Georgia Center For Resources & Support

siblings

Post Adoption Services

Adoption represents the beginning of a lifelong commitment for adoptive parents and adoptees. At different stages of their journey, adoptive families may have questions and concerns; and may need advice or support. Post-adoption services and resources are designed to address these needs in order to enhance the adoption experience and to help prevent disruption of the adoptive family.

The DFCS/Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) provides a number of supportive programs for adoptive families. These programs are primarily available for families of special needs children adopted from Georgia’s foster care system. However, some programs, such as the Georgia Center for Resources & Support (GACRS) are available to all adoptive families residing in Georgia.

The availability and amount of Post Adoption Services are subject to State and Federal laws, regulations, and budgetary requirements.

Program Descriptions and Contact Information are included in the links below:

Post-Adoption Services Managed by DFCS (SSAU):

Other Supportive Resources

Adoption Assistance

Individuals who adopt children through the DFCS foster care system may be eligible for adoption assistance if a child is deemed to have special needs and an adoption assistance agreement is signed prior to the adoption. Such benefits may include a monthly payment, Medicaid, and one-time assistance with payment of adoption-related costs up to $1500.00. 

Individuals who adopt children who are not in DFCS custody may be eligible for monthly adoption assistance and Medicaid but only in limited circumstances – 1) child is deemed SSI eligible (disabled) prior to adoption or 2) child was receiving federal adoption assistance in a prior adoption which dissolved. In one of these two circumstances exist, the SSAU must deem the child to have special needs and an agreement for adoption assistance must be signed with the adoptive parents prior to the adoption occurring.

Individuals who adopt children who are not in DFCS custody are more easily able to qualify for the one-time coverage of adoption-related costs up to $1500.00, as the child only needs to be determined “special needs” by the SSAU prior to the adoption occurring. A non-recurring adoption assistance agreement must be signed prior to the adoption occurring. There are no monthly payments or Medicaid with this approval.

Questions regarding the adoption assistance program in Georgia may be directed to the Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) at 404-657-3550.

Georgia Center for Resources and Support

The Georgia Center for Resources & Support is available to assist families in locating needed resources. All adoptive families living in Georgia are invited to join the GACRS forever family Facebook group: The Adoptive Family JourneyThis group allows adoptive parents to connect, share, and learn from others about their adoptive family journey. Within the group, families are encouraged to discuss interests and concerns about parenting an adopted child or children. To join, visit the GACRS Facebook page or the GACRS website.

The GACRS website, located at www.gacrs.org, provides a variety of information and resources for adoptive and foster parents, such as:

  • Directory of resources available in Georgia for adoptive and foster parents
  • Calendar of upcoming trainings and events that are available throughout Georgia
  • Virtual certificate trainings
  • Online access to the GACRS lending library which allows parents to request books, articles, and DVDs by e-mail or phone

Regional Resource Advisors are available throughout Georgia to assist adoptive families by providing advice, support, and training. Resource Advisors and GACRS staff can be reached through e-mail at: info@gacrs.org or by phone at: 1-866-A PARENT (1-866-272-7368). Parents need to provide their name, county of residence, and contact information, and a Resource Advisor will respond.

 Crisis Intervention Team

A Family Intervention Team (FIT) provides services to adoptive families in need of professional help to improve overall family functioning, preserve the family unit, and provide links to community resources. The FIT assists adoptive families of special needs children who have been placed in the home and approved for Adoption Assistance benefits.

When a parenting challenge becomes a serious problem, the FIT can provide early intervention services designed to prevent disruptions, dissolutions and to preserve the family unit. The program consists of Mobile Intervention Teams, including a Team Leader and an Intervention Specialist, who provide in-home family assessments and counseling to families on a statewide basis. All Team members understand the dynamics of the adoption process as well as the unique problems of attachment, trauma and loss which are common in children with multiple placements. They are trained in the prevention of aggressive behaviors, the de-escalation of crisis situations and the development of therapeutic intervention plans to address interpersonal relationships, school performance and physical/emotional health issues.

While the FIT is not designed to replace medical or therapeutic care, it does help the child and family identify and resolve problematic issues. Contact with the FIT is for a limited time only (60-90 days). When intervention services are discontinued, families are referred to community resources coordinated by the FIT.

Information about this program can be found on the web at http://www.ga-mentor.com. Georgia MENTOR may also be contacted to discuss program services at 478-333-2971. Adoptive parents need to contact their child’s adoption assistance case manager in order to apply for Crisis Intervention and Support Services; or adoptive parents may contact the Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) at 404-657-3550 to speak with an adoption assistance Program Consultant to discuss the application process.

 

Special Services

Special Services utilizes state funds to provide time-limited or one-time-only funding for a needed service when no other family or community resource is available. Special Services may include, but are not limited to funding for medical services, therapy/counseling services, dental/orthodontic services, respite services, or other services related to the child’s special needs. These funds are dependent upon the annual state budget and there is no guarantee of their availability from year to year.

Special Services funds are only available for children who:

  • Were in the permanent custody of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) at the time of being placed on adoptive status or who were transferred from DFCS custody into the permanent custody of a specified individual for the purpose of adoption;
  • Are under 18 years of age; and
  • Are currently receiving monthly adoption assistance benefits.

Adoptive parents should contact their child’s adoption assistance case manager in order to learn about and apply for Special Services benefits. If unaware of the case manager’s contact information, adoptive parents may contact the Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) at 404-657-3550 to speak with an adoption assistance Program Consultant. Special Services benefits may be approved for up to a 12-month period of time; and such approval is contingent upon the availability of funds and the appropriateness of the request.  Requests for multiple special services may be submitted and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Website: https://dfcs.georgia.gov/special-services

ADOPTS Service Program

Bethany Christian Services provides a variety of post adoption services to strengthen adoptive and foster/adopt families in Georgia.  

Services include:

  • Trauma-informed counseling (ADOPTSSM) for children who experienced abuse or neglect prior to adoption
  • Coaching for adoptive parents
  • Crisis Intervention

Counseling

ADOPTSSM is a 14 to 19-week therapy program developed by Bethany Christian Services to address the impact of past traumatic experiences such as abuse and neglect on present relationships, feelings, behaviors, and sense of self. ADOPTS serves children between the ages of 4 and 18, and parents and children participate in counseling sessions together. In addition to the family counseling sessions, parents and children also participate in six weeks of groups that reinforce therapeutic skills and offer support. Current office locations for ADOPTSSM  include Atlanta, Powder Springs, Athens, Columbus, and Chattanooga. 

Parent Coaching

Parenting a child through adoption often comes with a unique set of challenges, especially when a child has experienced abuse or neglect prior to adoption. Parent Coaching offers parents 6 sessions with a Bethany coach who provides individualized support through challenges related to adjustment, attachment, past trauma, parenting skills, behavior management, and self care.  Current office locations for parent coaching include Atlanta, Powder Springs, Athens, Columbus, and Chattanooga.  For families living outside of these service areas, Parent Coaching services can be provided through video conferencing. 

Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention services are available for children involved in the ADOPTS Counseling program who need additional therapeutic support or stabilization. These services can take place at the Bethany Atlanta office as well as in the home for families living in the metro Atlanta area. 

Eligibility

  • A child/adolescent has been placed in your home for adoption OR you finalized an adoption
  • Your adopted child/adolescent is (or was) in the legal custody of the State prior to adoptive placement;
  • Your family lives in Georgia

Contact:

Maribeth Nolan

ADOPTS Coordinator / Family Therapist

770-455-7111

mnolan@bethany.org            

Further information can be located at the website: www.bethanylifelines.org 

Adopted Teen Empowerment and Mentoring Program

The Adopted Teen Empowerment & Mentoring Program (ATEAM) is a statewide post adoption service program designed for adopted teens in 6th—12th grades. The ATEAM provides teen participants with an opportunity for mutual support and self-expression through group interactions with other adopted teens and is hosted monthly by both public and private colleges and youth facilities across the state of Georgia.  ATEAM support meetings are held one Saturday each month and are generally from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm with one weekend leadership retreat planned each year.
Adoption adds to the complexity of adolescent development and adopted teenagers may need extra support in dealing with certain adoption issues. For those who were adopted at an older age from the foster care system, this type of supportive environment may be helpful.  In most cases, even when teens appear happy and well- adjusted in their adoptive families, they may still be dealing with the effects of their early life experience.

With the help of adult mentors, ATEAM participants strive to understand the unique aspects of adoption and are encouraged to express their concerns openly in a safe environment. For many participants, this type of peer support group is their first opportunity to interact with others who were adopted and to see that their experiences and feelings related to adoption are normal.  By hearing how others have coped with their feelings, participants can oftentimes inspire other adopted teens to work through their own issues and learn to grow in self-acceptance and self-respect.

In addition, the ATEAM offers parent support, educational resources, training materials and respite opportunities for adoptive parents. This program is designed to offer this special population the additional support they sometimes need, in order to help them forge even stronger family attachments and enhance their future relationships.

Eligibility: Eligible teen participants are those who are currently receiving Adoption Assistance funds and/or that have been in the custody of a state agency and are either in an adoptive placement or a finalized adoption. The ATEAM welcomes adopted teens that will benefit from becoming part of a supportive group where there is mutual respect, and participants demonstrate an acceptance of others in a group setting. This may not be well suited for teens that may experience difficulties interacting within a large group setting.

Pre-registration is required for all participants, as space is limited at each host site.

Contact: 

Chris Greer                                                     OR      Ami Taharka
ATEAM Program Administrator                                  ATEAM Program Specialist                           
Family Matters Consulting, Inc.                                  Family Matters Consulting, Inc.
Phone: 1-877-669-0634 or 770-881-7789                  Phone: 912-507-8596
Email: chris_greer@familymatters-ga.com               Email: ami_taharka@familymatters-ga.com

Website:  http://ateamgroup.org

Ties that Bind: Annual Adoptive Parent and Youth Training Seminar

With a focus on the lifelong aspects of adoption, this annual training seminar celebrates, promotes, and explores issues related to adoption, with its primary focus being to support and strengthen adoptive families. Through this event, adoptive parents and foster to adopt parents who have adoptive children placed in their homes are provided an excellent opportunity to increase their knowledge base and skills concerning adoption-related issues, services for adoptive families and the parenting of adopted children. A wide variety of workshops are offered on topics such as understanding developmental assessments, parenting children with complex medical issues, coping with attachment-related issues, guidance, and behavioral concerns, identifying emotional triggers, special educational services, supporting children through developmental stages, and much more.


The Ties That Bind Training Seminar is truly a family centered event, with all ages welcome. In addition to childcare, age-appropriate workshops and fun-filled activities are provided for all children. There is a Teen Leadership Program that provides teen participants with exciting opportunities for personal growth. Teens are offered the opportunity to learn valuable life skills that focus on making positive choices, overcoming obstacles, developing critical thinking, reducing violence, and setting goals. Parents can enjoy the seminar secure in the knowledge that their children are nearby and enjoying a positive and fun learning experience themselves.

Contact:

Family Matters Consulting, Inc.

Toll Free 877-669-0634

Atlanta area: 770-881-7789

Fax: 770-818-5815

Website: www.ties-that-bind.org

Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry

Adoptees, birthparents, or siblings who have been permanently separated through adoption often reach a time in their lives when they want more information about their biological family. This “need to know” may be due to medical, genetic, genealogical, or personal reasons. The Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry provides the following services:

  • Assistance to an adult adoptee in order to establish contact with the adoptee’s biological parents with the expressed consent of the biological parent(s).
  • Assistance to adult siblings in establishing contact with each other (provided at least one of them is an adoptee) with the expressed consent of the sibling who is being sought.
  • Provides an adult adoptee or adoptive parents of an adoptee under age 18 with non-identifying information from the sealed adoption record without having to obtain a court order.
  • Assistance to biological parents in registering their consent to contact/release birth family identifying information or to register their desire not to have contact and preventing the release of birth family identifying information from the sealed adoption record.
  • Assistance to siblings in registering their consent to have contact or to register their desire not to have contact with the searcher.

For more information, call the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry toll free at 1-800-615-7976 or at (404)-657-3555 or visit their website at www.ga-adoptionreunion.com

Georgia Independent Living Program (ILP)

The Division of Family and Children Services may deem adopted youth ages 18-21 to be eligible for Independent Living Services if they were in foster care past the age of 14 and for a total of 6 months or more (other ILP criteria may apply).  Such ILP services may include life skills workshops; financial assistance with secondary and post-secondary expenses such as high school graduation fees and college tuition; opportunities for socialization; and advocacy and support to assist the youth with establishing and pursuing personal goals.  Adoptive parents or youth turning 18 may obtain further information and contact an Independent Living Specialist by going online at http://www.garyse-ilp.org.

Camp to Belong - Georiga

Camp to Belong-Georgia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reuniting brothers and sisters placed in separate foster, adoptive or kinship homes through Summer Camp Programs and year-round events.

Summer Camp programs include:

  • Traditional camp activities: horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, and rock climbing
  • Trained counselors and special programs which help siblings to connect and to learn the value of relationships
  • Life Seminar for older children, to address education/career planning and adult living skills (conflict resolution, anger management, diversity tolerance, and relationship building)
  • Special help for siblings whose relationships have been strained by separation
  • Birthday celebrations for siblings unable to share birthdays during the year
  • Teaching children how to become their own best advocates

Children from age 8 to18 who are in foster care, kinship care, or adoptive placements and who live apart from one or more of their siblings are eligible to attend Camp to Belong.  DHS/DFCS Case Managers and Supervisors, as well as foster and adoptive parents may refer children to Camp to Belong-Georgia.

Inquiries should be directed to:

Traci Bensley, Executive Director

Telephone: 678-521-7670

E-mail: executivedirector@camptobelong-ga.org

Further information can be located at the website: https://www.camptobelong-ga.org

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Website – Adoptions

 This website is found at http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/adoption and contains a photo listing of children available for adoption, information on upcoming events related to adoption, educational information, description of adoption services, and links to other adoption-related sites.

Federal Adoption Tax Credit

The Federal Adoption Tax Credit is available to families who meet eligibility requirements, which includes the adoption of a child who has been determined to meet “Special Needs” criteria by DFCS.

Adoptive families interested in finding out more information about the Federal Adoption Tax Credit should consult with their tax professional before filing taxes. Families may also go to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website listed below, which has information about the Federal Adoption Tax Credit:

http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html

 

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) has information regarding the Federal Adoption Tax Credit in their website, which is listed below:

http://www.nacac.org/taxcredit/taxcredit.html

Georgia State Adoption Tax Credit

The State of Georgia offers a Tax Credit of $2000 to parents for the adoption of a qualified foster child. A qualified child is defined as a child who is under 18 years of age, and is in a foster home or otherwise in the foster care system under the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). This credit will be available beginning the tax year the adoption becomes final and ending with the year the child turns age 18. Adoptive parents should consult with their tax professional before filing. For Georgia tax information, please visit the website for the Georgia Department of Revenue at: http://dor.georgia.gov/taxes.  GA Form IND-CR is used for claiming this tax credit in Georgia and is required to be enclosed with Form 500.

Childcare Assistance Through Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS)

Childcare assistance is not available directly through DFCS Post Adoption Services.  However, the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is responsible for meeting the childcare and early education needs of children in Georgia. For more information on DECAL, visit their website at http://decal.ga.gov/BftS/About.aspx. In addition, see Section 6100 – Child Care and Programmatic Requirements in the Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) Manual which is available at http://odis.dhs.ga.gov under Childcare and Parent Services – MAN3540.                       

Please Note:  Adoptive parents must meet the basic work and income requirements of CAPS.  However, adoptive parents who receive adoption assistance benefits are not required to count those benefits as income when applying for childcare assistance through CAPS.  Also, if an adoptive parent can provide proof from a doctor or other licensed professional that their child has special needs, such as a medical, behavioral, developmental or mental health diagnosis, they may be considered for “priority status”, and not be affected by State or County fund restrictions.