Couples choosing to grow their families through adoption have a beautiful but complex journey ahead. The state must ensure that the parents of any child offered for adoption are sure that giving up their parental rights is the correct decision. The state must also protect children by ensuring that anyone seeking to adopt a child can offer a loving and healthy environment where the child can thrive.
Accordingly, the adoption process involves significant scrutiny of the prospective adoptive parents. Adoption usually requires a comprehensive written application and home study. It can help to have a trusted family attorney to guide you. A Cobb County adoption lawyer understands the process and can help you anticipate and respond to obstacles and delays.
Multiple routes to adoption exist, and no single method is right for every family’s circumstances. Prospective parents should consider their desired timeframe, budget, and how much control they want over the age, race, and gender of the child they adopt. The answers to those questions will determine which adoption method is suitable for a family.
A private adoption is an arrangement between the birth mother and the prospective adoptive parents. Sometimes the birth father is also involved. Private adoption allows the adoptive parents to adopt an infant and gives them more knowledge about the child’s characteristics. However, it could take considerable time before a prospective adopter and birth mother match.
Additionally, the adoption would require the natural parent(s) to relinquish their legal rights to the child. Under Georgia law, they have four days after they relinquish their rights to change their mind.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 19-8-24c1D allows adoptive parents to pay a pregnant woman’s reasonable living expenses before the birth. However, the payments must be routed through the trust account of a licensed Cobb County adoption attorney.
Adoption agencies match parents giving up their children with prospective parents desiring to adopt. The agency typically handles the biological parents’ surrender paperwork and conducts the assessment of the adoptive parents. Agency adoption is often expensive and could take a long time, particularly if a family has firm requirements regarding the child’s age, race, or gender.
Some agencies operate exclusively in Georgia; some arrange adoptions across state lines, and some work internationally. It is critical to have a local attorney review any adoption paperwork an agency presents to ensure it complies with Georgia family law.
Many families choose to adopt through the foster care system. The Division of Child and Family Services (DCAFS) handles the screening and training of potential adoptive parents and ensures the biological parents’ rights have been terminated before the adoption becomes final. Adopting through the DCAFS is the least expensive option, and a child could be placed in a home quickly. DCAFS takes custody of infants when necessary, and a family could receive an infant. However, most children available for adoption through DCAFS are older and may have significant trauma histories.
Sometimes parents cannot care for their children due to substance misuse, incarceration, or other impediments to parenting. Sometimes a child’s parents die or abandon them. The children’s aunt, uncle, grandparents, or adult sibling might adopt them in such circumstances.
Some of these cases originate through DCAFS. When the agency removes a child from their parents, it tries to find a close relative to provide them with a home. When the agency eventually moves to terminate the parents’ rights, the relative who has been providing care could adopt the child.
Parents might voluntarily surrender their children to relatives better able to care for them. A Cobb County attorney can arrange a legal surrender and adoption. Doing so ensures the caregiving relative has the authority to make all decisions for the child, and the child has stability and the same legal rights as any other child of that relative.
The adoption process is more streamlined when one party to a marriage or committed relationship adopts the child of their spouse or partner. Because the child is already living with a legal parent and prospective adoptive parent, the home study is usually far less intrusive than when strangers plan to bring a child into their home.
If the child’s other legal parent is still living, that parent must surrender their parental rights before a stepparent or second-parent adoption could occur. Sometimes, a Cobb County adoption attorney can prepare a petition to terminate the other parent’s rights due to abandonment.
A second-parent adoption is when someone adopts their same-sex partner’s child. Legal adoption is critically important for unmarried gay couples because, without it, a partner has no right to a parental relationship with a partner’s child if the couple breaks up or the legal parent dies.
While significantly rewarding, the adoption process can also be intrusive and cumbersome. However, an experienced attorney can advise you about what to expect, which might make the process easier for you.
You can rely on a Cobb County adoption lawyer to help you grow your family. Schedule a consultation today.