The Web-Based Form above may seem like the easiest way to send us your legal data, but downloading
your own copy of the Legal Steps Form below is better. The form above is unsecured,
while the Downloadable Legal Steps Form is safer, more secure, and more accurate. It puts
your data into a better format for us, you don't have to stay on the website to complete it all at one time, its questions
don't call for multiple types of information, and it will help you organize the legal steps of your adoption plan with a list
of documents you will need to copy, and instructions on preparing for the final hearing.
1. Our Services. Also, please send in your data
at least 2 days before we meet, send a separate form for each child to be adopted, and please double
check all the dates and spellings.
2. SOMETHING Must Be Entered For Each Question
or it will send you back to this page with an error message. Enter "unknown," "none," or "N/A" to avoid blank answers. Many
call for SEVERAL things. (For example: Address / City / State / County
/ Phone / E-Mail Address) Please be sure you give all the data requested
in each question.
3. Be ready to PRINT OUT the page that
appears after you send this! (Or File:Save As.) It will have information you need, it will show the data
you have sent in, and you won't be able to get it back later.
To help you take charge of your adoption plan as described in the How
to Start Your Adoption Plan section on our Adoption Planning page,
here are some categorized links to resources that may be helpful both directly, and in searching further on your own.
We try here at AdoptNeed.com to give you a good overview of adoption, but
getting started learning about adoption also doesn't get much better than ShaohannahsHope.Org
(now simply called "Show Hope"), the adoption-assistance powerhouse anchored by singer
Stephen Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, who adopted Shaohannah Hope from China in 2000. If the resources and links
available there don't encourage and inspire you, maybe you're barking up the wrong tree!
(And speaking of changing URL's ... there are LOTS of links below, many of which were discovered YEARS ago, and by the time
you click them, they may be defunct or inaccurate. Sorry, but we just don't have the personnel to keep these things consistently
updated. If some of them are "broken," or no longer accurate, there are copious e-mail links to let us know that. Please
Adopting.com is an extensive compilation of various adoption resources and service
providers for both domestic and international adoptions, including a (mostly international) photo listing.
Adoption 101.com is a good place to get general summaries and beginning overviews
of several of the facets of adoption.
Adoption.com is like an adoption-related flea market on the Internet. Whatever you're
looking for, it's probably there somewhere. But the volume of everything else there can be overwhelming.
AdoptionForums.com --- part of Adoption.com's megaplex of interconnected websites.
On this comprehensive forum board you can post questions for people who've "been there and done that," or browse existing
discussions. An excellent source of independent advice (though subjective). It also has many more good adoption links.
The free registration is worth it.
The Adoption Guide is a membership site (free registration) that has
a forum area for consumer complaints (and compliments!) about adoption agencies, along with a lot of other helpful info.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption: That's right --- the lovable,
late CEO of Wendy's, good ol' Dave Thomas was an adoptee, and an enthusiastic proponent of adoption. The Get
Informed page on that site collects a lot of good resources and perspectives in one place. The site's resources include
help on financing too.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway is a federally-run site
with a massive amount of very helpful information on almost every aspect of adoption, including the summary of adoption laws
linked to below.
For Georgia law (aside from AdoptNeed.com, of course!), click over to the
Georgia Adoption Law Blog. It is maintained by the Georgia law firm of Stephen
Worrall, who was a classmate of Mr. Bull's at the University of Georgia Law School. As blogs will do, it reprints or links
to a huge number of articles and information about adoption. For a law firm that does not focus exclusively on adoption
(its major focus is divorce/family law), their blog has a lot of good info. Like the Adoption.com
megaplex (from which some of its articles come), it can become an endless string of links to links to more links, but
you can find much that is worthwhile. In addition to the firm's home
page, he also maintains these blogs: The Georgia Family Law Blog, the Georgia Wills and Probate Law Blog, and the Tablet
PC Lawyer Blog. What a techno-dude!
Adopting for Good, by Jorie
Kincaid, is the best Christian overview of adoption that we have run across. Adoption has both rabid fans and rabid critics
--- the kind who love or hate adoption so much that they can't talk about the other point of view fairly. Ms. Kincaid obviously
loves adoption --- several of her nine children are adopted, she founded and runs an international adoption agency called
Orphans Overseas, and she makes a compelling case for how good
adoption can be. But her book also acknowledges very fairly how difficult adoption can be in the more extreme cases. There
are other Christian books on adoption out there, but we haven't found any showing as much balance, accuracy, and experience
as this one does.
The Family of Adoption, by Dr.
Joyce Maguire Pavao is a fantastic look into the emotional dynamics of adoption. This is the book quoted near the top
of our Emotional Adjustments page. Dr. Pavao is an adoptee herself, a Harvard-trained
psychiatrist, and a giant in the adoption community since the 1960's. She has an active psychiatric practice treating triad
members, she has founded several organizations to assist triad members with adoption's issues, and she has long been a popular
speaker for adoption-related gatherings. Her book's format is engaging too: brief, topical essays that set the stage for
many illustrative stories from her years of adoption-related experience. It leans a little to the politically correct side
in places, but overall, this is as good as emotional insight into adoption gets.
Fast Track Adoption, by Susan Burns, is one of the most informative books available
on independent adoption. Widely available in both book stores and through its website,
this book is the quickest way to get "up to speed" on how the third-party adoption process works. Even for pre-adoptive parents
deciding to go with a full-service agency, this will make you a better, more informed consumer of its services. The book's
advocacy of self-advertising won't be much help to Georgians --- such advertising is a crime in Georgia --- but even so, the
advice and perspective are excellent. Also, it doesn't fully address the issues discussed on our Emotional
Adjustments page (though most of its advice need not be inconsistent with those issues). But keep that in mind.
Besides what IS below as of 4/19/13, we USED to have FOUR other links to support sites for birth mothers and birth parents.
As far as we can see, birth parents are woefully underappreciated and frequently virtually abandoned emotionally. The bravest,
most self-sacrificing players in the adoption drama deserve to be recognized, appreciated, and understood far better nationwide.
And yet, what happened to the 4 sites we used to link to? Out of business. Which is our point. We'll see if we can find
some others to offer here.
Agencies --- If you want to place your child for adoption and cannot
do it within your family or with a family you have met on your own, you may want to work with an agency.
If you are a Georgia birth parent needing financial help prior to adoptive placement, you will probably want to work with
one of the agencies listed in the Pre-Adoptive Parents section below,
or another licensed agency, since they can legally offer that kind of help, and pre-adoptive parents who live in Georgia cannot.
Savannah resident Molly McGoldrick, at 912-508-2303, is a wonderful counseling resource for
area birth parents. She has a great deal of knowledge, experience, and wisdom to offer birth parents who are considering
The Adoption Network Law Center. (See the cautionary note below
under PRE-ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Facilitation Services. It's something
birth parents should be aware of too.) The focus of this nation-wide, Internet-based service is on birth parents and pre-adoptive
parents choosing each other according to each's designated preferences. With the Internet being what it is, and open
adoption becoming more and more popular, the way this service operates may soon be the most common way for adoptions to get
Parent Profiles is another place to browse for pre-adoptive parents for your child.
It is part of the Adoption.com megaplex of interconnected websites too.
To search for birth family members separated by a Georgia adoption, the official Georgia
Adoption Reunion Registry is the place to start. The Registry was formed in 1990, but it can help locate available information
well before then. (Because it is state-sanctioned, its procedures --- and fees --- are regulated, and it honors mutual consent
of triad members. Official state reunion registries may not be able to unearth information available through private search
efforts, but they usually reduce the potential for traumatic surprises --- good or bad --- both from the cost of searching,
or from unexpected contacts by triad members. Searches by private investigators can be more costly, more unpredictable, more
risky --- both legally and emotionally, and ... more successful.) Peggy Rothschild, LCSW, is
the Georgia Reunion Registry Coordinator, and she is a very compassionate and helpful lady! Tell her Birney Bull sent you!
The physical address and phone numbers for the Registry are:
The Volunteer Search Network is the web home of volunteers who help each other on an "at
cost" basis to search for their triad members. Good information and links to search resources.
Pamela Slaton's website looks like a good place to start if you want to look into "the
private route" (since we implied above that state-operated registries can be less effective in searching than "the private
route.") Ms. Slaton is a New Jersey genealogist who has "been there and done that" in adoption reunions many times over.
We have no personal experience with Ms. Slaton, but from her website, she seems to "get it," and if you can be helped
with an adoption search, she can probably do it. (To investigate a past adoption, you want someone familiar with adoption's
peculiar ... "issues." Most of your "run of the mill" private investigators don't know the "ins and outs" that can lurk in
past adoptions, and paying them to get up to speed on those could get pricey.)
The American Adoption Congress is the web home of the biggest, most
active, and perhaps most aggressive, group for adoptees in the country. If you think the issues addressed on our Emotional
Adjustments page are overblown or exaggerated, you should hear how angry some of these adoptees are with a system that
has hidden their true past from them. Having said that, it is still the best starting place if searching past a prior
adoption is your goal. Websites for Adoptee Support are too numerous to be well-represented
here, but the American Adoption Congress is certainly one of the places
you should check.
Adoptive Families Magazine --- A great source of information for both hopeful
and existing adoptive parents. The articles canvas all aspects of the adoption process, and each issue includes a wealth
of advertising on agencies and other support services.
Fast Track Adoption deserves mention here too, though also listed in the Books section. This is the quickest, most comprehensive book to get you "up to speed" on independent adoption.
It will give you the full picture of what it means to "take control of your adoption plan." (The Fast
Track Adoption website has some info, including the chance to hire the author to consult on your adoption plan, but is
mainly a way to sell the book.) (Oddly, it gives little attention to the issues discussed on our Emotional
Adjustments page --- though most of its advice need not be inconsistent with those issues. But keep that in mind.)
Open Door Adoption Agency is an excellent Georgia adoption
agency based in Thomasville, Georgia. Open Door has counselors working in the Savannah area and handles both Georgia adoptions
and international adoptions from several countries.
Covenant Care Services
is another excellent Georgia adoption agency based in Macon, with a commitment to placing children in homes with two actively
Christian parents --- a requirement they enforce rigorously.
Bethany Christian Services is the only major agency (i.e., nationwide, not just
Georgia) that has an actual Savannah office (just recently opened, so they'll be trying hard!). Their Savannah contact is
Dr. Kim D. Grant-Albright, PhD, Regional Social Work, Bethany-Savannah, P. O. Box 22421, Savannah, Georgia 31403, 912-414-8130.
Bethany's national website has the Savannah
contact info, and you can also e-mail Dr. Grant-Albright.
Cradle of Love is an Atlanta agency, represented in Savannah by Trisha
Barrett, who can best be reached at 912-220-9779. Their toll-free (outside Atlanta) number is 800-219-8254.
Hope for Children is a well-established, Christian adoption agency based in
Atlanta, handling both domestic and international adoptions.
Lutheran Services of Georgia is very active in adoption, with programs
providing private and public domestic adoption, and home study services for international adoption placements through other
agencies as well. The Savannah location is: 6555 Abercorn Street, Suite 117, Savannah, Georgia 31405, Phone: 912-353-8875,
The Office of Adoptions (part of Georgia's Department of Human Resources)
page also collects a lot of valuable references on public adoption in Georgia. [Most of the information on this page is good
as far as it goes, but be aware that it has not be updated recently, and aspects of it are out-of-date. For example, it refers
to the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) training for foster and adoptive parents. MAPP has been replaced
by a program called "IMPACT" --- (I) Initial Interest, (M) Mutual selection, (P) Pre-service training, (A) Assessment, (C)
Continuing develoment, (T) Teamwork.]
Georgia's former First Lady, Mary Perdue, is very interested in children's issues (the Perdues have served as foster parents),
and Georgia's official web site includes the First Lady's Our Children
Campaign site, which links to many sources of information about public adoption in Georgia.
Lutheran Services of Georgia's programs that partner with the Georgia
Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) offer a good option for public domestic adoption. As with DFCS adoptions,
the costs and fees of adopting through these LSG programs will often be covered by federal adoption
assistance benefits. The Savannah location is: 6555 Abercorn Street, Suite 117, Savannah, Georgia 31405, Phone: 912-353-8875,
Since 1981, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati's
Adoption Awareness Program has helped with domestic adoption of children with Down syndrome (close to Mr. Bull's
heart --- he and his wife have a "home-grown" daughter with Down syndrome!). Roughly 90% of children diagnosed prenatally
with Down syndrome are aborted, but this one site has some 200 families on their waiting list with completed home studies
waiting to adopt children with Down syndrome. They help genetic counselors, social workers, birth families, and families
interested in adoption. They are at 644 Linn Street, Suite 1128, Cincinnati OH 45203-1734, 513-761-5400, Toll Free: 1-888-796-5504,
fax: 513-761-5401. Their general e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, or e-mail Robin for specific info on Down syndrome adoption at: email@example.com.
Reece's Rainbow is another great resource that helps with international
adoption of children with Down syndrome. This Georgia ministry offers a great deal of financial and other assistance
on an area of great need.
This newish federal site (launched 11/17/08) has oodles
of info on international adoption. (It doesn't work well with all browsers, but it seems to be the best site around for international
adoption --- a subject that can get very confusing very quickly.) To see whether a country is a member of the Hague Convention,
go here. (The Hague Convention is another topic that can
be endlessly confusing, but this site seems to offer much-needed help in this area.)
AdoptAChild.org is a great place to research a large number of international adoption
agencies. Their Inter-Country Adoption Registry and Message Board allow adoptive parents to post their actual experiences
with international adoption.
America World Adoption Association is a nationwide Christian agency handling
international adoptions whose home page features an endorsement from Stephen Curtis Chapman, a well-known champion of adoption.
Alliance for Children has a strong focus on international adoption, though it
handles domestic as well. They have an office in Charleston, SC.
Holt International is one of the oldest and most reputable international adoption
agencies, dating back to the 1950's and grounded in Christian commitment.
Intercountry Adoption Center, Inc. is a Florida agency that handles Guatemalan
adoptions for residents anywhere in the U.S. (They work with several other countries, but they only serve Florida residents
as to those countries.) We have had clients who were very pleased with Intercountry's willingness to go the extra mile on
their Guatemalan adoption.
Adoption Information Services, Inc. A number of our clients have
found it worth the extra fee to use a "networker" to help them find an available child, either directly or with an agency
that fits their preferences. (This is over and above any agency fee, but it avoids being "locked in" with any one agency.)
They have adoption-related connections nationwide (and sometimes internationally), and they also help "market" pre-adoptive
parents to agencies and birth parents. Ms. Marcia Barker, 770-339-7236, the Executive Director of AIS,
has many years of experience working in the field. E-mail Ms. Barker at AISMarcia@comcast.net.
Adoption Advisors is based in South Carolina, but helps people all over, including
special expertise with helping Canadian families. Adoption networker Jeanna Smith, 864-439-8879, can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Smith is a former associate of Marcia Barker's,
now working in Spartanburg. Tell her we said "Hello"! Ms. Smith's husband, Michael, also helps hopeful adoptive parents
with their adoption profiles via his Crossroad Designs website.
[Note: "Facilitation" really just means 'helping you do-it-yourself' --- "self service" instead of
"full service." Not a bad thing --- if you know enough about what you're doing. Facilitators are not usually governmentally
regulated, there's no guarantee you'll get your money's worth from them, and in the past, many have been disreputable. And
even good, honest facilitators may use practices that are common in other states, but illegal in states like Georgia. In
Georgia, facilitators cannot advertise. So Georgians working with facilitators will probably be involved in interstate adoptions.
If they want to finalize their adoption in Georgia, it is a crime for them to pay a birth mother's living expenses.
And yet in states where this practice is common, facilitators may have promised such payments to their birth mothers.
Having said all that, in our experience the ones linked below do a very good job of putting birth parents in contact with
pre-adoptive parents so otherwise independent adoptions can occur, and they do help arrange the additional services
that are or may be required. But be sure to get knowledgeable legal advice in both states.
There are also some true agencies that are able to work in a similar fashion. For example, the Independent
Adoption Center is an adoption agency, fully licensed in Georgia and other states, that provides more comprehensive service
than the Internet-based facilitators listed below, while still emphasizing birth and pre-adoptive parents choosing each other.
These kinds of "choose each other" services are probably the wave of the future. With the Internet being what it
is, and open adoption becoming more and more prevalent, nation-wide, Internet-based matching of birth parents and pre-adoptive
parents --- allowing them to choose each other according to each's designated preferences --- will sooner or later be the
most common way for adoptions to get started.]
The Adoption Network Law Center is a large, Internet meeting place
for those seeking matches, catering to all sorts of preferences. It also has a great website with a lot of helpful information.
The Lifetime Adoption Facilitation Center is also a large online meeting place
for seeking matches that tends more toward Christian preferences. Their site is great too, with bushels of help and info,
and their front page shows some impressive endorsements.
Our Adoption Profile is a low-budget, do-it-yourself site offering a way
for hopeful adoptive parents to make their own profiles. It SEEMS to allow you to generate a PDF (or some kind of multi-media
computer file) that can then be downloaded, printed out, and e-mailed. In our experience, impressive profiles, especially
with pictures, CAN make a difference. Birth mothers want to know as much as they can about who will parent their children.
Parent Profiles is another place offering this type of service. We don't have
much personal experience with this site, but it is part of the Adoption.com megaplex
of interconnected websites too, so it is well-known.
federal site with an extensive photo listing of waiting children, most of whom have some special need (which, in the world
of adoption, could just mean that they are minorities, over the age of two, or sibling groups, but it also includes physical,
mental, or emotional problems).
PARENTS: Financial Help / Taxes / Social Security
Here too, there's no better starting point in looking for financial help than ShaohannahsHope.Org
(now simply called "Show Hope"), the adoption-assistance foundation and website started
by singer Stephen Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth. This site, and the resources it links to, contain an abundance
of helpful, adoption-related advice and assistance that will help you adopt much more easily than you would have thought possible
--- financially, emotionally, and spiritually. It is outstanding.
These things start to overlap quickly (and if there is any more frustrating Internet search topic than "adoption," it is "adoption
financing"), but another good roundup of financial help sources is included on the web page for the North Carolina adoption
agency, Christian Adoption Services.
The ABBA fund offers interest-free loans for adoption, and helps churches start their
own adoption funds as well. If you want to walk the walk, there are people willing to help!
Adopting a child through Georgia's DFCS (Department of Family and Children Services) system is usually fully reimbursed by
federal adoption assistance. See DFCS's Adopting in Georgia page for general information, and the adoption
assistance page to learn how the costs of DFCS adoptions are usually covered by federal or state benefits, and the monthly
support check that may be provided for those children as well.
Another excellent compilation of financial assistance available on the Internet is also found at the Creating
a Family site. We can't recommend ALL of the content of the site, but it DOES provide links to many, many adoption-related
resources that you may find helpful.
And then there's good ol' Uncle Sam. The official Social Security
site has details on federal adoption assistance. It's heavy stuff, and it may not give you anything more than a good
night's sleep. Federal adoption assistance is federal money that is administered by the individual states, and in Georgia
at least, that task is further decentralized to the county level. If you live in a rural Georgia county, and you can stay
awake long enough to read this page, it will likely make you better informed on it than anyone in your county's DFCS office.
The DFAS website also explains what benefits are available. We have a hard time keeping
up with their ever-changing URL's, but their ADOPTION
REIMBURSEMENT page describes the available benefits, and the necessary procedures for getting them. Ever had trouble
dealing with bureaucracy? Yeah, that will happen here too.
Currently, there is a website with a downloadable "free" "course"
on how to qualify for the tax credit, but we don't know how good it is, or how much help it would really be. It may be
great, or it may be little more than an Internet "on-ramp" for the agency that set it up.
IRS Form W-7A is a relatively recent tax provision to apply for an Adoption
Tax Identification Number ("ATIN"). This is for the small number of families who will need to claim the adopted child as
a dependent, but the child has no Social Security number, and the family cannot get one soon enough after the adoption to
claim the child as a dependent. (Instructions come with the downloadable form.) The instructions for the Form indicate that
only children placed by a licensed adoption agency are elgible for this, but our office can assist you even with an independent
The Application for a Social Security Card is downloadable,
and comes with instructions on what they need to issue a new Social Security number or amend existing records. It
frequently says they "MAY" accept certain things for an adopted child, so it's best to call ahead and make an appointment
with a specific person before going to the office. The trouble is that adoption is an unusual case for the Social Security
office, but they don't like admitting that. We used to have a reliable contact at the Savannah office, but she now claims
that "everyone" in the office is equally knowledgeable and able to help. Our clients have NOT found that to be the case.
Your best bet is to call and make an appointment with someone truly familiar with adoption. The Savannah office, 912-353-7059,
is at 430 Mall Boulevard, Savannah, Georgia 31406, just east of Hodgson-Memorial Drive. The online Social Security office
locator is here, and this
purports to be the "New Rules For Getting A Social Security Number And Card". (These "Rules" seem to suggest that you
have to get the amended birth certificate before you can get a new social security card. Some of our clients have had
to wait for the amended birth certificate, others have not. In other words, the answers to your questions may depend on which
bureaucrat you're talking to.)
Locally in Savannah and the surrounding counties, Trisha Barrett has long been one of the busiest home study providers. She has lots of experience and
knowledge in the field. If you need a home study as part of your independent or international adoption plan, Ms. Barrett
has done many of those. She can best be reached at 912-220-9779. Ms. Barrett is affiliated with several adoption agencies,
and if you work with her, your home study will actually be issued under the license of one of those agencies. Among others,
she works for Cradle of Love adoption agency, based in Atlanta, 800-219-8254 [e-mail Cradle of Love]; and Options 4 Adoption, 770-928-1871 [e-mail Options 4 Adoption]. Ms. Barrett is also a Family Support Specialist for the
neonatal intensive care unit ("NICU") at Memorial hospital; her number there is 912-350-7186.
Another possibility in the Savannah area is contacting Families First.
They are based in Atlanta, but they operate statewide and can arrange for a worker to do a home study for you. Call them
at 404-853-2800, or e-mail the
helpful Ruth Neill there! Their Savannah home study contract worker is Holly Wade, 912-657-9746, or 912-819-6170.
Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. Here's something a little different that you
may want to consider: Adopting a frozen embryo for your own implantation and gestation. There are thousands of orphaned
frozen embryos in this country. Some clinics offer them to couples whose infertility does not preclude gestation, but this
California-based program wisely treats the matter as more like an adoption than an infertility treatment. President George
W. Bush voiced support for Snowflakes' work in this area. Definitely worth a look for those who are eligible and interested.
2. For Birth Parents --- The Background Information Form. Also below are three formats of the Background Information
Form for birth parents (DHR Form 413), which collects information a doctor might need later for the adopted child. This form
should be filled in before we meet if possible. These include a copy of O.C.G.A. §19-8-23 for them to keep [the Georgia law
on confidentiality of adoption records and birth parent / adoptee reunion rights].
To Download: "Right-Click" the Link >> "Save Target As..." >> Save to your computer.
For the Entire Adoption:
(plain text, open in any word processor)