The Basics of Adoption

A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkAdoption is a wonderful experience that can have a positive impact on the life of children, parents, families, and communities. By adding to your family, you can offer a better life to a child while also enhancing your own. That is not to say that adoption is easy; it is a confusing and often overwhelming process. There are many complex misconceptions and myths surrounding adoption in Georgia.

At Mitchell & Crunk, our compassionate family law attorneys have extensive experience handling the full range of adoption cases. Whether you are looking for an adoption lawyer in Commerce, GA, an adoption lawyer in Winder, GA, or an adoption lawyer to help you in any other community in North Georgia, we are here for you. To get you started, our family law team has put together a comprehensive guide to the adoption process. We want to make sure that you have all of the information you need.

Adoption is complex and varied. Each adoption case deserves individualized attention from a qualified legal professional.

I. Understanding the Process

A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkIf you are considering adoption in Georgia, you need to understand the ins and outs of how the process actually works. Adoption is a varied, highly complicated legal process. While every adoption truly is unique, there are common characteristics and steps that all prospective adoptive parents should carefully consider before they move forward. With a comprehensive understanding of the process of adoption, Georgia families will have a far easier time getting successful results.

  • Preparation:

    When considering adoption, it is impossible to overstate the importance of proper preparation. You should make use of all of the available information and resources so that you can protect your rights and best meet the needs of your new child.

    If you are making the choice to add a new member to your family through adoption, you are putting yourself on a wonderful path to provide a child (and yourself) with a more fulfilling life. There is a huge adoption gap in the United States. According to data provided by the National Council for Adoption, there are more than 450,000 kids currently in foster care — and that number is growing each year.

    As important as adoption is and as positive as it can be, it is not something that you can take lightly. Before you really consider moving forward in the adoption process in Georgia, it is crucial that you have properly prepared yourself and your family. Here, our Georgia adoption lawyers highlight some of the most important things that families need to think about when preparing for adoption.

    Consider the Impact on Your Marriage and Your Family

    When preparing for adoption, one of the first things that you need to consider is the impact that adoption will have on you, your family members, and your marriage. Adoption is a life-changing decision. That is not an overstatement. You need to be sure that you are not acting on impulse and that you are ready to provide an excellent home for a child.

    Be Ready to Deal With Attachment issues

    ‘Attachment’ is a biological and psychological term. In essence, it refers to the deep emotional bond that develops between a parent and a child. With biological children, attachment is almost natural. It begins while the child is still in utero. Adoptive children can sometimes have more difficulty attaching to their new parents. You need to be ready to take quick but compassionate action should an adopted child struggle with attachment.

    Understand Your Strengths and Flaws as a Parent

    No parent is perfect. Parenting is almost inconceivably difficult. There are so many different challenges that parents must deal with after adopting a kid. One of the key characteristics that truly makes a great parent is self-awareness. You should know your own strengths and weaknesses as a parent. With this information, you can better care for your adopted child.

    Get Yourself Familiar With All of the Available Resources

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkOne of the most effective ways to prepare for adoption is getting yourself familiar with all of the available resources ahead of time. It is important to build a strong, effective support structure for yourself and your child. This includes both professional support and informal support. Should a problem arise, you need to be ready to know where to turn for help. This may include a professional child therapist, a close loved one, a family member, a reference guide of useful information on parenting, other parents who have adopted children in Georgia, or any other type of useful resource.

    Prepare Your Home for an Adopted Child

    Finally, your home must be properly prepared for a child. This is especially important if you are adopting your first child. Beyond setting up the best environment for your adopted kid, Georgia families must complete a home study before an adoption can be finalized. You will be required to prove that you and your family can provide a healthy happy environment for a child.

  • What Type of Adoption to Pursue:

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkEarly on in the process, you must determine what type of adoption program you will be pursuing. You may choose to adopt internationally or domestically, and you may decide to go through the state, through an adoption agency, or privately with guidance from a Georgia adoption lawyer.

    Adoptions come in many different forms. Once you and your family are sure that you are ready to go through with the adoption process in Georgia, you should develop an in-depth understanding of the different types of adoption that are available to families in the state. Each type of adoption offers certain benefits and certain drawbacks. It is crucial that you select the path that is truly best for your family.

    International Adoption vs. Domestic Adoption

    When considering types of adoption, one of the very first questions that Georgia families must answer is the following: Do we want to pursue a domestic adoption or international adoption? While American adoptions and global adoptions do have many commonalities, there are also some very important differences. Specifically, some of the most notable difference between them include:

    • The requirements: With international adoptions, you must consider the Hague Process as well as the local adoption laws in the other country.
    • The available children: International adoptions are almost exclusively of on non-infants. While most children are still young (one to five years old), very few infants are adopted internationally. Further, in many cases, only minimal information is known about the child’s early history.
    • Travel: International adoption requires a considerable amount of travel. This can be both costly and time-consuming. It also has the potential to be frustrating should any obstacles arise.

    Domestic Adoption: Three Primary Options

    Adopting Through the Foster System

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkTo start, you can adopt a child out of our state’s foster system. According to the latest information provided by the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services, there are currently 14,400 children in foster care in our state (as of June 2018). While many families are not interested in adopting a child through the foster care system, there are some advantages to choosing this type of adoption. If you choose a foster care adoption, it is crucial that you work with the foster care agency to ensure the best possible transition for the children.

    Working With an Adoption Agency

    Georgia families can also work with a private adoption agency. The State of Georgia licenses these agencies, and they must comply with many different legal requirements. If you are interested in adopting a newborn infant, and you prefer to ensure that the biological parent can potentially have a relationship with the child, a private agency is often your best option. In addition, high-quality private agencies allow prospective parents to have more control over the process. This often includes creating a profile to make a match with a child. One of the main drawbacks is that the wait time with these agencies is entirely unpredictable: it can be lengthy and frustrating.

    Private Adoption Through a Lawyer
    Finally, one of the best options for families in our region is adopting a child independently, through a qualified Georgia adoption attorney. With this method of adoption, adoptive parents can work directly with their legal representative to establish their desired relationship with the child’s birth parents. This type of method allows for maximum flexibility. In general, adoption through a lawyer is also much faster than any other type of adoption.

  • Finding an Agency:

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkIf you want to adopt through a licensed agency, you need to determine exactly what agency is best for you and your family. It is crucial that you work with an agency that is worthy of your trust. Consider what you need to know how to locate the agency that is best for your family for the adoption process in Georgia. The Georgia Association of Licensed Adoption Agencies (GALAA)provides useful information on the agencies that are actively operating in our state.

    To be clear, you do not need to find an adoption agency. You can instead choose a private, independent adoption by working directly with an experienced adoption attorney in Georgia. Over the past several years, private adoptions have become increasingly popular in our region.

    Still, many families prefer to work with an adoption agency. If you are considering an adoption agency, you need to be able to find the best agency for your specific needs. Here, we highlight five of the most important things that you and your family need to consider when looking for an adoption agency.

    How Long Will It Take to Adopt?

    Different adoption agencies have different timelines for adoption. When considering working with an adoption agency, you should understand how long it takes them to actually place a child. Make sure that you select an agency that typically has a timeline that is well-suited for your individual needs and desires. Of course, there is always some degree of unpredictability when working with adoption agencies.

    What Will the Total Cost of Adoption Be?

    Cost matters. The cost of working with different adoption agencies can vary dramatically. Some estimates put the range at somewhere between $7,000 and $40,000. Before you start seriously consider an agency, please be sure to determine your family’s budget. This way, you can look for adoption agencies that are financially viable for your situation.

    Is the Adoption Agency Reputable?

    Selecting an adoption agency is an incredibly important choice. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. You need to do as much research as you possibly can on the agency. While the State of Georgia licenses and regulates adoption agencies, they are not all equally successful or reputable. The more information you have on the agency’s background and past result, the better off you will be.

    What Benefits Does the Adoption Agency Offer?

    Different adoption agencies have different programs available. You should ask the representatives of any adoption agencies what benefits their organization offers to your family. Why should you choose them over another adoption agency? With these types of questions, you can determine what is truly important to you and your family and which adoption agency is actually best suited to provide for your needs.

    Are You Sure that You Want to Go Through an Adoption Agency?

    Remember, you do not have to work with an adoption agency. There are other options available. After looking for a Georgia adoption agency, you may not find one that you truly feel comfortable working with. You can still select one of the other types of adoptions. Perhaps your family is better suited for international adoption, or, alternatively, you may want to pursue an independent adoption through an experienced Georgia adoption lawyer.

  • Applying for a Program:

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkWhen you have selected a path for adoption, you will be required to fill out the initial paperwork to apply for a specific program. The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) reports that approximately 120,000 adoptions are finalized in the United States every year. Adoptions occur in many different ways. The NCFA estimates that 63 percent of all U.S. adoptions are ‘unrelated’ — the adoptive parents have no pre-existing relationship with the child. In many cases, unrelated adoptions are completed through a state-licensed agency. If you and your family choose to go through an adoption agency, it is imperative that you do your research. You need to be sure that you are working with a reputable, reliable adoption agency. Further, you need to be sure that you have selected an agency that offers a specific program that is right for you. When you find an adoption agency, you will be required to apply (and be approved) for one of their adoption programs. Some Georgia adoption agencies offer multiple types of programs, while others offer one single adoption program. Before the adoption process in Georgia can be finalized, you will need to complete all of the paperwork, undergo a review, and be approved for placement. Consider when applying for an adoption program.

    1. Find the Program that is Best Suited for Your Family

    When you begin to look into adoption programs, the overall process can seem long, daunting, and even intimidating. Different adoption agencies offer different programs. These adoption programs vary based on many criteria. There are benefits and drawbacks to virtually every adoption program. It is crucial that you take the time and energy to find an adoption program that is best for the needs and desires of you and your family.

    2. Prepare and Organize All Relevant Background Information

    When applying for an adoption program, you and your family will be required to present a wide range of different background information to the agency. Among other things, you may be required to submit:

    • The full biographical information for each parent;
    • Details about your current family situation, including your current children;
    • The result of a criminal background check;
    • Information about your housing status;
    • The results of a home study;
    • Answers to a comprehensive set of family questions;
    • Certain financial documents and records; and
    • The personal and health history of each parent.

    Preparing for a successful adoption can be a challenging process. To best increase your odds of successful results, it is strongly recommended that you carefully and diligently prepare all relevant background, financial, and other records. Proper preparation is one of the keys to the smoothest possible path through the adoption agency application.

    3. Be Ready to Seek Professional Assistance

    Adoption is a huge, life-changing decision for you and for your loved ones. Parents should never rush into the process. If you have any questions or concerns about adoption programs, you should not hesitate to seek professional guidance from an experienced Georgia adoption lawyer.

    Your lawyer can help you prepare to apply for a particularly competitive adoption program, thereby increasing your odds for approval. Alternatively, if there is no program that quite meets your needs, your lawyer can help you explore your options for private adoption.

  • Complete Your Home Study:

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkUnder Georgia state regulations, you must complete a home study before your adoption can be finalized. The home study is designed to make sure that applicants have the ability to provide a healthy, safe environment for a new child.

    If you have already submitted your application to begin the adoption process in Georgia, you will be required to complete a home study before you can be approved for the placement of a child. Going through the home study process can be confusing, stressful, intimidating, and all-around exhausting for applicants. Few people are truly comfortable having their life — and their home — put under the microscope.

    While it is normal to be worried about the adoption home study, there are many things that prospective adoptive parents can do to dramatically improve their chances of success. One of the first things that all applicants should know is that the purpose of the home study is not to keep you from adopting a child. Instead, it is simply to ensure that all children are being placed in healthy, safe environments.

    Be Prepared for the Paperwork

    When you go through the home study process, you are going to get an enormous amount of paperwork. A non-exhaustive list of documents forms that you can expect to complete as part of the process include:

    • Criminal background check forms;
    • Home study questionnaires;
    • Personal references;
    • Employment references;
    • Financial documents and records;
    • Health and medical requirements; and
    • Proof that you meet all relevant Georgia adoption education and training requirements.

    While filling out this paperwork can be tedious, it is also critically important. Minor errors could cause major problems. If you need help with any adoption paperwork, you should not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Georgia adoption lawyer for professional guidance and support.

    Expect to Be Interviewed

    Most adoption home studies involve an interview with a professional social worker. During this interview, a wide range of different topics are likely to be explored. For example, you may be asked about:

    • Your reasons for adopting a child;
    • Your relationship with your partner and other family members;
    • Your financial status;
    • Your parenting style; and
    • Much more.

    Always be honest in-home study interviews. Deception will get you in trouble. Of course, you should always be cautious. Answer the questions that are asked without providing unnecessary information. Finally, remember that the interview is not an interrogation. The purpose of the home study interview is solely to make sure that you are well-suited to provide a home for a child.

    Safety is Paramount

    When social workers conduct home studies in Georgia, their primary concern is the safety of children. If your home is not safe, you will not be approved. Period. Safety is critically important. There are both major and minor issues that you need to be certain to address. Major things from accessible firearms to unsecured backyard pools to easy to forget things like smoke detector batteries all matter. Make sure your home is as safe as possible.

    Do Not Drive Yourself Crazy

    It is easy to make yourself anxious preparing for a home study. Relaxing is helpful. You are not going to lose out on adoption because of a minor stain on a bedroom carpet or a cluttered closet. Everything does not have to be perfect. It will not be and it cannot be. Be prepared, be honest, and be ready to demonstrate that you and your family can provide a safe and happy home for a child.

  • Accept a Referral or Placement:

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkThe adoption process in Georgia can be daunting and stressful. While the average waiting time can vary dramatically based on a number of different factors, it tends to be a slow process. For example, the National Adoption Center reports that the ordinary wait to adopt a healthy infant is somewhere between two and seven years.

    With such a long wait being the norm, receiving an adoption referral or an adoption placement can be incredibly exciting. For future parents, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and to want to accept right away. While this is completely understandable, at this moment it is crucial that future adoptive parents take a minute to catch their breath. You need to carefully evaluate the situation to ensure that you are the right family for the child or children in question.

    Proceed With Care and Caution: Be Sure that You Ready to Move Forward

    You should never rush into finalizing an adoption. Even if you have been waiting for months or years to receive a referral or a placement, you need to proceed with a lot of caution and care. Be sure that the child in question is absolutely the right child for your family. If you have any reservations or any uneasy feelings, there is nothing wrong with slowing the process down. You have a right to get as much information as you can get your hands on.

    Important Issues to Consider Before Accepting an Adoption Referral or Adoption Placement

    Before accepting a referral or placement, there are many different issues that you should consider. Remember, this is a big decision and you want to make sure that you get it right — for both your family and the child. Among other things, you should consider:

    • The age and gender of the child;
    • The medical history and current health status of the child;
    • The full personal history and background of the child;
    • Whether your family is truly ready to move forward; and
    • Any other relevant legal or personal issues.

    Ultimately, it is important that you keep in mind the gravity of the situation. It is imperative that you get as much information as you possibly can about the child, their history, and their background. You will want to make sure that you have access to all available information, files, documents, and records. Prospective parents should never hesitate to consult with the child’s past caregivers or other qualified professionals.

    Are You Ready to Accept Placement? Great!

    If you have carefully considered the situation and you are ready to move forward, you and your partner must accept the referral/placement in accordance with the procedures set up by the adoption agency or adoption program. Congratulations! This is an exciting moment. Of course, while you are quickly moving towards the end of the legal adoption process itself, you are really just getting started. You have a lifetime ahead of you to parent, care for, and grow with your child. You should still have access to resources to help your child transition to your home and attach to your family.

  • Parent Your Child:

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkOnce the adoption has been finalized, the real work is just beginning! While adoption can be a long road, it is truly only the start of a journey.

    Finalizing the adoption process in Georgia is a wonderful feeling. Though it can be challenging at times, most adoptive parents have a good experience with the overall adoption process. According to data provided by the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation, approximately 90 percent of adoptive parents report that they were satisfied with how their adoption went. That being said, finalizing an adoption is truly only the beginning.

    You are at the start of the journey, not the end.

    The real work — and the real joy — that comes from an adoption comes from building and growing a new family. Parenting your child and helping them create a happy, successful, and meaningful life is one of the most rewarding things that anyone can experience. This is not to say that there are no challenges involved in parenting an adoptive child — there certainly are challenges. There are also resources available to help new parents handle any issues that might arise.

    Four Things Adoptive Parents Should Do When Bringing Home a New Child:

    Get Their Bedroom Ready

    For adoptive children, especially for children who are not infants at the time of their adoption, moving into a new home can be hard. For parents who want to make this transition as smooth and as problem-free as possible, creating a living space that is just for the child is often the best starting point. Putting a bedroom together that offers the child comfort and a real place to call their own will help to give them a much-needed sense of security and stability.

    Early Quality Bonding Time is Important

    Adoption professionals recommend that parents focus on getting as much quality bonding time with their new child as soon as they possibly can. This early bonding time can provide incredible, lifelong value. It can start to build that strong parent-child relationship that everyone desires. Many adoption professionals even recommend a therapeutic parenting strategy referred to as cocooning. During this time, the family puts their whole focus on bonding with the new child — even taking some leave from work, if it is possible to do so.

    Be Ready to Deal With Attachment Issues

    Transitioning to an adoptive home is not easy for every child. If your new child has some struggles, it does not mean that anything is wrong with them, and it does not mean that anything is wrong with you or wrong with your parenting. Attachment issues are normal. You should be ready to address them with sensitivity and care.

    Each Child Deserves Unique Attention

    In the long run, parenting an adopted child is not dramatically different than parenting a biological child. While there are certainly some additional issues that will need to be considered and dealt with, ultimately, every child needs fully individualized attention. What is good parenting for one child may not work as well for another? The most effective parents are the ones that put the time and energy into truly understanding their children.

  • How to Fund an Adoption:

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkIt is important to remember that adoption is not cheap. In the United States, it can cost many thousands of dollars. Of course, raising a child is not cheap either. It is important to consider your finances and the funding source for your adoption and for supporting your new child. 

    If you are considering starting the adoption process in Georgia, it is imperative that you get your finances in order. Simply put, adopting a child is not cheap. For many families, the cost of adoption can be a real barrier and a difficult financial burden.

    According to the latest information from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the average cost of private adoption in the United States runs between $20,000 and $40,000. For some couples, the cost can run far higher than that.

    Of course, these are just the initial costs. Beyond these initial expenses, any parent can tell you that raising a kid in Georgia is a tremendous financial commitment. It is crucial that you make sure your family is ready for the challenges.

    There are Some Financial Options to Help Families Fund an Adoption

    Not every family has enough money saved up to comfortably bear the entire cost of the adoption process. Fortunately, there are some other financial options that might be helpful. Below is a list of five common sources of extra funding that help some Georgia families with the cost of adopting a child.

    State Assistance

    You and your family may be eligible to get some financial help from the state of Georgia. As explained by the Georgia Division of Family and Child Services, certain adoptive parents qualify for the state’s adoption subsidy. If you are looking into adopting a child with special needs, you should consider applying for financial assistance from the state.

    Tax Credits

    In the year that they complete their adoption, parents are eligible to get a significant reimbursement of their expenses through tax credits. Indeed, the Tax Policy Center notes that families can obtain up to $13,570 in tax credits for qualifying adoption-related expenses. This will be a reimbursement, so families will need to bear the initial cost before getting some of it back through tax credits.

    Adoption Loans

    Some Georgia families choose to take out a small or moderate loan in order to fund some of the upfront costs associated with adoption. The most sensible way to do this will depend on the unique financial circumstances of their borrower. For some adoptive families, borrowing against a retirement account or getting a home equity loan of credit offers the lowest interest rate, for other families a private adoption loan from a bank or financial institution may be the best option.

    Employee Benefits

    If you or your spouse works for a large corporation or a company that offers good employee benefits, you should check to see if you qualify for an adoption grant. Many American companies offer adoption benefits to their workers. For example, two of Georgia’s most prominent employers — Home Depot and Coca-Cola — offer their employees generous adoption benefits.

    Adoption Grants

    Finally, private charities and other private organizations offer some adoption grants to help families with the financial burden of adoption. If your family is considering adopting a child, and you are worried about the total cost, it is always a good idea to look into all of the grants that are available in your area. You may find that could be approved for a grant that helps with all or some of the total costs of adoption.

II. Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How Will This Affect My Family and Marriage?

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkAdopting a child can bring an incredible amount of joy to a family — although it will also bring some stress. Of course, the overwhelming majority of adoptive parents are happy with their decision and they report that they would do it again. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 87 percent of adoptive parents report that they would ‘definitely’ make the same decision, and another 10 percent report that they would ‘probably’ make the same decision.

    As rewarding as adopting a child can be, it is still important to remember that doing so will bring considerable changes to your family. Bringing in a new child — whether you are having a baby or adopting a child — is going to bring some stress. Parents need to be prepared for that fact. Before you go through the adoption process in Georgia, it is crucial that you ask yourself the following question: How will adoption affect my marriage and my family?

    How Will a New Child Fit Into Your Life and Relationship?

    A child changes your life in a number of different ways. A child can also change certain aspects of your relationship with your partner. Before you finalize an adoption, you should consider exactly how your child will fit into your lifestyle. Can you accommodate the child’s needs? What, if anything, will you need to change about your life? Can you deal with all of the challenges? This is an issue that requires careful contemplation and some introspection.

    Are You in a Stable Position to Allow for a Flexible Transition?

    The weeks and months following a new child’s introduction into your home are among the most important. Indeed, many experts recommend that families use a therapeutic parenting strategy called “cocooning” to help an adoptive child transition. This strategy focuses on making sure that the family gets significant bonding time with the child immediately following the adoption. How flexible and stable is your family?

    Are All Members of the Family On Board With the Decision?

    Every person’s voice matters. You should make sure that everyone in your family is on board with the adoption. This includes your partner and your other children. You do not want to cause conflict within your family by introducing a new child when some family members are not ready for that type of change.

    Have You Fully Considered the Potential for Some Struggles?

    Not every adoption goes perfectly: there will almost certainly be some struggles. In some cases, a child may have trouble transitioning to their new home. While this is normal, it can be challenging for parents. The stress can even create some conflict among adoptive parents. You and your family need to be absolutely sure that you are prepared for and willing to deal with some of the struggles that could come with adoption. In the long run, the value can be incredible: almost all parents report that going through the challenges is absolutely worth it in the end.

  • Am I Eligible to Adopt?

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkNot every family in Georgia is currently eligible to adopt a child. Before you move forward in the adoption process — committing your money, putting in a lot of time, and giving up your emotional energy — you should be sure that you and your family are eligible for adoption.

    Each type of adoption program will have its own set of eligibility standards. When you are looking for a program, you need to be sure that you are qualified and meet all of the relevant eligibility requirements. Here, our Georgia adoption lawyers help you get started by highlighting four key factors that are likely to affect your adoption eligibility.

    Financial Resources

    First and foremost, you need to be sure that your family has the financial resources to adopt and support a child. Adoption can be expensive. In fact, the Administration for Children & Families reports that adoptions typically cost somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000. Of course, those costs can vary dramatically based on a number of different factors. As costly as adoption can be, it is still cheap when compared to the lifetime cost of raising a child. To be eligible to adopt, you will need to be able to demonstrate that your family has the financial capacity to provide a safe and healthy home for the child.

    Family Stability

    Beyond financial resources, Georgia families also need to be in an all-around stable position before they can bring a new child into the home. Adoption eligibility always requires familial stability. In considering the issue of ‘stability’, adoption agencies will consider a number of different factors. They want to make sure that a home is a good, positive environment for the child and that parents are both physically and psychologically able to care for a new child.

    Background Checks

    When you prepare your adoption application, you and your partner will be required to submit to a background check. These background checks are necessary to ensure that prospective parents are fit to provide a safe environment for a child. Above all other factors, the background check is meant to uncover any history of a criminal record. In addition, other records may be referenced as well, including state sex offender registries and adult protective services records.

    Complete a Home Study

    Before your adoption can be finalized, you will also be required to complete a home study. For many prospective parents, this can be one of the most intimidating and stressful aspects of the entire adoption process in Georgia. It is important to remember that the purpose of a home study is not to nitpick every small detail of your living situation. As explained by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, the purpose of a home study is simply to ensure that you have the capacity to meet the child’s basic needs. Parents should not drive themselves crazy preparing for their home study. Still, it is crucial that adoptive parents are ready to demonstrate that their home is a safe and healthy environment.

III. How to Prepare

  • Resources

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkPreparing for adoption can be stressful and confusing. If you are like most parents, you may be overwhelmed, feeling as though there is a never-ending list of additional things that you could or should be doing. This is entirely normal. Many parents never feel truly ‘prepared’ for their adoption.

    The good news is that there are some simple things that you can do that will go a long way towards ensuring that you are fully prepared for any situation that might arise. One of the best things that you can do is to put together a list of resources to turn to in case you need some guidance. Below, our Georgia adoption attorneys provide an overview of the best adoption resources that are available to parents.

    Your Personal Social Network

    For new parents, there is perhaps no resource more valuable than a personal social network. This includes everything from your immediate family and your extended family to your close friends and if you attend one, even your church. The people in your life can provide you with a lot of support that can help you during the adoption process in Georgia and while you are raising your child.

    Formalized Adoption Support Groups

    Beyond your friends and family, you can also turn to support groups that are dedicated specifically to assist adoptive parents. Many communities in Georgia have active adoption support groups. The Georgia Division of Family & Children Services has published a list of some of the most popular post-adoption resources for new parents. In addition, Psychology Today has also published a directory list of some adoption support groups that meet in Georgia.

    Expert Advice: The Books on Adoption

    Some of the best adoption support resources can be accessed from the comfort of your own home. There is an enormous amount of books, videos, internet-based classes, and other resources that have been designed to help adoptive parents. As a useful starting point, Show Hope — a charity committed to supporting orphans — has put together a comprehensive list of pre and post-adoption resources that are great for new families. You may find some useful information that can help you both prepare for adoption and ease the transition of the child into your home.

    Child Psychologists, Pediatricians, and Family Therapists

    Some children have an especially difficult time transitioning to a new home. In these cases, parents should be ready to seek professional help. Poor transitions can happen for many different reasons. It could due to the fact that your new child has some trauma in their background, or it simply could be that they are having some general discomfort with the concept of transition.

    Rest assured that what you are going through is normal. Many parents have been through similar things before and there are professionals ready to assist you and your family. You may want to reach out to a pediatrician, a child psychologist, a family therapist, or a school-based education specialist. One of the best things you can do to prepare for your adoption is to make a list of professionals who can help you and your child in different situations. With this information, you will be able to take action and overcome whatever obstacles might arise.

  • Be Familiar With Early Intervention Options

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkIf you have done any research on the adoption process in Georgia, you probably already know that transitioning to a new home can be difficult for some children. Of course, this is not always the case. For some kids, their transition is almost shockingly easy. Parents wait for problems, yet none ever really arise. Whether or not an adoption will be difficult for your child depends on a number of different factors — from the history of trauma in their background to their unique individual personality. How a child will deal with their transition is somewhat unpredictable.

    All parents should be prepared for some struggles. One of the best things that adoptive parents can do to get ready is to become familiar with the options for early intervention. The transition might present some challenges – and that is okay. It is something that you and your family can handle. If there are issues with the transition, early intervention is the key to helping your child and creating a strong, lasting bond.

    The Importance of Early Intervention

    For adoptive parents, early intervention is incredibly important. If your child is struggling to adjust to a new environment — for any reason — you need to be ready to get professional support. What kind of support? That is a difficult question. It is one that you will be in the very best position to answer. Parents should always take the time to carefully review all of the information that they know about their child’s background. With that information and your own personal observations, you can determine what type of support your kid needs to excel.

    According to a study published in the Paediatrics & Child Health medical journal, children who were adopted — even when adopted as infants — are affected by the adoption of their entire life. Of course, this is not necessarily a negative thing. Quite the contrary; a positive adoptive experience will produce a positive impact that can last for a lifetime. The sooner parents take action to address any struggles that their child is having, the more likely that the issue will be successfully resolved.

    Adoption Intervention: Who You Can Turn to For Help and Support

    Who should adoptive parents actually turn to for help with early intervention? It depends entirely on the specific situation that they find themselves in. As a parent, you will be in the best position to know your child. You need to connect them with the support that addresses the specific problems that they are having.

    Is your child having trouble overcoming trauma stemming from an early part of their life? They may need considerable psychological counseling. They may even need medical support. Is your child displaying behavioral problems because they are struggling to attach to you or your family? If so, family-based therapy and social bonding time may be the answers.

    You should have a basic understanding of the full range of intervention adoptions that are available to your family. If you are adopting through an agency, you should not hesitate to reach out to the agency for guidance.

  • Find Support

    A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkAdoptive parents need comprehensive support. Certainly, this includes post-adoption support that helps to ease a child’s transition into their new home. Pre-adoption support is also available. Navigating the adoption process itself can be confusing, frustrating, and all-around overwhelming. Remember, you and your family are not going through adoption alone.

    While you are preparing for adoption, you should not hesitate to get an experienced attorney by your side. The adoption process in Georgia is notoriously complex. For a wide range of different reasons, you may find that there are hurdles between you and the completion of your adoption. The good news is that you can also reach out to an experienced Georgia adoption lawyer who will be a strong advocate for your best interests.

    How a Georgia Adoption Attorney Can Help

    Your adoption attorney can help you prepare for and get through the adoption process in a wide range of different ways. At Mitchell & Crunk, we offer a full array of adoption services. Our law firm is committed to helping prospective parents overcome any obstacle that might be standing between them and their new child. Among other things, our Georgia adoption lawyers are prepared to:

    1. Help you understand the ins and outs of the adoption process;
    2. Help you weigh all of your possible options for your adoption, including agency-based adoption and private adoptions;
    3. Gather all relevant documents and records and assist you in completing the relevant paperwork;
    4. Ensure that you and your family present the strongest possible application to prove your eligibility;
    5. Obtain any information that might be accessible regarding the child or their birth parents;
    6. Tie up any loose ends to ensure that your parental rights to the adopted child are 100 percent secure under Georgia state law; and
    7. Take action to ensure that your adoption is completed in the most efficient manner, including representing you in a court hearing should one be necessary.

The adoption process is fundamentally dynamic. In other words, adoption is not always predictable. Many different issues and problems can arise during the process. With the support of a skilled Georgia adoption lawyer, you can be sure that you and your family will be in the very best position to get through any potential challenges.

When Should I Hire a Georgia Adoption Attorney?

A Guide to Adoption in Georgia | the Law Offices of Mitchell & CrunkThe earlier in the process you seek guidance from an experienced adoption lawyer, the better off you will be. As with many other legal issues, the sooner the potential problems can be identified, the easier it will be to find workable solutions. Many parents in Georgia can benefit from consulting with an adoption lawyer while they are still exploring the potential options for adoption.

No matter the specific issues that you are facing, your adoption lawyer will be able to listen to your individual story, understand your concerns, explain your rights to you, and help you explore the full spectrum of options for adoption. As not every adoption is smooth, you should be ready to seek help from an experienced adoption lawyer at the earliest sign of a problem.

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