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5 Questions You Have About Tennessee Adoption Requirements

A Checklist of Qualifications for Adoption in TN

If you are considering growing your family through adoption, you may have come across the common myth that you need to be a “perfect” parent to adopt. This might leave you wondering: “How hard is it to adopt a baby in Tennessee?” or even, “Can I adopt a child in Tennessee at all?”

While the requirements to adopt may seem intimidating at first, the good news is you don’t need to be perfect to become an adoptive parent. However, before you can decide whether adoption is really right for your family, it’s important to understand the basic Tennessee adoption requirements and ensure you meet all of the legal qualifications to adopt. 

While this article should not be construed as legal advice, it does provide some answers to your basic questions about the qualifications for adoption in Tennessee. For more information about American Adoptions' requirements to adopt, you can always call an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION or request your free information online.

1. What are the requirements to adopt a child in Tennessee?

Every hopeful adoptive parent needs to meet certain requirements for adoption in Tennessee. These requirements exist to help ensure Tennessee children are placed in stable homes that are fully prepared for them.

Tennessee Adoption Requirements

To be eligible to adopt, a person must meet the following Tennessee adoption qualifications:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Be a resident of Tennessee for at least six consecutive months (exceptions may be made for certain relative adoptions and for Tennessee residents who are stationed with the military outside of Tennessee)

While these are the only legal requirements for adopting a child in Tennessee, adoptive parents should also be prepared to be approved by an adoption home study and to meet the requirements of their chosen adoption professional.

Tennessee Requirements for Adoption from Foster Care

Tennessee has slightly different qualifications to adopt a child from foster care. Foster-adoptive parents need to meet the following qualifications for adoption in Tennessee:

  • Be a Tennessee resident

  • Be at least 21 years of age

  • Complete Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) training

Foster-adoptive parents in Tennessee also need to complete the home study process to be approved to adopt.

In Tennessee, foster parents are given first preference for adopting their foster children, and about 80 percent of the children adopted from Tennessee foster care are adopted by their foster families. So, if you are interested in adopting a child from foster care, you may want to consider becoming a licensed foster parent first.

2. How old do you have to be to adopt in Tennessee?

As mentioned above, you must be at least 18 years old to adopt in Tennessee and at least 21 years old to become a licensed foster parent. There is not a specified upper adoption age limit in Tennessee, though individual adoption agencies often have age preferences for hopeful adoptive parents. For example, American Adoptions requests that adoptive parents be 22–50 years old; however, exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.

You can read more about the requirements to join one of American Adoptions’ programs here.

3. In Tennessee, do you have to be married to adopt?

Adoptive parents in Tennessee can be married, single or divorced. However, a married adoptive parent must adopt jointly with his or her spouse unless the spouse is found incompetent by the court. In the case of a stepparent adoption, the spouse who is the legal or biological parent of the child being adopted must sign the adoption petition as a co-petitioner.

While there are no laws against single-parent adoption in Tennessee, different adoption professionals may have different marriage requirements for hopeful parents. Contact American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more about marriage and adoption requirements in Tennessee.

4. Can a felon adopt a child in Tennessee?

Before being considered for an adoption opportunity, every hopeful adoptive parent will need to complete an adoption home study. This ensures that a prospective adoptive family meets all the requirements to adopt in Tennessee and that they can provide a safe, stable home for a child.

As part of the adoption home study, you will need to complete criminal background checks. Any prior offenses will be considered by your home study worker and the court when determining your eligibility to adopt. However, a prior felony conviction will not necessarily disqualify you from adopting. Your home study worker and adoption agency may consider the nature of the felony, how long it’s been since the felony was committed and other factors when accepting or denying your application to adopt.

5. What do I need to adopt a child in TN?

In addition to meeting the above requirements to adopt, before starting the adoption process in Tennessee, you need to:

  • Be mentally and physically healthy enough to meet the demands of a new child. You will need to submit recent health statements to your home study worker verifying you are healthy enough to adopt.

  • Be financially stable enough to provide for a new child. You do not need to be wealthy by any means, but your home study professional will request recent financial statements to assess whether you are financially prepared for the adoption process and parenthood.

  • Be excited and committed to adoption. This means addressing any infertility grief you may be experiencing and focusing wholeheartedly on the dream of adopting a child. It also means learning everything you can about adoption and being excited and prepared for all of the unique joys and challenges of adoption and parenthood.

If you are still wondering, “How hard is it to adopt a child in Tennessee?” we are here to help. When you work with American Adoptions, we will be there every step of the way to ensure you are fully prepared to adopt and that you meet all of the legal, financial and emotional requirements for a successful adoption in Tennessee.

To learn more about our agency’s requirements to adopt in TN, call 1-800-ADOPTION now.

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