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Experienced Gwinnett County Adoption Attorney

Gwinnett County Adoption AttorneyAdopting a child can be joyously life-changing, but before you can become the child’s legal parent, you’ll need to go through an intricate process involving a lot of paperwork. In Gwinnett County, adoption is rarely a straightforward procedure. Each case proceeds differently depending on the circumstances and how the laws apply to them. This is why you should have an adoption attorney who has proven experience in the county.

Attorney Sharon Jackson has practiced Family Law in Gwinnett County for nearly two decades. She has helped individuals and families ensure that their Family Law procedures go smoothly and with ideal results. 

Call (678) 890-4200 to schedule your consultation with Ms. Jackson.

General Requirements to Adopt a Child in Gwinnett County, GA

There are various types of child adoption, and each type has specific requirements for the prospective adoptive parent. The following are general and basic eligibility requirements for a person hoping to adopt a child in Georgia:

  • At least 25 years old, OR married and living with spouse
  • At least 10 years older than the child
  • Has the physical, financial, and mental ability to have permanent custody of the child
  • A resident of Georgia at the time of adoption
  • Clears the necessary background checks and home study investigation.

If you are married, both you and your spouse must satisfy these prerequisites and jointly adopt the child.

Adopting Privately, Via Agency, or Via DFCS

In Georgia, prospective parents have options on how to arrange their adoption:

Private Adoption/Independent Adoption

Private or independent adoption is where the adoptive parent works directly with the biological parents instead of going through an adoption agency or state agency. Typically, this happens when the prospective parent knows the biological parents through personal channels.

Though the two parties can arrange the adoption on their own, they still need to comply with Georgia adoption laws. The court will appoint an agent to ensure that a private adoption petition is compliant. Hence, a lawyer is indispensable in many of these cases.

Licensed Agency Placement

Numerous private agencies in Georgia are licensed to facilitate adoptions. Birth parents relinquish the child to them, and the agency is responsible for placing the child in suitable adoptive families.

If you are a prospective adoptive parent opting to apply with an adoption agency, prepare for a home study process where they interview you and examine your suitability as an adoptive parent. A private agency adoption also entails fees that could amount to as much as $25,000.

State Agency Placement

The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has custody of many children who have been put up for adoption, including those who have been neglected, abandoned, or abused. Most of these children are in foster care before they are legally eligible for adoption.

The DFCS adoption process includes comprehensive training, home evaluations, and pre-placement visits and requires the adoptive parent to have an attorney when they file their adoption petition.

Uncontested Adoption

An uncontested adoption is one where all involved parties have no objection to the process. The biological parents have surrendered their parental rights, and the prospective adoptive parent has fulfilled all legal requirements.

This type of adoption is generally faster and smoother, though the court will still hold a hearing to ensure that the prospective parent is well-suited to adopt the child. The judge has discretion to examine the circumstances further, such as through a home visit or interview, and they will still decide whether or not to grant the adoption. It’s wise for a hopeful adoptive parent to consult with a Family Law attorney to ensure that they present a compelling petition to the judge.

An adoption is commonly uncontested if it’s a private adoption or if it’s by relatives and stepparents, which we discuss further below.

Contested Adoption

Some adoptions are contested or disputed, especially when a biological parent objects to the adoption. One common scenario is that the birth mother wants to place the baby for adoption, but the biological father does not agree. Other cases involve divorced biological parents who cannot agree on a new stepparent’s potential adoption of their child.

Untangling a contested adoption requires sensitivity to family dynamics and a firm grasp of Family Law. Attorney Sharon Jackson has extensive experience in complex cases like this and can help you navigate the complicated issue towards favorable results.

Stepparent Adoption

If a child’s birth parents are divorced or unmarried, and the custodial parent marries someone else, the new spouse may wish to adopt the child as their own. For this to happen, the stepparent needs the consent of both biological parents.

Specifically, the non-custodial parent must terminate his or her parental rights so that the stepparent can adopt the child. Termination of parental rights can happen voluntarily, or the court may order involuntary termination if the birth parent neglected or abandoned the child. Only after the termination of parental rights can the adoption proceed.

Relative Adoptions

It is common for grandparents, aunts, or uncles to adopt a child, such as if the birth parents have died or have become unfit to care for the young one. If you wish to adopt a relative, you may not need to undergo background checks or home studies. However, you still want to make sure that your petition to adopt is satisfactory to the court. Attorney Jackson can help you ensure this.

Foster Parent Adoption

Foster parents temporarily care for children who are in the state foster care system. However, many foster parents grow attached to their foster child and want to permanently care for them.

One hurdle in adopting your foster child is that the biological parents may not want to surrender their parental rights, thus preventing the child from becoming eligible for adoption. In some situations, the court may terminate their parental rights for legal reasons like abandonment or abuse, but this isn’t always the case.

Because of this, the foster-to-adopt process is longer, more complicated, and more unpredictable. You’ll need a competent and diligent attorney to help you strategize for your next steps and the long term.

Contact a Gwinnett County Adoption Lawyer

With nearly 20 years of experience in Gwinnett County, Attorney Sharon Jackson has earned the trust of many Georgians for Family Law matters. Ms. Jackson’s adoption assistance has been effective for parents wanting to expand their families. Her competent services include:

  • Step-by-step personalized guidance on the adoption process
  • Ensuring all requirements are complete and satisfactory
  • Sound legal advice on how to be convincing to the court
  • Facilitating post-adoption needs such as name change and birth certificate updates

Schedule your consultation with Attorney Sharon Jackson. Call us today at (678) 909-4100 or use our online contact form.


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