HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — If you were inspired by the Clements' story of adoption, or you're just interested in the process and looking for resources, look no further.
Covenant Care Adoption Services
Covenant Care Adoption Services walks couples through the process of home study as they wait for a placement and even after placement, according to Covenant Care Adoption Services' Executive Director Carol Gledhill.
Gledhill says the first step in the adoption process is deciding whether you want to adopt domestically or internationally. Once that's decided, you need to connect with a licensed adoption agency that best fits your family.
As for the adoption process with Covenant Care Adoption Services, the home study process normally takes two or three months.
"Once a family is waiting for a placement, only the Lord knows the length of time. An expectant client or birth mother chooses the family she will place her child with. Some couples wait a few months and some wait a few years," said Gledhill.
After the initial paperwork, Covenant Care Adoption Services sends those documents to different government agencies and sometimes that can take time too.
At Covenant Care Adoption Services, adoption can cost a couple $25,000. Gledhill says many of their couples pay for their adoption through grants and fundraising.
13WMAZ also asked Gledhill about the challenges couples face during the adoption process.
"Adoption is hard. Covenant Care Adoption Services provides options to expectant clients. We are not here to find babies for families, but find families for babies. When you really think about that, there is a huge difference. These women come to us to hear about the option of adoption. They are making one of the hardest decisions of their life, but with Covenant Care Adoption Services, they take comfort in knowing they write their own adoption plan where they are wanting to do what is best for their child."
They serve all 159 counties in Georgia, but they only process domestic adoptions.
You can also contact Carol Gledhill at Cgledhill@covenantcareadoptions.com, or you can call her at 478-475-4990.
Jones Cork and Miller
Jay Strickland is an attorney at Jones Cork and Miller. He helps families through the adoption process at the request of the state.
"In a Georgia DFCS foster to adoption situation, I may be involved in the process early, advising the family about what is happening in Juvenile Court, etc. Usually, however, in a DFCS situation, I would become involved at the point in time that DFCS has decided to do the adoptive placement. In private adoptions I may become involved before the child is born, helping the family work with a birth mother who has indicated a willingness to surrender her rights to the family. I would then facilitate terminations and pursue terminations of the birth father on behalf of the family. In agency adoptions, I usually don’t become involved until the parental rights are terminated, and the agency is at the point of releasing the child to be adopted," explained Strickland.
He has advice for people considering adoption: "The best thing to do is first think about becoming a foster parent, going through foster parent training, talking to DFCS about foster-to-adopt scenarios."
He also suggests contacting an agency, exploring costs, thinking about timing and just letting everyone know you're interested in adoption and what kind of adoption situation you'd be willing to consider (closed, semi-open, open).
Sometimes the adoption doesn't work out and that's one of the hardest things he's had to deal with.
Georgia Department of Human Services:
The Georgia Department of Human Services encourages anyone interested in becoming an adoptive parent to visit their website fostergeorgia.com or call 877-210-KIDS (5437).
Both of those resources will walk you through how to begin the process to becoming an approved adoptive parent.
From there, you will be directed to your area's Caregiver Recruitment and Retention Unit Specialist for one of their pre-service training classes.
"Once a family is approved and matched with a child for adoption purposes, the State of Georgia offers a supervision period to support families and children through the provision of services like individual and family counseling, behavior management services, and medical assistance for the child(ren) in foster care," said Georgia Department of Human Services' Communications Director Kylie Winton.
Right now, the state is working with five agencies to assist the agencies with the adoption of children over the age of 13, sibling groups of three or more, and children with disabilities. Those five agencies are: Bethany Christian Services, Christian City, Chris 180, Faithbridge, and Methodist Home for Children.
"Anyone interested in this population of children should contact any of those agencies to discuss their program. If families are interested in children not in the described population, they should contact our agency directly at fostergeorgia.com or call 877-210-KIDS (5437)," said Winton.
She says there are more than 300 “waiting children” in Georgia in need of an adoptive family. In Central Georgia, there are approximately 26 children in need of adoptive families.
Each case takes a different amount of time to process.
"One must keep in mind that our agency’s primary goal is reunification and that we do our due diligence to ensure families are able to remain intact or be reunited whenever safe and possible. If reunification is unable to be achieved and adoption becomes the primary goal, it can take anywhere from six months or longer for a case to be finalized," said Winton.
The Georgia Department of Human Services does not do international adoptions.