Serving Clients in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Loudon, Sevier & Roane Counties
Adoption Held in Respect. Held in Trust.

Knoxville Adoption Lawyers

Decades of Experience with Tennessee’s Adoption Process

Adopting a child can be a rewarding experience. Moving through the adoption process, however, can be challenging, as the process is complex and requires the help of a skilled attorney. At Held Law Firm, our highly-proficient attorneys have the knowledge, resources, skills, and tools you need to manage every phase of the adoption process.

Are you considering adoption? Reach out to discuss the process with one of our Knoxville adoption attorneys. Call (865) 685-4780 for a free, initial consultation or contact us online.

Adoption in Tennessee

The legal requirements for adoption under Tennessee law are:

  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • If you are not related to the child, you must have been a resident of the state for at least six months (exceptions may be made for military personnel)
  • You must demonstrate that you can financially and emotionally manage the care of your adopted child

Unmarried couples are not allowed to adopt, but married, divorced, single, and LGBT parents are permitted. Whether or not a potential parent currently has children and their current work status will not affect eligibility. However, potential parents are encouraged to carefully consider whether adoption is right for their situation.

The Adoption Process

Tennessee recognizes various types of adoption, such as stepparent adoptions, foster parent adoptions, adult adoptions, private adoptions, and adoptions processed through domestic and international agencies. Adoptions within the state are done through a specific framework subject to regulations and procedures set by the county where you plan to adopt.

If you are currently a foster parent with Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) and are currently caring for a foster child, you will be the first option if that child becomes available for adoption. If you are not currently a foster parent and have been identified as a potential adoptive parent, you will have to undergo required self-assessments and education through Tennessee KEY training. This is to help you understand the adoptive child’s feelings as well as your family’s strengths.

If you are not currently a foster parent, DCS requires you to undergo a formal home study by a licensed agency. This is to ensure your home will be safe and productive for the prospective child. At the conclusion of this home study, the agency will have a written description of your family, references regarding your parenting skills, financial statements, medical records, and other verifications. This is to determine if the child will be a good fit for you and your family.

Grandparent adoption

Grandparents often take custody of their grandchildren when the parents have difficulties, such as drug addiction, jail time, or domestic violence. All of our grandparents hope for the best for their children, but many of them must consider adopting their grandchildren for their longterm safety and security. Grandparents who are considering adopting grandchildren should consider the following:

Adoption is final.

If you decide to adopt your grandchildren, you will have to first terminate their parents’ rights (learn more about termination here). This is a critical, final decision with life-changing impacts on both parent and child. You need to be ready to raise this child into adulthood. If you think the parents’ problems are only temporary, you may want to consider filing for custody instead. (link)

Adoption puts you in control.

Once a grandparent adoption is final, you become the legal parent. You have the power to keep your grandchildren safe. No one can legally take the child away from you. You make all education and medical decisions. You decide who the child will be around. You also have the discretion to let the parents see the child if they are doing well.

Adoption can make your grandchildren eligible for certain benefits.

Adoption can sometimes cause your grandchildren to become eligible for certain benefits—like college scholarships or social security benefits. To learn more about getting social security benefits for an adopted grandchild, see our blog post here.

Step parent adoption

Step parent adoptions are a good option when a genetic parent wants to remove the ability of a problem parent to be around the child. Step parent adoptions are the simplest type of adoption to do because none of the home studies, background checks and other pre-adoptions screenings are required.

To complete a step parent adoption, your spouse will need to consent, and you will need to either terminate the rights of the absent parent (link) or get their consent as well. Many of these absent parents are eager to give up their rights because, once the step-parent adoption is complete, they will no longer have to pay child support.

Step-parent adoptions are necessary for all LBGTQ+ couples with children, even if you are legally married. If you are the non-genetic parent, and you do not adopt, you risk losing all contact with your child in the event of divorce.

Foster parent adoption

For foster parents who want to adopt a child in DCS custody, you have two options for terminating the genetic parents’ rights. First, you can wait on DCS to do the work. DCS is required to first attempt to reunite children with either their genetic parents or close relatives. DCS generally will file a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights if the genetic parent(s) do not complete the required tasks in their Permanency Plan. Termination makes the child available for adoption, and generally the foster parent will be first in line to adopt as far as the Department is concerned. If you are a foster parent currently caring for a foster child, you will already have completed the background checks, home studies and required screenings to adopt, which makes the rest of the process go smoothly.

All prospective adoptive parents must meet the following legal requirements:

  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • If you are not related to the child, you must have been a resident of the state for at least six months (exceptions may be made for military personnel)
  • You must demonstrate that you can financially and emotionally manage the care of your adopted child
  • You must be either married, divorced, or single, and LGBTQ+ couples are allowed, as long as they are married. You just can’t be two married people trying to adopt.
  • If you are not currently a foster parent, DCS requires you to undergo a formal home study by a licensed agency. This is to ensure your home will be safe and productive for the prospective child. At the conclusion of this home study, the agency will have a written description of your family, references regarding your parenting skills, financial statements, medical records, and other verifications. This is to determine if the child will be a good fit for you and your family.

Diligent Legal Assistance for Adoptive Parents

At Held Law Firm, we have the experience, resources, and skills needed to help you navigate all aspects of the adoption process, from meeting initial requirements to handling any issues that arise. We take pride in helping clients grow their family by giving children loving homes.

To learn more, contact us at (865) 685-4780 today.

  • Chelsea  Price Photo
    Chelsea Price

    Attorney

    Associate Attorney Chelsea Price handles a variety of family law matters; however, she focuses her practice on juvenile and adoption law. Chelsea works with clients ranging from someone at risk of losing their children to DCS custody to highly contested custody cases, to adoption cases.

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Hear About Former Clients' Experiences
  • “Chelsea Price exceeded expectation with our case of step parent adoption. I highly recommend her for adoption cases. She was professional, accurate, and timely in completing everything that needed to ...”

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    - Debra I.
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