Whether you are considering placing your baby for adoption in Georgia or a family looking to adopt your own Georgia peach, the following information outlines everything you need to know about adoption in Georgia. Learn more about the rules for adopting a child in Georgia or placing a child for adoption in Atlanta, Augusta, Macon, Savannah and beyond.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Georgia
If you are considering growing your family through adoption, it is important to understand state adoption laws. This section includes the qualifications for adopting a child in Georgia and other important information about how to adopt in the Peach State.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Georgia?
To adopt a child in Georgia, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 25 years old or married and living with your spouse (or be at least 21 years old in the case of a relative adoption)
- Be at least 10 years older than the child you are adopting
- Be financially, physically and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child
If you are married, you must file to adopt jointly. In a stepparent adoption, the stepparent’s spouse does not need to join in the adoption petition.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Georgia?
Every state regulates the expenses that can be made by adoptive families. In Georgia, adoptive parents may pay for or reimburse the medical expenses related to the birth mother’s pregnancy and the birth and medical care of the child. Payments for services related to the adoption or the placement of the child are also permitted. However, it is unlawful for any person or entity to offer incentives to a birth parent to relinquish his or her child.
When the adoption petition is filed with the court, each petitioner must also file a report accounting for all disbursements of anything of value made in connection with the adoption, including any expenses incurred in connection with the birth, placement, medical or hospital care received by the mother or child and services relating to the adoption or placement. Before the adoption decree is entered, the adoptive parents’ attorney must file an affidavit detailing all payments made to the attorney for all services in connection with the adoption.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Georgia?
To be a foster parent in Georgia, you must be at least 10 years older than the child. If you are single, you must also be at least 25 years old.
All foster parents must undergo a criminal records check, home safety checks, a medical examination and drug screen and must complete training. For more information about foster care and foster-to-adopt placements in Georgia, call 877-210-KIDS (5437).
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Georgia?
The state of Georgia gives full effect and recognition to an adoption decree that has been issued in compliance with U.S. law and the laws of the country that granted the adoption. Adoptive parents have the option of readoption, which validates the adoption and protects it from being legally challenged. A child may be readopted with an adoption decree and valid visa. The state registrar will prepare and register a birth certificate upon receipt of a report of adoption from the court decreeing the adoption and proof of the date and place of birth of the child.
A new Georgia adoption law that went into effect in September 2018 established a process to domesticate international adoption decrees, which is highly recommended to protect an internationally adopted child’s rights as a U.S. citizen and to ensure the adoption is recognized.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Georgia?
A new Georgia adoption law that went into effect in September 2018 banned the use of advertisements and adoption payments from facilitators.
Because this area of adoption law can be complicated, it is best to work with a licensed adoption agency or local adoption attorney to ensure you are finding an adoption opportunity in a safe, ethical and legal way.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Georgia
As an expectant mother considering adoption in Georgia, you may have questions about the rules and regulations of placing a child for adoption in your state. This section provides information about the laws that protect your rights throughout the adoption process
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
In Georgia, consent can be executed at any time after the birth of the child. The child must be surrendered to the department or to a child-placing agency in the presence of a representative of the department or agency and a notary. A copy must be provided to the person signing the consent. In a direct placement, the surrender of the child to a third party who is not a stepparent or relative of the child must be executed in the presence of a notary.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In Georgia, the child’s living parent or guardian must voluntarily and in writing surrender all rights to the child to the department or to a child-placing agency. The department or agency then consents to the adoption.
In an older child adoption, the child being adopted must provide written consent and have it acknowledged in the presence of the court.
When is consent not needed?
Surrender or termination of parental rights is not required when the court determines that:
- The parent abandoned the child
- The parent cannot be found after a diligent search has been made
- The parent is insane or incapacitated from surrendering such rights
- The parent has failed to exercise proper prenatal care or control due to misconduct or inability
- The parent has failed to communicate or make a bona fide attempt to communicate with the child in a meaningful, supportive, parental manner for a period of one year or longer prior to the filing of the adoption petition without justifiable cause
- The parent has failed to provide for the care and support of the child as required by law and the court for one year or longer prior to the filing of the adoption petition, and the court determines that the adoption is in the best interests of the child
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
Consent may be withdrawn by written notice within four days after signing.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Georgia adoptions?
In Georgia, a man is considered a child’s legal father if:
- He has legally adopted the child
- He was married to the child’s biological mother at the time of conception or birth, unless his paternity was disproved by the court
- He married the legal mother of the child after the child was born and recognized the child as his own, unless his paternity has been disproved
- He has been determined to be the father by a final paternity order
- He legitimized the child by a final order and has not surrendered or had his rights to the child terminated
A man who wishes to acknowledge paternity or the possibility of paternity of a child before or after birth may register with the state’s putative father registry. His registration may be used to establish an obligation to support the child. Registration also entitles him to notice of an adoption proceeding or proceedings to terminate parental rights.
The father of a child born out of wedlock may also legitimize his relationship with the child by petitioning the court to have legal custody or guardianship of the child. The child’s mother will be served and provided an opportunity to be heard. The court may pass an order declaring the father’s relationship with the child legitimate.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Georgia
A home study and post-placement assessment is required for all prospective adoptive parents in Georgia. These assessments help determine whether the adoption placement is in the best interests of the child to be adopted. The home study process, requirements and other important Georgia home study information is detailed here.
What is included in the Georgia home study process?
In Georgia, the home study includes at least three visits on separate days. At least one visit must take place in the home and all family members must be seen and interviewed. Parents will be interviewed together and separately. The following information will be gathered:
- Motivation to adopt
- Physical description and social background of each family member
- Evaluation of parenting practices
- Summary of each family member’s health history and current condition
- Informal assessment of each family member’s emotional and mental health
- Evaluation of the understanding of and adjustment to adoptive parenting
- Evaluation of the prospective adoptive parents’ finances and occupations
- Description of the home and community
- Statements regarding the results of criminal records and child abuse and neglect registry checks
- At least three character references, including:
- At least one reference from an extended family member not residing with the adoptive family
- A reference from a prospective adoptive parent’s former employer if the parent has worked with children in the past five years
Who is included in the home study process?
The adoptive family must be evaluated in the home study.
Who will conduct the home study?
The home study will be completed by the adoption agency.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Georgia?
This issue is not addressed in Georgia statutes.
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?
The home study must be completed prior to placement. When the home study is approved by a Georgia agency and a child has not been placed with the family within one year of the date of approval, the home study must be updated and documentation must be made annually of the reason a placement has not been made.
The home study update must include at least one home visit, the applicant’s current employment status, updated medical reports, changes in family composition and any changes in types of children requested.
What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Georgia?
After placement and prior to the filing of the adoption petition, the agency caseworker must make at least two home visits.
The first home visit may be made at any time after the placement of the child. For children age 12 months or younger, there will be a minimum of two weeks between the required home visits. For children older than 12 months, there will be a minimum of 30 days between the required home visits.
Home visits will be made with the prospective adoptive family at least once a month prior to the filing of the adoption petition to make sure the child is safe, healthy and cared for. These visits must include observation of the child and at least one adoptive parent present in the home.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Georgia?
This issue is not addressed in Georgia statutes.
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?
Any interstate placement of a child is subject to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The child will not be sent to the adoptive family’s state until the appropriate public authorities in that state notify the Georgia agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.
In an interstate adoption placement where Georgia is the state of origin, the requirements for services following an adoption placement may be met by fulfilling the requirements of the adoptive family’s state.
What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
If the foster parent meets the requirements to become a foster or adoptive parent in Georgia, he or she may be eligible to apply for consideration as an adoption applicant. When foster parents are adopting their foster child, the foster parents may be able to file the adoption petition prior to any home visits.
For more information about foster care and adoption in Georgia, visit the Division of Family and Children Services.
To start the home study process, contact one of these trusted Georgia home study providers:
- Options 4 Adoption
Options 4 Adoption is licensed in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee as a nonprofit home study agency. Services include home studies for domestic and international adoptions, post-placement supervision and home study report updates.
- The Adoption Authority, Inc.
The Adoption Authority, Inc. is a licensed child placement agency in Georgia and Florida that completes domestic and international home studies, home study updates and post-placement reports.
- A Adoption Advocates of Georgia
A Adoption Advocates of Georgia is a nonprofit licensed child-placing agency serving all of Georgia that conducts home studies for international adoptions, domestic adoptions and post-placement requirements.
Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about Georgia home study providers.
Georgia Adoption Professionals
For more information about adoption in Georgia or to begin the adoption process, contact one of these local adoption professionals:
For more information about foster care in Georgia, visit the Division of Family and Children Services.
Things to do in Georgia
The state of Georgia abounds in natural beauty and a rich history. Here are a few highlights to explore in the Peach State while visiting prospective birth parents or waiting for ICPC approval:
- Savannah Historic District (Savannah)
- Bonaventure Cemetery (Savannah)
- Fox Theatre (Atlanta)
- Fort Pulaski National Monument (Tybee Island)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (Atlanta)
- Driftwood Beach (Jekyll Island)
Find more information about traveling to Georgia at www.exploregeorgia.org.