Georgia Adoption Attorney
Navigating the Georgia adoption system is complicated. The adoption system involves a number of interested parties—like agencies, courts, biological parents, prospective adoptive parents, and extended family members—all working together to find a solution for the best interests of the child. To help you with the Georgia adoption process, the attorneys at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ have decades of experience assisting families with Georgia adoptions. Contact us today at (770) 956-4030 for a FREE consultation to discuss your adoption questions.
Built on Experience & Family Values
We believe that every child should be raised by a loving and caring family. The adoption process helps families make that a reality by connecting children with parents and families that will welcome them into a nurturing home environment. At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, we have worked with thousands of Georgia families like yours. We understand how the adoption system works and we can help you through every step of the adoption process. We have strong working relationships with adoption agencies, courts, and other adoption services across North Metro Atlanta. We proudly serve clients in the following areas:
Marietta, Acworth, Kennesaw, Smyrna
for adoption petitions handled by the Superior Court of Cobb County
Woodstock, Canton, Holly Springs
for adoption petitions handled by the Superior Court of the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit.
Alpharetta, Roswell, Milton, Johns Creek
for adoption petitions handled by the Fulton County Superior Court (Civil).
How Adoptions Work in Georgia
There are multiple ways to seek an adoption in Georgia. The timeframe for adoption can vary depending on the specific facts of the adoption, the adoption agency, and the court system. In general, the process takes months (and sometimes even longer) to complete. Each of the following adoption processes involves specific legal considerations, so you should always consult an adoption lawyer about how to begin any of the following adoption processes:
Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DFACS): Many families work through DFACS for adoptions. DFACS has a robust system in place for training prospective families through the Adoption Preparation Program and helping with the placement of children in foster care and adoptive parents.
Adoption Agencies: The Office of Residential Childcare of the Georgia Department of Human Services issues licenses to private adoption agencies in the State of Georgia. There are over 100 licensed child-placing agencies (CPAs) in Georgia that help connect children and adoptive families through private adoption services. There are also licensed child-caring institutions (CCIs) and children’s transition care centers (CTCCs) that care for children who are no longer in the care of biological parents or legal custodians. For many Georgia families, an adoption agency can assist you with most of the important aspects of getting ready for adoption.
Private Adoptions: When children are adopted by family members, stepparents, or other relatives, they may not need to go through the foster care system. The private (or independent) adoption process is still a legally intensive process that involves judicial oversight and the appointment of an agent by the court to review the adoption petition.
Interstate Adoption: When prospective parents in Georgia seek adoption of a child currently residing in Florida, for example, there are complex adoption procedures that must be followed. To comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), the adoption must comply with state laws in both states. Always consult an attorney about how to navigate an adoption involving two or more states.
Where is an adoption petition filed?
Under Georgia adoption law, a prospective adoptive parent generally files a petition for adoption in the superior court of the county in which the adoptive parent resides. In some cases, upon a showing of good cause, the petition for adoption may also be filed in (i) the county in which the child resides, (ii) the county in which the adoption agency is located, or (iii) the county in which the child was born, as long as the petition is filed within 1 year of birth. For more information, see O.C.G.A. § 19-8-2(b) and consult an attorney about where the adoption petition should be filed.
Who can file an adoption petition in Georgia?
A person may submit an adoption petition in the State of Georgia if they meet the following criteria: (1) the petitioner is at least 25 years of age or is married to a spouse of at least 25 years of age; (2) the petitioner is at least 10 years older than the child; (3) the petitioner is a resident of Georgia; and (4) the petitioner is physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially capable of handling permanent full-time custody of the child.
When a married couple seeks adoption, the petition must be filed jointly in the name of both spouses, except in cases where a stepparent seeks adoption of a stepchild (in which the stepparent may file the adoption petition by himself/herself). For more information, see O.C.G.A. § 19-8-3(a)-(b).
What information is included in an adoption petition?
An adoption petition is the document submitted to a county superior court that formally initiates the legal proceedings for adoption. The adoption petition includes the following information:
- Personal information of the petitioner, including full name, age, date of birth, marital status, and permanent address;
- The name of the child sought to be adopted;
- Personal information of the child, including sex, date of birth, place of birth, and citizenship/immigration status;
- Information regarding the placement of the child with the petitioners;
- Information about the parents of the child, including information about the child’s biological mother and father;
- Information about the current guardian or custodian of the child;
- Whether any individual has custody or visitation rights with the child;
- Legal affidavits and certificates attesting to the accuracy of information in the petition; and
- Filing fees and deposits, as required by the court.
For assistance with submitting and filing an adoption petition in the State of Georgia, contact our team today at (770) 956-4030.
What is a “home study” or adoption investigation?
Georgia law requires a thorough investigation into the prospective adoptive parents. To protect the safety and welfare of adopted children, the superior court will usually order a background check on the adoptive parent(s) as well as an investigation of the home to ensure that the adoption will promote the best interests of the child. Here, the court and the investigating agency will examine factors like: the petitioners’ motivation to adopt; the petitioners’ occupations, financial wellbeing, and work schedule; the emotional and physical health of the petitioners; the community and school district of the petitioners; the physical condition of the home; character references in support of the petitioners; and various other factors which either support or detract from the adoptive parents’ petition for adoption. For more information about home studies in Georgia, see O.C.G.A. § 19-8-14 and contact an adoption attorney at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™.
What is the effect of adoption?
Upon the issuance of an adoption decree by a county superior court, the parental rights of the biological parents are terminated; then, the court grants permanent custody and parental rights to the adoptive parents. To summarize, adoption removes the parental rights from the existing parents/guardians and vests those rights with the adoptive parents.
Because adoption results in the termination of important parental rights, this process involves a highly legal and technical process that’s designed to protect the rights of each party involved—including those of the child and the biological parents. In many cases, a biological parent may voluntarily surrender parental rights by putting their child up for adoption through an adoption agency or service. In other cases, the court may terminate a biological parent’s parental rights upon clear and convincing evidence that the child has been abandoned.
Other important legal considerations include:
- Under Georgia law, a child over the age of 14 must consent in writing to the adoption.
- For children born out of wedlock, the putative father also has rights in the adoption proceeding. These statutes can be fairly complicated, as the biological father has the right to notice of the adoption petition and may even become involved in the adoption proceedings. For more information about these scenarios, always consult an attorney to discuss the adoption procedure.
- For adoptions that take place after or shortly after the birth of the child, there is a time-sensitive process that must be completed. Always consult an attorney to make sure that the proper paperwork and documentation is filed before the big day.
Your Trusted Georgia Adoption Lawyer
At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, we believe in a client-focused approach that helps your family grow into a welcoming and nurturing environment for a child. Our adoption lawyers have helped hundreds of families complete the adoption process in a compassionate, cost-effective, and thorough manner. Call us today for a trusted adoption attorney in North Metro Atlanta. Our team proudly serves families (and growing families) in Cobb County, Cherokee County, Fulton County, Paulding County, Forsyth County, and Bartow County. Contact the FBA Law adoption lawyers at (770) 956-4030.