Knowledgeable Attorney Guides Families Through the Adoption Process in Georgia
Skilled legal guidance for clients who want to adopt a child
Adoption is a fulfilling experience for childless people and for families who are ready to welcome new members. It also provides stable and nurturing environments for the children adopted. Unfortunately, the adoption process imposes difficult legal requirements and is sometimes prone to frustrating delays. At the Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan, I offer compassionate and effective representation dedicated to bringing your adopted family to fruition as soon and as smoothly as possible.
Understanding the adoption process
Adoptions can take one of three forms:
- Open — The adopting parents and child maintain contact with the natural parents or at least with the natural mother.
- Semi-open — The adopting and natural families don’t contact each other directly but do correspond through an adoption agency or another third party.
- Closed — The natural and adopting parents do not know each other’s identities and therefore don’t communicate at all.
Which form of adoption you choose can depend on various factors. I can explain the advantages and disadvantages of each form so that you can proceed with the one that best suits your family structure.
You begin the adoption process by filing a petition in state Superior Court. There are certain legal criteria that determine your eligibility to adopt. You must:
- Be at least 25 years old or married but not separated from your spouse
- Be at least 10 years older than the child you adopt
- Live in Georgia for at least six months before filing your adoption petition
- Have the consent of any prospective adoptee who is at least 14 years old
As the case proceeds, you will undergo an evaluation by the Georgia Division of Families and Children Services, including home visits and other investigations, to determine your parental fitness. Depending on the adoptive child’s age, you may be required to meet with them several times during the process. You will also have to attend 23 hours of classroom training. Eventually, there will be a hearing before a judge, who grants formal approval of the adoption.
My family law firm can answer any questions you have about these requirements and the adoption process in general and can represent you every step of the way until the adoption is finalized.
How can you adopt your own stepchild?
If your spouse has children from a prior relationship, you may wish to make those children your own by adopting them. There is a simplified adoption process to follow in such cases. However, you will need the consent of your spouse and, if the children’s other parent is still living, that parent’s parental rights must be terminated before you file for adoption. This can happen in either of two ways:
- The parent voluntarily surrenders their parental rights and doesn’t revoke that surrender within the next four days.
- A court determines that the parent abandoned the children, either by not attempting to communicate with them or by not providing sufficient care.
If you need to go to court to terminate the other parent’s parental rights, I can gather and present the evidence you need to convince the court, and then help you to finalize the adoption.
Contact a caring Georgia adoption lawyer for a free initial consultation
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC represents Georgia clients in adoption cases throughout northern Georgia. Please call 470-344-8550 or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation at my Newnan office.