As an expectant parent, you may be researching your options regarding placing your baby for adoption in GA. As a prospective adoptive family 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 and well-researched, you can make the best decision for you and your baby and your family.
A great place to start when researching adoption in GA is Adoption.com’s resource guide on adoption in Georgia. It is an excellent resource on GA state laws, as well as rules in the state, adoption regulations, statistics, how to find adoption attorneys and agencies located in Georgia, as well as information for hopeful adoptive parents and information on intercountry and foster care adoption in the state of GA.
Who Can Adopt in Georgia?
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 hopeful adoptive parents who want to complete an adoption 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 hopeful adoptive parents resided in since 18 years of age and FBI live scan fingerprint checks for every adult in the home. The home study will also include information on the health history, mental wellness, emotional health, and finances of the parents. It will include interviews with all adults in the adoptive home and letters of reference from the couple’s employers, their children’s teachers if they already have children, friends, and pastors or rabbis if they have a faith.
During the home study, the house will be inspected by a licensed social worker from the home study agency in GA. All of the information will be compiled in a cohesive report which includes all of the information on the couple and family with a determination by the social worker approving them to adopt a child in GA.
Adoption Centers or Agencies in Georgia
This article on adoption centers in Georgia includes a directory of all adoption agencies in the US. This list makes it easy to search for all adoption agencies or adoption centers located in the state of GA. This list of adoption service providers located in GA is a great resource, but it may be overwhelming to decide on what a great adoption agency should be for you and your baby or you and your family. Adoption agencies are a great starting point in your journey, regardless of whether you feel certain of your decision to place your baby for adoption, are still gathering information on all your options as a birth mother, or you are still researching building your family through adoption as a hopeful adoptive parent. Agencies are a good place to begin!
Adoption Attorneys in GA
As an adoptive parent or birth parent, you may have heard that an adoption attorney can help with your adoption in GA. Many expectant parents and birth parents use an adoption attorney instead of an adoption center as their adoption service provider when they have already been matched with an adoptive couple coming into the process of adoption in GA. They can be matched through online adoption profiles, places of worship, adoption forums, or through social media and friends. Here is a good resource regarding the differences between an adoption agency and an adoption attorney.
As a birth mother, if you have chosen an adoptive family for your baby already, you will need an attorney to help with your adoption; this is especially true if the adoptive couple is not using an adoption agency when you are matched. This will be especially beneficial early on in the adoption journey.
When hiring an adoption attorney, you may think you can use any attorney, but very few attorneys specialize in adoption law, especially adoption law in your respective state of GA. You need to make sure they understand and abide by all of the regulations and laws pertaining to adoption in GA. Adoption attorneys barred in Georgia—meaning they can legally practice law in the state—specialized in understanding GA state laws and federal laws regarding adoption.
Choosing an Adoption Agency or Adoption Attorney in GA
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 in GA can always change.
Next Steps Adoption in GA
Most Georgia adoption agencies and adoption attorneys have a number of hopeful adoptive parents and expectant parents all hoping to create an adoption plan for their baby or family. The agency with whom you work will have you make a profile of your family or you as a couple which can include stories of how you met, your interests and photos of you, your home, vacations, and pets! The birth mother can choose prospective parents from those profiles she would like to meet. The adoption agency or adoption attorney can help organize a meet-and-greet so you can personally connect as the birth mother and prospective adoptive parents.
Once you have been matched, the adoption agency or adoption attorney will work with all parties to decide on which birth mother expenses can and will be covered by the adoptive parents, ensuring the adoption does not cost anything to the birth mother. Regarding adoption in GA, the state laws allow for hopeful adoptive couples to cover and reimburse any medical expenses related to the birth mother’s pregnancy and the birth of the baby. Your state likely has additional information about the laws and regulations specific to GA, particularly birth parent expenses, that will help give you an idea of what costs will be covered during the pregnancy and adoption.
Georgia does not list any “not allowable” birth mother expenses. 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 the birth mother is in labor at the end of her pregnancy with the baby, the adoption service provider she and the adoptive parents have been using will let the adoptive family know she is in labor—if she has not informed them personally! In the birth mother’s birth plan, which you may or may not have been shared with the adoptive family, she made a decision of when the adoptive parents would be contacted about labor and by whom.
After the birth of the baby, there are various steps to completing the adoption paperwork and finalizing the adoption in GA. After the baby is born, the birth mother can have as much time alone as she would like with her baby. There is no right or wrong amount of time. This is her decision—and her decision alone—to place the baby for adoption. Some birth mothers like to have the adoptive parents with her and the baby from the start; others need minutes or even days alone.
According to GA state law, the adoption consent paperwork, or relinquishment paperwork will surrender the child to the adoptive parents. The birth mother can sign the adoption consent paperwork at any time after the birth of the baby. A new GA law allows birth mothers to have four days after signing to change their minds regarding the adoption placement. The decision of when, or even if, the birth mother signs the relinquishment paperwork is up to her.
The time after the adoption in GA placement, communication between all parties in the adoption triad will commence. This level of communication was agreed upon before the adoption was finalized. The birth mother and adoptive parents likely decided on some level of openness in the adoption. This may mean visits, calls, emails, and regular communication between all parties. A semi-open adoption in GA would include potentially a letter once a year, photos at milestones, or another amount of small communication. You may want to receive photo albums regularly as a birth mother or call to speak to your baby or their adoptive parents once a month or year. Some adoptive parents send scrapbooks around birthdays or holidays while others may like regular video calls. There is no one right way.
Some birth mothers may want a closed adoption in GA. Most birth mothers and/or birth parents do not plan on a closed adoption for their child. With adoption in GA, however, closed adoption means that records can be sealed in the state of Georgia. This means a closed adoption can be recognized according to Georgia law. (However, it is important to remember that this law could eventually change, as many adoption laws regarding closed adoptions have closed in other states.) In the state of GA, the records can be obtained by a court order, but identifying information about any party involved in the adoption triad (i.e., adoptee, adoptive parent, or birth parent) will likely not be disclosed unless the birth mother consents in writing, as is the case in other states. It is critical to remember GA laws can change, especially adoption laws pertaining to closed adoptions and sealed court records. This means that records once sealed could be opened and disseminated to any requesting party involved in the adoption at any time in the state of GA.
Once the adoption is finalized and the birth mother has placed her baby for adoption and the adoptive family has taken the baby home, all parties may feel various emotions surrounding the adoption in GA journey. These emotions are all normal. You may feel joy, exhaustion, anxiety, relief, stress, sadness, peace, or a feeling of being overwhelmed. They are all valid emotions, and it is important to talk to counselors, family members, your adoption social worker, pastor, rabbi, or other people you trust.
The adoption in GA journey is different for everyone. As you start this process and gather as much information as you can, you will feel better about each step you take as you decide on either an adoption plan for your baby or building your family through adoption in GA. Taking the first step is the most important part of the journey and you just took it by reading this article on adoption in GA!
If you would like to speak confidentially with an adoption professional about your pregnancy options, click here.