Adopting a child is a beautiful and wonderful experience for a family. While the legal aspects of adoption may be complex for prospective adoptive parents, you shouldn’t let this deter you from giving a child a home. We know how stressful the process can be, and are here to guide you through it. Let the adoption attorneys of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC help you grow your family.
Tennessee Adoption Laws
Understanding the legalities of adoption is critical to helping the process move forward efficiently in Tennessee. While the legal process can be simplified into two steps – terminating the parental rights of a biological parent and establishing a parent-child relationship with the adoptive parent – the process to get there can become complicated. There are numerous adoption laws in Tennessee. Here are some of the most common that you’ll need to know.
Eligibility For Adoption
According to American Adoption, the first law you must be familiar with to adopt in Tennessee is pertinent to eligibility. While you must adhere to the following conditions, it is best you familiarize yourself with the agency you will be adopting from, as they too may have legal requirements that must be met.
In Tennessee, to be eligible for adoption, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a resident of Tennessee for at least six consecutive months.
In addition, prospective adoptive parents must also complete a home study. If you are looking to adopt through a foster program, you must:
- Be a Tennessee resident.
- Be at least 21 years of age.
- Complete Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) training.
In Tennessee, an adoptive parent may be married, single, or divorced. However, if married, spouses must adopt jointly unless one spouse is determined incompetent by the court. LGBTQ+ parents are welcome to adopt on their own or jointly in Tennessee, too.
Consent for Adoption
If you have met the eligibility requirements of both the state and of the agency you plan to adopt through, you then must comply with consent laws.
Before the adoption can go through, the rights of the birth parents must be taken into account. For it to be legal, the birth parents must provide their consent. The child’s birth mother will typically have an attorney to explain the legalities of signing the adoption forms.
In Tennessee, consent to adoption includes:
- Birth parents must wait at least 72 hours after birth before consenting to the adoption.
- Consent must be executed in the presence of a judge. The court must witness the actual act of consent.
- Consent may be revoked within 10 days of execution.
If you are adopting a newborn, an adoption specialist may be present during the stay in the hospital to aid in the consent process.
Adoption can be a rather expensive though meaningful process. Though the laws of each state vary, in Tennessee, the allowable expenses by the birth parent for the adoptive family to be responsible for include:
- Medical expenses related to the birth of the baby and care of the birth mother.
- Counseling fees for both birth and adoptive parents for up to one year.
- Pertinent legal fees.
- Birth mother living expenses, such as housing, food, maternity clothing, children’s clothing, utilities, and transportation.
In general, living expenses for the birth mother may be paid for up to 90 days prior to the birth of the child or 45 days after the child is placed for adoption.
Any payments made by the adoptive parents must be disclosed to the court to ensure they are in compliance with adoption laws.
Types of Adoption in Tennessee
There are a variety of adoptions a prospective adoptive family may seek in Tennessee.
- Adoption through an agency. This occurs when a minor is placed with an adoptive family either via private or public agencies. Children may be placed for adoption via this process because of the loss of one or both parents, abuse, or the parents willingly giving the child up.
- Private/Independent: This type does not go through an agency but rather may be a direct agreement between the birth and adoptive parents. In addition, it can take place via an intermediary like an attorney, doctor, or clergy member.
- Stepparent: This is one of the most common types and occurs when a parent remarries and the new spouse wishes to adopt the child from a previous relationship.
- Kinship: This type occurs when a family member adopts a child they are already related to. This may be an aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc.
- International: While this is widely common across the United States, it comes with unique challenges due to federal and state laws. The adoptive parents in this situation are responsible for getting a visa for the child.
The type of adoption you decide on will determine the length of the process. If you need legal assistance, let the adoption attorneys of MHPS help.
Contact Our Nashville Adoption Lawyers Today
You’re ready to grow your family. Let us help you through the process. At MHPS, we know what needs to be done to make sure all goes smoothly. With an experienced Nashville lawyer who you can rely on, you’ll have the help you need to understand the legal aspects of adopting a child.
If you are considering adopting a child in Tennessee, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn your legal options.