Serving Clients in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Loudon, Sevier & Roane Counties

The Adoption Process in Tennessee

The adoption process in Tennessee is lengthy but worth it. The steps include terminating biological parental rights, determining eligibility, completing a home study, and formalizing the adoption.


In adopting a child in Tennessee, the parental rights of the biological parents of the child must be terminated. The state may terminate parental rights when a child in foster care becomes available for adoption. Those rights may also end up terminated during a parental rights termination custody case, or through the voluntary surrender and consent of the biological parents. After terminating those rights, you can petition the court to adopt the child.


If you wish to adopt a child, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. You must be at least 18 years old, have lived in a stable residence for at least 6 months prior to filing a petition to adopt, and have physical custody of the child or demonstrate the right to receive the child. You must also be able to demonstrate that you are capable of caring for and providing financially for the child.


Once you confirm your eligibility, you must complete a home study. A home study is done to ensure that your home is safe and suitable for a child to enter and includes a study of you as a potential parent. This includes a background check and gathering of documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificate if you are a married couple looking to adopt, letters from employers to show financial stability, personal references. It also includes an interview. The only exception to the home study requirement is if you are a relative of the child you are adopting.


Requesting the court grant the adoption entails drafting and filing a petition. A six-month waiting period follows filing the petition. The court can waive that period if the court determines that it is in the best interest of the child. Once you’ve filed and drafted a final order of adoption with the court, you may schedule a hearing. At the hearing, the judge signs the final order of adoption to complete the process. Unlike many other types of hearings, the final adoption hearing to formalize and make the adoption official is a celebration. Many times, the entire family of the adoptive parents and new family for the child come to take part in the hearing to celebrate the new addition to the family.

The adoption process seems daunting without a little guidance. If need assistance in welcoming a child into your family, the attorneys at Held Law Firm are here to assist you in the process of adopting a child.

Leah Smith is an attorney at Held Law Firm