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Bringing a new child into your family is a wonderful thing, but it can involve complicated legal issues. Whatever your unique family situation, we will help you navigate the adoption process. We will explain the legal issues regarding the various types of adoption and make sure you understand your options and rights.


  • What should I do if I want to adopt a child or give up my child for adoption?
    Adoption law can be very complex, so it is best to contact a lawyer right away. A lawyer can help you navigate through the process. Contact Pillow Hayes Family Law

  • How can I learn about the adoption process?
    The US Department of Health and Human Services has put together an outstanding resource that can give you an overview of the process. Pillow Hayes Family Law can guide you through the process according to your unique circumstances. Contact Us.

  • Are there different kinds of adoption?
    ​In Georgia, there are actually six different types of adoption:

    • Public or private agency adoptions: The State or a private adoption agency places the child with the adoptive parents.

    • Adoptions by third parties: Someone who is not a stepparent or a relative adopts the child. These adoptions do not involve an agency.

    • Stepparent adoptions: A stepparent adopts the child.

    • Adoptions by relatives: Relatives by blood or marriage including a grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle, great aunt, great uncle or a sister or brother of the child adopts the child.

    • Adoptions by foreign decree: The child has already been adopted in another country. The child must have a valid visa in the United States.

    • Adult adoptions: The person to be is adopted is over 18.

  • Who can adopt?
    ​In Georgia, there are several conditions you must meet in order to adopt a child:

    • You must have lived in Georgia for at least 6 months before filing the petition;

    • You must be at least 10 years older than the child;

    • You must be at least 25 years old unless you are married and living with your spouse;

    • If you are married, you must adopt with your spouse (unless you are the child’s stepparent); and

    • You must have the money, health and mental ability to take care of the child

  • Will someone inspect my home if I adopt?
    ​You must have a home investigation if:

    • you are adopting a child through an agency (Agency Adoption) or

    • if you are not related to the child you are adopting and you are not the step-parent (Third-Party Adoption).

The judge will send someone to your home to make sure everything you said in the Petition for Adoption is accurate. They will also conduct a criminal background check on you and your spouse.
If you are the child’s stepparent or relative, the judge may decide not to send anyone to your home. Home investigations are not required in adoptions by foreign decree or adult adoptions.

The judge will send someone to your home to make sure everything you said in the Petition for Adoption is accurate. They will also conduct a criminal background check on you and your spouse.


  • Does the child need to agree to the adoption?
    If the child is over the age of 14, he or she must agree to the adoption in writing, and you must demonstrate to the judge at the final hearing that the child has agreed. Normally, the child must give his or her consent in front of the judge.

  • Do the biological parents need to agree to the adoption?
    Not always. In some cases, the judge may take away the rights of the biological parents if doing so is in the best interest of the child.

  • Can the biological parents get paid for their child?
    No, it is illegal for the adopting parents to pay the biological parents for the adoption, including money or any other valuable items or services. In fact, when the biological mother gives up her parental rights, she has to complete a Mother’s Affidavit that tells of anyone who has given or promised to give her anything valuable in connection with the adoption process. In the case of third party adoptions, the adopting parents must file a report with the court listing anything valuable they have given or promised to anyone connected with the adoption.

  • Can the court deny my petition for adoption?
    ​Yes, the court has the final say in whether you can adopt a child. The court may deny your petition if:

    • the adoption would not be in the child’s best interests; or

    • the legal parents have not agreed to surrender their rights to the child; or

    • there is insufficient reason to take away the rights of the legal parents.

  • Are records of adoption kept confidential?
    Yes, adoption records are not made available to the public. However, there are some situations when a person trying to find out about his or her biological parents, adopted siblings or their own child placed for adoption may be able to see the records.

    If you are looking for this kind of information, contact:
    Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry
    Families First/Office of Adoptions
    2 Peachtree Street, N.W.
    Suite 8-407
    Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3142

    In the Atlanta area:
    (404) 657-3555
    Outside Atlanta:

  • What about the biological father?
    If you want to adopt a child, your lawyer will search the Putative Father Registry to see if a biological father is registered for the child. If a father is registered for the child, your lawyer must tell the father about the adoption, and inform him that his parental rights will be taken away unless he files a petition to legitimate the child.

    The Putative Father Registry has information about any man who may be the biological father of a child. The Registry has the name, address, and Social Security number for two types of men:​

    • A man who says he is the father of a child in a signed writing; or

    • A man who registers to indicate the possibility that he is the father of the child.

A man who believes that he is or may be the biological father of a child can file that information with the Putative Father Registry, which is maintained by Vital Records. To register, contact:

Registry, Vital Records
2600 Skyland Drive
Atlanta, Georgia 30319-3640
(404) 679-4741

If a biological father is on the Registry, a court may use it to require him to pay child support.

  • Do adopted children receive any special financial benefits?
    In some situations, certain adopted children may qualify for adoption assistance benefits, which may help pay for the costs of their adoption or pay a monthly benefit to the child through Medicaid. If you are receiving Disability or Retirement benefits through Social Security, you may also qualify to receive a child’s benefit. Contact the Social Security Administration to see if you qualify.

  • Do adopting parents receive any special financial benefits?
    Yes, you may qualify for certain tax credits if you adopt a child, but not if you are the child’s stepparent. Most adopting parents may take the tax credit for qualifying expenses only, including adoption fees, court costs, lawyer fees, traveling costs and other costs associated with the adoption process. However, adopting a child with special needs qualifies you to receive the entire credit without the necessity of showing that your costs are qualifying expenses.

  • Are there any other circumstances that might affect my ability to adopt?
    Yes. When children go to another state for adoption the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children applies.

    When the children being adopted have Native American heritage, the Indian Child Welfare Act may apply.

    If a child’s biological parents are on active duty with the military at the time of the adoption or at the time of the court case to end their rights, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act may apply.



Every family is unique, and therefore every case is unique. At Pillow Hayes Family Law, we treat each matter individually, providing personal attention to our clients and their needs to ensure the best possible results. Our job is to protect the best interests of you and your family. We promise to work tirelessly to help you achieve your goals


"A fantastic and hard-working lawyer. Works hard for her clients and is a real veteran when it comes to family law. Highly recommend."
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