Adoption – nothing in law is more rewarding than helping a new loving family

Through the fall and winter, I have been working with a beautiful young husband and wife, Dustin and Reta, to official welcome a new member into their family.

When I opened my law office in October, Dustin came to help with my technology needs. When he learned that I practice in family law, he told me about a baby, very soon to be born, whom he and his wife wanted to adopt. Dustin and Reta had been married many years, but they had no children of their own.

As I got to know Dustin, I learned his inspiring story. Dustin, along with several of his younger siblings, was taken from his home by the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services. After being passed around the foster case system, Dustin was eventually adopted by his grandfather. His siblings were also adopted by various families. As a young man, Dustin and his siblings reunited.

Happy new parents, Dustin and Reta, Baby Matthew and Judge Nunn
Happy new parents, Dustin and Reta, with Baby Matthew, his grandparents and Judge Nunn

In the summer of 2015, one of Dustin’s younger brothers and his wife learned they would be having a baby. He was their third child, and from the beginning, they were confident in their decision to give this baby to be adopted by Dustin and Reta. From their perspective, their baby boy was a blessing they could give to his big brother. When baby Matthew was born, Reta caught him and cut the umbilical cord. Dustin and Reta cared for him in the hospital, fed and bathed and changed him. They took him home with prayers that it was forever.

From a legal perspective, Dustin and Reta’s adoption was quite interesting: Georgia law provides one avenue for adoptions of children by their family members, which is in the law at O.C.G.A. section 19-8-7; the law also provides for adoptions by “third parties,” what you might consider an adoption by strangers, which is in the law at O.C.G.A. section 19-8-5.

There are two significant differences between family and third party adoptions. If a third party wants to adopt a child, the law requires a home study and criminal background check, which must be presented to the court with recommendations either for or against adoption; this is not a requirement for a family adoption. A third party adoption also requires that certain documents be sent to a state agency, the Office of Adoptions, who are not required to be notified of a family adoption. For an adoptive parent who has been through the foster care system as a child, these differences in the adoption process are stressful in a way that is unique to children who grew up in the system.

Because Dustin and his siblings were adopted by different families, they are no longer brothers. It’s a strange reality, for siblings who knew each other as children, lost track of each other in adolescence, and reunited as teenagers. They feel like brothers. Dustin’s adoptive son looks like him – same dimples, same smile, same eyes. And yet, an act of law renders Dustin a stranger to this child.

Nevertheless, my clients had their home study and background check completed by another caring local attorney. She recognized the love that Dustin and Reta already felt for their son, Matthew, and his love for them. Dustin has worked hard to overcome his difficult youth. He provides for his family so that Reta may stay home with Matthew, whom she has cared for since the moment of his birth. Together, Reta and Dustin have built a cozy home, a strong faith, and a close-knit family. They were whole-heartedly recommending for adoption.

Today, a short four months after meeting Dustin, I had the pleasure of filing the finalized order of adoption. Dustin and Reta are now Matthew’s legal and forever parents. There were moments of stress and confusion along the way, and I am grateful to the help and advice of attorney friends and the patience and faith of my clients. Nothing that we do in the law is better than creating new families, and the one they have made is absolutely beautiful.

If you are looking for an attorney for an adoption, please contact Lauren Deal at the Deal Law Firm in Middle Georgia. Call us at 478-254-9154, or use our automatic contact link on this website.

Making the season bright

Baby sitting in front of christmas treeI was out of the office late last week, and for good reason….

When I opened my law firm in early October, I had the opportunity to meet a hard-working man. Honestly, after eight years in a busy District Attorney’s office, I was eager to chat with anyone who visited my quiet office.

I learned that this young man had been married for a number of years. He and his wife had struggled for quite some time to start a family. Unfortunately, they had been unable to do so.

Like many men and women, this husband and wife wanted nothing more this Christmas – and many Christmases before – than to be parents. They wanted to share their love with a child.

Adoption is an emotionally, financially, and personally difficult process. It’s scary, exciting, overwhelming, devastating…sometimes all of these at once, and not only for adoptive parents. It’s hard to find a birth mother who is willing to give her child to be raised in a loving home.

Yet for this family, it had already happened. They had a younger relative who wanted to give her unborn child for them to adopt. What they did not have was an affordable attorney to help them with the adoption process. That is where I came into the story.

Last week, the baby was born. The adoptive parents participated in the baby’s birth, and they were able to hold and care for their newborn child. To see the light in the mother’s eyes, and to watch the father hold his child, were some of the most fulfilling moments in my career.

Most beautiful, though, was the strength of the birth mother. She has always been certain that adoption to this couple was the right choice for her unborn baby. It wasn’t a sacrifice she was making, but a GIFT that she was giving. As we left the hospital, the look on her face was pure joy. Her tears were happy ones — for the new family, for her new relationship with them, for her new relationship with the child she gave.

Hers was the greatest gift a family could ever receive.