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GEORGIA

Adoption Law

 

 

Adult adoptees in Georgia do not have a right to obtain their original birth certificates. A court order is required.

 

An adoption agency may provide identifying information to an adult adoptee but only if a birth parent consents in writing to disclosure. The Georgia Department of Human Services also contracts directly with a private non-profit to provide an adoption search registry. The registry may provide non-identifying information as well as fee-based search services.

 

 

Relevant Georgia Law: Original Birth Certificate

Georgia Code § 31-10-14. Issuance of new certificate of birth following adoption and legitimation or paternity determination 
(a) The state registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for a person born in this state when the state registrar receives the following:

(1) A report of adoption as provided in Code Section 31-10-13 or a report of adoption prepared and filed in accordance with the laws of another state or foreign country, or a certified copy of the decree of adoption, together with the information necessary to identify the original certificate of birth and to establish a new certificate of birth. A new certificate of birth shall not be established if the court decreeing the adoption directs that a new birth certificate not be issued;

(2) A certified copy of an order of legitimation, annulment of legitimation, or amendment of an order of legitimation as provided in Code Section 31-10-13.1 that requires the establishment of a new certificate of birth;

(3) A certified copy of an order of paternity, annulment of paternity, or amendment of an order of paternity as provided in Code Section 31-10-13.2 that requires the establishment of a new certificate of birth; or

(4) A request that a new certificate be established as prescribed by regulation and such evidence as required by regulation proving that both parents married to each other have acknowledged the paternity of such person and request that the surname be changed to that of the father.

(b) When a new certificate of birth is established pursuant to this Code section for a person born in this state, the date of birth contained on the original certificate shall be shown. The true place of birth shall be shown if the adoptee is the natural child of the spouse of the adoptive parent in the case of step-parent adoptions. The true place of birth shall be shown for all legitimations. For full adoptions, where neither parent is the natural parent of the adoptee, the place of birth shall be, at the election of the adoptive parents, either the true place of birth of the adoptee or the residence of the adoptive parents at the time of the adoptee’s birth. The place of birth indicated must be located in Georgia.

(c) Upon receipt of a report of an amended decree of adoption, the certificate of birth shall be amended as provided by regulation.

(d) Upon receipt of a report or decree of annulment of adoption, the original certificate of birth shall be restored to its place in the files and the new certificate and evidence shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction or as provided by regulation.

(e) If no certificate of birth is on file for the person for whom a new birth certificate is to be established under this Code section and the date and place of birth have not been determined in the adoption, legitimation, or paternity proceedings, a delayed certificate of birth shall be filed with the state registrar as provided in Code Section 31-10-11 or 31-10-12 before a new certificate of birth is established. The new birth certificate shall be prepared on the delayed birth certificate form.

(f) When a new certificate of birth is established by the state registrar, the original birth certificate shall not be subject to inspection except as provided in this Code section. All copies of the original certificate of birth in the custody of any other custodian of vital records in this state shall be sealed from inspection and forwarded to the state registrar, as the state registrar shall direct.

(g) The new certificate shall be substituted for the original certificate of birth in the files and the original certificate of birth and the evidence of adoption, legitimation, or paternity determination shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction or as provided by statute.

Relevant Georgia Law: Adoption Records/Identifying Information

Georgia Code § 19-8-23(3)(A)
(a) The original petition, all amendments and exhibits thereto, all motions, documents, affidavits, records, and testimony filed in connection therewith, and all decrees or orders of any kind whatsoever, except the original investigation report and background information referred to in Code Section 19-8-20, shall be recorded in a book kept for that purpose and properly indexed; and the book shall be part of the records of the court in each county which has jurisdiction over matters of adoption in that county. All of the records, including the docket book, of the court granting the adoption, of the department, and of the child-placing agency that relate in any manner to the adoption shall be kept sealed and locked. The records may be examined by the parties at interest in the adoption and their attorneys when, after written petition has been presented to the court having jurisdiction and after the department and the appropriate child-placing agency have received at least 30 days’ prior written notice of the filing of such petition, the matter has come on before the court in chambers and, good cause having been shown to the court, the court has entered an order permitting such examination. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the adoptee who is the subject of the records sought to be examined is less than 18 years of age at the time the petition is filed and the petitioner is someone other than one of the adoptive parents of the adoptee, then the department shall provide written notice of such proceedings to the adoptive parents by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, at the last address the department has for such adoptive parents and the court shall continue any hearing on the petition until not less than 60 days after the date the notice was sent. Each such adoptive parent shall have the right to appear in person or through counsel and show cause why such records should not be examined. Adoptive parents may provide the department with their current address for purposes of receiving notice under this subsection by mailing that address to:

Office of Adoptions
Department of Human Services
Atlanta, Georgia

(b) The department or the child-placing agency may, in its sole discretion, make use of any information contained in the records of the respective department or agency relating to the adoptive parents in connection with a subsequent adoption matter involving the same adoptive parents or to provide notice when required by subsection (a) of this Code section.

(b.1) The department may, in its sole discretion, make use of any information contained in the records of the department concerning an adopted child and the adopted child’s biological parents in connection with the placement of another child in the home of the adoptive parents of the child or in connection with the investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect made concerning the adopted child’s biological parents.

(c) The department or the child-placing agency may, in its sole discretion, make use of any information contained in its records on a child when an adoption disrupts after finalization and when such records are required for the permanent placement of such child, or when the information is required by federal law.

(d) (1) Upon the request of a party at interest in the adoption, a child, legal guardian, or health care agent of an adopted person or a provider of medical services to such a party, child, legal guardian, or health care agent when certain information would assist in the provision of medical care, a medical emergency, or medical diagnosis or treatment, the department or child-placing agency shall access its own records on finalized adoptions for the purpose of adding subsequently obtained medical information or releasing nonidentifying medical and health history information contained in its records pertaining to an adopted person or the biological parents or relatives of the biological parents of the adopted person. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “health care agent” has the meaning provided by Code Section 31-32-2.

(2) Upon receipt by the State Adoption Unit of the Division of Family and Children Services of the department or by a child-placing agency of documented medical information relevant to an adoptee, the office or child-placing agency shall use reasonable efforts to contact the adoptive parents of the adoptee if the adoptee is under 18 years of age or the adoptee if he or she is 18 years of age or older and provide such documented medical information to the adoptive parents or the adoptee. The office or child-placing agency shall be entitled to reimbursement of reasonable costs for postage and photocopying incurred in the delivery of such documented medical information to the adoptive parents or adoptee.

 

(e) Records relating in any manner to adoption shall not be open to the general public for inspection.

 

(f)(1) Notwithstanding Code Section 19-8-1, for purposes of this subsection, the term:

(A) “Biological parent” means the biological mother or biological father who surrendered that person’s rights or had such rights terminated by court order giving rise to the adoption of the child.

(B) “Commissioner” means the commissioner of human services or that person’s designee.

(C) “Department” means the Department of Human Services or, when the Department of Human Services so designates, the county department of family and children services which placed for adoption the person seeking, or on whose behalf is sought, information under this subsection.

(D) “Placement agency” means the child-placing agency, as defined in paragraph (3) of Code Section 19-8-1, which placed for adoption the person seeking or on whose behalf is sought information under this subsection.

 

(2) The department or a placement agency, upon the written request of an adopted person who has reached 18 years of age or upon the written request of an adoptive parent on behalf of that parent’s adopted child, shall release to such adopted person or to the adoptive parent on the child’s behalf nonidentifying information regarding such adopted person’s biological parents and information regarding such adopted person’s birth. Such information may include the date and place of birth of the adopted person and the genetic, social, and health history of the biological parents. No information released pursuant to this paragraph shall include the name or address of either biological parent or the name or address of any relative by birth or marriage of either biological parent.

 

(3)(A) The department or a placement agency upon written request of an adopted person who has reached 21 years of age shall release to such adopted person the name of such person’s biological parent if:

(i) The biological parent whose name is to be released has submitted unrevoked written permission to the department or the placement agency for the release of that parent’s name to the adopted person;

(ii) The identity of the biological parent submitting permission for the release of that parent’s name has been verified by the department or the placement agency; and

(iii) The department or the placement agency has records pertaining to the finalized adoption and to the identity of the biological parent whose name is to be released.

(B) If the adopted person is deceased and leaves a child, such child, upon reaching 21 years of age, may seek the name and other identifying information concerning his or her grandparents in the same manner as the deceased adopted person and subject to the same procedures contained in this Code section.

(4)(A) If a biological parent has not filed written unrevoked permission for the release of that parent’s name to the adopted child, the department or the placement agency, within six months of receipt of the written request of the adopted person who has reached 21 years of age, shall make diligent effort to notify each biological parent identified in the original adoption proceedings or in other records of the department or the placement agency relative to the adopted person. For purposes of this subparagraph, “notify” means a personal and confidential contact with each biological parent of the adopted person. The contact shall be by an employee or agent of the placement agency which processed the pertinent adoption or by other agents or employees of the department. The contact shall be evidenced by the person who notified each parent certifying to the department that each parent was given the following information:

(i) The nature of the information requested by the adopted person;

(ii) The date of the request of the adopted person;

(iii) The right of each biological parent to file an affidavit with the placement agency or the department stating that such parent’s identity should not be disclosed;

(iv) The right of each biological parent to file a consent to disclosure with the placement agency or the department; and

(v) The effect of a failure of each biological parent to file either a consent to disclosure or an affidavit stating that the information in the sealed adoption file should not be disclosed.

(B) If a biological parent files an unrevoked consent to the disclosure of that parent’s identity, such parent’s name shall be released to the adopted person who has requested such information as authorized by this paragraph.

 

(C) If, within 60 days of being notified by the department or the placement agency pursuant to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, a biological parent has filed with the department or placement agency an affidavit objecting to such release, information regarding that biological parent shall not be released.

 

(D)(i) If six months after receipt of the adopted person’s written request the placement agency or the department has either been unable to notify a biological parent identified in the original adoption record or has been able to notify a biological parent identified in the original adoption record but has not obtained a consent to disclosure from the notified biological parent, then the identity of a biological parent may only be disclosed as provided in division (ii) or (iii) of this subparagraph.

(ii) The adopted person who has reached 21 years of age may petition the Superior Court of Fulton County to seek the release of the identity of each of that person’s biological parents from the department or placement agency. The court shall grant the petition if the court finds that the department or placement agency has made diligent efforts to locate each biological parent pursuant to this subparagraph either without success or upon locating a biological parent has not obtained a consent to disclosure from the notified biological parent and that failure to release the identity of each biological parent would have an adverse impact upon the physical, mental, or emotional health of the adopted person.

(iii) If it is verified that a biological parent of the adopted person is deceased, the department or placement agency shall be authorized to disclose the name and place of burial of the deceased biological parent, if known, to the adopted person seeking such information without the necessity of obtaining a court order.

 

(5)(A) Upon written request of an adopted person who has reached 21 years of age or a person who has reached 21 years of age and who is the sibling of an adopted person, the department or a placement agency shall attempt to identify and notify the siblings of the requesting party, if such siblings are at least 18 years of age. Upon locating the requesting party’s sibling, the department or the placement agency shall notify the sibling of the inquiry. Upon the written consent of a sibling so notified, the department or the placement agency shall forward the requesting party’s name and address to the sibling and, upon further written consent of the sibling, shall divulge to the requesting party the present name and address of the sibling. If a sibling cannot be identified or located, the department or placement agency shall notify the requesting party of such circumstances but shall not disclose any names or other information which would tend to identify the sibling. If a sibling is deceased, the department or placement agency shall be authorized to disclose the name and place of burial of the deceased sibling, if known, to the requesting party without the necessity of obtaining a court order.

(B)(i) If six months after receipt of the written request from an adopted person who has reached 21 years of age or a person who has reached 21 years of age and who is the sibling of an adopted person, the placement agency or the department has either been unable to notify one or more of the siblings of the requesting party or has been able to notify a sibling of the requesting party but has not obtained a consent to disclosure from the notified sibling, then the identity of the siblings may only be disclosed as provided in division (ii) of this subparagraph.

(ii) The adopted person who has reached 21 years of age or a person who has reached 21 years of age and who is the sibling of an adopted person may petition the Superior Court of Fulton County to seek the release of the last known name and address of each of the siblings of the petitioning sibling, that are at least 18 years of age, from the department or placement agency. The court shall grant the petition if the court finds that the department or placement agency has made diligent efforts to locate such siblings pursuant to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph either without success or upon locating one or more of the siblings has not obtained a consent to disclosure from all the notified siblings and that failure to release the identity and last known address of said siblings would have an adverse impact upon the physical, mental, or emotional health of the petitioning sibling.

(C) If the adopted person is deceased and leaves a child, such child, upon reaching 21 years of age, may obtain the name and other identifying information concerning the siblings of his or her deceased parent in the same manner that the deceased adopted person would be entitled to obtain such information pursuant to the procedures contained in this Code section.

 

(6)(A) Upon written request of a biological parent of an adopted person who has reached 21 years of age, the department or a placement agency shall attempt to identify and notify the adopted person. Upon locating the adopted person, the department or the placement agency shall notify the adopted person of the inquiry. Upon the written consent of the adopted person so notified, the department or the placement agency shall forward the biological parent’s name and address to the adopted person and, upon further written consent of the adopted person, shall divulge to the requesting biological parent the present name and address of the adopted person. If the adopted person is deceased, the department or placement agency shall be authorized to disclose the name and place of burial of the deceased adopted person, if known, to the requesting biological parent without the necessity of obtaining a court order.

(B)(i) If six months after receipt of the written request from a biological parent of an adopted person who has reached 21 years of age the placement agency or the department has either been unable to notify the adopted person or has been able to notify the adopted person but has not obtained a consent to disclosure from the notified adopted person, then the identity of the adopted person may only be disclosed as provided in division (ii) of this subparagraph.

(ii) The biological parent of an adopted person who has reached 21 years of age may petition the Superior Court of Fulton County to seek the release of the last known name and address of the adopted person from the department or placement agency. The court shall grant the petition if the court finds that the department or placement agency has made diligent efforts to locate such adopted person pursuant to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph either without success or upon locating the adopted person has not obtained a consent to disclosure from the adopted person and that failure to release the identity and last known address of said adopted person would have an adverse impact upon the physical, mental, or emotional health of the petitioning biological parent.

(C) If the biological parent is deceased, a parent or sibling of the deceased biological parent, or both, may obtain the name and other identifying information concerning the adopted person in the same manner that the deceased biological parent would be entitled to obtain such information pursuant to the procedures contained in this Code section.

(7) If an adoptive parent or the sibling of an adopted person notifies the department or placement agency of the death of an adopted person, the department or placement agency shall add information regarding the date and circumstances of the death to its records so as to enable it to share such information with a biological parent or sibling of the adopted person if they make an inquiry pursuant to the provisions of this Code section.

(8) If a biological parent or parent or sibling of a biological parent notifies the department or placement agency of the death of a biological parent or a sibling of an adopted person, the department or placement agency shall add information regarding the date and circumstances of the death to its records so as to enable it to share such information with an adopted person or sibling of the adopted person if he or she makes an inquiry pursuant to the provisions of this Code section.

(9) The Office of Adoptions within the department shall maintain a registry for the recording of requests by adopted persons for the name of any biological parent, for the recording of the written consent or the written objections of any biological parent to the release of that parent’s identity to an adopted person upon the adopted person’s request, and for nonidentifying information regarding any biological parent which may be released pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection. The department and any placement agency which receives such requests, consents, or objections shall file a copy thereof with that office.

(10) The department or placement agency may charge a reasonable fee to be determined by the department for the cost of conducting any search pursuant to this subsection.

(11) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require the department or placement agency to disclose to any party at interest, including but not limited to an adopted person who has reached 21 years of age, any information which is not kept by the department or the placement agency in its normal course of operations relating to adoption.

(12) Any department employee or employee of any placement agency who releases information or makes authorized contacts in good faith and in compliance with this subsection shall be immune from civil or criminal liability for such release of information or authorized contacts.

(13) Information authorized to be released pursuant to this subsection may be released under the conditions specified in this subsection notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary.

(14) A placement agency which demonstrates to the department by clear and convincing evidence that the requirement that such agency search for or notify any biological parent, sibling, or adopted person under subparagraph (A) of paragraph (4) of this subsection or subparagraph (A) of paragraph (5) of this subsection or subparagraph (A) of paragraph (6) of this subsection will impose an undue hardship upon that agency shall be relieved from that responsibility, and the department shall assume that responsibility upon such finding by the department of undue hardship. The department’s determination under this subsection shall be a contested case within the meaning of Chapter 13 of Title 50, the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act.”

 

(15) Whenever this subsection authorizes both the department and a placement agency to perform any function or requires the placement agency to perform any function which the department is also required to perform, the department or agency may designate an agent to perform that function and in so performing it the agent shall have the same authority, powers, duties, and immunities as an employee of the department or placement agency has with respect to performing that function.

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