This document tells you the following:
- What is the adoption process?
- When do parents surrender the rights to their children?
- What rights do natural parents have?
- Who can adopt a child?
- Where do people who want to adopt a child go?
- Who Can Be Adopted?
- What happens to the adoption records?
The Adoption Process
An adoption is a legal process in which one or both parents (the adoptive parents) are legally substituted for the biological parents. When a child is adopted, the rights and duties of the biological parents end. There are no visitation rights for biological parents unless the adoptive parents allow visitation by the biological parents. A situation in which the biological parents may visit the child is known as an open adoption. An adopted child will not inherit from the biological mother and father unless he or she is named in a will.
CASE OF THE WANTED/UNWANTED CHILD
Lisa is going to have a baby. She is still in school and has no income. She is not married and knows that she cannot support the child.
Chuck is the father. He is about seven years older than Lisa. Chuck plays the drums with a struggling country western band. He’s broke most of the time. He thinks Lisa should have an abortion. However, Lisa carries the baby to term. After it is born, she decides to put it up for adoption.
Lisa is advised to notify either the state Department of Human Resources or a licensed child-placing agency. She is told the mother and the father of the child (the biological parents) must consent to the adoption unless one or both cannot be found. To start adoption proceedings, she and the child’s father must fill out and sign a form titled “Surrender of Parental Rights: Final Release for Adoption.”
After these surrender forms are signed, parents have 10 days to withdraw their surrender of rights to the baby.This 10-day period is a cooling-off period during which parents may change their minds. After this period, it is very difficult to withdraw the surrender.
Parents also surrender their rights to children if they abandon them. Abandonment means deserting a child-that is, physically moving apart from the child-with the intent of ending the parental relationship. In adoption proceedings, the father sometimes cannot be located. Such abandonment may result in the forfeiture of his natural parental rights. Legal abandonment occurs when a parent fails to pay child support, communicate with the child, or visit with the child for over a year.
After a petition for adoption is filed, the Department of Human Resources investigates this case to attempt to verify the information in the petition. The legal procedure for an adoption takes at least three months.
Rights of Natural Parents
CASE OF THE WANTED/UNWANTED CHILD, concluded
Lisa’s baby is adopted by Andy and Gretchen. Andy manages a large grocery store. Gretchen teaches preschool children. They have not been able to have any children. They adopted the baby through proper court procedures.
However, Lisa lied when she filled out the surrender forms for adoption. She said she did not know where the father could be found. She said she was not even sure of his name. Because he wanted her to have an abortion, she didn’t think Chuck would care. Chuck was never notified about the adoption proceedings.
Six months after the baby’s birth, Chuck learns about the adoption proceedings. His country western group is making it big. He has a new girlfriend. They plan to get married soon. He’d like to have his child. He files a motion to set aside the adoption. He claims, as the child’s natural father, he was not given proper legal notice of the adoption. Nor was his written consent obtained. He wants custody of his child.
In general, courts favor natural parents in deciding cases involving adoption laws. In 1978, a Georgia statute put much more importance on the rights of the natural parents of a child who is placed for adoption.
A father has legal parental rights whether or not he is married to the mother. A biological father must be given the opportunity to care for and know his child. The 1990 Adoption Act specifies how the father of a child born out of wedlock is to preserve his right to object to the adoption of the child and seek custody. If, as in the case of Lisa, the mother knows who the father is, she must, by law, reveal his identity and location. The father must be given personal written notice of the adoption proceedings, if possible. Otherwise, an attempt must be made to notify him through a notice in a newspaper.
The natural father has a right to ask the court for custody of the child if he has made any efforts to support the child in the past or to develop a relationship with the child. Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the father must be given an opportunity to explain his reasons for not doing either before an adoption can be allowed over his objections.
If you were the judge in this case, what would you do? What are Chuck’s rights as the natural parent? Should Andy and Gretchen have any rights as adoptive parents? What is in the best interest of the child?
Who Can Adopt?
Any adult person-wHether married or not-may petition the court to adopt a child if he or she
• is at least 25 years old or is married and living with his or her spouse;
• is 10 years older than the child;
• has lived in Georgia for six months before filing the petition; and
• is financially, mentally, and physically able to have permanent custody of the child.
If the person is married, the petition must be filed by both spouses unless the adoption is requested by a stepparent. Persons who want to adopt children can apply to the state Department of Human Resources or a licensed child-placing agency. Agencies may have their own rules about the kind of parents who may adopt a particular child. They may want the adoptive parents to have a background as similar as possible to the child’s biological parents. Georgia, however, has no laws about matching backgrounds of children and adoptive parents. For example, biracial adoptions are legal in Georgia.
Who Can Be Adopted?
Tom’s parents were divorced when he was 10. He was put in his mother’s custody. When he was 13, his mother remarried. Now he is 17, and his stepfather would like to formally adopt him.
Who must consent to the adoption?
Many stepparents adopt stepchildren. Tom’s stepfather can petition the court to do so. If the natural parent or parents of the child are living and have not abandoned the child, their consent must be obtained. Children older than 14 years (as Tom is) must also give their consent. A person can be adopted at any age. At 21, a person can be adopted with his or her own consent alone.
If parents have had their parental rights terminated by the court or they are dead, their children may be adopted. In this case, whoever had custody of the child would have to give consent.
According to law, the records of an adoption proceeding must be sealed, or closed. Some adopted children want to look into these records to find out who their biological parents are. Sometimes biological parents wonder what happens to their children. Courts have only reluctantly allowed records to be seen. Georgia law provides a procedure for obtaining these records. A parent or child may list his or her name with the state registry. This listing makes it easier for either party to find the other if they choose to.
Recently, more adoptions have become open, meaning that the biological and the adoptive parents know who each other are. Depending on the degree of openness of the adoption, the biological parents may communicate with or even visit with the child. Or the adoptive parents may send pictures of the child to the biological parents. Even in an open adoption, though, the biological parents have no legal rights to visitation. Neither may they ask the court to enforce visitation.
SOURCE: Georgia Legal Aid (Authored By: Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia)
* Excerpted from An Introduction to Law in Georgia, Fourth Edition, published by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, 1998 (updated 2004). The Vinson Institute is not responsible for errors in the online text. Content is for information only; in no way should the information in the book be considered legal advice to anyone on any matter for which there are legal implications. Any such matter should be specifically addressed with an attorney. The book is available for purchase ator by contacting the Publications Program, Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia, 201 M. Milledge Avenue, Athens, GA 30602; telephone 706-542-6377; fax 706-542-6239.
GeorgiaFamilyLaw : Worrall Law LLC attorney Steve Worrall is an adoptive father and is passionate about helping his clients form new families through the process of adoption, whether that occurs through private adoption, agency adoption, relative adoption, step-parent adoption, or foreign adoption (domestication of foreign adoptions). Our adoption clients primarily come from Georgia cities in Cobb County GA (Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Marietta, Powder Springs and Smyrna and the communities of Mableton, Vinings, Fair Oaks, Cumberland, Town Center, East Cobb, West Cobb, North Cobb, and South Cobb), Fulton County GA (Alpharetta, Atlanta, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Palmetto, Roswell and Union City), Cherokee County GA (Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Sixes, Towne Lake, Waleska, and Woodstock), Paulding County GA (Braswell, Dallas and Hiram), and Bartow County GA (Cartersville, Emerson, Euharlee, Kingston, and White) and other counties throughout metropolitan Atlanta and North Georgia.
I found a great article on the "Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee" blog today. The entire article is here. But here are the bullet points from the article:
1. Adoption is not possible without loss.
2. Love isn’t enough in adoption, but it certainly makes a difference.
3. Show me—through your words and your actions—that you are willing to weather any storm with me.
4. I will always worry that you will abandon me, no matter how often you tell me or show me otherwise.
5. Even though society says it is PC to be color-blind, I need you to know that race matters.
6. I need you to be my advocate.
7. At some point during our adoption journey, I may ask about or want to search for my birth family.
8. Please don’t expect me to be grateful for having been adopted.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
10. Adoption is different for everyone.
From the Georgia Adoption Law Blog, posted today:
The crib in Ellen Darcy’s Boston home has sat empty for more than a year. And in suburban Washington, Laura Teresinski has prepared a nursery for a baby that may never arrive.
They and thousands of prospective parents, eager to adopt children from abroad, have found themselves in an emotional legal limbo since two of the most popular countries for international adoptions — Guatemala and Vietnam — recently halted their programs.
Now would-be mothers and fathers around the United States wonder what will become of their quest to adopt a child — a pursuit that can fray nerves, cost up to $30,000 and span several years.
Guatemala announced this month that it would conduct a case-by-case review of every pending foreign adoption case. That put on hold the adoption plans of about 2,000 American families.
The crackdown comes amid reports that some in Guatemala coerce mothers to relinquish their children for adoption — or steal the children outright and present them as orphans.
Similar accusations have arisen in Vietnam.
After the United States accused adoption agencies there of corruption and baby-selling, Vietnam said in April that it would no longer allow adoptions to the United States.
"My husband and I were absolutely devastated," Teresinski said. "Adoptive parents have put a lot of emotional energy and a lot of financial resources in the process."
Vietnam’s decision affects several hundred families.
Families in the United States adopted 4,728 children from Guatemala and 828 from Vietnam last year.
The halt in adoptions from those two nations unfolds against the backdrop of a dramatic rise in international adoptions in the United States.
The number of foreign-born children adopted by U.S. families more than tripled from 1990 to 2004, when it reached a high of 22,884, though the figure has declined slightly each year since.
n 2007, the U.S. granted visas to 19,613 children so they could join an adoptive family in the United States, according to U.S. State Department figures. About 70 percent of those children came from four countries: China, Guatemala, Russia and Ethiopia.
A few other countries have also halted foreign adoptions at various times, including Kazakhstan and Togo.
Yet the suspensions in Vietnam and Guatemala have had the biggest impact — they’re two of the 10 countries that send the most children to adoptive homes in the Unites States.
Fear of fraud stirs heartache
For Darcy, the review seems more detrimental than helpful.
Her adopted daughter, Carolina, remains in a Guatemalan foster home with three dozen other babies. Darcy worries that keeping Carolina, now 15 months old, in a foster home will harm her early development.
"She’s not getting one-on-one care by a consistent caretaker," Darcy said, adding later, "Nobody is looking at this as a violation of the kids’ human rights except for these (American) parents."
Guatemala, which until now has had little to no oversight of its foreign adoptions, has the highest per capita rate of adoption in the world.
Nearly one in 100 babies born in Guatemala wind up living with adoptive parents in the United States, according to the U.S. consulate in Guatemala.
While adoptive parents in the United States undergo rigorous screening, adoptions in Guatemala had been processed by notaries responsible for determining whether the babies were relinquished voluntarily. They also arrange foster care and handle paperwork — notaries in Latin America tend to have more legal training than notaries in the United States.
Both Guatemalan and U.S. officials fear the system leads to practices such as paying birth mothers for children or, in some instances, coercion.
Officials in both countries say gaps in regulations and the high sums of money at play — adoptions can cost up to $30,000 — may have created unintended incentives in a country where the State Department estimates that 80 percent of the population lives in poverty.
The Guatemalan government has said its review could take a month or longer. As for the American families, they can only wait.
"I think it’s overkill," said Darcy, who was matched with Carolina last March and was approved to adopt the girl last winter — typically one of the last steps before the actual adoption is complete.
"No adoptive parent wants to adopt an abducted child — a child that wasn’t voluntarily relinquished — but to keep them as hostages is unacceptable," Darcy said.
Before starting to search for a child to adopt or an agency to assist you, it is important that you understand how the adoption laws in Georgia may affect your decisions. Making informed decisions is the best way of increasing your chances of adopting a child. By way of example, we have listed below a few of the important parts of Georgia child adoption law including such topics as advertising, adoption expenses, and the critical issue of ending the biological parental rights (called a Consent, Relinquishment or Surrender).
Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements
Use of Advertisement
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-24(a)
It shall be unlawful for any person, organization, hospital, or association that has not been established as a child-placing agency by the department to advertise, whether in a periodical, by television or radio or any other public medium or private means, that the person, organization, hospital, or association will adopt children or will arrange for children to be placed for adoption.
Individuals seeking to adopt a child or to place their child for adoption may communicate by private means, which include only written letters or oral statements.
Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-24(a)(2)
It shall be unlawful for any person, organization, corporation, hospital, or association of any kind, which has not been established as a child-placing agency by the department to directly or indirectly hold out inducements, including any financial assistance except medical expenses, to parents to part with their children.
State Regulation of Adoption Expenses
Birth Parent Expenses Allowed
Citation: § 19-8-13(c)
Medical expenses related to the pregnancy
Hospital costs for the birth of the child
Expenses related to the placement and adoption
Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption
Citation: § 19-8-13(c)
Payments for services related to the adoption or the placement of the minor are permitted.
Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child
Citation: § 19-8-24
It is unlawful for any person or entity to directly or indirectly offer inducements to a parent to relinquish their child.
Accounting of Expenses Required by Court
Citation: § 19-8-13(c), (d)
Each petitioner must file a report fully accounting for all disbursements made or agreed to be made.
Each attorney must file an affidavit detailing all legal fees.
Consent to Adoption
Who Must Consent to an Adoption
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-4(a)
A child who has any living parent or guardian may be adopted through the department or any child-placing agency only if each such parent and each such guardian:
Has voluntarily and in writing surrendered all of his or her rights to the child to the department or to a child-placing agency and the department or agency thereafter consents to the adoption
Has had all of his or her rights to the child terminated by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, the child has been committed by the court to the department or to a child-placing agency for placement for adoption, and the department or agency thereafter consents to the adoption
Age When Consent of Adoptee is Considered or Required
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-4(b)
In the case of a child age 14 or older, the written consent of the child to his adoption must be given and acknowledged in the presence of the court.
When Parental Consent is not Needed
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-10
Surrender or termination of rights of a parent shall not be required as a prerequisite to the filing of a petition for adoption of a child of that parent when the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the parent:
Has abandoned the child
Cannot be found after a diligent search has been made
Is insane or otherwise incapacitated from surrendering such rights
Has failed to exercise proper parental care or control due to misconduct or inability
Surrender of rights of a parent shall not be required as a prerequisite to the filing of a petition for adoption of a child of that parent if that parent, for a period of 1 year or longer immediately prior to the filing of the petition for adoption, without justifiable cause, has significantly failed:
To communicate or to make a bona fide attempt to communicate with that child in a meaningful, supportive, parental manner
To provide for the care and support of that child as required by law or judicial decree, and the court is of the opinion that the adoption is for the best interests of that child
When Consent Can Be Executed
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-5
Consent may be executed any time after the birth of the child.
Revocation of Consent
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-9(b)
A person signing a surrender shall have the right to withdraw the surrender by written notice delivered in person or mailed by registered mail or statutory overnight delivery within 10 days after signing. After 10 days, a surrender may not be withdrawn.
The surrender document is not valid unless it states the right of withdrawal.
Rights of Presumed (Putative) Fathers
Registry/Paternity Requirements to Receive Notice
Citation: §§ 19-11-9(d)(2); 15-11-96
The putative father may acknowledge paternity before or after the birth of the child in a signed writing, or indicate the possibility of paternity without acknowledging paternity.
The putative father must file a petition to legitimate the child within 30 days of receipt of notice of termination proceedings.
Notice of termination proceeding is given if:
The putative father’s identity is known to the petitioner or attorney.
Any of the following is true of the putative father: he is on the putative father registry, he lived with the child, he made any attempt to legitimate the child, or he provided support or medical care for the child’s mother.
SOURCE FOR POST: Adoption Services
We hope to help you learn more about [Georgia’s] child adoption laws. The information provided below may not be the entire adoption law and, since laws are changed, the information may have errors, omissions, or may not be the most current. Please remember that this information should not be used as the basis for making any legal decision. Please use appropriate resources and an attorney’s advice when making legal decisions.
During National Adoption Month, we recognize the adoptive and foster families who have shared their homes and hearts with children in need, and we encourage more Americans to consider adopting young people of all ages.
Families who adopt show the generous spirit of our Nation. Every child desires a permanent home, and when parents adopt a child to love as their own, lives are forever changed. For parents, the decision to adopt a child is among life’s greatest and happiest turning points. On November 17, families across the country will celebrate National Adoption Day by finalizing their adoptions, and each one of these homes will be richer for the addition of new family members.
My Administration is committed to promoting adoption of children of all ages. We are working to bring together more children with loving, adoptive parents through the Collaboration to AdoptUsKids at adoptuskids.org and by providing States with financial assistance through the Adoption Incentives Program. The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program helps improve care and services to children and families and ensure more young people in America have a caring, secure, and permanent home. Together, these efforts are building a brighter future for our youth.
During National Adoption Month, we honor adoptive and foster parents as they raise children of conviction and character. By accepting the gift of these children, parents are helping shape lives and contributing to the strength of our great Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2007 as National Adoption Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor adoptive families and to participate in efforts to find permanent homes for waiting children.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.
GEORGE W. BUSH
SOURCE: White House