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What Is the Process of Adoption TN?

As an expectant parent in TN or a hopeful adoptive parent seeking information on adoption TN, you may be curious about the process of adoption TN. Adoption is a lifelong journey. By reading this article you have taken the first step. Congratulations! As an expectant parent or hopeful adoptive parent, you may have lots of questions. You might still be researching options and gathering information, or you may be very confident in your decision. Educating yourself is a great first step in this process. Hopefully, this article serves to help you understand what is the process of adoption in TN.

Who Can Adopt in TN?

What is the process of adoption TN for a prospective adoptive parent? Who can adopt in the state of TN? These are both great questions to have. The state of Tennessee has numerous requirements on who is eligible to adopt a child, just like other states. An adoption agency or adoption attorney can help you determine your eligibility to adopt, or who is eligible to adopt your baby if you are contemplating placing a child. According to Tennessee state law, the following people are eligible to complete the process of adoption TN:

  • Can be married, divorced, or single adults.
  • May have children already in the home, or be without children.
  • May work full time or choose to stay home and raise the children.
  • Must be at least eighteen years of age to complete the process of adoption TN.
  • Those who wish to complete the process of adoption TN must prove (through the adoption home study process) that they can provide financially and emotionally for the child they adopt. 
  • Can own or rent an apartment or home.

These are the starting eligibility requirements to complete the process of adoption TN. However, there may be additional requirements you must meet as a prospective adoptive parent in Tennessee. That is, your adoption agency or adoption attorney may have their own requirements for you to meet in order to complete the process. Adoption agencies will likely have requirements around the number of years married (if you are married), the number of divorces you are allowed to have, the number of children in the home prior to applying for adoption, and other requirements around medical history and finances.  

If you choose to complete the process of adoption TN through intercountry adoption, you will also need to meet the requirements for the country from which you hope to adopt. Those requirements will vary country by country and whether you are adopting from a country party to the Hague Convention or not. Your adoption agency should help you better understand all of these requirements to complete the process of adoption TN.

What is a Home Study?

After you understand who is eligible to adopt your baby it is important to understand what a home study is. If you are eligible to adopt a child through the process of adoption TN, you will need to complete a home study. An adoption home study is a process that often takes several months. This procedure is designed to show that the hopeful adoptive parents are able to provide a safe, loving, forever home for the child they wish to adopt. The process of the home study is different in every state, including TN; however, there are some parts of the home study that are the same.  

All adults in the household must complete a background check. This background check includes prospective adoptive parents and other residents. The background check helps ensure that the adults have not been convicted of sexual assault, rape, or crimes against children. Prospective adoptive parents must also be free from any conviction for violent crimes, or crimes involving drugs and alcohol. Included with a background check will be an FBI livescan fingerprint check to also ensure the prospective adoptive parents, and other adults in the home, are safe to raise children.

The home study portion of the process of adoption TN also includes a medical examination completed by your medical doctor. All adults in the home are required to participate in this medical exam. Some agencies also ask that children in the home get a medical check. This exam is necessary for most countries if you are completing an intercountry adoption.

Included with the adoption home study package should be information confirming that the hopeful adoptive parents completed the necessary adoption training programs. These training programs are usually specifically assigned by the agency you are using, to confirm with absolute certainty, that the potential adoptive parents are reliable and prepared. Even if you already are parenting, you will need to complete the adoption training parenting classes. Often these programs can be done either online or in-person. Your agency should share more information regarding its requirements if you ask.

Hopeful adoptive parents also need to be interviewed by the social worker conducting the adoption home study. The social worker should be licensed in the state of Tennessee. Certain countries also require that the children in the home be interviewed by a licensed social worker for the home study. This will be dependent on the country from which you are adopting if you are completing the process of adoption TN for intercountry adoption. Obviously, this is only for children over a certain age. Check with your adoption agency or home study service about who in the home will be interviewed during the home study.

Home studies commonly include visits (one or two) by the caseworker to ensure the home is safe for the child you plan to adopt. They may offer suggestions on things that should be childproofed or safety measures to complete before you adopt. They will also ensure there is space for the child in the home. In TN, you can rent or own your home, apartment, mobile home, or condo.

The adoption home study also often includes the hopeful adoptive parents’ financial records, proving that the parents can financially support a child or an additional child in the family. Hopeful adoptive parents can work full-time or be stay at home parents, as long as they can financially provide for the new child.

Finally, the adoption home study can include letters of recommendation for hopeful adoptive parents. These letters of recommendation might be from friends, relatives, pastors, rabbis, teachers (if there are children in the home), or others. These letters will simply share their perception of the potential adoptive parents and whether they recommend the hopeful adoptive parents for adoption TN.

The entire home study will be compiled and once completed the adoption social worker will approve the family for adoption. This extensive process can give the expectant parents peace of mind knowing that their child will be raised in a safe, loving, forever home. 

Next Steps in the Process of Adoption TN

As the expectant parent, your next step in the process of adoption TN is to find an adoption agency or adoption attorney with whom you will work to finalize the adoption. The adoption service provider should hold your hand and guide you through every step of the process. They should answer all of your questions and be nothing less than a contact of support throughout this journey. There is no pressure to use any specific agency but depending on where you are in your pregnancy, you should begin exploring adoption agencies.

I would recommend that you interview adoption agencies on their specific process of adoption TN. This might answer a lot of your deeply-rooted questions. You can interview and speak to as many adoption agencies, or adoption attorneys, as you wish. You might even decide to go with an adoption agency or attorney and then change your mind. You’re allowed to change your mind at any time, either about the adoption plan for your baby or using that specific adoption service provider. You should never be coerced to use a specific agency or to place your baby for adoption. You are in control of the decisions you make for you and your baby, and you can change your mind at any time. Finding an adoption service provider that supports you and your desires is critical.

As the former Executive Director of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, I was often asked which adoption agencies are best. It is important to find one who supports you and is ethical and transparent at every step of the process. There are many great adoption agencies. Asking friends, family, colleagues, or other birth mothers who have gone through the process of creating an adoption plan for a baby is a great way to get information. This is not only true for the next steps in the adoption process but can guide you towards great agencies who work with mothers in Tennessee. The Gladney Center for Adoption is one such agency that supports expectant parents with a myriad of support services and information, at each stage of the process. Adoption.com also has a wonderful resource called adoption forums, where birth parents can connect with other birth parents who have placed their baby for adoption, as well as forums for hopeful adoptive parents. These adoption forums hold a wealth of information and are definitely worth investigating.

After selecting an adoption agency or adoption attorney to help you with your adoption plan, you will work with them to select an adoptive family for your child. They will likely also be working with hopeful adoptive parents and have profiles for you to view. These profiles might include books of photos, stories on their family or marriage, what they do for a living, where they live, and what their hobbies, interests, and faith practices may be. You can then meet with or speak to these hopeful adoptive parents and work with the agency to make a decision. 

You will also work with your adoption agency at this time to decide what level of openness you would like with your child and their adoptive family. Some birth mothers would like to be very involved in the child’s life, visiting on birthdays, or calling monthly. Others would like an email or scrapbook at milestones. It is up to you, and your adoption agency will help you work through those decisions.

You will also work with your adoption agency at this time to create a birth plan for who you would like in the room when the baby is born, how long you would like to bond with your baby before you have them meet the adoptive parents, and any medical interventions you would like during labor for you and your baby.

The process of adoption TN calls for the birth mother to wait at least 72 hours after the baby is born before she can consent to the adoption, according to Tennessee adoption laws. Consent for adoption may be revoked within ten days after signing, but the birth parent who wishes to revoke consent must appear before the judge who accepted the consent paperwork.  

After the adoption consent is finalized. You will begin to communicate with the adoptive parents according to the plan you agreed upon. Congratulations on taking the next big step in your life.

Adoption is a beautiful lifelong journey. It has blessed so many individuals and families worldwide. I urge you to surround yourself with those who support you and your baby. You are making life-changing decisions; be steadfast and confident in them. I wish you the best with your adoption TN.

Considering adoption? Choose a family to adopt your child. Visit Parent Profiles on Adoption.com or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.

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