Because of the fundamental rights and interests involved in every adoption case, Tennessee law has a long list of requirements for what must be submitted to court with every Petition for Adoption. Some requirements vary based upon the child’s particular circumstances. However, there are several that come up in nearly every adoption case:
- An identification of, and notice to, the child’s biological parents
With any adoption case, the petitioners are required to give notice to both of the child’s biological parents. Many people are surprised to hear that notice must be given even in cases where one or both of the biological parents haven’t been heard from in many years. For some families, finding the biological parents can be the most burdensome part of the adoption process. When the location of a biological parent is not known and cannot be determined, service by publication may be a necessary step.
- A check of the putative father registry
In addition to identifying both known parents, petitioners are also required to submit a request for a check of the Tennessee Putative Father Registry to ensure that any person who claims to be a father of the child receives notice too. The results of this Registry check must be sent to court within 10 days of the Petition.
- Grounds for Termination (if applicable)
In Tennessee, an adoption can only take place if the rights of all biological parents have been terminated. There is an exception for stepparent adoptions that allows one biological parent (the adopting parent’s spouse) to retain their rights. Biological parents may consent to have their rights terminated. The process for this varies widely depending upon whether the prospective adoptive family are relatives of the child. If the biological parents refuse to consent, the adoptive family must prove by clear and convincing evidence that there are grounds to terminate their rights involuntarily.
- Best Interest Factors
Once all parental relationships that need to be terminated have been, the petitioners must then allege that this adoption is in the child’s best interest. It can be helpful to include allegations about the close bond between the child and the adoptive family, as well as the stable home and life the adoptive family is able to provide.
- Verification signed by all petitioners
When submitting a petition for adoption, all of the petitioners (often a married couple) must sign, under oath, a verification stating that the contents of the petition are true and correct. Any necessary consents—whether by a biological parent or an older child whose sworn consent to adoption is necessary—must also be notarized and attached to the petition.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and requirements can vary widely by circumstance. That’s why it is so important to have legal representation if you intend to pursue an adoption. If you have questions about a particular circumstance, give us a call at (865) 637-6550 for a free consultation.
This article was written and produced by Chelsea Price.