What To Know About Adopting a Relative in Georgia?
When parents are not able to care for a child due to any number of circumstances, Georgia law permits a relative to adopt the child and assume full rights and responsibilities for their care. A child may be adopted by any living adult who is related to them by blood or by marriage. This may include aunts, uncles, grandparents and even elder siblings.
There are two basic ways that a relative adoption can occur. First, a child’s biological parents may consent to the adoption and voluntarily terminate their parental rights. This may happen when the parent is not in a financial, medical, or physical condition to care for the child and agrees that the child would be better taken care of by a close relative. Any voluntary termination of parental rights by a parent must be done in writing and be verified by the court. Additionally, if the child at issue is 14 or older, they must give consent to the adoption. As with all adoptions, the parties must participate in an investigation of their background and their home environment.
In some circumstances, voluntary consent to a relative adoption may not be forthcoming. A relative adoption can proceed based on involuntary termination of parental rights if the court determines that any of the following circumstances exist:
- Both of the child’s parents are deceased or cannot be found.
- The child has been abandoned by a sole parent.
- A sole parent is incapacitated or has been declared insane.
- The child’s father caused the child to be conceived as a result of having nonconsensual sexual intercourse with the biological mother
- Both parents have failed to exercise proper parental care or control without a justifiable cause.
Since parental rights are given a high level of protection, terminating them requires strong proof of any of these circumstances. The party seeking to adopt must show that diligent efforts were made to find the birth parents and to obtain their consent. All other requirements for relative adoption must be followed.
Relative adoptions result in the adopting parent having full responsibility for the well-being of the child, including making all legal, medical and educational decisions for them. If you are considering whether to bring a relative’s child into your home, an experienced adoption attorney can provide guidance on your eligibility and on the steps necessary. An attorney can also help you evaluate whether voluntary consent is possible or if a waiver of this requirement can be obtained.