Adoption is a beautiful way to complete a family, no matter what form it takes. While American Adoptions specializes in domestic infant adoptions, Tennessee foster care adoption is another option that can be incredibly rewarding for hopeful parents.
American Adoptions cannot currently provide services for foster adoption in Tennessee, but we are committed to helping hopeful parents grow in whatever way we can. To that end, we’ve compiled the following guide to foster care adoption in Tennessee.
Before pursuing adoption through foster care in Tennessee, it’s important to remember that when a child enters the foster care system, the state’s primarily goal for him or her is always reunification. Only when it becomes impossible for the child to be reunited with his or her biological family will that child become legally available for adoption.
At that point, the child’s current foster parents are generally given the first opportunity to adopt him or her. In fact, about 80 percent of the foster children for adoption in Tennessee are adopted by their foster families. This process is known as “foster to adopt.”
For this reason, foster parents are dually approved to adopt in Tennessee. While it is possible to adopt a child from foster care without being a foster parent first, understand that most parents who complete a successful foster care adoption do so through foster to adopt in Tennessee.
To become a foster-adoptive parent in Tennessee, you must meet the following licensing requirements:
Be at least 21 years old
Be a resident of Tennessee
Complete an approved home study
Be able to meet your family’s financial needs
Parents adopting from foster care in Tennessee may be single, married or divorced. They can be parents already or have no other children. They can rent or own their home. As long as you meet the above requirements, chances are you will be eligible for a Tennessee foster child adoption.
The process to adopt from foster care in Tennessee will vary depending on which path you choose: fostering to adopt, or adopting a child who is already available for adoption and awaiting a permanent home.
As mentioned before, 80 percent of the children adopted from foster care are adopted by their foster parents. For most families interested in adopting a foster child in TN, then, the foster-adopt process will look something like this:
Contact a Tennessee foster care agency near you.
Complete PATH training.
Complete the home study process.
Once you have been approved as a licensed foster-adoptive parent, your foster agency will contact you about potential placements. Keep in mind that as a foster parent, your job is to provide a safe, temporary home for children in need; these children may or may not become available for adoption at a later date.
Should your foster child eventually become available for adoption, you will be given the first opportunity to adopt the child. You will then need to complete the legal process to finalize your foster care adoption in Tennessee.
If you are interested only in adopting without first becoming a foster parent, your process will look slightly different:
Contact a private, Tennessee-licensed adoption agency to complete the home study.
Find a child for adoption on AdoptUSKids or another Tennessee adoption photolisting.
Submit your home study and application to adopt the specific child.
When you have been identified as an adoptive parent for a particular child, you will complete PATH training.
Once a child has been placed with you and you have completed the required training, your foster care adoption professional will provide the information and services you need to legally complete the adoption process.
Foster care adoption is one of the least expensive ways to grow your family. It is completely free to become a foster parent, and the only costs involved with adopting a child from foster care in TN are the necessary legal expenses, such as attorney’s fees and court expenses.
In addition, many foster-adoptive families are eligible for reimbursement of these legal expenses. Contact your foster care professional to learn more about expenses and reimbursement in your case.
There are 8,146 children in the Tennessee foster care system, and 400 children in Tennessee are waiting for an adoptive home. These children enter foster care, through no fault of their own, because they are unable to continue living safely with their families.
Many children in foster care are considered “special needs” because they are older or part of a sibling group hoping to be adopted together. Some, but not all, have certain medical conditions, physical or mental disabilities that also qualify them as having special needs. Many children who enter foster care have experienced trauma in their childhoods. Your PATH training will help you prepare for any special needs of the child you wish to adopt.
To learn more about the children available for adoption, view the Tennessee foster care adoption photolisting here.
There are many ways to grow your family. It is up to every hopeful parent to decide which option is right for them.
If you are debating between foster care and adoption of an infant in Tennessee, there are many important factors to consider: wait times, costs, the level of uncertainty and the types of children available for adoption all vary between private adoption and foster care.
To learn more about Tennessee foster care vs. adoption and to discuss which option might be best for your family, call 1-800-ADOPTION now to speak with an American Adoptions specialist, or contact a Tennessee foster care professional near you.
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