This notice is part of a campaign initiated by the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) to inform all persons and organizations of updates to adoption advertising laws in the state of Georgia effective September 1, 2018.
The provisions related to the advertisement of adoption services in the state of Georgia can be found at O.C.G.A. § 19-8-24. This statute was amended during the 2018 legislative session with the passage of House Bill 159 (HB 159). O.C.G.A. § 19-8-24 previously prohibited a person or entity that was not licensed by DHS as a child-placing agency (CPA) from advertising adoption services through various public mediums or by various private means. The statute now adds "internet postings, including social media," to the list of examples of mediums or means through which persons or entities are prohibited from advertising adoption services unless they are licensed by DHS as a child-placing agency. See O.C.G.A. § 19-8-24(a). However, the advertising of adoption services by certain attorneys and prospective adoptive parents as well as advertising through certain private communications is permitted. See O.C.G.A. § 19-8-24(a) and (f). In addition, "facilitators" are now specifically identified in the list of persons or entities who may not advertise adoption services in Georgia without first obtaining a CPA license or meet other requirements.
Georgia law provides that the violation of adoption advertising provisions is a felony punishable by a fine up to $10,000, imprisonment up to ten years, or both. See O.C.G.A. § 19-8-24(e). In addition, state law provides that a CPA or certain persons harmed by a violation of advertising laws may pursue civil legal action. See O.C.G.A. § 19-8-24(g)
Obtaining adoption services through unlicensed agencies may place birth parents or prospective adoptive parents at risk for deceptive or unethical adoption practices. Thus, we encourage you to review Georgia's law regarding adoption advertising and DHS' rules related to the licensing and regulation of child-placing agencies. See O.C.G.A. § 19-8-24 and the Rules and Regulations for Child-Placing Agencies, Chapter 290-9-2.
Child-placing agencies licensed by DHS and their inspection reports for the past twenty-four months can be located at https://rcctrails.dhs.ga.gov/public/publiclanding.aspx. If you have any questions or concerns about the licensing requirements for child-placing agencies, please contact DHS' Residential Child Care Unit (RCCL) at 404-657-9651 or [email protected].
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