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Adopting a child is a beautiful and wonderful experience for a family. Unfortunately, the legal aspects of adoption can make some prospective adoptive parents decide to not add to their family. We know how stressful the Tennessee adoption process can be. 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 process moving forward efficiently. 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, however, here are some of the most common that you’ll need to know.
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, parents must also be subjected to 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.
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. In order for the adoption 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 birth mother
Counseling fees for both birth and adoptive parents for up to one year
Legal fees pertinent to the adoption
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
There are a variety of adoptions a prospective adoptive family may seek in Tennessee. These adoptions include:
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 adoption. This type of adoption 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 a clergy member.
Stepparent adoption. This is one of the most common forms of adoption and occurs when a parent remarries and the new spouse decides to adopt the child from a previous relationship.
Kinship adoption. This type of adoption occurs when a family member adopts a child they are already related to. This may be an aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc.
International adoption. While international adoption 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.
Depending on the nature of the adoption you select, it will determine the length of your adoption process. If you need legal assistance on your adoption, let the adoption attorneys of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC help.
Contact Our Nashville Adoption Lawyers
You’re ready to grow your family. Let us help you through the process. At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, we know what needs to be done to make sure the adoption goes smoothly. If you are considering adopting, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn your legal options.