When children are united with parents that are not their biological parents, it is known as adoption. While providing a stable, loving home is certainly the most important aspect of being a parent, there are also legal requirements that must be addressed. Since adoption can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive, it is important that you have an Atlanta adoption attorney assisting you to prevent unpleasant setbacks.
Adoption can include the following:
- Adoption through a state or private adoption agency
- Voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights
- Adoption by stepparents
- Grandparent or relative adoptions
- Interstate adoption
- Contested adoptions
- Name changes
Georgia Adoption Requirements
In the state of Georgia, those who want to adopt:
- Must be at least 25 years old, and ten years older than the child you are adopting
- If married, your spouse must also be listed on the adoption petition unless the child you are adopting is your stepchild
- Must be deemed financially, emotionally, and physically able to have permanent custody of the child
Before a child can be adopted, his or her biological parents must have voluntarily surrendered their parental rights, or those rights must have been terminated by the court. The requirements for surrender or termination of parental rights are different, based on whether the adoption is by a government agency, a non-related third party, or a relative. When private parties want to adopt, the biological parents must surrender their parental rights in writing. If the child is over the age of 14, he or she must agree to the adoption in writing. Relatives who want to adopt a related child must also obtain a surrender of parental rights in writing from both parents.
If you are a stepparent who wants to adopt your spouse’s child, the other biological parent must consent to the adoption, although your spouse’s parental rights will remain in place. When the state is adopting a child, it is usually the result of neglect or abuse of the child. The court can terminate parental rights, or the parent can voluntarily terminate their rights. Once the state has custody of a child, others can adopt the child.
The Adoption Process
Adoption through a licensed adoption agency will usually cost between $10,000 and $30,000, although adopting infants and younger children can be more expensive. In some cases, you could be responsible for the birth mother’s expenses related to the pregnancy and birth as well. You will be required to go through an educational process prior to filing a petition for adoption, which can include a state-licensed professional visiting your home several times to interview all those in the household.
An in-state adoption through a licensed agency can take from several months to a year, while an out-of-state adoption can take longer. DFCS adoptions, stepparent adoptions, and private adoptions are usually completed within six months or so. After the biological parents surrender their parental rights, they have four days to revoke that decision. There are more issues associated with adoption, and it is imperative that everything is done correctly to prevent heartbreak down the line.