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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:
(a) Except as otherwise authorized in this chapter, a child who has any living parent or guardian may be adopted by a third party who is neither the stepparent nor relative of that child … only if each such living parent and each such guardian has voluntarily and in writing surrendered all of his or her rights to such child to that third party for the purpose of enabling that third party to adopt such child. Except as provided in subsection (m) of this Code section, no child shall be placed with a third party for purposes of adoption unless prior to the date of placement a home study shall have been completed, and the home study report recommends placement of a child in such third party's home.
(b) In the case of a child 14 years of age or older, the written consent of the child to his adoption must be given and acknowledged in the presence of the court.
O.C.G.A. § 19-8-5 (a) and (b).
In order to effectuate the surrender mentioned in the above cited statute, the biological parent or the legal guardian of the child being adopted must sign a form titled “Surrender of Rights Final Release of Adoption.” Each surrender form must be signed in the presence of a notary. O.C.G.A. § 19-8-5 (c). Additionally, a parent or guardian, upon signing a surrender, may withdraw the surrender within ten days of signing it. O.C.G.A. § 19-8-5(d) and O.C.G.A. 19-8-9 (b).
Once the appropriate surrender of rights forms along with the acknowledgement and affidavits have been completed and signed according to the above cite code sections and sections (f), (g)and (h) of O.C.G.A. § 19-8-5, “a copy of each surrender …, together with a copy of the acknowledgment specified in subsection (f) of this Code section and a copy of the affidavits specified in subsections (g) and (h) of this Code section and the name and address of each person to whom the child is surrendered, shall be mailed, by registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, to the Office of Adoptions Georgia Department of Human Services Atlanta, Georgia within 15 days from the execution thereof. Upon receipt of the copy the department may commence its investigation…”
O.C.G.A. § 19-8-5 (j). Within 60 days from the date the necessary surrender forms, acknowledgements and affidavits have been executed and forwarded to the Office of Adoptions, the prospective adoptive parents must file their petition for adoption. O.C.G.A. 19-8-5 (k). Once the petition has been filed, the requisite home study of the prospective parents’ home must be conducted if one has not already been conducted. O.C.G.A. § 19-8-5 (m) through (o).
- In Georgia, third parties my either work directly with the biological parents or legal guardian of the child or children sought to be adopted, or they may work with either private or public adoption agencies. Independent or private adoption refers to the process where the biological parents and prospective adoptive parents work together in an adoption plan without the involvement of an adoption agency. In a private agency adoption, the biological parents relinquish their parental rights to a licensed child-placing agency following the birth of their child. Once this occurs, the adoption agency places the child with a prospective adoptive family approved through a comprehensive home study process. In public agency adoption, state agencies place children who are in state custody in foster care or adoptive placements with families who have been screened through a comprehensive training process. Generally, children come to be placed in the custody of a state agency due to the biological parent’s parental rights being terminated due to parental neglect, abandonment, misconduct, or unfitness of a parent. However, in some cases there may be a voluntary transfer of parental rights to the agency.