Adoption is defined as a social and legal process that creates a new family, giving adopted children the same rights and benefits as those born into the family. To children without a permanent family, adoption represents the hope for a better life.
The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCs) is dedicated to finding loving homes for the numerous children in permanent state custody who are available for adoption. These children are often survivors of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Due to the harsh circumstances of their lives, most of the children fall in the adoptive category of Special Needs. As defined for the purpose of adoption, Special Needs includes:
- A child who has been in the care of a public or private agency or individual other than the legal or biological parent for more than 24 consecutive months.
- A child with physical, mental or emotional disability, as validated by a licensed physician or psychologist.
- A child who is a member of a sibling group of two (2) or more placed in the same home.
If you would like more information about Adoption Services in Georgia, contact the Homes for Georgia’s Kids Foster Care and Adoption Inquiry Line at 1-877-210-KIDS (5437) or click the icon below to complete an inquiry form.
Adopting in Georgia
The Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) is committed to educating the public about the adoption of children in the permanent custody of the Georgia Department of Human Services.
It is DFCS’ goal to return children safely to their families as soon as possible. However, children cannot remain in temporary foster care placement indefinitely. Therefore, when the issues that caused the placement cannot be resolved timely, DFCS must identify other permanency options; this option is often adoption.
Who may adopt in Georgia?
To adopt in Georgia, you can be:
- At least 25 years of age, if single and ten years older than the child to be placed;
- Married and living with spouse and ten years older than the child to be placed;
- A bona fide reside for 6 months prior to filing petition;
The most important requirement for being an adoptive parent is the willingness and capacity to care for children. Adoptive parents make an unconditional commitment to meet the physical, emotional, medical, psychological and social needs of their children.
Who are the children waiting to be adopted in Georgia?
Children waiting to be adopted include:
- Children with special needs
- Sibling groups
- Children 10 years of age or older
If you would like more information about becoming an adoptive parent in Georgia, contact the Homes for Georgia’s Kids Foster Care and Adoption Inquiry Line at 1-877-210-KIDS (5437) or click the icon below to complete an inquiry form.
The Adoption Process
The length of the adoption process varies according to the circumstances of the child and your family, but can take as few as four to ten months. By providing extensive training and support, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) ensures that you and your family are ready when the time to adopt arrives. The steps in the process are outlined below.
Step 1: Inquiry
You can begin the adoption process by making initial contact with DFCS by phone. After answering some basic questions, you will receive a packet from your local DFCS office about the next information meeting scheduled in your area. Call 1-877-210-KIDS (5437) or click the icon to complete this step.
Step 2: The Information Session
Step two involves attending a meeting to learn fundamental information about the adoption process and the requirements for adopting through DFCS. You will also get a chance to see pictures of the children currently available in Georgia. After the information session, we ask that you take some time to carefully consider the information provided before moving to the next step. A Resource Development Worker will come to your home to conduct an initial visit prior to you attending the pre-service training.
Step 3: Pre-service Training
When you are ready to move forward with the adoption process, this step requires you to attend the adoption preparation program offered through your County Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). You may also attend a comparable adoption preparation program offered through a private licensed adoption agency under contract with DFCS. The DFCS adoption preparation program, (I)Initial Interest, (M) Mutual selection, (P) Pre-service training,(A) Assessment, (C) Continuing Development, (T) Teamwork (IMPACT), currently consists of 23 classroom hours of training.
IMPACT participants include those interested in adoption through the DFCS, as well as those interested in foster parenting. The classes offer an opportunity for you to learn about a variety of topics related to the adoption experience, including:
- Information about the children
- The possible impact of adoption on your family
- Behavior management techniques
- The agency’s role and more
During this time, a case manager will meet individually with your family to complete the assessment process and to begin your Family Evaluation. This evaluation includes visits to your home, gathering of information (such as medical reports, criminal records check, financial statement, etc.), and discussions about your views on adopting.
Step 4: Family Evaluation
You may proceed to step four upon completion of an adoption preparation program and the assessment process. Upon reaching this step, your Family Evaluation will be forwarded to the Adoption Exchange. Your family will then be considered a resource for a waiting child.
Step 5: Pre-Placement
The time between being approved and placement of a child in your home varies from family to family, although identifying a child may shorten your waiting period. During the interim, you can periodically review the Photolisting and you will also have the opportunity to attend adoption parties and match meetings. Information about support groups in your area is available through your Resource Development Worker.
Step 6: Placement
During this step, you may identify a child, or a Georgia county with a child available for adoption may select your family for consideration. If all agree that your family is a possible resource, then you will have the opportunity to review detailed information about the child.
If you and the case manager decide to move forward, a meeting will be held to share additional information, answer questions and schedule pre-placement visits.
After a series of visits, you will sign a placement agreement and the child will join your family. The agency will help you apply for Adoption Assistance at this time if the child is in the category of Special Needs, as defined for the purpose of adoption. During the time before the adoption is finalized, your Resource Development Worker and the child’s Case Manager will visit with you and the child to offer support as you begin your new life together.
Step 7: Finalization
While your child may live with you and become part of your family, you must make the child legally your own through the court system. Upon receiving a release from DFCS, your attorney will file the adoption petition.
A hearing will be held by the Superior Court Judge in your county to finalize the adoption. The cost should be nominal and may be reimbursable for children with Special Needs. When you become the legal parent, visits are no longer required, but the agency is always a resource for you.
The Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) contracts with local Child Placing Agencies (CPA) to provide adoption services. Similar to services offered by DFCS, contracted CPAs provide an orientation/information session, pre-service training, family evaluation, and placement and supervision services.