NOTE: There is also the country Georgia in Eastern Europe, which may be confused with information regarding Georgia, USA when researching potential options.
Birthparents who are considering adoption placement in this sweet state may be surprised to know the variety of options they have when placing a child for adoption. Policies and laws have shifted, as recently as 2018, to encompass more ease of opportunity as well as potential resources for placement of children through adoption. To gain clarity on the ideal adoption recipe for both you and your child, read through the types of adoption there are, the process as a whole, birth parent expectations, post-placement information, and some facts about adoption in Georgia.
1. Types of Adoption
Each type is as unique as its individuals and situation involved, as all stories and paths are different. Exploring your path and ultimate goals of adoption is important to laying the foundation for your child’s future. There are different types of adoption to consider, as stated on the Ask The Lawyers website, for adoption in Georgia. The types are described and listed as the following:
Adoption through an Agency
- Public agencies: these are agencies that have come into the custody of the child for a variety of reasons, including the potential loss of parents or abandonment by parents.
- Private agencies: these agencies are often organized by charities or social service organizations (such as churches), and most children who are placed through private agencies are there because their birth parents were willing to place them through adoption. This type of adoption could provide the support necessary for a birth mother who is in need of guidance and resources.
Independent Forms of Adoption
This type of adoption is where no agency is involved in the process of adoption and is referred to as a private or independent agency; it involves a direct agreement between the adoptive parents and the child’s birth parents. An intermediary could be used, like an attorney, doctor, or clergyperson. Not all states allow independent adoptions; however, in Georgia adoptions can be done independently.
Adoption advertising law differs by state, and even the exact definition of adoption advertising may differ by state. Generally speaking, adoption advertising is defined as the publication in any public medium (either print or electronic) of either an interest in the adoption of a child or the availability of a specific child for adoption. This being said, within Georgia, advertising is prohibited: “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 of Human Services to advertise…”
This is a form of independent adoption where the birth parents are able to maintain a form of contact with the child after birth. This would involve a contract, with boundaries and as communication described within that contract. Open adoption is considered the most beneficial of all types of adoptions, as stated in Science Daily. Some of the benefits of and exploring an understanding of open adoption can be found through resources on Adoption.com.
Identified Adoptions are a merged form of adoptions that usually involve both sets of parents who found each other outside of an agency. They would turn to an agency for the filing and legal process; these types of adoptions are considered to be hybrid as they involve both the agency’s support as well as independent methods. As stated previously, advertising for adoption is illegal, so a situation such as this would be through word of mouth. Finding the agency to mediate between birth parents and adoptive parents would be an important step for the path of all parties involved.
Defined from the adoptive parents’ perspective, adoptive parents must abide by the rules and regulations of their home state as well as the child’s home country in order to adopt internationally. As a birth parent residing in Georgia, this type of adoption would likely not be of significance to you.
Adoptions Attained by a Stepparent
This adoption arrangement can be made solely through a law office and is usually a straightforward procedure if all parties are in agreement. In the event that one of the child’s biological parents is against the arrangement, more legal processes would be required at that time.
Same-Sex Adoptive Parents
Georgia recognized same-sex marriage in 2015. Therefore, same-sex couples can adopt children together, and one individual can adopt the child of the other.
Relative Adoptions (Kinship Adoptions)
Kinship adoption can occur when a member of the child’s family takes on the parenting duties of legally caring for that child. This would be under Georgia’s understanding of a custodial guardian after the child’s parents are legally ordered to relinquish parental rights.
Adopting Over Legal Age Persons
With any adoption in Georgia, there must be an age difference of a minimum of 10 years if an adult were to legally adopt another. There are also requirements to demonstrate why this arrangement benefits both parties mutually and must be done so in the presence of the court. To avoid elder financial abuse, there are protections in place set forth by each state individually.
2. The Process of Adoption in Georgia
If, as a birth parent, you feel lost as to where to start, contacting an adoption agency would probably provide the most support and resources regardless of what kind of adoption you feel is best for you and your child. The general process, as outlined on An Open Door Adoption Agency, essentially starts by when you decide on an agency and set up a counselor visit to help arrange prenatal care. These are some important things to look for if you are a birth parent trying to choose an agency:
- Support for medical expenses; as most young women are eligible for Medicaid or medical insurance, there would be support determining your eligibility. There will be no cost to you for medical expenses.
- Help with transportation, food, housing, and other reasonable living expenses.
- Available free legal help in matters involved with the surrender or termination of birth father rights.
- Access to an agency counselor to help you select a family for your child to be raised by; looking at life books or photo albums would give you an understanding of the life an adoptive family would offer your child.
- Living assistance could be available if pregnancy disrupts your usual income from employment, a school grant, or support from parents. This particular agency could help you with your plan of adoption and your personal needs.
- The support and/or counseling that would extend for years to come. An Open Door Adoption Agency states: “Adoption is a journey, not a single act.”
3. Birth Parent Expectations
If the adoption path of choice for the placement of your child is through an agency, there are definitely some advantages to researching which agency best suits your specific needs. A list of Georgian agencies can be found here, through Adoption Services, Inc. All agencies’ foundational supports would include choosing the adoptive family (if you desire), financial assistance, medical assistance, and adoption counseling. The expectation as a birth parent would, therefore, be choosing an agency that understands your personal needs and fears and will guide you in the direction you would like your adoption journey to take in a way that is comfortable for you. It is important to note that these agencies should empower you in knowing that every choice you make is the right one.
When we were matched with our daughter through adoption, her birth mom chose us for the following reasons: we are adventurous (we showcased our travel photos and keen interest to explore in our adoption profile), we had an older son to be a sibling for her child, we were “down to earth” in our photos and writing, and her child would be raised within a large family unit. This is a unique recipe for every birth parent when choosing the adoptive family for the placement of his or her child. A wonderful article here on Adoption.com describes how this choice really does come down to an intuitive sense.
What is important to you in placing your child with an adoptive family?
Some potentially important considerations for you could be some of the following:
- Religious and cultural belief system; are you looking to place your child with an adoptive family that has a similar belief system to yours, or are you open to different belief systems that your child will be raised within.
- Ideas on education; is it important that the adoptive family is very educationally focused or not, or potentially homeschooled?
- General outlook on life; much can be said of the photos that an adoptive family has in their adoptive photobook or profile. Are they fun-loving and social or more quiet and intimate in their family gatherings? Are they humble in their lifestyle, or prefer to acquire more materialistic assets?
- Does the adoptive family look like adventurous travelers or more comfortable being home-bodies?
- Do they already have children, biological or adopted? What is your preference for this dynamic; would you prefer that your child is raised as the youngest or are you okay with them having no siblings at the time of placement?
- Lastly, what is your general intuitive sense telling you about the adoption profile (photos and letter) that you see; is this the family you can see your child being raised in, and potentially you being a part of in the future? That question can only be answered with your heart, after getting a sense of their family dynamic and who they truly are at their core.
After your child has been placed with a family of your choosing, there may be some heavy emotions felt and a daunting process ahead of you. Remember to lean on the supports within your agency or outside support systems if you require someone to talk to about what you are going through emotionally. Most agencies allow for ongoing post-placement counseling for the duration of your life if needed; as stated previously, adoption is a journey, not a once-and-done action. A survival guide for birth parents in the first year is a good place to start.
As there are several definitions of open adoption, it is best to solidify your role as a birth parent within the adoptive family’s life prior to post-placement. Many people come up with an adoption plan which is essentially a post-adoption contract agreement between birth parents and adoptive family. This agreement would outline future communications and boundaries/privacy needed between the adoptive family and birth parents. It’s not always legally enforceable, but it’s helpful to describe the expectations for all parties involved regarding communication allowed, pictures distributed, and boundaries respected. Questions like these may be answered within the agreement:
- “How often does a birth parent visit with the child?”
- “How many updates does an adoptive family give?”
- “What form of communication is best (perhaps a WhatsApp chat or private social media channel)?”
5. Facts about Adoption in Georgia
All states differ in their adoption policies and rules. Adoption in Georgia is unique for several reasons:
1. Adoption Advertising is prohibited in Georgia; this law varies from state to state.
2. In 2018, according to McCamy Law Firm, the adoption process was simplified in several ways:
- Removing a requirement that prospective parents reside in Georgia for six months
- Reducing the number of days a birth mother can change her mind from 10 days to 4
- Creating a process for international adoptions
- Providing a way for birth mothers to be reimbursed for specific expenses.
3. Some other tidbits of information, from the State Policy Advocacy Reform Center:
- Foster care is intended to be temporary but many Georgian children remain in care for years. The average length of time in 2012 that a child stayed in foster care was 2.7 years prior to adoption.
- As well, older children in Georgia are not as likely to be adopted as younger children. The average age of Georgia’s adopted children was about 6.4 years old in 2012.
- A higher proportion of African American children are waiting to be adopted than are adopted in Georgia.
Ultimately, the resources are plentiful for the placement of children through adoption in Georgia. Whatever choice for your specific adoption recipe is, I am wishing you the support, bravery, and ease needed for your child to be placed in a loving and nurturing home. As each adoption situation is unique, there are many possible arrangements that can be made to best suit your current scenario.