Georgia adoption changes go into law

A major overhaul of Georgia's adoption laws went into effect this month, lifting some of the hurdles facing couples who want to adopt a child.

The adoption law, which took force Sept. 1, will ensure that Georgia residents can stay in-state rather than traveling elsewhere to adopt, said state Rep. Bert Reeves, the sponsor of the House Bill 159.

"It will make it easier for prospective parents to navigate the adoption process and adopt a child right here in Georgia," said Reeves, R-Marietta.

The law makes many changes to Georgia’s adoption process:

  • Shortens the time allowed for a birth mother to reverse her decision to put her child up for adoption from 10 days to four days.
  • Allows birth mothers to seek reimbursement from adoptive parents for basic living expenses in private and agency-run adoptions.
  • Sets up a process to domesticate international adoption decrees.
  • Eliminates a six-month residency requirement before adopting.
  • Allows temporary power of attorney over a child to be transferred to another parent in some circumstances.

"This law makes it easier for Georgia's most vulnerable children to find permanent, stable and loving homes," said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

The Georgia General Assembly approved the adoption changes in February after years of heated debate.

Georgia’s adoption laws, which hadn’t been updated since 1990, are now similar to laws in most other states, Reeves said.