If you are adopting a child in Tennessee, you will need to make sure every step of the process is completed ethically and legally. And, to do that, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with some important Tennessee adoption laws.
When you work with American Adoptions, you’ll have an adoption specialist and an attorney to guide you through this process from start to finish. These professionals will work closely with you to make sure your adoption complies with all applicable Tennessee adoption laws.
In the meantime, though, you may be curious about some of the basic adoption laws in Tennessee. While this article should in no way be considered legal advice (always consult with your local attorney for your individual situation), it does outline a few of the adoption laws that may impact your Tennessee adoption:
Before you even begin the adoption process, you will need to make sure you meet all the requirements to adopt in Tennessee. (You’ll also need to meet the requirements of your adoption professional and complete the adoption home study process).
So, who can legally adopt in Tennessee? According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a person must meet the following requirements to be eligible to adopt in TN:
Be 18 years of age or older
Be a resident of Tennessee for at least six consecutive months*
*This residency requirement is waived in certain adoption situations where the adoptive parent is stationed with the military outside of Tennessee. In a relative adoption, the adopting relative needs to be a resident of the state only at the time the adoption petition is filed.
Adoptive parents in Tennessee may be married, single or divorced, but spouses must adopt jointly unless one spouse is determined incompetent by the court. LGBT parents are welcome to adopt on their own or jointly in Tennessee as well.
In order for your adoption to proceed smoothly, it’s very important to make sure birth parents’ rights are protected throughout the process and that their consent to the adoption is executed legally. Your baby’s birth mother will have her own independent adoption attorney to explain these Tennessee adoption laws and to guide her through the legal document-signing process.
Here’s what you should know about consent to adoption in Tennessee:
Adoption laws in Tennessee state that birth parents must wait at least 72 hours after birth before consenting to the adoption. This waiting period may be waived by the court for good cause.
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. The birth parent who wishes to revoke consent must appear before the judge who accepted the consent and execute revocation under oath.
When it is time for your baby to be born, your adoption specialist will explain what to expect during the hospital stay and consent process. Your adoption attorney or local adoption specialist will likely also be there to support you during this process.
Every state has laws regulating the payment of adoption expenses by adoptive families. Based on the adoption laws in Tennessee, allowable birth parent expenses include:
Medical expenses related to the birth of the baby
Medical expenses for the child and birth mother
Counseling fees for adoptive parents and birth parents for up to one year
Legal fees in connection with the adoption
Reasonable birth mother living expenses, including housing, food, maternity clothing, children’s clothing, utilities and transportation
Living expenses for the birth mother can be paid for a period of up to 90 days prior to the birth of the child or 45 days after the child is placed for adoption.
All payments made by the adoptive parents in connection with the adoption must be disclosed to the court to ensure they meet Tennessee adoption laws. All fees paid by the adoptive family must be considered “reasonable” by the court. During the adoption, your adoption professional will handle transfer of funds to ensure you are meeting appropriate legal regulations.
The following people and organizations are permitted to advertise for adoption by Tennessee adoption law:
State-licensed child-placing agencies
Licensed clinical social workers
Prospective adoptive parents
Lawyers subject to the Tennessee Supreme Court rules regarding lawyer advertising
No one else may advertise to find a prospective birth parent, adoptive parent or child to adopt in Tennessee.
Tennessee adoption laws regarding birth father rights are complex, and a birth father’s rights and role in the adoption process can vary significantly on a case-by-case basis. Your adoption professionals will help you understand the birth father situation in your particular adoption.
If your baby’s birth father is supportive of the adoption, he may be as involved in the adoption process as he and the prospective birth mother are comfortable with. If the birth father is unsupportive of the adoption, he may need to take specific steps to establish and protect his parental rights and be notified of adoption proceedings.
To learn more about these and other adoption laws in Tennessee, call 1-800-ADOPTION now or request your free adoption information online.
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