Kathleen Willcox Williams

Kathleen Willcox Williams

Attorney at Law

Possible Changes to Georgia Adoption Law

As many of you know, the Georgia Legislature is now in session in Atlanta.  One of the bills that has been presented may make major changes to adoption law in Georgia is House Bill 21, which would allow birth parents and the child's birth relatives to enter into binding agreements to continue to have contact after the adoption is finalized.  Under the version of the bill presented by Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), children aged fourteen or over would be parties to these agreements, such that they would be required to agree to provisions or changes to these sorts of agreements, and the courts would have to approve of said agreements as being in the best interest of the child. 

Pluses and minuses of these sorts of formal, enforceable agreements in adoptions have been identified.  Disucssion of potential impact on adoptive children is a key part of the discussion by Ms. Oliver, who has suggested that openness and providing a child's own story to the child is "better and healthier than fantasy or fear."  Some predict a chilling effect on adoptions because adoptive parents may shy away from these sorts of agreements, preferring a "clean break" and the confidentiality which is currently a key part of Georgia adoption law.  Some predict an increase in children available for adoption in Georgia, as some birth parents may deliberately choose states where such enforceable agreements are available. 

Georgia law currently recognizes limited contact in certian cases, including where where stepparents or blood relatives adopt, and allow blood grandparents to seek visitation in certian circumstances where it is found to be in the best interest of the child.

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