Adopting a child can be one of the most exciting times of your life. There are several situations in which adoptions occur, including:

  • Relative, stepparent, or second-parent adoption
  • Adoption that is not based on any prior relationship
  • Adoption of an adult child

When you adopt a child, you take on the role of the parent in a formal way under the law. Even if you were already acting as a parent, an adoption makes that relationship legal.

The Benefits of Adoption

There are many benefits of adopting a child, even if you are a relative or stepparent. These include:

  • Ability to receive Social Security benefits from the new parent
  • Inheritance under Georgia probate law
  • Tax credits and ability to claim the child as a dependent on your income tax return
  • Ability to receive health insurance under the new parent’s plan
  • Entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits from a parent’s disability
  • The parent can get leave under the Family Medical Leave Act if the child becomes ill or disabled
  • Avoiding removal from care if the biological parent dies or becomes disabled

Adoption is also mentally and emotionally rewarding for the whole family. It can be a wonderful experience for both the potential parent and the child.

Stepparent and Relative Adoptions

When families become blended, the stepparent may want to adopt their spouse’s child. Although this type of adoption is never required, it makes sense from a legal standpoint.

An adoption gives both the parent and child access to the benefits above. It also gives the stepparent custodial rights. These rights are important in case the biological parent and stepparent get divorced. They are also essential if the biological parent dies or is incapacitated. Without adopting a child, the stepparent does not have rights if the biological parent cannot care for the child. The child may be placed with other relatives or in foster care.

LGBT+ Family Building

The stepparent or second-parent adoption process also works well for LGBT+ families. An adoption establishes a legal relationship where only one parent is biologically related to the child.

Reproductive technology changes frequently. The law is often out-of-date from the technology, so it is important to talk to a lawyer. The paperwork you sign the doctors and clinics does not make you a parent under the law. You need to take some extra steps if you did not physically birth the child.

What if the Biological Parent Does Not Agree?

You cannot adopt a child if both biological parents still have parental rights. In most cases, neither biological parent can keep their rights. In stepparent and second-parent adoptions, the spouse of the adopting parent can keep their rights.

A court can end a biological parent’s rights with or without their agreement. Either option will allow the adoptive parents to adopt the child. If a biological parent agrees to give up their child for adoption, they can surrender their rights. If a biological parent does not agree to the adoption, a court can terminate their rights. This process can also be used if a biological parent cannot be located. Termination can only happen under certain circumstances. A court can terminate rights if a biological parent has not acted as a parent. A court cannot terminate rights just because there is a better person available to parent the child.

Getting Help with Your Adoption

We are here to make the family in your heart your family under law. We will help you navigate the adoption process so you can focus on your family. Schedule your Legal Clarity Session to learn more about the adoption process and how we can help.

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