How to Adopt in Tennessee

Tennessee isn’t just home to the country music capital of the world; it's also home to many families seeking adoption opportunities and resources to begin their journey. Whether you are looking to adopt, looking to place your child for adoption, or searching for information about home studies and where to begin the process, the following information will be your guide to all things adoption in Tennessee.

What you need to know about adopting a baby in Tennessee

To get started on your adoption journey, it is important to understand some of the fundamental aspects and frequently asked question about the process. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption in Tennessee.

What are the laws and requirements for adopting a baby in Tennessee?

To become an Adoptive Parent in Tennessee, you must be at least 18 years old. Prospective Parents are required to live in Tennessee for at least 6 months immediately preceding the petition to adoption before being eligible. If an Adoptive Parent is in the U.S. military, this residency requirement is not required as long as they lived in the state for 6 consecutive months before entering the military.

How much does it cost to adopt a baby in Tennessee?

Expenses related to adoption in Tennessee range widely depending on the type of adoption you decide to pursue. Are you looking to adopt internationally or domestically? Through a private agency or the foster care system? Depending on what you decide, Adoptive Parents may be asked to cover Birth Mother expenses such as:

  • Medical costs of the Birth Mother and child
  • Travel expenses
  • Counseling services up to 1 year after the child's birth
  • Rent and other living expenses 90 days before the child’s birth up to 45 days after
  • Legal representation
  • Fees from an adoption agency or professional

How do you become a Foster Parent in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, anyone who is in good health, has sufficient finances to support a child, is at least 18 years old and can love and support a child, may be eligible to become a domestically. In addition to these criteria, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete a home study
  • Obtain 5 character references
  • Complete the Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) training program
  • Pass a fingerprint-based criminal background check

Can you finalize an international adoption in Tennessee?

Adoption of a child born in a foreign country will be recognized in Tennessee as long as it was made in accordance with the laws of the foreign country.

What is a facilitator and is it legal to use their services for adoption in Tennessee?

An adoption facilitator specializes in matching prospective Adoptive Families with expectant mothers; however, they are usually unlicensed and unregulated.

In Tennessee, only licensed child-placing agencies, licensed clinical social workers, and lawyers may assist in the adoption process, including advertising that a child is eligible for adoption or that a person is looking to adopt a child.

Click here to read about the difference between adoption agencies, attorneys, and facilitators.

What you need to know about placing your child for adoption in Tennessee

If you are considering placing your child for adoption, understanding how the adoption process works as well as knowing your rights may relieve some of your worry. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption for your child in Tennessee.

Who must consent to an adoption in Tennessee?

Consent to adoption in Tennessee must be given by the following:

  • The Birth Mother
  • The Putative Father
  • The parent or legal guardian of the child, if they are not the Birth Parents
  • The adoptee if they are at least 14 years old

If the Birth Parent is under 18, they are legally allowed and required to give their consent; however, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to help advise them on the process.

For more information about adoption consent in Tennessee, click here.

When is consent not necessary for adoption in Tennessee?

Consent is not needed for a Tennessee adoption from a parent or legal guardian who:

  • Has surrendered their parental rights to the child
  • Has had their parental rights terminated in court
  • Has already executed their consent and has been approved in court

How and when can Birth Parents consent to adoption in Tennessee?

Consent to adoption in Tennessee cannot be made until 3 days after the child's birth.

The consent must be given in court with a witness to verify the parent understands they are surrendering their parental rights and that they have signed the surrender forms.

Can a Birth Parent revoke their consent to adoption in Tennessee?

A Birth Parent may revoke their consent to adoption up to 10 days after the child is born by appearing before the judge in which they surrendered their parental rights. After the 10-day period, consent may not be revoked for any reason unless there is convincing evidence that the consent was obtain by fraud, duress, or intentional misrepresentation.

What rights do Birth Fathers have in the adoption process in Tennessee?

Parental rights will be given to a man presumed to be the child's father if:

  • He is or was married to the child’s mother and the child is/was born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
  • Genetic tests show at least a 95% probability of parentage
  • He filed with the putative father registry
  • He and the Birth Mother agreed to name his as the Birth Father on the child’s birth certificate
  • He is obligated to support the child by court order
  • He received the child into his home and claimed him/her as his own

Tennessee offers men who believe they may have fathered a child to register with the Putative Father Registry to receive notice of adoption proceedings regarding the child. If the man is notified of adoption proceedings, he has 30 days to take action or his parental rights will be terminated by the court.

For more information about Birth Father rights in Tennessee, click here.

Home study and Post Placement Requirements in Tennessee

Prospective Adoptive Parents in Tennessee are required to complete a home study before beginning the adoption process and a postplacement assessment after the adoption takes place. Both will assess your ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child you wish to adopt.

What is a home study and what happens during the process?

The home study is a critical component to the adoption process. While it is to ensure your home will provide a child with stability, safety, and support, it is also a resource for Prospective Adoptive Parents to asks questions and prepare for the adoption. A home study also helps the social worker determine the types of adoptions that are appropriate for a family.

In Tennessee, the home study process will consist of the following:

  • At least one home visit
  • Interviews with family members and everyone living in the home
  • A report of the Prospective Adoptive Parents physical and mental health
  • Approval of health and fire safety conditions in the home
  • A report of the reasons for choosing adoption
  • Character references from both extended family and non-related individuals
  • Proof of finances and the ability to provide for the child
  • Criminal background checks

To learn more about the home study process in Tennessee, click here.

Who oversees a home study in Tennessee and who is included in it?

A home study in Tennessee will be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or the Department or Child and Family Services. The Prospective Adoptive Parents and any other adult living in the home will be required to take part in the home study.

Why would my home study not be approved in Tennessee?

A home study is subject to approval or disapproval based on the findings of the social worker. If your home study is not approved, you will receive a written notice as to why you have been denied.

For more information and reasons for a disapproved home study, click here.

Is a home study different for stepparent or relative adoptions in Tennessee?

For stepparent and relative adoptions in Tennessee, a court may waive the home study and post placement requirements. In addition, the 6-month residency requirement for Adoptive Parents is not required as long as the stepparent or relative is a resident of Tennessee when they file the adoption petition.

What are the home study requirements for adopting a baby from another state?

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

What is a post placement requirement and what happens during the process?

Before the adoption has been finalized, a post placement assessment will take place to ensure the transition into adoption is going well and that the Adoptive Family's circumstances have not changed to no longer fit the child’s best interest.

In Tennessee, a licensed adoption agency or social worker will make quarterly visits to the home and make reports concerning the welfare of the child. These visits will be required until the adoption has been finalized in court.

What are the requirements for a Foster to Adopt placement in Tennessee?

A Foster Parent will be given priority for adoption if the parental rights of the child's legal guardians have been terminated and the child has lived in their care for at least 12 months. They will be subject to the same requirements as any other person wishing to adopt a child, such as completing a home study and having a clear criminal background check.

Tennessee Adoption Agencies and Professionals

Tennessee is home to some amazing adoption professionals who are ready to get your journey started. Whether you are interested in adopting a child or seeking resources to place your child for adoption, these professionals will guide you through the legal pathways and offer you support throughout your journey:

Hannah's Hope

901-327-5560

Small World Adoption Agency

615-754-6540

Miriam’s Promise

615-292-3500

Things to do in Tennessee

If your adoption journey takes you to Tennessee and you have time to spend touring, visit some of the most famous and popular attractions the state has to offer:

The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville

The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville

Elvis Presley Graceland Tour in Memphis

Downtown in Nashville

Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg

A note from Adoption Network Law Center

No matter your decision, we appreciate the time you have taken to read about how to adopt in Tennessee. Adoption Network Law Center wishes you the best of luck and is available to answer any further questions you may have about the adoption process. Call 1-866-602-9541 to speak with one of our amazing team members or visit https://adoptionnetwork.com/ to read more about our services. Whether you’re a soon-to-be Birth Parent or Prospective Adoptive Parent, ANLC wishes you the best on your adoption journey.