The measure would also reduce the age for an unmarried individual to adopt in Georgia from 25 to 21. Current state law only allows Georgians between the ages of 21 and 25 to adopt if they’re a relative of the child.
And it proposes a new commission that will be tasked with considering a “systematic reform” of the administration of the foster care system.
State lawmakers in 2018 made an initial round of far-reaching changes to the state's adoption process, prompted by advocates who said the laws were so burdensome that many parents were forced to travel to neighboring states to find children.
That legislation reduced adoption waiting times, legalized the reimbursement of birth mothers for their expenses in private adoptions, banned middlemen who profit from arranging adoptions and simplified out-of-state adoptions.
It passed after a major fight at the Georgia Capitol last year over a provision that would have allowed religious adoption agencies to reject gay couples seeking to adopt foster children. The legislation was approved only after Republican state senators agreed to remove the controversial language.
Although it's not a part of Kemp's proposal, conservatives could try again to tack on a measure that would let some adoption agencies turn away same-sex parents. Kemp has said he'll deal with that possibility "when the time comes."
The governor has an important ally in his push for an overhaul. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who presides over the state Senate, told an audience of thousands at Wednesday’s annual Eggs & Issues breakfast that he also considers foster care changes a leading priority.
“It’s absolutely the right thing to do,” Duncan said. “Every one of us in Georgia is proud that Georgia is the No. 1 place in the nation to do business in. I want foster kids to say it’s the No. 1 place for foster kids, too.”