Certificate of adoption


Nashville Adoption Lawyers

Adopting a child is an incredibly rewarding journey that brings joy and fulfillment to families, but it also involves navigating the complexities of adoption legal services in Tennessee. At MHPS, our experienced adoption attorneys are dedicated to guiding you through every step of the process, from understanding the specifics of adoption in TN to finalizing your family’s newest addition. With our compassionate and skilled team, you can focus on the excitement of growing your family, assured that all legal details are expertly managed.

Parents after navigating Tennessee adoption laws

Tennessee Adoption Laws

Beginning the adoption process can feel overwhelming, filled with legal procedures and paperwork that might seem daunting at first glance. While the legal process breaks down into two steps — terminating the parental rights of the biological parent and establishing a parent-child relationship with the adoptive parents — families wanting to complete an adoption can encounter complications. Our team at MHPS specializes in adoption in Tennessee, offering expert guidance and adoption assistance to simplify the process, ensuring a smooth path to expanding your family with confidence and peace of mind.

What is the Process for Adoption in Tennessee?

The adoption process in Tennessee is a structured legal journey designed to meet the child’s and the adopting family’s best interests. It begins with submitting an application to an agency or through private arrangements, followed by a home study to evaluate the suitability of the adoptive environment. Prospective parents must then navigate through legal proceedings, which include filing a petition for adoption and attending a court hearing.

Throughout this journey, the expertise of an experienced adoption attorney is invaluable, offering guidance and emotional support, streamlining paperwork, and navigating legal hurdles. An adoption lawyer can help ease the path to receiving the court’s approval, marking the official and joyful recognition of your new family unit. MHPS stands ready to support families at every turn, providing specialized child adoption legal services to ensure this significant milestone is seamless and celebratory.

Gavel of adoption lawyer

Eligibility For Adoption

Familiarizing yourself with the specific requirements of the agency you plan to adopt from is crucial, as they may have additional legal stipulations. The basic criteria to qualify for adoption in Tennessee include being 18 years old and a state resident for at least six consecutive months. A thorough home study is also a prerequisite for all prospective adoptive parents. For those interested in adopting through a foster program, the requirements extend to being at least 21 years old, completing the Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) training, and residing in Tennessee.

Tennessee is inclusive in its approach to adoption, allowing married, single, or divorced individuals to adopt. Married couples are expected to adopt jointly unless a court finds one spouse incompetent. Additionally, LGBTQ+ individuals and couples are fully supported in their adoption endeavors, whether choosing to adopt individually or jointly.

Consent for Adoption

After fulfilling both the state’s and your chosen agency’s eligibility criteria, you must navigate Tennessee’s consent laws for the adoption to proceed legally. The rights and consent of the birth parents are paramount. Legally, birth parents must consent to the adoption, with the birth mother often having the assistance of an adoption attorney to guide her through the process of signing adoption papers.

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.
  • For those adopting a newborn, an adoption specialist may be present during the hospital stay to assist with the consent process, ensuring that all legal steps are properly and respectfully handled.

Family after meeting with adoption attorney

Adopted son with family

Contested Adoption

Not every adoption unfolds with the agreement of the biological parents. Situations where a relative or caregiver aims to obtain parental rights due to concerns over the biological parent’s fitness can lead to a contested adoption. This process begins with an adoption lawyer filing a court petition to terminate the biological or guardianship rights, asserting that the child’s best interest lies away from their current situation.

The petition must detail specific reasons for seeking the termination of parental rights, such as:

  • Abandonment of the child
  • Failure to adhere to a permanency plan
  • Evidence of severe abuse or neglect
  • Parental incarceration
  • The mental competency of the parents

Covering Adoption Expenses

Adoption is a deeply rewarding yet potentially costly journey. While specific regulations vary from state to state, Tennessee outlines clear guidelines on the expenses that adoptive families may cover for the birth parent, including:

  • Medical expenses for the baby’s birth and the mother’s care.
  • Counseling fees for both birth and adoptive parents are allowable for up to one year.
  • Relevant legal fees.
  • Living expenses for the birth mother, covering housing, food, maternity and children’s clothing, utilities, and transportation, which can be provided up to 90 days before the child’s birth or 45 days after the adoption placement.

To maintain transparency and legality, all payments made by the adoptive parents must be disclosed to and approved by the court, ensuring adherence to adoption laws.

Signing adoption papers in Tennessee

Types of Adoption in Tennessee

Adoption can take several forms, each with its unique characteristics and processes:

  • Agency Adoption: Involves placing a minor with an adoptive family through either private or public agencies. This route is often chosen due to various circumstances, such as parental loss, abuse, or voluntary relinquishment by the parents.
  • Private/Independent Adoption: This type of adoption bypasses agencies, involving a direct arrangement between the birth and adoptive parents, or facilitated by an intermediary such as an attorney, doctor, or clergy member.
  • Stepparent Adoption: Commonly occurs when a parent remarries, and the new spouse wishes to legally adopt the child from the parent’s previous relationship.
  • Kinship Adoption: This covers when a relative adopts a child they are already connected to, like an aunt, uncle, or grandparent.
  • International Adoption: While this is widely common across the United States, it comes with unique challenges due to federal and state laws. In this situation, the adoptive parents are responsible for getting a visa for the child.

Family working with Nashville adoption lawyer

Each type of adoption presents its own set of procedures, legal requirements, and emotional journeys, reflecting the diverse ways families come together. Our family adoption lawyers at MHPS can help you determine the best path forward to successfully complete your adoption in a way that benefits all parties involved. 

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.