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How to Finalize Your Adoption in a Tennessee Adoption Court [A 5 Step Guide]

The finalization step in the adoption process is straightforward. Your adoption attorney can help you through this exciting step and prepare you for what will happen in the Tennessee adoption court.

The following steps highlight the Tennessee adoption finalization laws and processes you can expect to experience:

  • Step 1: Work with your adoption attorney
  • Step 2: Finish all your post-placement visits
  • Step 3: Ensure you’ve followed all Tennessee adoption laws
  • Step 4: Go to the Tennessee adoption court for your family’s finalization hearing
  • Step 5: Receive your Tennessee decree of adoption

How to Finalize Your Adoption in a Tennessee Adoption Court

Step 1: Work with Your Adoption Attorney

After choosing an adoption agency, you’ll start to work with an adoption specialist and adoption attorney. These adoption professionals will help you finish all your adoption paperwork, get you through the adoption home study, and help you match with your baby’s birth mother. After these crucial steps are complete, it’s time to finalize the adoption process.

Your adoption attorney will continue to help you through the finalization process, which will involve the Tennessee adoption court. The finalization process isn’t difficult, but it does involve many legal steps that an adoption attorney can help you work through.

Step 2: Finish All Your Post-Placement Visits

After your baby is born and your child is in your home, your family will need to fulfill a post-placement study. The study will include several visits to your home by a licensed social worker. You’ll need to prepare for one visit per quarter until your baby’s adoption is complete.

Post-placement visits are like the home study visit your family already went through. During these post-placement visits, a social worker (typically the same social worker you worked with during the home study) will visit your home to ensure that everyone is adapting well. The social worker will also check to make sure that you continue to maintain your home’s safety standards necessary to care for your baby.

Step 3: Ensure You’ve Followed All Tennessee Adoption Laws

Although you need to follow quite a few Tennessee adoption finalization laws, your adoption attorney and adoption specialist will help make sure your family follows them all. Common finalization adoption laws and regulations include:

Termination of Parental Rights: Before an adoption is finalized, your baby’s birth parents must legally terminate their parental rights. Tennessee allows birth parents to terminate their rights three days after a baby is born.

If Applicable, Stay in Compliance with ICPC: If you adopt a baby across state lines, the adoption must meet the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) standards. This is essentially a check and balance system between states to ensure that an adoption is legal. This regulation ensures that the adopted child is in a safe environment.

If Applicable, Stay in Compliance with ICWA: If you adopt a child of Native American heritage and a member of a federally recognized tribe, your adoption will have to meet the Indian Child Welfare act’s (ICWA) standards.

Stay in Compliance with All Other Tennessee Laws: Your adoption attorney will ensure you follow all other state adoption laws. This is why working with a reputable adoption agency is so important.

Step 4: What to Expect at the Tennessee Adoption Hearing

You’ve made it to the last step of the adoption process!

At this point, your adoption attorney will submit all the necessary adoption paperwork to the Tennessee adoption court. The court will review the paperwork and then schedule your adoption finalization hearing.

The adoption hearing is typically short and only lasts anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. The hearing is closed to the public, but you can invite family and friends to attend. Your adoption social worker also can attend. Adoption finalization hearings include the following proceedings:

  • The judge will swear in you and your adoption attorney.
  • The judge will allow you to speak about why you want to adopt your child. You also can talk about how you will provide your child with a stable, loving family.
  • The judge may ask you a few questions about your intent to adopt. These questions are easy to answer. The judge’s questions will help show that your family knows that adoption is permanent. The questions will also demonstrate that you and your spouse know you are both responsible for your child. The judge may ask follow-up questions after hearing your answers. The judge may ask your family and friends questions, too.
  • After questioning is complete, the judge will sign your Tennessee final decree of adoption. The decree legally grants you parental rights of your child!

Step 5: After You Receive Your Tennessee Decree of Adoption

Once the Tennessee adoption court gives you the adoption decree, you can apply for a social security card for your child and an amended birth certificate. Your adoption attorney will help you navigate these final adoption steps.

Your child is now a legal member of your family! The paperwork and legal portion of your adoption are now complete, and you can now focus on building your relationship with your child.

The adoption process is never over, because adoption is a lifelong journey. Your family can continue to openly talk about your child’s adoption with friends and family. Adoptive parents also can speak to their child about their adoption as they grow.

What Comes Next?

The key to having a smooth adoption finalization is your adoption attorney. Your adoption attorney will help you navigate all the Tennessee adoption court laws to ensure your hearing goes smoothly.

All adoption professionals understand that adoption is a lifelong journey. When you work with a reputable adoption agency that provides you with an adoption specialist, adoption attorney, and other adoption professionals, your family will remain supported through the entire adoption process. Adoption agencies will also continue to provide your family with support after your child’s adoption is finalized.

If you haven’t started the adoption process and would like to know how to start, you can contact an adoption specialist for free right now.