Adoptions

There are several ways that an independent adoption may progress.  Adoptions can be in one of the following categories: Relative Adoptions (Step-Parent or Grandparent/Extended Family), Foster Family Adoptions, and Contested Adoptions.  In all cases, the goal is the same: to add to a family through an adoption.  At HHR our lawyers who handle adoptions and their staff bring years of experience handling the different types of adoptions.  No two adoptions are the same; therefore, we approach adoption matters as unique to each family. We handle the termination of the biological parents’ parental rights, if necessary; we draft the adoption petition; we represent the client at all adoption hearings; and we assist with obtaining birth certificates and Social Security cards and with finalizing the adoption so that the client has all of the rights and obligations of a natural parent. 

Adoption FAQ



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Q: What rules govern the adoption process in Georgia?

The Georgia state rules that govern adoptions can be found in Sections 19-8-1 to 19-8-26 of the Georgia Code.  These code sections can be found by searching in the Official Georgia Code on this website.


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Q: Who may adopt a child?

According to Georgia Code Section 19-8-3, in general, any adult may petition to adopt a child if the person meets the following requirements:

  • At least 25 years of age or is married and living with his or her spouse
  • At least ten years older than the child
  • A Georgia resident for at least six months immediately prior to filing the petition
  • Financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child

Typically, if a person seeking an Atlanta child adoption is married, both spouses must complete the petition.  If a child is the stepchild of the party seeking to adopt, usually only the stepparent needs to file the petition.


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Q: What types of adoptions are there?

An individual or a couple interested in adoption can learn of a child available for adoption through an agency, or they might already know of the child. Adoptions come in several forms, including the following:

  • Domestic adoption
  • Adoption by a step-parent or co-parent
  • Adoption by a relative
  • Interstate Compact (adoption of child in one state by parents in another state)
  • Domestication of foreign (or intercountry) adoptions (when an adoption is finalized in another country, the adoptive family may elect to domesticate the adoption, or "re-adopt" the child after returning to the United States. This allows the child and adoptive family to easily obtain a Georgia adoption decree and a birth certificate from the Georgia Vital Records office.)

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Q: What happens during the adoption process?

In general, as described by the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS), you will need to have a family assessment or "home study."  DFCS or a licensed private adoption agency conducts this study.  If DFCS performs the evaluation, you also must attend a training program conducted by DFCS, which consists of 20 hours of training and home visits.  Assuming the preliminary steps in the adoption process go smoothly, the Georgia court system must approve an adoption petition for a child to legally join a family.

A skilled adoption attorney is needed throughout the adoption process, to ensure that you provide the proper information and take the appropriate steps to meet all of the requirements for a successful adoption.


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Q: What if I want to adopt a child or an adult child I already know? 

As is sometimes the case, grandparents may wish to adopt a grandchild or a stepparent may wish to adopt a stepchild.  In those circumstances, both birth parents will normally need to give their consent for a child under 18 years old to be adopted.  In contrast, the adoption of a child who is 18 or older usually only requires child's consent.

These types of difficult petitions should be handled by a knowledgeable adoption attorney to ensure that the proper procedural requirements are met.


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Q: How quickly will a court consider an adoption petition?

Although the time frame for each petition varies based on the circumstances of each case, Georgia Code Section 19-8-14 mandates that uncontested adoption petitions should be heard by a court, no later than 120 days after the date of filing.  This process could be delayed for a variety of reasons, such as a petitioner failing to provide all exhibits or certificates.

To ensure that your adoption petition proceeds smoothly, it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney experienced in handling adoptions in Georgia.


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Q: What are the legal consequences of an adoption?

Generally, an adoption decree creates the relationship of parent and child between the petitioners (parents) and the adopted child.  A decree also severs any legal relationship between the child and his former legal parents and relatives.  After the decree, the adopted child is viewed legally as if he or she were a biological issue of the petitioners.  This change could have far ranging legal consequences.  For example, an adoption decree could affect the application of the laws of descent and distribution in the absence of a will for the petitioners.

For a complete understanding on the legal affect of an adoption decree, we recommend obtaining the advice of an attorney experienced in adoption law in Georgia.

Adoption Resources

The Georgia Department of Health and Human Services, Family & Children Services website has information on adoption.

The Georgia Center for Adoption and Foster Care website has resources and support for adoption. 

The Georgia Association of Licensed Adoption Agencies provides support for those interested in adopting on its website.

General legal information on adoption and links to legal resources, such as codes and cases, are available through the Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute website.

AdoptUsKids is an organization that looks to recruit and connect foster and adoptive families with waiting children throughout the United States.

The National Adoption Center website has information on the adoption process, legislation, and other information.

The Medline Plus website, supported by the United States National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, provides information on the adoption process, references, research, and other information.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway website promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families, by providing timely, essential information on adoption issues.

The Adoption Exchange website provides a connection between children who await adoption and families who adopt.

American Adoptions (non-profit) website provides support for families and children involved in the adoption process.

The National Council for Adoption website provides adoption resources, policy and law information, and other information.

The Office of Children's Services, United States Department of State, has a website which provides information on Intercountry Adoption.

The Independent Adoption Center (non-profit) provides adoption placement and counseling.