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How to Adopt a Grandchild in Georgia

by Andrea Howland-Myers

Grandparent adoption can be a wonderful thing--a child who needs a new home is lucky to have loving family to go to. Georgia courts generally look favorably on grandparents looking to adopt children who aren't receiving adequate care from their legal parents; it's necessary to fulfill certain legal requirements before the adoption takes place. As long as the proper consent has been given and you can demonstrate that your home is a suitable environment for a child, your adoption process is likely to go smoothly and end well.

Hire an adoption lawyer. Research lawyers by asking anyone you know who has adopted whether they would recommend their attorney, or contact the State Bar of Georgia for information and referrals. Contact adoption attorneys with information about your specific case and see how receptive they seem to helping you. A wise choice of adoption attorney can save you time, money, and stress in going through the sometimes-complicated process of relative adoption in Georgia.

Ascertain that everything possible has been done to secure parental consent. Relative adoption is easiest and least stressful for everyone involved when the child's legal and biological parents are willing to sign away their parental rights. If the child has a biological father who is not his legal guardian, you should make a good faith effort to contact the father as well. He will have the option to consent to the adoption or to try to become a legal guardian.

Petition the courts to investigate the child's living situation, if necessary. If the parent with whom the child resides will not willingly sign away her parental rights, the next step is to make sure the courts evaluate whether she is a fit parent. If she has abandoned the child, failing to contact him in a meaningful way for one year or more, or if the court finds that she is not providing necessary support and care to the child, her parental rights can be terminated involuntarily.

Seek the child's consent if she is over 14 years old. In the state of Georgia, children 14 years and older must consent to be adopted in writing. This written consent will be filed with the court as part of the adoption process.

Follow your attorney's advice in completing other steps necessary to your adoption and to making sure that, once the parents' rights have been terminated, the child is placed with you. These steps may include paperwork, a home study to ensure that your home is a safe environment for a child, or appearances in court. They will depend on the specific details of your case, chiefly whether the child already resides with you, the child's age, and the legal parents' willingness to terminate their parental rights.

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