Whether you are considering adding to your family through adoption or are a birthmother considering making an adoption plan for your child, you will need to make sure that you understand exactly what is involved. Adoption laws vary from state to state and are very complex, and often people are overwhelmed and do not know where and how to begin the process. With the guidance of an experienced attorney who understands your individual situation and who can help you navigate the process, you will be able make the right decisions for you and your family.
There are various kinds of adoptions, including the following:
- Agency adoptions;
- Foster care adoptions;
- Private placement adoptions;
- Step-parent adoptions;
- Relative adoptions;
- Adult adoptions; and
- Finalization of international adoptions of children born in a foreign country.
We will be happy to consult with you in order to answer your specific questions and concerns, but this article will attempt to provide you with some general guidelines.
You must meet certain state-specific requirements in order to adopt in Georgia.
- You must be at least 21 years of age or married and living with your spouse.
- If you are married, you must file jointly with your spouse, except in the case of a stepparent adoption where the stepparent files the petition with the consent of his/her spouse.
- You must be at least 10 years older than the child you are seeking to adopt, unless you are a step-parent or a close relative as defined by the adoption code.
- You must be a bona fide resident of this state at the filing of the petition for adoption. (There are, however, some special provisions that allow out of state residents to adopt here.)
- You must be financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child.
The adoption also code requires that, in almost every adoption, the adoptive parents must undergo a criminal background check and a home study. Judges require strict compliance with the law in order to protect the best interest of the child.
Adoption can be a wonderful way to grow your family, and there are many ways to do. There are many helpful resources available for all adoption avenues, but you must be careful to do extensive research before you decide what is best for your family. If you have children already, make sure that an adoption decision is made thoughtfully. Careful consideration should be given to all members of your family, considering your family’s financial situation and stability and the effect that adding other family members will have, especially if the child you are adopting is older or your biological children are older. Ask your trusted friends and family for referrals and be sure to investigate the sources that you are given. When researching on the Internet, be sure to exercise caution and guard your heart and your finances. Before you sign any contract or commit your finances, make sure that you ask plenty of questions and seek advice from local professionals that you know and trust.
Countless children’s lives have been changed, and generations of families have been blessed and enriched by adoption. Yours could be too.
*The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice nor is it intended to be legal advice. If you have a need for legal advice, please consult with an attorney.
Patricia McCorvey Karras, a partner with the law firm Dover Miller Karras Langdale & Brantley, P.C., has been practicing law for thirty-seven (37) years and has had the pleasure of handling many adoptions during her career as a family lawyer. Contact the firm for all your legal needs, including real estate, estate planning, probate, contracts, business law, and family law.