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GeorgiaOfficial Name: Georgia Last Updated: May 1, 2014
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Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes
Hague Convention Information
Georgia is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Georgia.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Georgia, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Georgia also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- Residency: There are no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents in Georgia.
- Age of Adopting Parents: An adoptive parent may be any person who is 18 years of age or older. The age difference between the adoptive parent and the child to be adopted must not be less than sixteen years. However, a court may waive this age difference requirement if a valid reason exists.
- Marriage: Both single individuals and married heterosexual couples can adopt. The Civil Code of Georgia defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Accordingly, same sex married couples cannot adopt in Georgia. However, here is no prohibition against adoption based on the sexual orientation of an unmarried prospective adoptive parent.
- Income: Prospective parents must prove that they can provide for the child but there is no minimum income requirement.
- Prospective Adoptive Parents can be disqualified due to three types of legal capacity concerns: 1) mental and psychological problems, 2) drug addiction and alcoholism, and 3) physical disorders. In some cases physical disorders may not disqualify a prospective adoptive parent to adopt but this would be reviewed on a case by case basis.
- Persons who have previously adopted or have been deprived of parental rights, or were the guardians/caregivers of an underage child or had a person in foster care, and have had these relationships terminated due to not properly carrying out their duties, may not adopt.
The Central Authority has indicated that it reserves the right to make additional requirements on a case by case basis.
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Georgia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Georgia must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if a competent authority in Georgia has given due consideration to placement options in Georgia and has determined that the placement is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Georgia's requirements, a child must meet the U.S. definition of a Convention adoptee in order to be brought back to the United States.
Citizens of other countries can adopt Georgian children who have been registered in the Registry of Adoptable Children and have not been adopted by a Georgian citizen within eight months.
Children whose legal representative has given consent to his/her being adopted.
Persons whose parent(s) has (have) been deemed legally incapable, recognized as missing or been declared deceased by a court of law.
Age of Adoptive Child:
Any child under the age of eighteen who has been registered in the Registry of Adoptable Children and who has not been adopted in Georgia within eight months of being registered, may be selected for intercountry adoption.
Sibling relationships are given consideration in adoption proceedings, but are considered on a case-by-case basis, with particular emphasis given to the possibility of them being adopted together.
Special Needs or Medical Conditions:
Evidence may be required that an adopting family is aware of and able to cope with a child's special needs and families may be required to submit post-placement reports.
A child is placed in the permanent, full-time care of the prospective adoptive parents only after the court has made a final decision on the adoption proceedings. The time frame for processing adoption cases can vary widely.
How To Adopt
WARNING: Georgia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Georgia before a U.S. consular officer issues an "Article 5 Letter." Read on for more information.
Georgia's Adoption Authority
LEPL Social Service Agency of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia LEPL Social Service Agency
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Georgia as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or; 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.
Because Georgia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Georgia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Georgia
- Bringing your Child Home
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Georgia is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.
Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Georgia as part of your adoption dossier. Georgia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Georgia’s law.
3. Be Matched with a Child by in Georgia
If both the United States and Georgia determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Georgian central authority may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Georgia. The adoption authority in Georgia will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the adoption authority in Georgia. Learn more about this critical decision.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a convention adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.
After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Georgia that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Georgia. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.
WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Georgia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Georgia where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Georgia’s Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Georgia before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Georgia:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Georgia, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Georgia.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Georgia generally includes the following:
Role of the Adoption Authority:
- Reviews the application of the adoptive parents, and an adoptable child’s medical and other conditions, and then proposes a match and transmits the child’s background study and report (which including information such as age, medical condition, sex, and nationality of the child) to an accredited or approved U.S. adoption service provider (ASP). (The ASP provides this information to the prospective adoptive parent.)
- Ensures that the child is physiologically ready for entrustment to the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) and assists them in travel arrangements.
- Prepares the adoption case for court hearing. This includes verifying documents in the case, preparing a recommendation on the adoption of the child for the court to avoid omissions, which may delay court hearing. The main goal of this preparatory work is to avoid the adoptive parents being required to travel to Georgia several times if the adoption is delayed due to incomplete or inaccurate case information.
- Is involved in the Court proceedings of intercountry adoption cases; in particular, an authorized representative of the Social Service Agency protects the interests of the adoptive child in the court during international adoption. The agency is a party in adoption cases.
- Issues the Article 23 Certificate after the adoption is completed;
Role of the Court:
- Processes all adoption cases and takes appropriate decisions to determine the adoptability of the child and to ensure that the adoption placement is in the best interest of the child. The court makes the final decision regarding the adoption of the child. During the court hearing, the judge reviews the presented documents, listens to the agency representative and adoptive parents’ explanations and makes the final decision.
- Issues the final adoption decree.
Role of Adoption Agencies:
Foreign accredited bodies are permitted to work as intermediaries between the Central Authorities of receiving states and the Social Service Agency. They oversee the preparation of documents related to adoption (translation, notarization, transmission etc.) and counsels PAPs throughout the adoption process.
The timing varies significantly across cases. The Georgian Central Authority provided the following minimum time frames. However, in several cases, adoptions have taken more than two years to complete and the timing of a match depends on whether there is a child in need of adoption.
- Select the PAPs, notify the U.S. ASP about the match - one week.
- Acceptance of the match by the PAPs (to receive the document, under the Article 17) largely depends on the receiving state - two weeks.
- Notify the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia about the acceptance of the match by PAPs - one week.
- Final examination of the case and preparation of the decree on adoption for the Court hearing by the Central Authority - one week.
- Court hearing, including the final decision - two to five months.
- After successful completion of the Court hearing, preparation of the Certificate of Adoption and a new Birth Certificate and Passport for the child.
- The birth certificate is issued free of charge on the day of submission of the application and the documents to the Civil Registry Agency, as stipulated by law.
- For more information please click here
- Issuance of the Certificate under Article 23 - one week.
- Issuance of Birth Certificate and passport - one week, or less when using paid expedited services.
The prospective adoptive family’s adoption application must be submitted to the Central Authority of Georgia.
In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize fees and estimate related expenses. Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Georgia include:
- Fees at Court - 50 GEL;
- Notarial service (translation, notarization) 50-150 GEL (depending on the number of pages);
- Preparation of the passport for the child - 100-205 GEL (depending on the amount of time necessary) http://www.cra.gov.ge/ ;
- Legal fees - (vary).
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help.
- Application form;
- Spouse's consent, if the child is being adopted by one of the spouses;
- Copy of the ID document (personal ID, passport, residence ID);
- Copy of the marriage certificate (if applicable);
- Reference sheet on health condition;
- Reference sheet of the medical-narcological inspection;
- Reference sheet on the criminal record;
- Research concerning the family, conducted by the authorized body on adoption of the Receiving State;
- In the instance when one of the prospective adoptive parents is unable to travel for the Court hearing, a signed and notarized explanation is required, clearly stating the reason(s) for absence;
- In the instance when one of the prospective adoptive parents is unable to travel at the time of the adoption finalization, a signed and notarized consent form from the absent parent, for the minor’s Georgian passport issuance, is required;
Using an Interpreter
Prospective adoptive parents will need interpreters at the Court and other state bodies. The Central Authority does not provide this service; the PAPs may contact interpreters' offices.
- Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.
6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home:
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
If you have finalized the adoption in Georgia, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
For information on how to apply for a new birth certificate, please go the Georgian language sites. The English version of the site is currently under construction.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Georgia.
For information on how to apply for a Georgian passport, please go to the Georgian language sites. The English version of the site is currently under construction.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided with the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child, if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.
After adoption your child remains a citizen of Georgia until the child is granted U.S. citizenship. Evidence of U.S. citizenship should be presented to:
Embassy of Georgia
2209 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20008
tel. (202) 387-2390, fax: (202) 387-0864.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Georgia
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Georgia, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Georgia, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Adoption service providers must submit information on the health and social condition of the child on an annual basis until the adopted child is eighteen years old. Social Service Agency is responsible to request annually information about the adopted child. U.S. ASPs may assist in providing a report on the child on annual basis until the adopted child is eighteen years old. ASPs should provide the information using the form approved by Minister of Labour Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, which is titled “Special information form about the health and social condition of the adopted child from Georgia”.
We urge you to comply with Georgia requests and to complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Georgia
11 George Balanchine St.
Tel: (995 32) 227-70-00 or Consular Section: (995 32) 227-77-24
Duty officer for emergencies after hours: (995 32) (995 32) 227-70-00
Georgia's Adoption Authority
LEPL Social Service Agency
Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia
144 Akaki Tsereteli Ave.
Tel: (995 32) 251-00-47
(995 32) 251-00-48
(995 32) 251-00-49
(995 595) 28-15-15
Contact: Ms. Mari Tsereteli
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)