In Georgia, adoption is a legal process by which a court, via a Court Order, declares one person to be the legal child of the adoptive parent or parents. When an adoption is finalized, the birth parents no longer have legal rights to the child and are no longer responsible for the child's support. The adoptive parents become the child's legal parents, as if the child was born into the adoptive parents' family naturally.
Generally, the Superior or Juvenile Court in the county where the person seeking to adopt a child resides has the jurisdiction or the authority to accept and review a petition for adoption. O.C.G.A. § 19-8-2. Alternatively, the Juvenile or Superior Court in the county where the child lives or where the adoption or child placement agency that has legal custody of the child sought to be adopted is located may accept, review or approve a petition for adoption in Georgia. Id. According to Georgia law, any adult person may file a petition for adoption in Georgia as long as the following requirements are met:
- The prospective adoptive parent must be at least 25 years of age or is married and living with his spouse;
- The prospective adoptive parent must be at least ten years older than the child;
- The prospective parent must have been a bona fide resident of the state of Georgia for at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The prospective parent must be financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child.
O.C.G.A. § 19-8-3 (a). Additionally, "if a person seeking to adopt a child is married, the petition must be filed in the name of both spouses; provided, however, that, when the child is the stepchild of the party seeking to adopt, the petition shall be filed by the stepparent alone." O.C.G.A. § 19-8-3 (c).
Just as there are certain requirements that must be met regarding those seeking to adopt a child in Georgia, there are also certain requirements that must be met before a child may be adopted by prospective adoptive parents. In Georgia, a child may be adopted under the following circumstances:
- If the living parents or guardians voluntarily and in writing surrender all rights to the child to a licensed adoption agency or directly to the prospective adoptive parents;
- If the child has been abandoned or has no living parents; or
- If the rights of the biological parents are involuntarily terminated through a court proceeding. In addition, the court must find that the adoption is in the child's best interest.
O.C.G.A. § 19-8-4 (a) and (b).
Step Parent Adoption
In Georgia, there is a process by which the spouse of a child's biological parent may adopt that child under certain circumstances. This process is generally referred to as step parent adoption. Specifically, there are two different circumstances under which a child may be adopted by his or her step parent, and the process that the adopting parent must undergo differs according to these circumstances…(continue reading).
Third Party Adoption
In Georgia, in order for a third party (meaning an individual not the step parent or other relative of the child) to adopt a child, the biological parent or legal guardian of that child must generally relinquish his or her parental rights and consent to the adoption. Specifically, Georgia law concerning third party adoption states…(continue reading).
Typically, only minors are adopted by adoptive parents; however, it is permissible in Georgia for one adult to adopt another. This process is called adult adoption…(continue reading).
There is a special section of Georgia law that concerns the adoption of children by an individual or individuals who are related to the child or children. According to this section of Georgia law…(continue reading).
If you are seeking to adopt a child in Georgia and would like additional information on the adoption process in Georgia, see the additional resources below:
Georgia Department of Human Resources Office of Residential Childcare's: http://ors.dhs.georgia.gov
Georgia Association of Licensed Adoption Agencies (GALAA): www.galaa.org
Adoption assistance for families who have adopted or who seek to adopt a child with special needs: https://dfcs.georgia.gov/services/adoption/adopting-georgia/adoption-assistance