Clarksville Adoption Lawyers


Common Myths About Adoption:


Independent adoptions (commonly referred to as private adoptions) most often occur when a birth mother is pregnant and determines she is not able to raise the child. She may identify a friend or family member that is willing to adopt. Many birth mothers feel strongly that they do not want the child to be placed in foster care, and would rather choose a family they know will love and care for the child. This process has many details that must be taken into consideration and should definitely be guided by a knowledgeable attorney.

Tennessee has a mandatory waiting period of three days after the baby is born before a Court can accept the surrender of the child. For example, if the child is born on a Monday, the first possible day for a surrender would be Friday. As a practical matter, it often takes longer based on the schedule of the Court, attorneys, and parties involved, as well as the large amount of paperwork that must be completed.

The hearing for surrender occurs in the Judge’s chambers. The birth parent and his or her attorney meet privately with the Judge to ensure that the birth parent understands the rights that she is relinquishing and that she is making the decision of her own free will. Then the adoptive parents and their attorney meet privately with the Judge to accept the surrender.

Once the surrender of parental rights is executed, your attorney will ask the Court to grant the prospective adoptive parents guardianship or partial guardianship of the child. Guardianship allows the prospective adoptive parents to access medical records and make medical decisions, apply for health insurance and other benefits, and care for the child.

In 2015, the time period for a birth parent to revoke the surrender of parental rights decreased from ten days to three days after the surrender. The three-day period does not include weekends and holidays. No reason is required for the revocation, and the child must be returned to the person entitled to custody prior to the surrender. This possibility should be kept in mind if you enter into this adoptive process.

It is important to note that Tennessee has strict laws concerning payments to birth mothers. Payments must be limited to actual expenses and only for a limited period before and directly after the birth. Payments should only be issued through your attorney’s trust account to ensure that there is a record of all payments and that your attorney has approved the legality of the expenditure. There are criminal penalties for payments to a birth parent that are outside the parameters of the law.

Requirements to Adopt from Foster Care in Tennessee

If you are thinking of adding to your family through adoption of a child in the care of Tennessee Child Services, it is important to note that around 80 percent of children adopted from foster care are adopted by their current foster parents. In fact, the Department of Children’s Services gives adoption preference to families who are already caring for a child who becomes eligible for adoption and can be released from DCS custody.

Since these children may be vulnerable and definitely need a loving, stable environment, DCS imposes some preliminary requirements. Foster parents in Tennessee are automatically approved to adopt children, as the requirements for the fostering and adopting are the same. This makes it easier for foster parents to adopt the children they are caring for in a seamless transition.

The Requirements for Foster-Adoptive Parents in Tennessee Are:

  • Can Own or Rent a Home
  • Can Work Full Time
  • At Least 21 Years Old
  • Valid Tennessee Resident
  • Capable of Meeting Family’s Financial & Emotional Needs

Foster-adoptive parents can be married, single, or divorced, and there are no requirements or restrictions based on whether they already have children.

After verifying that you meet these requirements, you can move toward adopting a child who is in the custody or guardianship of DCS by completing a formal home study conducted by DCS.

Who May Not Adopt in Tennessee?

There are a few categories of people who are not allowed to adopt in Tennessee. This is designed with the best interest of the child in mind.

Who May Not Adopt?

Who Is A “Relative?”

Some of these limitations bring us to the question of who is a “relative?” Tennessee law tells us that “related” means grandparents or any degree of great-grandparents, aunts or uncles, or any degree of great-aunts or great-uncles, or stepparent, or cousins of the first degree or any siblings of the whole or half-degree or any spouse of the above listed relatives. If you are unsure whether you fall into this category, our office is happy to look at your family tree and let you know (it can get confusing)!