The Putative Father Registry Certificate Under the New Adoption Code

Many adoption case workers have inquired as to whether the Putative Father’s Registry certificate is necessary in an adoption consented to by the Georgia Department of Human Resources.  This article will address this question.

In Georgia, the putative father registry is a statewide service that lists the names of men who maybe the biological father of a child.  Even if paternity has not yet been established, it is essential that any man who believes he is the biological father of a child register with the putative father registry in order to preserve parental rights.  Georgia’s putative father registry lists the name, address and social security numbers of men who have either: (1) acknowledged that they are the father of a child in a signed document called the Acknowledgement of Paternity; or (2) registered themselves with the putative father registry to indicate that they may be the father of a child.  

With the recent update to the Georgia adoption code, effective September 1, 2018, important modifications have been made to the adoption process regarding the putative father registry certificate. This is of great importance as the Georgia adoption code requires a petitioner for an adoption to obtain the certificate.  A petition for an adoption of a child who has a living biological father, but who is not a legal father and who has not surrendered his rights to the child, must include the putative father registry search certificate that indicates the results of a search of the registry on or after the earliest of the following:

1) The date of a legal mother's surrender of parental rights;

2) The date of entry of the court order terminating a legal mother's parental rights; or

3) The date of a legal mother's consent to adoption in a stepparent adoption.

 It is required for the certificate to include a statement that the registry is current as of the dates listed above or as of a specified date that is later than the earliest listed date. The newest modification to the registry in 2018 applies to situations in which a legal mother of the child has identified her husband as the biological father and he has subsequently surrendered all of his parental rights in favor of the individual who has filed a petition with the registry.  In such a case, the petitioner must still obtain a certificate from the putative father registry and submit it with the petition for adoption. This is to confirm that no male other than the legal mother's husband has expressed a legal interest in the child. In sum to answer a frequently asked question, the putative father’s registry certificate is a necessary exhibit to the Petition for Adoption.

As a practical tip in preparation of sending an adoption document packet to an attorney, since it could take 4 to 8 weeks before the registry certificate is received, one should file for the request for the putative father registry certificate to the Georgia Vital Records’ Office: (i) the day a mother surrenders parental rights; (ii) the day a mother’s parental rights are terminated in the Juvenile Court; (iii) or the day of consent to stepparent adoption (whichever is applicable).  Alternatively, the attorney may file the petition of adoption while waiting for the certificate and then supplement the adoption file with the certificate.  In either situation, the actual adoption hearing can only occur once the court has the results.  

For further assistance and for all adoption law related questions please contact us at (404) 981-5257.