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What you need to Know About International Adoption in Georgia PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mary Stearns-Montgomery   
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 09:30

Over the last decade, U.S. families adopting children from foreign nations have grown at an average of 20,000 children per year according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

International Adoption or Intercountry Adoption is the process of adopting a child from a different country other than your own through permanent legal means, and bringing the child to your home country to live with you permanently. The Hague Convention of International Adoption is important to understand as it provides guidelines for international adoption to protect the children being adopted across country borders. ChildBalloons

Adopting internationally when you live in Georgia

Families interested in adopting a child from a foreign nation will work through an accredited adoption agency or work privately with an attorney specialized in this area of adoption. Unlike adoption within the United States, the process of adopting internationally can be a lengthy period of time.

When the adoption is finalized in the other country, families will need to “re-adopt” the child once they return to the U.S. In Georgia, the family will be able to obtain a Georgia adoption decree and birth certificate from the Georgia Vital Records Office, under the Georgia Division of Public Health. If the adoption is not finalized in the child’s native country, the family will need to cooperate with the governing adoption agency and entities associated to satisfy the adoption criteria and requirements. Following the adoption, the child will be issued a birth certificate from the Georgia Vital Records.

The attorneys at Stearns Montgomery & Proctor have extensive experience with all types of adoptions, and the processes that they entail. Please feel free to contact us today to help with all of your adoption needs.

What Happens when Parents Divorce after an Adoption? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mary Stearns-Montgomery   
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 10:18

Issues of divorce can be particularly complex, especially when coupled with the presence of children that have been adopted.

One type of adoption that is legal in Georgia is known as stepparent adoption, which is when a stepparent legally adopts the child of their spouse.  If both of the child’s parents are still alive, an adoption by a stepparent is still feasible, so long as the absent parent relinquishes his or her rights to make the new spouse a legal parent. A child cannot have a stepfather and biological father both with equal rights in Georgia; it must be one or the other. Furthermore, all legal guardians in writing must consent to any adoption by a child.

Statistics Show Families that Adopt are More Likely to Get Divorced

Unfortunately, many statistics show that marriages including families with adoptive children are more likely to end in divorce. It should be noted in the eyes of the law that, in cases of a finalized adoption, an adoptive parent has just as many rights in regard to a child as the biological parent had. It is not the case that divorce from a biological parent of a child will nullify the adoption, any more than if both parents were adoptive. However, if the adoption is not finalized, then the court will make the determination if the adoption should continue.

If one of the adoptive parents has legally abandoned the child (defined as a parent who has failed to provide sufficient food, clothing, or shelter for the needs of the child for thirty days), the custodial parent or caretaker may apply for a warrant through their county. Child abandonment is a misdemeanor in Georgia and can result in a $1,000 fine or up to 12 months in prison. Again, since the law sees adoptive parents as legal equivalents to biological parents, these cases are no different than those concerning a biological parent who has abandoned the child.

Family law in Georgia can be difficult to navigate. Whether you are planning on adopting a child with your spouse, adopting your stepchild, or divorcing someone with whom you share an adopted child, the aid of an experienced attorney is invaluable. Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor will ensure that your rights are protected, and the best outcome for your family is realized. Do not hesitate to contact us today.
Tips for Stepparent Adoptions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mary Stearns-Montgomery   
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 14:40

Many adoption proceedings are for stepparents. When a stepparent adopts their spouse’s child they are agreeing to financially support their spouse’s child and dismissing the non-custodial parent from any rights to the child. If you are thinking about adopting your stepchild here are some things to consider during the process:

  • Who starts the process: It is up to the stepparent to start the adoption process and fill out the required paperwork to put the adoption in motion.
  • How do you know if you are able to adopt your stepchild: In most cases of a stepparent adopting their spouse’s child in Georgia, the absent parent is either deceased or has abandoned their responsibilities as a parent including financially and by not maintaining a relationship with the child.  If the non-custodial parent has a regular relationship with the child and is maintaining their financial obligations you will have to get consent from them to adopt the child.
  • Do the children have any say: In Georgia if the child is 14 years of age or older they have to consent in writing to the adoption.  
  • Do you have to get approved to adopt the child: Before being granted legal custody as a stepparent you will have to pass a background check. The Department of Human Resources will also verify that the adoption is in the best interest of the child and conditions are going to be good for the child.  

Before proceeding with an adoption it is important to consult a family law attorney to help you through the process.