As an expectant parent, you may be researching your options regarding placing your baby for adoption in GA. As a birth mother living in Georgia, you may be wondering how the process for adoption in GA works. It may be an overwhelming time right now deciding whether to place your baby for adoption, and there is a lot of information to take in. However, the process does not need to be stressful or overwhelming. By being well-informed, you can make the best decision for you and your baby.

A great place to start when researching adoption in GA is Adoption.com’s resource guide on adoption in Georgia. It is a comprehensive resource guide on state laws and regulations, statistics, where to find adoption agencies located in Georgia, as well as information for prospective adoptive parents and information on intercountry and foster care adoption in the state.

Who Can Adopt in GA?

According to Georgia state adoption laws, single adults who are 25 years of age or older or married couples of any age may jointly adopt the child you place for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents in Georgia can be single, married, widowed, or divorced. There are currently no residency requirements for adoptive parents. They may live in any state and adopt a baby from Georgia.

All prospective adoptive parents who want to adopt in GA must be approved by a Georgia home study. The home study will include background checks in all of the counties that each of the prospective adoptive parents resided in since 18 years of age and FBI live scan fingerprint checks for every adult in the prospective home. The home study will also include interviews conducted by the adoption social worker with the prospective adoptive parents, their friends, their children’s teachers (prospective), neighbors, and employers.

The home will be inspected in person by a licensed social worker from the home study adoption agency and all of this information will be compiled into a report with financial, driving, employment, and medical records and histories. This will be helpful as you make your decision on your baby’s adoptive family.

Adoption Agencies in GA

Adoption Agencies in Georgia includes a directory of all adoption agencies in the United States and you can search for ones specifically in Georgia. A list of agencies located in GA is helpful, but it may be confusing or overwhelming to determine what a great adoption agency should look like for you and your baby. Adoption agencies are a wonderful place to begin your research process. Whether you feel pretty certain of your decision to place your baby for adoption or are still gathering information on all your options, adoption agencies are a safe starting point. There is no pressure or commitment to work with an agency at the onset of the process—in fact, you should never feel any pressure from anyone at any point in the process, especially when working with an agency.

Deciding which adoption agencies are best to interview can be a daunting step in the process, but it does not need to be. Narrowing the list of agencies based on ones located in GA and services they provide expectant parents (and potentially prospective adoptive parents) is important. Many people, both expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents, enter the adoption process for the first time with the misconception that all agencies are the same. As the former Executive Director of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, I was often asked if all agencies are the same. They are not—some are better than others and one will be a better fit for you than others—so do your research and make sure your questions are answered during the interview.

Adoption Attorneys in GA

As a birth parent, you may have heard that an adoption attorney can help with your adoption plan. Many expectant parents and birth mothers like to use an adoption attorney instead of an adoption agency as their adoption service provider when they have identified a potential adoptive family and no one in the adoption triad has an adoption agency they are already using. This often happens when the birth mother connects with the potential adoptive couple through a mutual connection or online photo listing. Here is a great article about the differences between an adoption agency and an adoption attorney.

If you identified a prospective adoptive family for your child already, you will need an attorney to help with your adoption, especially if the adoptive family is not already using an adoption agency. This will be extra beneficial early on in the adoption process, right after connecting with a prospective adoptive couple.

When hiring an attorney, it may seem like a good idea to use someone you already know and trust. However, very few attorneys practice adoption law exclusively, and you wouldn’t be alone in thinking you could ask any general practitioner to help with your adoption. Many birth mothers do that. The problem arises when your non-specialized attorney neglects to appropriately address all of the applicable laws regarding adoption in GA. Adoption attorneys barred in Georgia—meaning they can legally practice law in the state—specialized in understanding applicable Georgia state laws, which usually govern most of an adoption, and all federal laws pertaining to adoption.

Choosing an Adoption Agency or Adoption Attorney in GA

Most adoption agencies specializing in private domestic adoptions, and those who help support and facilitate an adoption for the expectant parents will offer many different services. These services will be specific for each member of the adoption triad: the birth mother (or birth parents), the child, and the prospective adoptive family.

The services provided by each respective adoption agency or adoption attorney will differ but must meet the requirements and regulations of the state of Georgia. Adoption.org has an article on choosing great adoption agencies near you in GA. An adoption agency or adoption attorney will help you navigate those Georgia requirements and steps you will need to meet and take on the adoption journey. You will have help navigating GA adoption laws throughout your journey; you won’t have to learn about these laws and regulations all on your own.

However you plan to complete your adoption, and whether you use an agency or an attorney, it is important to ensure you work with an ethical agency or adoption attorney who meets not only the standards imposed by Georgia regulations but also yourself. Trust your instincts and your heart—that may be the most important key to a successful adoption process. You should ask around for recommendations from your colleagues, friends, or family who have gone through this process and completed an adoption by an agency near you in GA. Although not as reliable, you can also ask questions on the Adoption.com forums. Do your research, know which questions to ask your adoption agency, and understand that agencies can provide as much information as possible, but circumstances in any adoption can always change.

Next Steps to Adoption in GA as an Expectant Parent

Most Georgia adoption agencies also have a number of profiles for prospective adoptive parents who are looking to build their family through adoption. They may have profiles for you to view of prospective adoptive parents. Your agency or attorney can organize in-person interviews and meetings so you can personally meet the family you choose to place your baby with. Those prospective adoptive parents will often provide a profile or even a photo album depicting them and their family history. The home study report discussed above is also included in prospective adoptive parent profiles.

Once you have chosen some sets of parents you would like to meet, the adoption agency or adoption attorney with whom you work will act as an intermediary and help facilitate the first conversation. They will work with you as you navigate that process of connecting with and interviewing prospective parents for your child when planning an adoption in GA. They make the process as seamless and stress-free as possible for you.

The adoption agency or adoption attorney can also work with you and the adoptive parents to determine what birth mother expenses will be paid for by the prospective adoptive parents. Regarding adoption in GA, the law permits prospective adoptive parents to pay or reimburse the actual medical expenses related to the mother’s pregnancy and the birth of the child. Child Welfare Gateway has a great document on birth parent expense regulations per state.

Georgia does not list any “not allowable” expenses. So it may also be the case that the hopeful adoptive parents can pay for reasonable living expenses during the pregnancy and potentially after. Your adoption service provider will have more information on these regulations regarding birth parent expenses and adoption in GA.

When you are in labor at the end of your pregnancy, your adoption agency or attorney will inform the prospective adoptive parents (if you didn’t already) that you are at the hospital or birthing center. In your birth plan, which you may or may not have discussed with your baby’s prospective adoptive family, you made a decision of when they would be contacted about labor and by whom. Your agency or adoption attorney will make sure your plan is communicated with the prospective adoptive parents according to your wishes.

After birth, there are various steps to completing the relinquishment paperwork and finalizing the adoption. There will be time after you give birth before you sign any paperwork relinquishing your maternal or parental rights. You can have as much time alone with your baby as you need. Some mothers want a few minutes alone, and others want many hours. There is no right or wrong decision; it’s entirely your choice.

According to Georgia law, the adoption consent paperwork will surrender the child to the adoptive parents. As the birth mother, you can sign that paperwork at any time after birth. A new law allows birth mothers to have 4 days after signing to change their minds. The decision of when or even if you sign the relinquishment paperwork is up to you. You can change your mind. You can ask all the questions you need, speak to your support people or social worker. You have the right to make sure this is the decision you still want to make—to place your child for adoption.

Recovery Post-Placement

During this time, you will begin the level of communication upon which all parties agreed to at the start of your adoption journey when interviewing and deciding on an adoptive family for your baby. You may receive calls or photos, or even get to visit. This level of communication is up to you and is agreed upon before the child is born. You may want to receive photos at certain milestones, regular letters, or even visit your child in person. Some birth mothers want photo albums once a year. Others enjoy regular phone calls scheduled weekly or monthly.

Other mothers want a semi-open adoption where they only receive letters one way from the adoptive parents and do not have open and regular communication from the adoptive parents.

Most birth mothers and parents do not have a closed adoption plan. With adoption in GA, however, closed adoption records are sealed so a closed adoption can be recognized according to Georgia law. (This law could eventually change.) The records can be obtained by a court order, but identifying information about any party involved in the adoption (i.e., adoptee, adoptive parent, or birth parent) will likely not be disclosed unless the birth mother consents in writing. It is important to remember laws change, especially adoption laws. This means that records once sealed could potentially be opened to any requesting party involved in the adoption.

After placing your baby for adoption in GA, you may feel a range of emotions with your decision during this time, including sadness, grief, relief, confusion, or peace. Reaching out to loved ones is important. Your therapist, friends, social worker, and/or family are there for you. Taking time for yourself as you go through the recovery process is crucial. As you begin this adoption journey, conduct research; speak with a social worker, adoption attorney, or adoption service provider about the options available to you regarding adoption in GA; and make sure you understand the steps involved in how adoption works. Doing these will help you take this first step.

If you would like to speak confidentially with an adoption professional about your pregnancy options, click here.