Parenting is a life-changing event whether you become a parent via biology or adoption. If you plan on the latter to plunge into the parenting world and live in Tennessee, there are things you should know. At a minimum, in Tennessee, according to Family and Child Services, you need to be at least 18, have lived for a minimum of 6 months in Tennessee, and be willing to go through a home study. Here is what you need to know about adoption in Tennessee.
The Type of Adoption
Like parenting comes in many forms, so does adoption. Depending on the type of adoption you choose, you’ll either work with a licensed adoption agency or hire an adoption attorney. Adoption agencies in Tennessee are licensed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and can assist with matching you with an adoptive child, providing support services, and ensuring legal compliance. An adoption attorney can help with independent adoptions and provide legal counsel throughout the process.
You can set the standards for the age range of the child you would like to adopt. However, remember that many older children are waiting for their forever home in Tennessee. Infants are always in high demand, which can delay the process. Children with disabilities can be a consideration for any loving home that is interested in parenting a child. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, one out of three children in the juvenile justice system have a disability that qualifies them for special education classes under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
Home Study Requirements
No matter the age of the child or which type of adoption you choose, there will be a home study. A home study is an assessment of your home, lifestyle, and background to ensure you can provide a safe and loving environment for an adopted child. This process includes interviews, background checks, and home visits. You will be asked questions about your parenting style and how you will handle certain scenarios.
Home study happens in phases and encompasses more than a single visit to your home. After the child is placed in your home, post-placement visits and reports may be required. These visits are conducted by a social worker or other qualified professionals to ensure the child’s well-being and to report on the adoption’s progress. While the process may seem daunting, keep in mind it is done to ensure that the child’s best interests are at the forefront of the placement.
Legalities of Adoption
In Tennessee, like most states, to adopt a child, the first step in the process is the birth parents must rescind their rights to the child. According to the American Bar Association, child support guidelines are on the books in all 50 states. However, suppose a stepparent wants to adopt their partner’s child. In that case, once the other parent rescinds their rights and the adoption is complete, the biological parent has no claim to the child and, therefore, no obligation to pay child support.
Adoption can be a complex legal process. The adoption process duration can vary significantly depending on the type of adoption, the availability of matches, and legal requirements. It’s essential to be patient and prepared for possible delays. However, your patience will pay off by providing you with the family you want and your entry into the parenting club.
The finalization of the adoption is the last step in the process. A finalization hearing is held in court, during which the judge reviews the adoption to ensure it was carried out according to all legal requirements. Once the judge approves the adoption, the child becomes legally recognized as your son or daughter. Adoption is a life-changing event that can bring much joy into your life. Learn more about what it takes to go through the adoption process in Tennessee today.