As the southernmost of the original 13 colonies, the state of Georgia is a beautiful land of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the beaches of Savannah, and the downtown bustle of Atlanta. If you live in Georgia and have unexpectedly become pregnant, you are probably experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. Unplanned pregnancies are just that–unplanned. You may feel that your life was headed in one direction, and the pregnancy has derailed those plans. Or, you may feel that now is not the right time emotionally or financially for you to parent a child. Or, you may not be with the right partner to parent a child. Whatever the reason, know you have three options: you can terminate the pregnancy, you can choose to parent the child, or you can place the child for adoption. If you are exploring placing a child for adoption, this article will help you with your decision process by providing information on the best adoption agencies in Georgia.

To begin, it is important to understand the term “adoption.” Adoption is the legal termination of parental rights and the granting of those rights to the adoptive parents. When the child is adopted by the adoptive parents, a judge will issue a Final Order of Adoption and the child will be “entitled to all the rights and privileges as if born to them (the adoptive parents).” Because adoption is a legal process, it involves attorneys and judges, typically in Family Court. For expectant parents interested in a kinship adoption, which is the adoption of a child by a biological relative, even these forms of adoption require lawyers and the courts to be involved.

While it is possible to pursue an independent adoption in Georgia, which is an adoption without the use of an agency, there are many benefits to working with adoption agencies in Georgia. If you are not sure where to begin, if you are not sure if you want to place, or if you have questions about the adoption process and your rights as an expectant parent, a good adoption agency can be instrumental in supporting you. There are two types of adoption agencies–local and national–and there are pros and cons to working with both. This article will list both kinds of adoption agencies in Georgia. There is no right or wrong answer as to which agency is the best fit for you. The best fit for you is the agency where you feel most comfortable and most supported. And only you can make that decision.

The first step will be to reach out to an adoption agency and meet with an options counselor. An options counselor can meet with you over the phone, virtually, or even in-person. This individual will walk you through the process of adoption and answer any and all questions you may have. Some typical questions you may want to ask an agency include: What kind of support do you offer to expectant parents? Is financial support possible? (*Note that as an expectant parent, it will cost you nothing to place a child for adoption.) Can the agency put me in touch with other expectant parents? Can I speak with recent birth parents? How does the agency find prospective adoptive parents? Where does the agency advertise? With all of these important questions, know that all prospective adoptive parents will undergo a home study and child abuse and neglect clearances to ensure the couple is ready and willing to adopt and parent. Many agencies even allow you to view profiles of prospective adoptive parents online so you can get a sense of which parents might be the right placement for your child. You may also want to ask about Post-placement and what kind of support the agency provides. Can the agency recommend vocational or educational opportunities post-placement? What about post-placement support groups for birth parents? Ask all your questions, share your concerns, and know that the agency and counselor are there to support you.

Ready to explore adoption agencies in Georgia? Take a deep breath, know you are not alone, and read this list:

Local Adoption Agencies in Georgia

If you are looking for an adoption agency that is closer to home, the following are some great options to start thinking about.

An Open Door Adoption

Since 1987, An Open Door Adoption has been connecting expectant parents with prospective adoptive parents. To date, An Open Door has placed 2,300 children, including 1,400 from the state of Georgia. (An Open Door also handles international adoptions for prospective adoptive parents who wish to adopt from another country.) As a Christian adoption agency, An Open Door’s mission is to “preserve and enhance human life through the placement of domestic, international, and foster children into loving Christian adoptive families.” As an expectant parent working with An Open Door, you can expect to receive free legal advice and living assistance. An Open Door will help you make an adoption plan and even share the news with the expectant father and other relatives and family. On the An Open Door website, expectant parents can view waiting for families with whom An Open Door is already working. One of the benefits of An Open Door is that it is a local agency, which means it tends to work with local families. If finding a prospective adoptive parent close to your geographical location is important, then using a local adoption agency may be a good fit. And if you choose to parent, An Open Door will help provide resources and support you in your decision.

Cradle of Love

Another great local agency is Cradle of Love. Cradle of Love specializes in both adoption counseling and placement services. As an organization, the agency is open to all families, regardless of race, faith, marital status, or sexual orientation. At Cradle of Love, expectant parents will receive free legal advice, free counseling, connection to other expectant and birth parents, and medical care. If you choose to do so, Cradle of Love will work with you to find a prospective adoptive parent for your child. Once you have placed a child, Cradle of Love provides ongoing education and counseling to you, and should you choose to parent, it will connect you with local resources and community services. As an expectant parent in Georgia, one of the benefits of Cradle of Love is that it is also a local agency. While a prospective adoptive parent’s close geographical location may or may not be important to you, a local agency can provide more face-to-face time with your options counselor and social worker. Additionally, sometimes local agencies have better relationships with local service providers.

Georgia Agape

Another faith-based adoption agency, Georgia Agape, has been in service to expectant and prospective adoptive parents since 1970. Since that time, Georgia Agape has facilitated 450 adoptions and served 1,300 children in the Georgia foster care system. Georgia Agape’s mission is to “provide professional social services as a compassionate Christian outreach to children, families, and individuals in order to enhance their prospects for a better and brighter future.” Though smaller than both An Open Door and Cradle of Love, Georgia Agape may provide a good resource for those expectant parents who would like to work through the decision-making process to place a child for adoption.

Covenant Care Adoptions

For over three decades, Covenant Care Adoptions offers all sorts of counseling services, assistance, and focuses on the importance of you, as the birth mother, making the most critical decisions. As a Christian adoption agency, this organization’s basic vision statement is to “glorifying God as we become known to all pregnancy service providers in Georgia as the premier agency providing quality, Gospel-driven adoption services to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.” This agency also allows you to choose the kind of openness of adoption you would like to have. Generally, there are three types of openness in adoption: open, semi-open, and closed adoptions. Depending on the level of comfort that you have with wanting to carry on that openness with your child after adoption, this agency focuses on allowing you to evaluate your options and make the call on what you want. With that level of openness that you choose, Covenant Care Adoptions also sends updates and pictures of your child through the years. In the post-placement process, this agency will also offer you support and guidance. Locations in Georgia of this agency include the state office in Macon, as well as Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, Savannah, and Valdosta.

National Adoption Agencies in Georgia

While having local agencies is especially helpful when making this critical decision, there are also great options available nationally that include services to the state of Georgia. As you read and research about these other options, keep in mind your own needs and desires for your child.

Alliance for Children

Starting off our list for national agencies is Alliance for Children. With over 40 years of experience, this national adoption agency serves prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents in all 50 states. As an expectant parent, Alliance for Children will provide medical care and financial assistance for medical needs, housing assistance (including finding you a safe and secure home during your pregnancy, should you be in need), and living expenses. Additionally, Alliance for Children offers counseling and access to other support systems, such as educational and vocational training, and even childcare support both pre and postnatally. With clients in all 50 states, Alliance for Children has a large network of prospective adoptive parents as well, so you can choose the right placement for your child, depending on your wants and needs, as well as what feels right to you. And because this agency’s network is so extensive, you can also expect to find support in fellow birth parents after placement from around the country.

Nightlight Christian Adoption

Another helpful agency on the list of adoption agencies in Georgia is the national adoption agency, Nightlight Christion Adoption. Founded in 1959, Nightlight Christian Adoption has finalized more than 3,000 domestic adoptions and over 3,500 international adoptions. As a faith-based organization, Nightlight Christian’s mission statement explains, “When we think of adoption, we consider the permanent entrance and complete acceptance into a new family. That is exactly what God offers.” On the opening page, this agency also quotes the Bible in Jeremiah 29:11, saying that, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” emphasizing that this agency focuses on hope and the good that can come from adoption. Yet, while Nightlight Christian Adoption is, as the name reports, a Christian adoption agency, Nightlight Christian works with any expectant parent, regardless of his or her religion or beliefs. The only caveat is expectant parents looking to place a child for adoption should want to place the child with a Christian family. Nightlight Christian Adoption offers free counseling to any expectant parent facing an unplanned pregnancy, regardless of whether you are considering placing your child or not. Nightlight Christian does an excellent job of walking you through the adoption process, and, in fact, this website is one of the easiest to negotiate with the best information about what you can expect when. At Nightlight Christian you will receive legal, financial, and emotional support. Support comes from the moment you make contact with an options counselor, well into the years after the placement has occurred.

When you are faced with an unexpected pregnancy, it can feel as if your world has turned upside down. You may feel like you don’t have any choices or any say in what happens next. Neither of those things is true. If you are exploring placing your child, take some time to read posts from birth parents about those experiences. Although no adoption journey is the same, reading and talking to others who understand what you’re going through can be comforting and encouraging. Do some research into the types of adoptions possible. Reach out to one of the agencies listed above. And, if you do decide to pursue an adoption plan, know that you are making an extraordinary, selfless, loving decision–both yourself and your child.