Georgia: Newly Signed Amendment to the Georgian Adoption Law

October 27, 2003

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia issued a press release titled “Newly Signed Amendment to the Georgian Adoption Law Will Significantly Delay International Direct Adoption”. The new amendment calls for international direct adoptions to be regulated by the “Law on the Rules of Adoption” as opposed to Civil Code.

Full press release:
Newly Signed Amendment to the Georgian Adoption Law Will Significantly Delay International Direct Adoption
Tbilisi – On August 26, 2003, the Parliament of Georgia passed changes to the Civil Code of Georgia, Articles 1251, 1252 (Chapter 6). President Shevardnadze signed these amendments into law on September 25, 2003. The American Embassy received a copy of the amendments and has looked at how they will affect potential adoptions by Americans.

The new amendment calls for international direct adoptions to be regulated by the “Law on the Rules of Adoption” as opposed to Civil Code. Domestic direct adoptions will still be possible under Articles 1251 and 1252 of the Civil Code. In recent years, virtually all international adoptions in Georgia have been direct adoptions based on Articles 1251 and 1252. The “Law on the Rules of Adoption” regulates adoption in more detail than Articles 1251 and 1252 of the Civil Code.

Articles 1251 and 1252 of the Civil Code did not specifically address international direct adoption. Article 1251 states: “The parents may give their consent to the adoption of their child to any concrete person or without specifying a concrete person.” Article 1252 states: “In case of a child born out of wedlock written consent of mother is necessary. Consent has to be made more than six weeks after the child’s birth.” These articles no longer apply to international direct adoption.
The “Law on the Rules of Adoptions” stipulates that children left without parental care must be registered in the Ministry of Education’s centralized database of orphans for at least six months before they are allowed to be adopted internationally. The Ministry of Education is the institution responsible for regulating the adoption process. If no Georgian family is willing to adopt, a child may be adopted internationally by a foreign family, including American citizens. In the meantime, such children will have to be placed in an infant house or orphanage where they are available for adoption domestically in Georgia. Previously, children adopted directly by foreigners have typically been placed in informal foster care until a court hearing awarded final custody of a child to the new adoptive parents.

The American Embassy Tbilisi remains in contact with the Ministry of Education to discuss specifically how pending adoption dossiers that have been submitted to the Ministry, but have not yet been authorized, will be handled. To date, the Ministry of Education has not yet worked out procedures for such cases, e.g. a grandfather clause. The American Embassy Tbilisi understands that one of the leading adoption attorneys in Georgia is working closely with the Ministry of Education on this issue and has addressed the Secretary of the Parliament with a request for guidance on pending adoption cases.

American citizens considering adoption from Georgia and/or their adoption agencies will appreciate the fact that the amendment will subject any direct adoption program to significant delays. The American Embassy Tbilisi places a high priority on adoption issues and will continue to closely monitor the situation. We will update American citizens and the Department of State once there is news.

This situation in no way affects immigrant visa applications for children adopted by American citizens in Armenia and Azerbaijan whose immigrant visas are processed at Embassy Tbilisi as of October 1, 2003.

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