By: Gennifer Allen
According to Georgia’s Division of Family and Children services, adoption is “social and legal process whereby an individual joins a family, earning the same rights and status as those born into that family.” It’s realistic to think that as long as the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and responsible, it should be a fairly easy and quick process. However, up until recently, the process of adoption in the state of Georgia wasn’t always so simple.
One of the main reasons that adopting in Georgia was so challenging was because of the adoption waiting period. After the birth of the child, the birth mother had a ten day grace period in which she could ultimately change her mind and decide not to give up her child. In most other states, this amount of time is shorter, which allows the birth mother to make her decision quicker. Alongside the waiting period, a great deal of parents found it difficult to adopt in Georgia because of their residential status. Individuals wanting to adopt had to be a resident of Georgia for at least six months. Because of this, a number of parents would frequently go outside out of the state to adopt. This resulted in Georgia having comparatively lower adoption rates nationwide.
In order to combat these issues, Governor Nathan Deal signed into legislation House Bill 159, which took effect in August of 2018. The purpose of this bill was to speed up the adoption process in Georgia. House Bill 159 reduced the waiting time for adoptions from ten days to four days, made it legal for prospective parents to reimburse birth mothers for their expenses in private adoptions and made out of state adoptions simpler.
Though Georgia’s adoption laws have improved, there are still some issues that remain today for the LGBTQ community. After House Bill 159 was passed, Georgia senators also passed a bill that would allow adoption agencies to deny same-sex couples. The bill passed out of committee on a 5-2 vote. Known as Senate Bill 375, this bill allows religious adoption agencies to utilize their beliefs as vindication to reject same sex couples that are trying to adopt children. Senators that support the bill claimed that they were trying to make sure that faith-based adoption agencies stay open in Georgia. Those that opposed the legislation believed that the bill was trying to fix a problem that didn’t really exist in the state.
Georgia residents and state lawmakers alike believed these laws were outdated, and that it was time for a change. And thought this new law made it easier for some people to adopt in the state of Georgia, it did not do so for all. It will be interesting to see where how adoption law in Georgia is affected by new legislation in the 2019 session.
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Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 20 Feb. 2018