Adopting a Child in Georgia

5 Things to Know About Adopting a Child in Georgia

You may have found yourself researching adoption options as you face an unplanned pregnancy or in a difficult circumstance in regards to parenting your baby. You may feel confident about your decision to place your child for adoption or you may just be beginning the process of gathering information on adopting a child in Georgia.

You may have found this article because you are on the other side of the adoption triad and hoping to build your family through adoption by adopting a child in Georgia. Either way, you may be wondering how the process of adopting a child in Georgia works whether you are a birth mother, expectant mother, or a hopeful adoptive parent. You may feel overwhelmed by all of the information available on adoption and adoption in Georgia in general.

1. Where to start finding information on adopting a child in Georgia.

My recommendation as you begin this journey of learning more about adopting a child in Georgia is to review Adoption.com’s guide on adoption in Georgia. It is a wonderful resource and offers comprehensive information on all of Georgia state laws, rules and regulations, statistics on adoption in Georgia, where to find adoption agencies, attorneys or adoption centers located in Georgia, as well as information for hopeful adoptive parents and information on intercountry and foster care adoption in the state. 

2. Who Is Eligible To Adopt in Georgia?

All prospective adoptive parents who are interested in adopting a child in Georgia must be approved by a Georgia home study. The home study will include background checks in all of the counties that each of the prospective adoptive parents resided in since 18 years of age and FBI live scan fingerprint checks for every adult in the prospective home. The home study will also include interviews conducted by the adoption social worker with the prospective adoptive parents, their friends if they have other children in the home, and their children’s teachers, neighbors, and employers. 

The home will be inspected in person by a licensed social worker from the home study adoption agency and all of this information will be compiled into a report with financial, driving, employment, and medical records and histories. This will be helpful as you make your decision on your baby’s adoptive family. If you are a prospective adoptive parent, the home study can seem overwhelming, but having gone through the process myself, I can tell you that I learned so much about myself, my family and how to better prepare. Your social worker will walk you through each step so it will not be overwhelming at all. 

3. Using an adoption service provider for adopting a child in Georgia

As you continue to research adopting a child in Georgia as a prospective adoptive parent or birth parent, a great article to read is Adoption Agencies in Georgia which includes a directory of all adoption agencies in the US. The site allows for easy search capabilities for an adoption service provider for adopting a child in Georgia. You may be wondering, what is an adoption service provider? An adoption service provider is either an adoption agency (also known as an adoption center), an adoption attorney, or a licensed social worker who can help complete a home study in the prospective adoptive parent’s state of residence. 

A full list of adoption centers located in GA is helpful, but it may be confusing or overwhelming to determine what a great adoption agency should look like for you and your baby. Adoption agencies are a wonderful place to begin your research on adopting a child in Georgia. As stated either, whether you feel pretty certain of your decision to place your baby for adoption or you just gathering information to help educate yourself on the options, research adoption centers are a great place with which to start your journey. If you are a hopeful adoptive parent, this is also a great place to begin. As a birth parent or adoptive parent, please know there is no pressure or commitment to work with a particular adoptive service provider at the onset of the process. In fact, you should never feel any pressure from anyone at any point in the process, especially when working with any adoption service provider.

Deciding which adoption agencies are best to interview can be a daunting step in the process. Narrowing the list of adoption agencies or adoption attorneys based on ones located in Georgia and understanding what services they provide expectant parents (and potentially prospective adoptive parents) is important. As the former executive director of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, I was often asked how to determine if an agency is ethical or how to choose the best agency to use for adoption. I would often share with the inquirer, as I am now, that some adoption service providers are better than others and one will be a better fit for you than others may be. Following your instincts, getting all of your questions answered, reading reviews, and doing as much research as you can on your narrowed list of agencies for adopting a child in Georgia will make the process go smoothly. 

You may be wondering after all of this talk of adoption service providers, what is an adoption attorney? An adoption attorney can be less costly than using an adoption agency. It also makes sense to utilize an adoption attorney if you found an adoptive family for your baby or if you are adoptive parents who have matched with a birth mother via your personal network, church, social media, or adoption photolistings. Understanding what to look for in an adoption attorney is important. Selecting the right lawyer is key. They should be specialized in adoption as the rules and regulations differ for adoption.

Whatever adoption service provider you use for adopting a child in Georgia, it is critical to use one you are comfortable with as they will be the person (or people) you will likely communicate most with during the process. You also need to ensure they understand the regulations surrounding adopting a child in Georgia. Most of all they should be ethical. Read reviews and do your homework before committing to any adoption service provider. A great place to start your search for an adoption service provider is the Adoption.com’s forums. Many birth moms and adoptive families frequent those forums and have great advice on the process and the agency or attorney they used. 

4. What is the next step for placing a child in Georgia?

Most Georgia adoption agencies and adoption attorneys have both prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents as their clients. They will likely have profiles of adoptive couples who hope to build their family through adoption. Your agency or attorney can organize in-person interviews and meetings so you can personally meet the family you choose to place your baby with. Those prospective adoptive parents will often provide a profile or even a photo album depicting them and their family history which may include how they met as a couple, photos of their home and pets, and information on what they do for fun and to make a living. They will also have completed the home study report discussed above which will prove they are fit to adopt in the state of Georgia. 

As a birth mother, once you have chosen the parents you would like to meet, the adoption agency or adoption attorney with whom you work will act as a go-between and assist in connecting you both to meet in person. The same goes for adoptive couples after they are matched with a birth mother. They make the process as easy as possible.

The adoption agency or adoption attorney will also support the birth mother and adoptive couple in determining what birth mother expenses will be paid for by the prospective adoptive parents. When adopting a child in Georgia, Georgia law permits prospective adoptive parents to pay or reimburse the actual medical expenses related to the mother’s pregnancy and the birth of the child. Child Welfare Gateway has a great article on birth parent expense regulations state-by-state in the US. 

Georgia does not list any non-allowable expenses. The hopeful adoptive parents can pay for reasonable living expenses during the pregnancy and temporarily after the birth. Your adoption service provider will have more information on these regulations regarding birth parent expenses when adopting a child in Georgia. 

When the birth mother is about to give birth, the adoption agency or attorney will inform the prospective adoptive parents that the birth mother is in labor. In the birth mother’s birth plan, which may or may not have been discussed, the expectant mom or parents make a decision of when they would be contacted about labor and by whom, as well as who may be in the birthing room for delivery. The adoption agency or adoption attorney will make sure your plan is communicated with the prospective adoptive parents according to the birth mother’s wishes if it was not communicated directly. 

After birth, there are various steps to completing the adoption paperwork and finalizing the adoption. There will be time after the birth mother gives birth before she signs any relinquishment paperwork. This paperwork is the last step she will take in placing the baby legally with the adoptive parents. The birth mother may take as much time as needed in Georgia before signing. Some birth moms want a few moments with the baby, other birth parents want hours or even a day or two alone, the choice is theirs. 

You can change your mind. You can ask all the questions you need, speak to your support system, or consult your social worker. You have the right to make sure this is the decision you still want to make to place your child for adoption. 

5. Post-Placement in Georgia Adoption

During this time, you will begin the level of communication upon which all parties agreed to at the start of your adoption journey when interviewing and deciding on an adoptive family for your baby. At this time, communication will be determined by your previous decision of an open, semi-open, or closed adoption as a birth mother. The birth mother may receive calls or photos after the birth from the adoptive parents in cases of open adoption. Everyone may even visit each other with the baby. The level of communication between the birth mother and adoptive parents is decided upon before the baby is born. This level of communication (photos, emails, calls, or visits) is considered an open adoption. 

Not having communication within the adoption triad (the child who was adopted, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents) is considered a closed adoption. When adopting a child in Georgia, most adoption plans are open or semi-open. With adoption in Georgia, however, closed adoption records are sealed so a closed adoption can be recognized according to Georgia law. (This law could eventually change.) The records can be obtained by court order, but identifying information about any party involved in the adoption (i.e., adoptee, adoptive parent, or birth parent) will not be disclosed unless the birth mother consents in writing. Like all laws, adoption laws can also change. This means that adoption records which were eventually sealed could potentially be opened to any requesting party in the adoption triad.

After adopting a child in Georgia you may be delighted, relieved, stressed, or feel grief as a birth mother or adoptive parent. All of your feelings are normal and it is particularly important to lean on loved ones and your adoption service provider to get the counseling you need from their social workers or other therapists. Adoption is a journey that truly lasts a lifetime. Doing the research on adopting a child in Georgia will make it one that is easy to take the first step. 

Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.

Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.