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Georgia State Code
Title      19
Chapter       8  
Section Navigation     1 ... 10         11 ... 20    
      21 ... 26      
Section<<< 21 22 23 24 25 26  
Title 19, Chapter 8, Section 23 (19-8-23)

(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:

Adoption Unit Department of Human Resources 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.

(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) Upon the request of a party at interest in the adoption or of a provider of medical services to such a party when certain information is necessary because of a medical emergency or for medical diagnosis or treatment, the department or child-placing agency may, in its sole discretion, petition the Superior Court of Fulton County to obtain access to its own records on finalized adoptions for the purpose of adding subsequently obtained medical information or to release nonidentifying medical information contained in its records on such adopted persons.

(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) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the Department of Human Resources or that person's designee.

(B) "Department" means the Department of Human Resources or, when the Department of Human Resources 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.

(C) "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.

(D) "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.

(2) The department or a placement agency, upon the written request of an adopted person who has reached 21 years of age or upon the written request of an adoptive parent on behalf of that parent's adopted child under 21 years of age, 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 subsection shall include the name or address of either biological parent or the name or address of any relative by birth or marriage of the biological parent.

(3) 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:

(A) 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;

(B) 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

(C) 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.

(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 named on the original birth certificate of the adopted person. The contact shall not be by mail and 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 within 60 days of receipt of the notice 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 at any time; 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 original birth certificate or 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 child who has requested such information as authorized by this paragraph.

(C) If, subsequent to being notified by the department or placement agency, a biological parent has not filed an unrevoked consent to the disclosure of that parent's identity at any time within six months after the written request for such information is received by the department or placement agency or such parent has filed with the department or placement agency within 60 days after notice to such person of the request for such information an affidavit objecting to such release, whichever occurs later, that information regarding that biological parent will not be released.

(D)(i) If the director of a placement agency or the commissioner certifies that the placement agency or department has been unable to notify a parent identified in the original adoption record within six months after receipt of the adopted person's written request and if neither identified biological parent has at any time filed an unrevoked consent to disclosure with the placement agency or the department, 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 parent 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 without success 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 the biological parent of the adopted person is deceased and if there is no sibling of the adopted person who may be contacted, 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 the 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 the sibling is deceased or cannot be identified or located, the department or the 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.

(B) 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 without success 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.

(6) The Division of Family and Children Services Adoption Unit 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 unit.

(7) 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.

(8) 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.

(9) 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.

(10) 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.

(11) 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 or sibling under subparagraph (A) of paragraph (4) of this subsection or subparagraph (A) of paragraph (5) 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."

(12) 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.

Saturday May 23 17:12 EDT


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