal father to provide notice of adoption proceedings or a proceeding to terminate the rights of a biological father who is not a legal father

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-24(a)(!), (d)

It shall be unlawful for any person, organization, corporation, hospital, or association that has not been established as a child-placing agency by the department to advertise, whether in a periodical, by television, radio, or any other public medium or private means, that the person, organization, corporation, hospital, or association will adopt children or will arrange for children to be placed for adoption.

Individuals seeking to adopt a child or to place their child for adoption may communicate by private means, which include only written letters or oral statements.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-24(a)(2), (b)

It shall be unlawful for any person, organization, corporation, hospital, or association of any kind that has not been established as a child-placing agency by the department to directly or indirectly hold out inducements, including any financial assistance except medical expenses, to parents to part with their children.

It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, offer to sell, or conspire with another to sell or offer to sell, a child for money or anything of value, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Who May Adopt Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-3

Any adult person, including a foster parent, may adopt a child when he or she meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is at least 25 years old or married and living with his or her spouse
  • Is at least 10 years older than the child
  • Has been a State resident at least 6 months
  • Is financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child

Married persons must file a joint petition. The petition shall be filed by the stepparent alone if the child to be adopted is the stepchild of the party seeking to adopt.

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Ann. Code §§ 19-8-3; 19-8-21

The following persons may be adopted:

  • Any child
  • An adult who gives written consent

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Ann. Code §§ 19-8-4; 19-8-5; 19-8-7

A child may be adopted through the Department of Human Services or any child-placing agency only if each such parent and each such guardian:

  • Has voluntarily and in writing surrendered all of his or her rights to the child to the department or to a child-placing agency and the department or agency thereafter consents to the adoption
  • Has had all of his or her rights to the child terminated by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, the child has been committed by the court to the department or to a child-placing agency for placement for adoption, and the department or agency thereafter consents to the adoption

Any living parent or guardian may relinquish his or her child for adoption by:

  • A relative who is related by blood or marriage to the child as a grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, or sibling
  • A third party who is neither the stepparent nor relative of that child

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-23

Information may be accessed by:

The adoptive parents may access only nonidentifying information.

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-23

When certain information would assist in the provision of medical care, a medical emergency, or medical diagnosis or treatment, a party to the adoption, a child, legal guardian, health-care agent of an adopted person, or a provider of medical services to a party to the adoption, child, legal guardian, or health-care agent may request that the department or child-placing agency access its own records on finalized adoptions for the purpose of adding subsequently obtained medical information or releasing nonidentifying medical and health history information contained in its records pertaining to an adopted person or the biological parents or relatives of the biological parents of the adopted person.

When the State Adoption Unit of the Division of Family and Children Services or a child-placing agency receives documented medical information relevant to an adopted person, the office or child-placing agency shall use reasonable efforts to contact the adoptive parents of the adopted person if the adopted person is younger than age 18, or the adopted person if he or she is age 18 or older, and provide the documented medical information to the adoptive parents or the adopted person.

Upon the written request of an adopted person age 18 or older or an adoptive parent on behalf of an adopted person, nonidentifying information shall be released regarding the birth parents and the adopted person’s birth, including the date and place of the adopted person’s birth and the genetic, social, and health history of the birth parents.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-23

Upon written request of an adopted person age 21 or older, the name of the birth parents shall be released if the birth parent has submitted an unrevoked written consent. If a birth parent has not filed an unrevoked written consent, the department shall, within 6 months of receipt of the written request, make a diligent effort to notify each birth parent, by personal and confidential contact, that a request for information has been made. The birth parent may then file an affidavit consenting or objecting to disclosure.

The adopted person also may petition the court to seek the release of information. The court shall grant the petition if it finds that failure to release the identity of each parent would have an adverse impact upon the physical, mental, or emotional health of the adopted person.

Birth parents and adult birth siblings also may access information about an adopted person using the same procedure. If the adopted person is deceased and leaves a child, such child, upon reaching age 21, may seek the name and other identifying information concerning his or her grandparents in the same manner as the deceased adopted person and subject to the same procedures.

The Office of Adoptions within the department shall maintain a registry for the recording of requests by adopted persons for the name of any birth parent, the written consent or the written objections of any birth parent to the release of that parent’s identity to an adopted person, and for nonidentifying information regarding any birth parent.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Ann. Code § 31-10-14

The original birth certificate is accessible only by order of the court or as provided by statute.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry, Georgia Department of Human Services

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-19

An adoption decree terminates all legal relationships between the adopted person and his or her birth relatives, including rights of inheritance.

If a parent of a child dies without the relationship of parent and child having been previously terminated by court order or unrevoked surrender of parental rights to the child, the child’s right of inheritance from or through the deceased parent shall not be affected by the adoption.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Code §§ 19-8-19; 53-1-8

A decree of adoption creates the relationship of parent and child between the adoptive parent(s) and the adopted person. The adopted person shall enjoy every right and privilege of a birth child of the adoptive parent, including the right to inherit under the laws of descent and distribution in the absence of a will, unless expressly excluded. The adopted person shall receive by inheritance from relatives of the adoptive parent and also shall inherit as a ‘child’ of the adoptive parent under a class gift made by the will of a third person.

The adoptive parent(s) and their relatives shall be entitled to inherit from and through the adopted individual under the laws of intestacy in the absence of a will, unless expressly excluded.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Ann. Code § 53-4-48

If the will was made prior to the adoption of a child by the testator and does not contain a provision in contemplation of such an event, the child shall receive the share of the estate he or she would have received had the testator died intestate.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

These issues are not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

Ann. Code § 19-8-22

A decree establishing the relationship of parent and child by adoption, issued pursuant to due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction within or outside the United States shall be recognized in this State; and the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State shall be determined as though any such decree was issued by a court of this State.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

Ann. Code § 19-8-8

A child may be adopted pursuant to the provisions of this chapter based upon both of the following:

  • A decree that has been entered pursuant to due process of law by a court of competent jurisdiction outside the United States establishing the relationship of parent and child by adoption between each petitioner and a child born in the foreign country
  • The child having been granted a valid visa by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service* [*As of March 1, 2003, the responsibility for providing immigration-related services was transferred from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The statutes do not yet reflect this change.]

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Ann. Code § 31-10-13(f)

If a person was born in a foreign country, is not a citizen of the United States, and does not meet the requirements of the Federal Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-395), but was adopted through a court in this State, the State Registrar shall prepare and register a birth certificate in this State. The certificate shall be established upon receipt of a report of adoption from the court decreeing the adoption and proof of the date and place of birth of the child. The certificate shall be labeled ‘Certificate of Foreign Birth’ and shall show the actual country of birth. A statement shall also be included on the certificate indicating that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.

If a person was born in a foreign country and was not a citizen of the United States at the time of birth but does meet the requirements of the Federal Child Citizenship Act of 2000, and he or she was adopted through a court in this State, the State Registrar shall prepare and register a birth certificate in this State. The certificate shall be established upon receipt of a report of adoption from the court decreeing the adoption and proof of the date and place of birth of the child. The certificate shall be labeled ‘Certificate of Foreign Birth’ and shall show the actual country of birth. After registration of the birth certificate in the new name of the adopted person, the State Registrar shall seal and file the report of adoption. The sealed file shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction or as provided by statute.

Source

Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. [1]

References

  1. Ala. Code §§ 38-13-3(2) & (5); 38-13-2(30)