The capital is Nashville, also known as the city of music; Tennessee is a state full of beautiful scenery and rich culture. Tennessee is home to over 6 million people, and there are children just waiting for a loving family to adopt them, and to be a part of a forever family. If you’re looking to adopt a child in TN, this article will provide plenty of information on the requirements, where to start, the different types of adoption, the adoption process, and much more. This article will even have some information for expectant parents about the adoption process. Here are the 8 things to know about adopting a child in TN.
1. Meet the Requirements
In Tennessee, there are certain requirements you must meet in order to adopt a child. Just know that you might have to meet extra requirements if you work with an adoption agency, but we’ll go over the state requirements you must be eligible for.
- You have to be over the age of 18.
- You must be a resident of Tennessee for over 6 months.
- You can be married, divorced, or single. (If you’re married, your spouse must apply to adopt a child along with you, unless the court finds them mentally incompetent).
- You don’t have to already be a parent in order to adopt a child.
- You must complete an adoption home study.
- You must be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally in order to properly care for the child you wish to adopt.
- You must prove that you’re financially stable to be able to provide for the child you wish to adopt.
- You must be committed to adopting a child. Adopting a child is a lifelong decision and one that requires you to be fully devoted to raising the child as your own.
For more information, check out this Adoption.org article about the adoption laws in Tennessee, and this Tennessee adoption guide.
2. Think About Why You Want to Adopt a Child
There are many great reasons to want to adopt a child, and it’s crucial that you really evaluate why you’re looking into adopting a child in TN. Do you want to adopt a child to grow your family? Do you have the right intentions in adopting? (Read about this great article about avoiding the savior complex in adoption on Adoption.com.) There are many other questions to ponder about your reasons to adopt such as:
- Do I love children and will I have the patience and understanding to fully love a child, despite their background and hard upbringing?
- Will I have a great support system?
- How does the rest of the family members in my household feel about bringing a child into our home?
- Will I be open to adopting a child with a different culture than my own, and will I be open to learning about their culture?
- Do I have a great and welcoming home environment for a child to grow and flourish in?
- Do I have the patience for a child who needs a lot of time to warm up to me?
- Will I be okay with my adopted child wanting to talk about their birth parents?
If you need to read some more questions or see why other people have adopted a child, read these Adoption.com articles on the 5 reasons why adoption is so important, 16 things to ask yourself before you adopt, and this Adoption.com forum about why other hopeful adoptive parents want to adopt.
3. Figure Out What Direction You’d Like To Go On Your Adoption Journey
There are many paths to go on when adopting a child in TN. Whether you want to go through an adoption agency, hire a Tennessee adoption lawyer, learn about domestic infant adoption, international adoption, adopt from foster care, transracial adoption, or learn about open adoption and closed adoption, do your research on each one. If you need help on deciding on an adoption path, having an adoption professional to help you on your adoption journey can be very beneficial.
Also, think about how each adoption would fit around your lifestyle. Say if you’re adopting internationally. Would you be open to learning all you can about the child’s culture, and if they’re from a different time zone, would you be patient with them while they adjust to your schedule (especially in regards to sleeping schedules)? What if you’re adopting a child that’s transracial, (a different race than your own)? Would you teach them about your background and learn about theirs? What about open adoption? Would you be okay if the birth parents wanted more frequent updates and visitations with your adopted child, and help your adopted child cope when the birth parents are a no show with visits? All these are great things to keep in mind while pondering about what adoption works best for you and your family.
4. Create a Family Adoption Profile
Once you’ve figured out what kind of adoption you choose to go with, you can start to make an adoption profile. An adoption profile is something that lets birth parents looking to place their child for adoption learn all about you. The point of an adoption profile is to make it so the birth parents know your background, your hobbies, your lifestyle, among other things. What should you include in an adoption profile?
- Some great things about you and your spouse if you’re married.
- Great photos of your life.
- Your family life (other children, extended family, pets, etc.)
- A personal letter addressed to the expectant parent. (Read about these 7 tips to improve your dear expectant parent letter on Adoption.com.)
- Your hobbies, interests, and what you like to do as a family.
- Your occupation.
- Your educational background.
- Why you’d like to adopt a child.
For more ideas on adoption profiles, look at this Adoption.org article about how to create an adoption profile that stands out. Also, check out these tips from a birth mom when writing an adoption profile on Adoption.com.
5. Complete a Home Study
The purpose of an adoption home study is to see if you’ll be able to raise a child and to see if you have the proper home environment to raise the child in. The social worker conducting the home study will ask you a series of questions such as:
- Why do you want to adopt a child?
- How will you provide for the child?
- Are you healthy enough to raise a child?
- What are you like as a person?
- What was your childhood like?
- What are your values?
- Do you have stable employment?
- If you’re married, how’s your marriage life?
- Do you feel like you’re ready to parent?
- What are your hopes and dreams for your adopted child?
- What are your plans for the future?
The documents needed for the home study in Tennessee are drivers license, birth certificates, insurance verification, marriage license, paystubs, tax returns, doctor physical reports, criminal background checks, child abuse clearances, and adoption reference letters (Read this Adoption.org article about whom to ask for letters of reference for a home study).
The social worker will also inspect the areas of your home to see if the child you’re adopting is ready to come home with you. They’ll check the basic safety and health precautions, and will see if there’s enough space for you to accommodate the adopted child. You don’t have to go completely overboard with cleaning, just be sure that the items like medications, firearms, cleaning supplies, etc., are locked up and out of children’s reach.
To learn how to get ready for the home study, read this Adoption.org article on 10 things you need to know when you’re preparing for a home study.
6. Get to Know the Birth Parents
Getting to know the birth parents can be an exciting time, but it’s also good to keep in mind that they might feel nervous about meeting you. You won’t want to come off as too eager, but be willing to get to know them and be open to sharing anything the birth parents would like to know about you. So what are some questions to ask the birth parents?
- What are your feelings about placing your child for adoption?
- What stuck out to you the most about our adoption profile?
- What kind of life do you wish your child would have?
- What kind of adoption plan are you looking into?
- Why did you choose adoption for your baby?
- What are your plans for your life after adoption?
- What type of things do you do for fun?
- Do you plan on going to college or furthering your career?
- What other things would you like to know about us?
Those are just a few great questions to think about asking and if you’d like an idea of what it’s like to meet the birth parents for the first time, read this Adoption.com article, about a birth father’s perspective on meeting the birth parents.
Well, what if you’re the birth parents and you don’t know what to ask the adoptive family? Well, you can start by reading this Adoption.org article, what are some questions to ask a hopeful adoptive family before placing with them?
7. Getting Ready for the Adoption Finalization Hearing
The long-awaited adoption finalization is here. In Tennessee, at the hearing, the adoption attorney will collect all the necessary paperwork, and present it to the judge. The hearing should only take up to half an hour to one hour. The attorney will swear you in, you’ll talk with the judge about your intentions to adopt, talk about how you’ll give the child a loving and nurturing home, the judge will ask a few more questions to see if you’re ready to adopt, and once the judge sees that you’re ready, the judge will sign the Tennessee adoption decree.
After the finalization hearing decree, you’ll officially be a parent to an adopted child. There are some other things that will be needed to be updated like an amended birth certificate with your name on as the parents and the child’s last name changed, an updated social security card, updated insurance information, and updated doctors, and school. For more details on what to do after the adoption finalization, read this Adoption.com article about the 5 things to do at or after finalization.
8. Post Placement Life After Adoption
Life after adoption can be a wonderful experience for you and your adopted child. Although it might take some time for your adopted child to get used to being a new member of your family, they’ll come around. To make the process easier, read this Adoption.com article about the best security blanket you’ll ever give your adopted child. Also, read about how to parent your adopted child.
If this adoption is open or semi-open adoption, make sure to provide updates to the birth parents with pictures, letters, and visits with your adopted child. Be open to talking positively about your child’s birth parents and how exciting it will be to see them.
What if you’re the birth parents that placed your baby for adoption? No doubt that you’re feeling so many mixed emotions about placing your child for adoption, and you’re struggling with your choice. What can you do about these feelings? You can talk with a counselor, talk to other birth parents about how they coped with their adoption placing, you can focus on your future education and career goals, you can journal about it, and if you need more ideas on how to cope, read about the 10 things birth parents should know about adoption placement.
Adopting a child in Tennessee can seem like a difficult process, but it doesn’t have to be. By reading these 8 things to know about adopting a child in TN, and the other informational articles linked throughout this one, it should help make the adoption process in Tennessee a breeze to handle.