Adoption is a complex and highly technical area of the law. Prospective adoptive couples are often intimidated by the undertaking and don’t know where to start. Here are some of the basics about who and how to adopt a child in Georgia.
Who can Adopt in Georgia?
- A married couple age 21 and at least ten years older than the child if the child is not a relative or stepchild
- A single person age 25 and at least ten years older than the child if the adoptive parent is not a sibling of the child
- A single person age 21 if the adoptive parent is a sibling of the child
- A married couple age 21 if the child is a relative or a stepchild
- Adoptive parents who are financially, mentally and physically able to have permanent custody of the child
- Georgia residents or residents of another state when the child was born in Georgia and placed in compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children
How do I get matched with a child?
- Licensed child placing agencies are great ways to get matched with a child. Agencies attract birth mothers who seek the agencies experience in making appropriate placements and provide adoptive parents with services and expertise in navigating the match and adoption process. Agencies can also specialize in certain types of adoptions, giving the adoptive parents a narrower focus if they have certain requirements for the child.
- State child welfare agencies are excellent sources of adoption referrals. Many offer the chance to be foster parents before adoption, which gives the adoptive parents and the child a trial run to make sure that the fit is a good one. Adopting a child from foster care is also an excellent way to provide a deserving child with permanency and stability that they may have not otherwise experienced.
- Matches are often made through private channels and networking. There a certain situations where the stars line up and a match seems to fall into an adoptive parent’s lap. Couples interested in adopting should spread the word far and wide as one never knows where a match might come from.
Are There any Steps to Take at the beginning of the Adoption process?
- Do your homework. Talk with your spouse, other adoptive parents or trained professionals to make sure you are in agreement and understand the obligations you are taking on. Talk through which kind of adoption seems right for you and interview agencies to find the right fit.
- Obtain a home study. Georgia law requires a pre-placement home study in certain types of adoptions, particularly those done through agencies. Adoptive parents with approved home studies move ahead in line of those who don’t.
- Know the cost. Consult with a Georgia adoption attorney to get a cost estimate for your type of adoption so that there are no surprises down the road.
- Know what to Expect. Consult with a Georgia adoption attorney so that you don’t do anything that could jeopardize your adoption. For example, Georgia law prohibits making any payments for birth mother expenses directly to the birth mother from the adoptive parents, and in some cases it can be punishable as a felony. An experienced adoption attorney can walk you through each step so that you know what to expect and are compliant with Georgia law.
Tom Tebeau is an experienced Georgia lawyer who has handled hundreds of Georgia adoptions and adoption related matters over the years. In fact, he specializes in Georgia Adoption Law and lives it every day. He is current on all developments in state and federal law as they relate to adoption and is a frequent speaker on Georgia adoption law topics. His main goal with every case is to provide the highest level of legal and ethical services to ensure the best outcome for his clients. Read the testimonials at www.tomtebeau.com from clients he has served.
* Thomas Tebeau III practices adoption law across the State of Georgia. He has finalized hundreds of adoptions of all types. Tom is a Fellow with the Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers, and presents on adoption related topics at seminars and conferences throughout the State.