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Can embryos be adopted in Georgia?

The concept of adoption has a history in Western society that goes back thousands of years. From Roman Emperors adopting sons they felt were suitable heirs, to the modern family in Georgia adopting children that others could not care for, there has long been a place for the adding of individuals to a family tree. Only very recently, however, has medical science and the law allowed for the bringing of someone into a family before he or she is even born.

Georgia Code section 19-8-41 codified an embryo adoption law. This law allows the person or entity who is the legal custodian of an embryo to contract away the legal rights and responsibilities to and for that embryo to another person who is an "intended parent." The contract can be entered into anonymously, and the original custodian may waive any right to further notice of parental proceedings concerning that embryo. If the embryo was conceived by donor cells, any donors who irrevocably gave up rights to the cells are not entitled to notice of the transfer. A child born to the intended parent under one of these contracts will legally be considered that parent's child with the rights and responsibilities of a biological parent.

Further, an intended parent can petition a court to expedite an order of adoption or parentage for an embryo under such a contract. The law makes it easier to file these petitions by allowing venue in the county of the parent or the original custodian, and by allowing the court to waive certain technical requirements in the interest of justice.

One might think of several potential complications to these situations. As in most legal adoption cases, Georgia residents contemplating an embryo transfer may wish to consider consulting a family law attorney for advice.

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