Deciding to adopt is such a unique experience. It is one filled with hope and inspiration, as well as fear and doubt. Where do you go? Who do you turn to? What do you expect? Adopting a baby in GA is a life-changing event for all everyone involved: hopeful adoptive parents, expectant parents, and the baby who brings us all together. Below I’ve listed as much as I can to help answer questions and give guidance. Two resources I utilized were Adoption.com and Adoption.org. They helped guide me on what decisions to make and provided information I needed to make the right decision for me and my family. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so let’s get started.
1. Getting Started
Hopeful Adoptive Parents
Parents considering adoption have typically been toying with the idea for years or dreaming of it their entire lives just wondering how to know when the time is right. Great news, the moment you’ve been waiting for is here. This is the time. Let those fears go and embrace your new journey to adopting a baby in GA.
The first question you need to answer is what type of adoption is right for you. There are four types discussed in more detail below. They include foster adoption, domestic adoption, independent adoption, and international adoption. The best way to begin is by finding those in your community who have already walked the path. Use the internet, chat sites, and Facebook groups to talk to others, ask questions, and express your concerns and reservations. Insight is essential to making the best decision. Second, check out the costs and compare them with your budget. This doesn’t have to break the bank and there are many less-expensive options. Know what your priorities are and then adjust your budget accordingly. Third, an agency or county will need to be selected. Georgia is also a state where private adoptions are allowed with an adoption attorney. Fourth, go sign up for some introductory classes, discussions, or even webinars. It is perfectly okay to attend several and not commit until you are certain. Glean as much information as you can, there’s no such thing as too much research. Finally, complete a home study and prepare for a baby. You can learn more about the Georgia Adoption Process here.
First, know how very special and strong you are. Unexpectedly expecting is enormously stressful and the pressure to make the right decision when there isn’t any one easy answer. It can be overwhelming. The first step is to explore all the options available. Educate yourself so you can decide what is best for you as an individual in addition to what is best for your child. Try reading these articles on Choosing Adoption for Your Baby or Options for Unexpected Pregnancy. For adopting a baby in GA, several agencies are available, can answer questions, and, most importantly, offer support. There are counselors specifically trained just for this. There are no obligations and there shouldn’t be any pressure to choose adoption. Check out different agencies and be sure to find one which agrees with your personal beliefs and values. In Georgia, private adoption is also a possibility where an adoption attorney is utilized. When choosing this route, be sure to read about ethical choices for adoption. Second, reach out to trusted family or friends, this is not a journey you should take on your own. Look for someone who has been on this path before you to help guide support you. List the pros and cons of the different options and talk through your feelings. Counseling is strongly recommended as early as possible to help process emotions as they arise. Typically, a counselor will be provided by an agency if you select them. If adoption is your ultimate choice, then you will need to decide about whether or not an open adoption is your goal. The agency should be able to assist you with understanding the different choices and how best to make a decision. Unfortunately, in Georgia, open adoption agreements are not legally binding. Finally, learn the adoption laws and understand your rights, as well as the rights of your child.
2. Types of Adoption for Adopting a Baby in GA
There are several different types of adoption. This article will focus on the four most common types: foster, domestic, independent, and international. Each has its own advantages and challenges. Read about all of them and ask others about their decision and why they made it. There is no correct path for everyone, your heart will lead you to what is right for you and your family.
In Georgia, one of the goals of foster care is to ensure that children are safe from abuse and neglect. The ultimate goal is to reunite them with their biological families. Unfortunately, there are times when this isn’t possible and the infant/child will require adoption. The point of reunification shouldn’t be a deterrent to pursuing this avenue. Although, infants can take much longer or you may need to foster the infant first prior to adopting them. Considering a sibling set will not only be immensely helpful for the children but also increases your opportunity to adopt and can come with a stipend. In 2019, Georgia had over 13,000 children in the foster care system. As of July, there are over 11,000 children in. Of those in 2019, 2,740 were unable to return to their biological families and had a permanency goal of adoption. Over 350 of those children are still in the system waiting. It is possible to go through your county’s program or an agency can be used. There is no cost with the county and all fees for adoption are typically covered. An agency will cost money and you may need to pay for the home study as well which can cost between $1,000-5,000. Speak with others who have already done this to get a good idea of the options. Contact your county and Agencies in Georgia. There is required training with foster adoption. Georgia utilizes a program called Impact. Even with infants, it’s important to be trauma-informed.
This is the most common form of adoption in the US, particularly for infants. Expectant mothers have chosen to place their child for adoption and are working with an agency to find prospective parents which they believe will be the best fit. These can be open adoptions, which involves the birth family and adoptive family staying in contact. The matching process takes time and can feel frustrating and overwhelming. Make sure a good support network is in place to help. Here are some tips to help make a great impression on the expectant parents. There are still requirements that must be met with this form of adoption, although it is less pronounced than others. A home study and training programs will be necessary. Costs in Georgia appear to be between $12,000-25,000. Have patience, you are worthy and will make a great parent.
Sometimes called private adoption, this form of adoption is legal in the state of Georgia. In these cases, the expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents do not have an agency but have agreed to work with a skilled adoption attorney or adoption facilitator regarding the legal requirements. This method streamlines the process allowing for faster adoption. Use caution and pay close attention to how your moral compass feels. It is imperative to make certain you are working with someone experienced and watch for any red flags. The cost of an independent adoption is generally over $40,000.
As you may have suspected, this type of adoption involves adopting from another country. Many infants are adopted this way as well. The regulations will be different depending on what country is chosen. Many countries participate, although some are easier to adopt from than others. The rules are often quite strict in an attempt to control the possibility of human trafficking. It is important to pay attention to any Red flags or internal feelings of discomfort. Their standards will also be different than those of Georgia. This is the form of adoption that tends to take the longest. There are countries which can process an adoption between three and six months, the majority take up to three years to complete. This does not mean there isn’t a need or that your baby isn’t out there waiting for you. It is simply more complex. The cost is generally $20,000-40,000. It is also mandatory to travel to that country at least once. The amount of time there can range from one week to a few months. Additional education into the infant’s history and culture, as well as learning at least some of their language, will help with the transition into US culture and Georgia’s lifestyle.
3. Requirements for Adopting a baby in GA
The prerequisites for adopting a baby in GA are straightforward. The hopeful adoptive parent must be at least 25 years old or married and living with their spouse. There is a caveat which decreases this to age 21 in situations of kinship adoption. Financial information will need to be disclosed to show the ability to handle raising the infant monetarily. Health records are obtained to prove the ability to physically care for the child. This does not mean those with physical disabilities are excluded. There will be a background check and fingerprinting and any criminal record will be reviewed. This may extend to anyone who is living in the home. In addition, emotional abilities and mental health will be evaluated to ensure the baby will be raised in a safe and stable environment. Being a homeowner is not required, as long as financial preparedness can be demonstrated. Other children may already be living in your home and pregnancy within the home is not prohibited. Be aware that marital status is not mentioned (except under 25) and religion and sexual orientation are not evaluated either. This is because there are no state laws regarding these details. However, agencies may have individual recommendations, one of the reasons it is imperative to select an agency that mirrors your personal values. You can learn more about home studies here.
4. Education and Resources to Prepare for Adopting an Infant in GA
I cannot emphasize enough how important training programs and reading are. When adopting an infant, some of the ideas won’t seem relevant initially, but they’re still important to know. Sometimes, these children will require different tactics in parenting. This is a result of the impact trauma has on the developing brain. Even excessive stress during pregnancy or a difficult birthing process can affect the amygdala and result in an altered fight/flight response. This may also increase stress chemicals in the brain. The two best books to describe this are The Primal Wound and The Body Keeps the Score. My favorite book for infant adoption is The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption. Other book options are available here: 11 Great adoption Books You Should Read and the Adoption Reading List. Training will be required through the county or agency. Georgia uses a training called Impact. I also strongly recommend TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention). There are also plenty of books for expectant parents who are considering adoption.
5. Post-Placement and Finalization in Georgia
Once an infant has been placed, there are still requirements that need to be fulfilled. A minimum of two home visits will transpire from either the agency or the county social worker to ensure the family is adjusting well and needs are being met. They are there to provide support, education, and assistance to the adoptive family. Remember that after the birth parent relinquishes their rights, they have 4 days where they are allowed to change their mind. International adoptions typically have follow-up every 3 months for the first year. Parental rights must be terminated (either voluntarily or involuntarily) prior to finalization. After the visits are completed and the recommendations from the agency/social worker have been submitted, adoptive parents may then finalize the adoption.
Adoption day is a very exciting moment, especially with infants. The adoption hearing is typically brief and takes less than an hour. The adoptive parents and the agent/social worker will be sworn in and asked general questions about the adoption. Then, the moment comes where the judge will issue a final decree of adoption and terminates the state’s legal involvement. Your baby is now yours forever. Hang onto the paperwork, it’s required for an amended birth certificate and a new social security number if needed.
Hopeful adoptive parents, this road can be long and weariness will come, but the need is great and the long-term rewards are infinite. Don’t forget the resources available, and make sure to connect with others on the same journey. Education is critical, keep expanding your knowledge.
Expectant parents placing their child for adoption are facing the toughest decision of their life, I applaud your courage and acknowledge your sorrow. Educate yourself on options and agencies. Pursue counseling and share your grief with trusted loved ones or even strangers you’ve connected with during this life-changing time.