Deciding to adopt is exciting, but the process can be stressful. There are many hoops to jump through before you can officially welcome an adopted child into your family. An experienced family attorney can prepare you for what is ahead and be a resource when you have questions or hit roadblocks.
A Buckhead adoption lawyer has helped many families grow this way. You can lean on them for legal guidance and emotional support as you move through the adoption process.
The Official Code of Georgia § 19-8-3 describes who is legally eligible to adopt a child in the state. Potential adopters must be at least 21 years old or married and living with their spouse.
The potential adoptive parent must be at least ten years older than the child they plan to adopt. When the prospective adopter is married, both spouses must sign the petition for adoption. However, if the adoptive parent is a stepparent, the ten-year age difference requirement does not apply, and only the stepparent needs to sign the adoption petition.
The potential adoptive parent must also be physically, mentally, and financially capable of caring for a child. When the prospective adopter works through a private or government agency, the agency determines their fitness to adopt. A knowledgeable Buckhead attorney can help individuals hoping to adopt a child understand the requirements and whether they satisfy them.
The application process for prospective adoptive parents is complex, time-consuming, and stressful. A Buckhead attorney can help hopeful individuals complete the written adoption application and provide helpful guidance during the home study phase.
The adoption application is comprehensive. It requires prospective adoptive parents to reveal details of their physical and mental health, education, work history, finances, religious beliefs, and relationships. The agency will independently verify the contents of the adoption application, so individuals must be candid even if the information is unfavorable.
Agencies recognize that prospective adopters are human beings with strengths and weaknesses who have made mistakes in their lives. However, lying on an adoption application is not a mistake an agency is likely to overlook.
Once an agency gives conditional approval to the written application, it conducts a home study. The home study involves a social worker visiting the potential adopter’s home, usually several times. Sometimes the social worker will make unannounced visits.
The worker’s job is to verify that the home is safe for children, meaning reasonably clean and without obvious dangers like exposed wiring or blocked exits. The social worker will also focus on the interactions between the people living in the home, especially other children, to verify that everyone in the household is on board with an adoption.
These workers are likely to ask many questions that might seem intrusive. They may want information regarding intimate relationships, drinking habits, beliefs about discipline, and the resolution of family disputes. As with the written application, individuals benefit from being as honest as possible.
Adoptions often occur when someone wants to adopt the child of their spouse or partner. However, if both the child’s legal parents are alive, each must consent to the adoption, and one legal parent must surrender their parental rights before a stepparent adoption can occur.
A Buckhead attorney can help a family formalize a legal parent’s surrender of parental rights, freeing a child for a stepparent adoption. If a parent refuses to surrender their rights, filing a court petition to establish that the parent abandoned the child might be necessary.
Unmarried same-sex couples could also apply for second-parent adoption. The procedure is the same as a stepparent adoption. Same-sex couples often use this method to establish parental rights over a partner’s child. However, note that not all counties in Georgia will approve a same-sex, second-parent adoption.
Adopting a child is a beautiful gift to everyone involved. However, the adoption process can be complicated and emotionally draining.
A Buckhead adoption lawyer can ensure you know what to expect and help you prepare every step of the way until the child becomes a legal member of your family. Reach out today to speak with a caring member of our firm.