Revocation of the Surrender of Rights Under Georgia's New Adoption Code

Navigating the adoption process can prove to be a taxing emotional journey for the child, biological parents and adopting parents. It may also be a strenuous legal affair. The surrender and revocation aspects of parental rights that arise during the adoption process are often overlooked. Voluntary surrender of parental rights, specifically, can be a complicated topic when it comes to adoption proceedings. Laws are ever changing and vary greatly from state to state. The revocation of the written voluntary surrender embodies a significant change in the Georgia adoption law, which this article will address.

There were changes in the Georgia adoption law which shortened the period the biological parents had to revoke their surrender of rights as a parent, from ten days to just four. The period for revocation of parental rights begins the day after the execution of a surrender.  For example, if a surrender was made on a Monday, the four day period for revocation of that surrender would begin on Tuesday. If the final day of the 4-day period lands on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the actual final day of the revocation period would then be shifted to the next business day. As before, the right to revoke a surrender is unconditional during the four day revocation period. After the revocation period expires, the surrender cannot be revoked.

The means by which a revocation can occur have also seen some slight changes. All submissions must be handwritten and turned in either by hand, statutory overnight delivery, or registered mail. A notice to revoke a surrender made using certified mail cannot be accepted, as this form of delivery is not authorized in the state of Georgia. This issue is widely overlooked by attorneys and judges, as they are unaware that adoption cases are not covered by the Civil Practice Act. The latest adjustments to this legislature have created some deadlines with regards to when a revocation must be submitted. If the period comes down to the fourth and final day, all surrender forms must be submitted in person by 5:00pm eastern daylight time. The individual seeking to revoke must either deliver the notice in person, or obtain proof of the date the revocation notice is tendered to either the USPS through the use of registered mail or the courier who provides the statutory overnight delivery service.  The burden is on the individual revoking the surrender to prove it was done in a timely manner.

Under the new guidelines, if the revocation period expires without reversing the decision to surrender rights, there is a new clause stating that the mother of the child is not legally permitted to sign a voluntary acknowledgement establishing paternity. In the past, a voluntary acknowledgement was commonly used to acknowledge a child’s father and created grounds for reversing the placement of a child with adoptive parents.  The acknowledged biological paternal figure could then claim legal custody. This change prevents the biological mother attempting to work through the biological father to prevent an adoption placement after the revocation period expired.

For more information regarding recent changes to the revocation of surrendered parental rights, please contact the Campbell Law Practice LLC at (404) 981-5257.