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                        An Ongoing Series of Informational Topics:

Debunking The Myths About Foster Care Adoption

Almost 13,000 children were in Georgia's foster care system in 2021. Although many of these children were reunited with their families, for thousands more, reunification could not be achieved. Every child deserves a loving and permanent home, and there are many children in foster care waiting for such a home. The national average for the time that a child spends in foster care is three years. Studies show that long-term foster care can have a detrimental effect on a child's emotional and psychological development. Moreover, children in foster care are often moved from foster home to foster home, and this interrupts the development of adult and peer relationships.

Many children age out of the foster care system without having been adopted. Of the children that age out of the foster care system, many are ill-equipped for the transition into adulthood. Studies such as that conducted by Chapin Hall of the University of Chicago consistently show that children who age out of the foster care system are more likely than their non-foster care peers to end up homeless, jobless, incarcerated, and pregnant.

There are ways to combat long-term foster care such as disseminating information about the children in foster care and dispelling some of the common myths about adoption in general and foster care adoption in particular. Some common myths are:

Myth 1: There are no orphans in the United States. Currently, there are about 118,000 children in U.S. foster care waiting for an adoptive home.

Myth 2: You have to be married to adopt a child. You do not have to be married to adopt a child in the State of Georgia. If you are single and not a relative of the child, you must be at least 21 years of age and at least ten years older than the child. However, if you are a relative of the child to be adopted, the ten-year rule does not apply.

Myth 3: You have to make a lot of money and own a home. You do not have to own a home to adopt a child. Moreover, you do not have to be wealthy or make a lot of money to adopt a child, but you must be financially able to provide for the needs of the child.

Myth 4: It costs a lot of money to adopt a child from foster care. In most instances, there is little to no costs associated with adopting a child from foster care. Many children in foster care qualify for state adoption assistance to cover the court costs and attorney fees. Whether the child to be adopted is in foster care or not, there are tax credits for adopting a child, and some employers and the military offer financial and other adoption assistance and/or reimbursements.

Myth 5: All children in foster care have emotional or psychological issues. Most children in foster care are normal children who only need love and stability. Some of them have been abused, but others have been neglected or have entered foster care because their caregiver has passed away, was sentenced to incarceration, or suffered a catastrophic illness that prevents caring for a child.

Myth 6: You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt a child. You do not have to be young to adopt a child. Many children who are adopted from foster care, are adopted by people with adult children.

For more information about becoming a foster parent or adopting a child in foster care, contact your local Department of Family and Children Services. You may also contact our office for legal assistance with adoption.

Adult Adoption

When most of us think of adoption, we usually think of a couple or an individual adopting a newborn baby or young child.  However, in the State of Georgia, not only can minors be adopted, but adults may be adopted as well.

For example, an adult adoption can be used by a former foster parent or by a stepparent to formalize an existing close relationship when a legal barrier prevented the adult adoptee from being adopted as a minor.  It can also be used to create legal inheritance rights.

Advantages Of An Uncontested Divorce

1. Less expensive than a contested divorce.

2 Divorce is finalized quicker.

3. Conflict is kept to a minimum.

Stepparents and Child Support

No matter how long your spouse has helped you rear and support your child,    in the State of Georgia, the stepparent is not required to pay child support in a divorce or separation unless the stepparent has legally adopted the child.  Of course, the stepparent can agree to pay child support.

Marriage Separation and Child Support

In the State of Georgia, a spouse can get child support during a separation.

Adoption and Consent of the Child

In the case of a child 14 years of age or older, the written consent of the child to

his or her adoption shall be given and acknowledged in the presence of the court.

Adoption Assistance Fact 1

A child who has been in the legal custody of the Division of Family and Children Services may still qualify for adoption assistance even though the child was never physically in foster care.

Paternity Petitions

If a man has fathered your child and he refuses to acknowledge that he is the father, a judge can order him to take a DNA Paternity Test after a Paternity Petition has been filed with the court.  If the test result reveals that he is the father, the judge can order him to pay child support.  A Paternity Petition can also be filed by a man if he believes he is the father of a child.  Also, a Paternity Petition can be filed by an alleged child or on behalf of an alleged minor child to prove that a man is the child's biological father.