Held Law Firm is pleased to celebrate National Adoption Month by congratulating all of our clients and friends who have built strong, healthy families through adoption. As we reminisce about all the wonderful adoptive families who have walked through our doors, we also remember the thousands of children still waiting in foster care to find the family they will call their own.
In 2021, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services reported that 1,219 children were adopted out of foster care. Meanwhile, approximately 8,500 children remain in the “limbo” of foster care, waiting to see if they will return to their families of origin, be placed with relatives, or find permanency through adoption. About 450 of those children are actively looking for adoptive families at any given time.
Adopting a child is so much more than just providing a roof over their head. Here are just a few of the ways that adoption can help you and your kids:
1. Certainty for the Future- All right, so the future is never really certain for any of us. But for kids in foster care, that uncertainty is a very real, present burden that hangs over everything they do. They might wonder: Should I sign up for sports this semester—or will I have anyone to take me to practice later this season? Will I have to move again? Adoption creates legal relationships that are every bit as final as biological ones, and assures both parents and children that no one can step in and break up their family. With this basic certainty, kids can go about the important business of being kids.
2. Clear Family Ties- One of the biggest concerns I hear from my adoption clients’ children is having the same last name as the rest of their family. It seems like such a small thing—after all, it’s only a name. But last names are a huge symbol of belonging for many kids.
3. A Declaration of Unconditional Love- From an adult perspective, adoption is an important vehicle to obtain certain rights and privileges that non-parental caretakers just don’t have access to. As family lawyers, we think about these all the time and carefully advise our clients of these important benefits. But we should never forget that adoption is as much an emotional process as a legal one. There really is no better way to tell your kid, “I am here for you, no matter what,” than to make your parent-child relationship official with an adoption decree.
4. The Right to Say No- If you are a foster parent, relative caregiver, or single parent raising children with one or more questionable relatives, then you are familiar with this worry: “What happens if?” What happens if the birth parent doesn’t show up for their visit…again? What happens if this parent or relative exposes my child to something unsafe? What happens if someone else wants to fight me for custody? Of course, not all birth parents or relatives are a danger to their kids, and there is certainly a time and place for working with all family members to maintain healthy connections to their children. But there is also a moment when enough is enough. Legally adopting your child gives you the power to decide who it’s in their best interest to be around, and what the rules for that contact should be.
5. Support in Adulthood- Very few parents stop being there for their kids when they turn eighteen. Family support remains a crucial aspect of healthy living long after we turn eighteen. While foster care ends at eighteen, adoptive families never stop supporting one another. Having that familial love, advice, and backup support can make all the difference for a young adult trying to make their own way in the world.
At Held Law Firm, we believe in the power of building families through adoption. If you can provide unconditional love and appropriate parental support, there is a child out there who needs you. If you have ever considered whether becoming a foster parent was right for you, we encourage you to reach out to one of our wonderful local agencies to discuss whether you qualify. If, on the other hand, there’s a child in your home right now who you would like to adopt, give the Held Law Firm a call today, we'd be honored to help. For more information or to schedule a consult, call (865) 637-6550 or visit us online at www.heldlawfirm.com.