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Terminating parental rights in an adoption

Adopting a child is something many Georgia residents dream of. By adopting a child, you have a chance to provide a good life for a child they might otherwise not have.

Proving you are a fit parent for purposes of adoption is just one piece of the adoption process. While you may be the perfect adoptive parent and meet all requirements for adoptive parents, a child cannot be adopted until the parental rights of their biological and/or legal parents are terminated.

A child has one biological mother but could have both a biological and legal father. A legal father is the person who was married to the biological mother at the time the child was conceived and born.

A child’s legal father may be a different person than their biological father but the legal father’s rights must still be terminated before the child can be adopted.

Terminating rights can be accomplished by signing adoption surrender forms

A biological mother and legal father can sign these forms 24 hours or more after the child’s birth. A biological father may sign these forms anytime before or after the child’s birth.

The termination process becomes more complex if a biological or legal father cannot be found or if the child’s biological father is unknown. Additionally, sometimes a legal or biological father could refuse to sign the forms.

In these cases, a court hearing is typically necessary. The legal or biological father must be served with notice of the hearing.

If their location is unknown, you must generally show that you made your best efforts to provide them with notice. There are various ways this can be done depending on your situation, such as sending notice to their last known address.

What happens at the court hearing

At the court hearing, the court enters an order terminating the rights of the legal and/or biological fathers. Both fathers have an opportunity to attend the hearing and contest the termination if they wish.

The court examines several factors to determine if termination is in the child’s best interest. If you find yourself in this situation, it is best to have someone advocating on your behalf.