New Georgia adoption law takes effect Saturday
A law designed to help more of children in state care find permanent families, passed by Georgia lawmakers and signed by Governor Nathan Deal earlier this year. will take effect on Saturday.
It's the first major revamping of the state's adoption laws in almost 30 years.
The law will allow increased efficiencies in all aspects of Georgia adoption, including the first-ever incorporation of a process to domesticate international adoption decrees. The bill expands jurisdictional options for both in state and out of state adoptions and also eliminates the six month residency requirement in Georgia.
Additionally, Georgia law will now have a shorter revocation period, from 10 days to four days. Georgia’s current 10-day revocation period is one of most rigorous revocation policies in the nation, and HB 159 seeks to strike the right balance between the rights of birth mothers and the adoptive parents by shortening this revocation period.
The bill will allow birth mothers to receive reasonable living expenses in both private and agency adoptions. Under current law, only birth mothers in agency adoptions are allowed reasonable living expenses, but this change seeks to create a level playing field and give all birth mothers equal access to reasonable living expenses, regardless of which type of adoption they go through. This is the law in most states in the country.
Lastly, the bill includes several safeguards on temporary powers of attorney, provides for nonresidents to adopt a child, updates maternity and paternity leave time for new adoptive parents and changes the age at which an individual may access the Adoption Reunion Registry.
Brooklyn Slaven is a good example of the problem they are trying to solve. Her adoptive mother Sydney says Brooklyn came into state care as a newborn.
The Slaven family took her in, but she was nearly a year and a half old before her adoption was official.
"It's a very long process, because you have to wait so many days between specific court hearings," Sydney said.
She says it's also hard to get on the court docket in Catoosa County.
“When this law goes into effect on Saturday, it will make it easier for prospective parents to navigate the adoption process and adopt a child right here in Georgia,” said Representative Bert Reeves of Marietta, who sponsored the bill. “I want to thank the judges and attorneys, particularly the Georgia Council for Adoption Lawyers, who helped us refine and perfect this legislation. My thanks also to Governor Deal for his steadfast leadership on this important issue, as well as to all my colleagues in the General Assembly for their support.”