Georgia is a classically southern state known for sweet peaches and strong families. Traditional family models aren’t the only types of strong families found in the state. Expectant mothers and fathers facing an unplanned pregnancy, birth parents, hopeful adoptive parents, singles, foster parents, adoptees, and adoption allies are all key players in contributing to the state’s reputation for hospitality and resilient families.
Maybe you are just now entering the world of adoption; perhaps you’ve been on your adoption journey for years; it could be that you are just now learning of your ties to adoption. Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself in relation to the adoption community in Georgia, the process and your involvement in it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Women who find themselves face-to-face with an unplanned or unexpected pregnancy often feel the least prepared, most ill-equipped, and most pressed for time of any other member in the adoption triad. They may have learned about their pregnancy months into the process and are more aware than anyone that their time to make decisions is running out. With the clock ticking down faster every second, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless about making any long-term decision with any sort of peace of mind.
Thankfully, hope is not at all lost. The adoption process caters most to the needs, health, and safety of expectant mothers. By meeting with an options counselor, expectant mothers can be supported through each step of choosing an adoption agency, picking an adoption plan, finding a forever family, and finalizing the adoption. Adoption agencies in particular are the most trusted and well-known sources of support for expectant mothers throughout the adoption process. An agency can provide resources for physical, mental, and emotional support. Expectant mothers can find agencies that can provide transportation, financial assistance, legal advising, and medical care throughout (and sometimes after) a pregnancy.
Georgia is home to both Christian and secular adoption agencies. Georgia’s large network of adoption agencies can be found throughout the state. Some adoption services can even work with expectant mothers who are unable to travel to an agency’s office. No matter where an expectant mother may be in terms of location, pregnancy, or decision about adoption, adoption agencies in Georgia are flexible in working with any and all expectant mothers.
Learning of a partner’s unplanned pregnancy changes your life forever. Your responsibility to your child and his or her mother is magnified as the options for the pregnancy begin to be considered. One of the most important things an expectant father can do throughout his partner’s pregnancy is to communicate, support, and respect the needs of all those involved in the process. An expectant father’s voice is important and valid in determining the path for his child’s future.
Typically, adoption guides, agencies, and professionals have plenty of available information for expectant mothers, birth mothers, adoptive parents, and adoptees. Consequently, resources for fathers whose partners are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy can be trickier to track down. Birth fathers and potential birth fathers in Georgia have rights and options when it comes to the adoption process.
In order for birth fathers or expectant fathers to exercise rights over their children, they must prove paternity and/or be married to the child’s biological mother. Regardless of the father’s involvement throughout the pregnancy, he still maintains rights to his biological children until they are voluntarily or involuntarily signed away through adoption finalization.
Placing a child for adoption is an experience like no other. No one understands what it is like to carry, or watch a partner carry, a child for nine months and then walk away empty-handed. No one can fathom the painful sacrifice and tragedy adoption is for a birth parent. Absolutely no one can tell any birth parent that they understand what it is like to be given the title of “birth parent” unless they have walked the same path. However, just because it feels like you are alone post-placement, you could not be more surrounded by people ready to support you.
Once an adoption has been finalized, the expectant parents officially become birth parents. At this stage of the adoption process, the most important resources birth parents have are support groups, friends, family, and, occasionally, the adoptive family of the child that has been placed. These resources all offer different forms of help and support during the grieving period that birth parents experience post-placement.
Finding a support group can be as simple as contacting your local adoption agency or finding a Facebook group of individuals in your same circumstance. Support groups are a great way to connect with like-minded individuals who may be experiencing the same feelings. On the other hand, friends and family members can offer a more personal form of support. As people who have known birth mothers and fathers their entire lives—before they became birth parents—they can stand as a constant form of help and unconditional love before, during, and after an adoption is finalized.
From a completely different perspective, an adoptive family can be a source of love and support for birth parents in an open or semi-open adoption. Open adoptions allow contact to be maintained even after an adoption is finalized. While this dynamic looks different for every birth parent and adoptive family, when executed in a healthy and positive environment, both parties can uplift one another during hard times.
Hopeful Adoptive Parents
There are numerous couples in Georgia and throughout the country who have considered and pursued the adoption option. Whether they have found themselves in a situation where fertility becomes a challenge, a family feels incomplete, or an opportunity to adopt comes out of the woodwork—whatever has brought a couple to their adoption journey, they are approaching the process with open hearts. Their intentions are sincere, their hopes are pure, and their need to give love to their future children is burning. The process is not an easy one though.
Hopeful adoptive parents are known to jump through any hoop, face any challenge, and power through any roadblock they may face during the adoption process. A snapshot of the adoption process for hopeful adoptive parents in Georgia involves finding an adoption professional to work with, completing an adoption application, creating a parent profile, completing a home study and other necessary background checks for eligibility, and finalizing the adoption in court. Once an adoption is finalized in family court, the adoptive parents and family will either continue to associate with or terminate contact with the birth parents, depending on whether an adoption is opened or closed. This decision is made prior to the adoption being finalized, but it will greatly affect the child who is placed for adoption and his or her understanding of familial roots.
Hopeful Adoptive Singles
Based on different circumstances, a single person may find they are in a position to apply for an adoption. People who were never married but are ready to enter the world of parenthood, individuals who are widowed but still looking to continue expanding their forever families, and young people who are faced with an opportunity to open their hearts and homes to a loved one in need of a parent may all be considered as fit and eligible parents for a child being placed for adoption.
There are obvious complications that come with applying for an adoption as a single person. Some of these obstacles are proving financial stability, passing a home study, and finding an expectant parent who is willing to place their child with a single parent. While these obstacles may seem too big to overcome, it should never deter a hopeful adoptive parent from pursuing the process.
In Georgia, hopeful adoptive couples are not the only eligible candidates to be approved for an adoption. Single people who are interested in adopting a child must meet similar requirements as couples do. In addition to those general requirements, a single person hoping to adopt in Georgia must also be at least 25 years of age and at least 10 years older than the child being adopted.
The foster care system is filled with children who are in need of a forever home. Likewise, the system also has plenty of parents who are wishing to expand their forever families now that they’ve already opened their homes to children in need of a family. While the goal of the foster system is to reunite foster children with their biological families, this is not always possible. These children really have been through the wringer when it comes to finding their forever home. When children do become eligible to adopt and meet a family that is equally willing and eligible to make it official, adoption is the next step.
Foster parents are one form of hopeful adoptive parent that are not always directly addressed in the adoption conversation. Foster-to-adopt situations will look different from a traditional adoption. Based on a child’s age and eligibility to be adopted, this process can take more time, require different documentation, and involve different legalities than a domestic infant or international adoption. To learn more about your options to adopt as a foster parent, check with your foster child’s social worker, the foster care system you work with, and your choice of an adoption professional.
Individuals who were placed for adoption are key members of the adoption triad. The entire process revolves around their future, their safety, their health, and their well-being. The adoption process, though, is often completed so early in an adoptee’s life that he or she misses out on all the action.
In open adoptions, an adoptee maintains contact with biological parents to some extent post-adoption. This can mitigate any issues an adopted child may experience with identity, understanding his or her adoption story, and finding closure with that story. On the other hand, closed adoptions can protect adopted children from confusion regarding their origin story, their identity, and who their parents are. In either case, adoptive parents and birth parents alike have a responsibility to help an adoptee navigate the questions that will arise from being an adoptee.
One of the most common questions adult adoptees of closed adoptions have as they get older is where they came from. At this point in his or her life, an adult adoptee may begin to consider reunion. The reunion process can be just as difficult as the adoption process was in the first place. Thankfully, even when an adoption in Georgia is finalized, the option to reunite later on is always on the table. Whether it is through the state’s adoption registry or the adoption agency that assisted in the adoption, adoptees can find the help and information necessary to begin the reunion process as soon as they are ready.
Any person who is not directly involved in the adoption process (meaning aside from the biological parent(s), adoptive parent(s), or adoptee(s)) could still be considered an adoption ally. Grandparents, friends, community members, teachers, and mentors can all be adoption allies to any member of the adoption triad. Adoption allies play an important role in offering outside support to those who have been through the adoption process. As an ally, they can be a great source of strength through the more difficult trials that those involved with adoption face on their adoption journey.
Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself in the adoption process, there is help and support to be found in Georgia. Adoption agencies, professionals, and adoption allies are all ready at the helm to lend a helping hand to expectant parents, adoptive parents, adoptees, and anyone else who is considering adoption in Georgia. Even though you may feel lonely in your current situation on the adoption journey, remember there is an entire community of people just like you in your state and throughout the country who are experiencing similar trials and overcoming them. Make the connections you need, learn all you can about the process, and you’ll find your goal of a strong and healthy forever family is more attainable than you ever imagined it being.
Courtney Falk was adopted at 3 days old. Growing up in a home where adoption was discussed openly, she always had a passion for sharing her story. When she was 18, she reunited with both of her birth parents and continues to have a positive relationship with each of their families. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in professional writing. Since then, she’s had the opportunity to create and edit content in areas such as fitness, health and wellness, financing, and adoption. When she isn’t behind a book, you can find her dancing in the living room with her 11 nieces, attempting to cook, and tending to her extensive collection of house plants.