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What You Need to Know about Private Adoption in Tennessee [7 Steps]

When you choose private adoption in Tennessee, you get to adopt your newborn baby at birth.

Private adoption in Tennessee allows hopeful parents to adopt a baby at birth. Any prospective adoptive family can choose private domestic infant adoption in Tennessee.

Private adoption also is one of the most common types of adoption in the United States.

Every adoption journey is unique. But, once you’ve decided that infant adoption in Tennessee is emotionally and financially right for your family – and you conclude you can fulfill the process’ legal requirements – your domestic adoption process in Tennessee will follow these big steps:

  • Step 1: Decide that domestic adoption in Tennessee is right for your family
  • Step 2: Choose the type of adoption professional you want to work with
  • Step 3: Complete a home study
  • Step 4: Find a birth mother
  • Step 5: Consider pre-placement contact
  • Step 6: Hospital and placement
  • Step 7: Post-placement and finalization

Having a basic understanding of how to adopt a baby in Tennessee can make the experience easier. These detailed tips will help your family navigate how to adopt a newborn baby in Tennessee. But, if you are ready to talk to an adoption specialist, you can get free adoption information now. 

7 Steps to the Process of Private Adoption in Tennessee

Step 1: Decide that Domestic Adoption in Tennessee is Right for Your Family

Couples consider a lot when deciding if domestic infant adoption in Tennessee is right for their family. After all, there are many emotional, financial, and legal aspects of adoption. 

Emotional Aspects of Domestic Adoption

Choosing domestic adoption to grow your family is a wonderful choice. Couples who decide to adopt an infant feel many emotions. Most of the feelings prospective adoptive families feel are hopeful and happy. But it’s common for adoptive couples also to feel grief.

Many families choose adoption after experiencing infertility. It’s important to know that it’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions after deciding that adoption is the right choice to grow your family. However, you and your partner should prepare for the varied emotions that will come up during the adoption process.

Financial Decisions with Infant Adoption in Tennessee

Couples should examine their finances when considering adoption in Tennessee. Infant adoption in Tennessee (and throughout the United States) costs anywhere from $35,000 to $55,000. The cost depends on whether you work independently, with a private adoption agency in Tennessee, and more. Couples also should consider how much it costs to raise a child.

Legal Requirements of Tennessee Adoption

Prospective adoptive families may find it helpful to research the legal requirements it takes to adopt a baby in Tennessee. Adoption agencies – regional or national – or adoption attorneys can help you understand these legal requirements.

Step 2: Choose the Type of Adoption Professional You Want to Work with

There are a few ways to go about adopting newborns in Tennessee. You can work with law firms or adoption attorneys, private adoption agencies in Tennessee, law centers, or adoption facilitators.

Adoption Attorneys

Couples who choose independent adoption are confident they can find a birth mother who wants to place her child for adoption on their own. After finding a birth mother, you’ll need to hire an adoption attorney to help you complete the legal parts of the adoption process.

Going this route may seem simple. However, it is worth considering how complicated the adoption process can be (logistically, legally and emotionally), and if minimal legal support is all you really need. Most families feel more comfortable receiving extensive support and guidance, which is why they choose to work with an adoption agency.

Private Adoption Agencies in Tennessee

Local adoption agencies in Tennessee are regulated and licensed by the state. These adoption specialists work with adoptive parents and prospective birth mothers who live in Tennessee and the surrounding area. You may have more in-person meetings if you work with a local agency. However, because these agencies only work with people within the state, you may experience a less predictable adoption process and a longer wait time.

National Adoption Agencies

National adoption agencies have a license to work with adoptive families and prospective birth mothers throughout the U.S. These agencies often offer lower financial risk and shorter adoption wait times. Additionally, national agencies are often better equipped to handle the ups-and-downs that come with unforeseen circumstances.

For example, many local agencies abruptly closed their doors at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This left families stranded in the middle of an adoption process with nowhere to go. While national agencies are not immune to challenges like this, they are typically better prepared to stay open and continue serving families.

Law Centers or Adoption Facilitators

Adoption law canters and adoption facilitators typically offer adoption matching services, but not much else. Be aware that these facilitators are often illegal in many states because they are considered predatory. If you consider working with a law center or adoption facilitator for your adoption, make sure to look at the laws regarding these facilitators’ practices in Tennessee.

Other Considerations

If you aren’t 100% certain that private adoption in Tennessee is the right choice for your family, you have some alternatives to choose from:

  • Foster care: The foster parent’s role is typically temporary. Your primary job is to care for a child until they can return to their birth parents. But in some cases, foster parents can adopt their foster children. 
  • International adoption: Although international adoption is less common, it’s still an option for parents wanting to adopt a child. Make sure you know the challenges and requirements it takes to go through international adoption before starting the process.

Step 3: Complete a Home Study

All types of adoptions need a home study. In general, a home study includes an evaluation of adoption documents, a home inspection, and an interview.

  • Documentation needed for domestic adoptions: Make sure you have your family’s birth certificates, marriage license, health records, and other important documents in an accessible place. Your family also will undergo many background checks.
  • Social worker home inspection: Your social worker will visit your home to ensure it’s safe for a child. Your social worker also will provide you with information on how to childproof your home.
  • Interview with your social worker: Your social worker also will interview everyone who lives in the home (and potentially some extended family) to evaluate your adoption readiness. They may ask questions about your parenting philosophy, your motivation to adopt, and your understanding of the unique nuances of transracial adoption.

Step 4: Wait for an Adoption Opportunity

Once your home study is complete, you will become an active waiting family.

What does that mean? In other types of adoption, a profile of a child may be sent to you. But in domestic infant adoption in Tennessee, your profile is sent to women considering adoption.

If you’re working with a private adoption agency in Tennessee or a national adoption agency, your agency will help you create a profile. All agencies offer different levels of service when it comes to creating a profile and advertising your family.

Choosing an agency that places a priority on media services and advertising can drastically increase your chances of finding the right adoption opportunity. You can also reduce your family’s adoption wait time by having flexible adoption parameters:

  • Have flexibility with a baby’s race and gender: To decrease your adoption wait time, remain flexible about the baby’s gender and race.
  • Have flexibility with a baby’s medical history: No one has a perfect medical record. However, if the thought of a baby possibly having a medical condition is worrisome, talk to your doctor. A doctor can help you understand how medical conditions are passed down to children.
  • Have flexibility with the type of adoption you choose: Most birth mothers choose open or semi-open adoption. This means they want to have some type of relationship with their baby post-adoption. If you prefer a closed adoption – meaning you don’t want to remain in contact with the baby’s birth mother after adoption – your adoption wait time will increase.

Once a prospective birth mother picks your family, you both will match and discuss the prospective birth mother’s adoption plan.

Step 5: Consider Pre-Placement Contact

Before the baby is born, your family and the prospective birth mother will start to get to know each other. The prospective birth mother will decide how much and what kind of communication you maintain. For example, you all could communicate through emails and phone calls or regularly have video chats or in-person visits.

  • Open adoption: The prospective birth mother and the adoptive family exchange information and remain in contact before and after the adoption.
  • Semi-open adoption: You and the prospective birth mother exchange non-identifying information. Any contact is mediated through an adoption specialist.   
  • Closed adoption: You and the prospective birth mother exchange no information. Her birth child can only contact her if she allows her information to be released on the child’s 18th birthday.

In general, most infant adoptions in Tennessee are open or semi-open. Both the prospective birth mother and adoptive family benefit from these types of adoptions, too.

Step 6: Hospital and Placement

Once the prospective birth mother goes into labor, your family will travel to her location. Then, after three days, the birth mother will legally consent to the adoption. This action terminates her parental rights. At this point, you have physical custody of your baby.

It’s important to note that birth mothers have the right to change their minds during that three-day window. However, once the birth mother consents to the adoption, her rights are terminated, and the adoption is legally binding.

By this time, the birth father should have also already terminated his rights. This happens in two ways:

  • He voluntarily terminated his rights.
  • A court involuntarily terminated his rights.

Step 7: Post-Placement and Finalization

Families normally have to wait an extra three to six months after placement before the private adoption process in Tennessee is complete. This last step, known as adoption finalization, ensures that the birth parents’ rights were correctly terminated, your family and your baby are adjusting well, and that the legal side of the adoption is complete.

The final steps of your adoption will include:

  • Post-placement visits: Your social worker or specialist will return to your home to check in and see how your family is doing. 
  • Legal clearances: If you adopt your baby in-state, you will have to fulfill the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). This step is confirmed at your finalization hearing. Also, if you adopt a baby who is American Indian, you will need to get clearance for the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
  • Finalization hearing: The finalization hearing is the last step in your adoption process. During this hearing, your family will appear before a judge via telephone or in-person. The judge will then verify that the birth parents’ rights are terminated, your post-placement visits were conducted, and that you have fulfilled all the mandated legal clearances. 

Once all these steps are complete, your family’s adoption will be finalized! Soon, your family will get your baby’s new birth certificate.

Other Considerations When Adopting Infants in Tennessee

Domestic, private adoption in Tennessee is a great choice for any family who wants to parent a baby. Choosing domestic adoption also helps an expecting mother who has decided that adoption is the right choice for her circumstances.

Domestic adoptions also allow families and birth mothers to stay in touch. Having access to the birth mother and the birth mother’s medical and family history can benefit everyone involved in the adoption.

If you’d like to learn more about private adoption in Tennessee by speaking with an adoption agency, you can contact us today.