While only the eighth most populous state in the United States, Georgia has the second highest rate of babies abandoned by their mothers and has the largest number of babies on the East Coast abandoned in just their first few days of life.
Recently, this alarming epidemic drew national attention with the story of Baby India, a newborn who was found clinging to life, bloody and with her umbilical cord still attached, in a plastic bag near a wooded area in Forsyth County, Georgia. A local family heard Baby India’s cries and came to her rescue. Thankfully, experts, media commentators, and advocates are hearing the cries of babies like India and hoping to point mothers to Georgia’s Safe Haven Law.
The Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry is maintained by the Division of Family and Children Services (“DFCS”) to organize and provide information to connect adopted individuals and their families. As DFCS states on the Reunion Registry website, “adoptees, birth parents, or siblings who have been permanently separated through adoption often reach a time in their lives when they want more information about their biological family. This ‘need to know’ may be due to medical, genetic, genealogical, or personal reasons.”
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (“ICPC” or the “Compact”) is a statutory agreement between all 50 states and the District of Columbia which regulates and ensures uniformity in the process of placing children living in one state into another state. Since the 1950s, the ICPC has been adopted in every U.S. jurisdiction, including the State of Georgia. Before the law became universally adopted, each individual state’s ability to ensure the best interests of a child adopted beyond its borders was geographically limited. A patchwork of conflicting rules and regulations prevented a state from having any oversight of how a child’s well-being was provided for once the child was sent beyond the state’s borders. This was a double-edged sword for states, which could neither help children placed in bad adoption situations or get children into good out-of-state homes.
Georgia adoption laws underwent the first significant overhaul in approximately 28 years in September 2018, resulting in changes aimed at making the adoption process more efficient for hopeful parents. However, adoption still requires a comprehensive review of prospective adoptive parents, their homes, their families, and their day-to-day lives so that the courts can determine if the home is the right fit for a child.
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…