Understanding Georgia Foster Care Adoption Laws
If you are considering foster care adoption in Georgia, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are some of the most important issues and aspects you will want to consider.
Are You Already Fostering the Child?
If you are already a foster parent to the child you want to adopt, you may find that the process is easier. That is because a lot of the work of vetting you and your family will have been done during the foster care process. The Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) will already know if you’re a good candidate to adopt a child based on your fostering record and other factors.
How is Foster Care Adoption Different from Private Adoption?
In a private adoption, families and agencies work together to find the right placement for a child. In a foster care adoption, families work with the Department instead of a private adoption agency. Nearly 85% of children in foster care end up being adopted by the family fostering them, but that isn’t always the case. Complex or unique issues can all be handled by the DFCS and the families in question.
What are the Legal Guidelines of Foster Care Adoption?
The legal guidelines for adopting a child from foster care are very important to consider. A child who has had their parental rights terminated will be eligible for adoption through the Department, as that agency will legally have custody at that time. The Department is required to give written consent for an adoption to go forward.
Once a child is within the DFCS system and the rights of the biological parents have been terminated, a foster care adoption can take place. To adopt, the prospective adoptive parent will be required to be at least 25 years of age (if unmarried) and at least 10 years older than the child being adopted. If you are married, you still must be 10 years older than the child, but you no longer have to be 25 or older. If the child has special needs, is part of a sibling group, or has been in foster care for more than 24 consecutive months, you may also be able to get adoption assistance to make the placement and transition easier for both you (and your spouse or family) and the child or children you’re adopting.
You will also need to have a criminal background check and a medical exam, along with child welfare screenings and other evaluations. Having current resident status and financial stability are additional requirements when you’re considering how to adopt a foster child in Georgia to be sure you can give that child a stable, secure home. If you haven’t lived in Georgia for at least the previous five years, you and any adult (18 or older) members of your family who live in your household need to be screened for any issues in the states where you previously lived.
Work With a Trusted Professional
Adoptions can be finalized efficiently in most cases, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve met all the guidelines and filed the correct paperwork before beginning the process. If you are interested in learning how to adopt a foster child in Georgia, reach out to a specialized adoption attorney like those at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor. With a trusted professional on your side, you can be sure that you’re meeting the requirements the state has set out for the adoption of a child in the foster care system. Contact Stearns Law today and let us help you begin the foster care adoption process.