Individuals and families who are looking to adopt in Georgia can contact the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) or a child-placing agency.
DHR has hundreds of children who are in their custody. Many of these children are available for adoption. While some parents have given up their parental rights, most parents’ rights have been terminated by the courts due to abuse or neglect. Most children who are available for adoption are considered to have special needs.
Special needs for the state of Georgia include sibling groups of three or more. If one child has a special need and they are part of sibling group of two, then both children will qualify as special needs. Children who have disabilities which are physical, emotional or mental also qualify as special needs. Children who are eight years old and older are considered special needs and all African-American children one year and older are considered special needs.
DHR does not charge adoptive parents any fees for facilitating an adoption of a child in their custody. In addition, they also work with some private agencies who will not charge agency fees. The fees that will be required are for the home safety inspection and any legal fees that are required to complete the adoption. However, families who adopt a child with special needs can receive up to two thousand dollars to reimburse them for the fees that were required. This reimbursement is given through financial Adoption Assistance. Also, some children qualify for additional financial assistance, based on their special needs. Some families may receive financial support to help cover cost of services that are for medical or psychological special needs. Some children will qualify to receive Medicaid benefits, upon completion of the adoption.
Children with special needs can be matched with a family fairly quickly. Most families wait six to ten months for a referral of a child. Once the child is in the home, another six months of positive reports are required before the adoption can be finalized.
The Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS) will try to find any of the child’s relatives prior to the parental rights being terminated. If there are no relatives who can take care of the child, then the child will go into the custody of the state of Georgia. When the child is placed with an adoptive family and the adoption in finalized, the adoptive family legally becomes the child’s permanent family.
The state of Georgia does not allow children who are in their custody to be adopted through agencies unless the agency is recognized by DHR. They must be licensed private adoption agencies. Also, DHR does not handle adoptions that are international. Families who want to adopt a child internationally will need to contact an attorney.
Families who want to adopt a child that they already know, can file an adoption petition. They will need to contact an attorney to guide them through the required legal steps in adopting the child. Both birth parents will need to give their consent, in order for this type of adoption to take place.