Before I get too far into the article, I want to advise you that this is written from my own personal experience and research. I do not have any affiliation with any of the agencies listed in this article, rather I thought they looked like a good starting point if you are just starting the adoption process in Tennessee.
I have said this to a lot of people who have asked about our adoption process, make sure you find an agency you feel comfortable working with. The adoption process is personal and you will share intimate information about yourself with your agency. Working with an agency, specifically a certain social worker, that you feel comfortable with will be a huge benefit to you. So, make sure you do your research. Meet with more than one agency. When you have a good feeling about an agency, go with your instincts and choose that agency.
For now, let’s explore adoption agencies in TN and see if any of these would be a good fit for you and your family.
Miriam’s Promise is one of the adoption agencies in TN I found that is a licensed agency located in Nashville, Tennessee. Miriam’s Promise is a nonprofit organization that serves children, expectant parents, and families who are hoping to adopt throughout the middle of Tennessee. According to this page, Miriam’s Promise offers the following services:
- Agency lead domestic adoption
- International adoption
- Older children adoptions
- Birth parent counseling
- Parenting education
- Support groups
- Home studies
- Programs for incarcerated women
- Post-adoption support
In Miriam’s Promise domestic program, a worker will walk you through the process. This would be for parents who want to adopt infants and children born in the United States. According to their website, Miriam provides the following regarding a domestic agency adoption:
- Adoption 101: This is a 10-hour home study group. Typically, this group gets together twice a year. As six to eight couples get together in this group, they cover many topics, such as birth parent issues, legal processes, talking to your child about adoption, and much more. In order to proceed with the adoption process using Miriam’s Promise, you must complete Adoption 101. Miriam’s Promise also offers Adoption 201, which is directed toward second child adoptions and extended training which is a short three-hour program for people related to waiting families—friends or relatives.
- Miriam’s Promise also offers adoption counseling throughout the adoption process and beyond.
- Miriam’s Promise will also help you meet the home study requirement in Tennessee. Once you have completed the Adoption 101 session, filled out all required forms, went through the individual and joint interviews, then your home visit will be scheduled. Once all of those are complete, your home study can be written up and completed. At this point, you would be eligible for child placement.
- Miriam’s Promise will also help you write your “Dear Birth Mother” letter along with helping you put together picture pages and create a result to be presented to birth parents. This letter and these documents are your first impressions for the birth parents. This is then when the “waiting” period begins. There is no guaranteed time frame but Miriam’s Promise indicated the average wait time is two to three years. After your child has been placed with you, Miriam’s Promise will continue to visit for a minimum of six months and then will file a report with recommendations on the finalization of the adoption.
“Parents in Process” is a 12-hour training program provided by Miriam’s Promise. This is offered several times a year and offers great information about international adoption issues. Miriam’s Promise is also able to help you ensure that your adoption meets the requirements of the U.S. Department of State.
Your first step in this process is to contact Miriam’s Promise and make an appointment with an international adoption counselor. You then will complete all the necessary paperwork. You will also be required to meet at the Miriam’s Promise office, and they will be required to visit your home. Your home study documents will be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for approval.
Miriam’s Promise is also able to aid you in completing the process with the country you have chosen to adopt from. Once your international adoption is complete, each country has different requirements for post-placement visits. Miriam’s Promise will help you meet these requirements by meeting with you multiple times. Within the first 30 days of your arrival home, Miriam’s Promise requires a visit. This is in addition to the country of origin’s schedule.
For more information on Miriam’s Promise contact them at:
1008 19th Ave. S.
Nashville, TN 37212
Phone: (615) 292-3500 and 1-800-320-1506
Small World, Inc., is another one of the adoption agencies in TN that I found that is a nonprofit charity with offices in Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia. Their programs include adoption, pro-life education, and humanitarian aid projects around the world. For the sake of this article, we will focus on their adoption program.
Small World will process a home study investigation for you as well as training in order to make sure you are ready to adopt a child. Small World also will ask you to create a profile book. This profile book is shared with the birth mothers and again, is your first impression on them.
Small World has the following requirements for domestic adoption:
- At least 25 years of age
- Requires an income of $10,000 per family member, including your prospective adopted child
- There are no restrictions regarding how many children are in your home, but your home is subject to the home study investigation and requirements
- Must be married heterosexual couples who have been married at least two years
- Single heterosexual females may apply for domestic adoption
- Open to Christian families only
- The states of Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri require two post-placement visits.
Small World has posted their domestic adoption fee schedule on their website (which is super helpful):
- Application costs $250
- Home study costs $1,750
- Home study review costs $200
- Program fee costs $3,000
- Profile and birth mother letter cost $500
- Billing at match costs $5,000
- Social services to birth mother cost $145 per hour
- Counseling/therapy costs $90 per half-hour session
- Surrender of parental rights costs $2,500-$4,000
- Placement fee costs $18,000
- ICPC services (out of state families) cost $1,500 which is due at placement
- Other costs are $145 per hour
Let’s explain what those things actually mean. The application fee is paid when you submit an application with Small World. The home study is the next step and when they would require the next payment to be made to them. For more information about what a home study entails, check out this link. Small World will also review home studies not prepared by them for a fee of $200.00. Once your home study is complete, you will be required to pay the program fee.
Small World will help you prepare your portfolio and Dear Birth Mother letter. The fee for this service is due when you submit your final portfolio and letter. Small World also requires you to deposit $5,000 at the time you accept a match with a birth mother. Small World then uses those funds to draw from for billable expenses, including birth mother expenses. They also require you to keep the account at a minimum of $5,000. If at the time of the final adoption, there are any funds remaining, they will be refunded.
Any social services that are expensed pertaining to the birth mother will be billed at the rate of $145 per hour. At Small World, you will also be responsible for birth mother expenses which could range from $0 to $8,000. Those fees could include things that are related to birth, post-birth care, medical costs, etc. These fees are discussed ahead of time and are outlined in a Birth Mother Assistance Agreement, also known as a Match Agreement. Any additional expenses, including but not limited to travel, lodging, etc., are charged separately. At the time the child is placed in your home, Small World will require you to pay the placement fee. It is noted that there is a federal adoption tax credit available, however, not all couples will qualify. Make sure you discuss the same with a tax accountant.
Similar to the domestic program above, you will start the process with an application. If you need Small World to complete your home study, they will start the process after approval of your application. Once your home study is complete, Small World asks that you enter into a contract with them and pay the agency fee. Upon signing the agreement, you will be given a list of documents to prepare for your dossier. Once you have collected all the necessary paperwork and your CIS approval, you will submit them to Small World. Small World then will process your dossier for you. This is not a very common practice in international adoptions.
The next steps in the process will depend on what country you are adopting from. However, in most countries, once you are approved in your country of choice you will receive a referral packet. Upon approval in the foreign government, you will complete and submit to Small World your acceptance forms and adoption petitions. This is when travel will most likely be required of you. You may then bring your child home. It is suggested that you re-adopt once you are back in your home state.
For more information on Small World, Inc., contact them at:
Small World Adoption
9695 Lebanon Road, Suite 120
P.O. Box 1109
Mount Juliet, TN 37121
Phone: (615) 754-6540
Fax: (615) 754-6546
Catholic Charities of Tennessee:
Lastly, Catholic Charities of Tennessee is one of the adoption agencies in TN that is a state-licensed adoption agency that serves all races and religions. They offer domestic, international, and independent adoption services. Another great thing they offer is support groups for waiting families and those who have already received a placement. I urge you to take advantage of any support groups you can attend. It is easier to talk with someone who has been in a similar situation than with those who have never been through the adoption process. Catholic Charities of Tennessee offers a sliding fee scale to help make adoption affordable for all qualified adoptive parents.
They also outline their domestic adoption process in four steps:
- Attend a group informational meeting. This meeting outlines a more detailed explanation of their services and more information about adoption. I usually suggest people attend more than one agency’s informational meetings to get a feeling for each agency before you select the agency you wish to work with.
- Next, you would submit an application. You can contact their offices or website for more detailed information.
- You then would need to complete your home study. I have included a link above for more information on the home study process.
- Lastly, you would have placement of a child. Since adoptive parents are being selected by the birth mothers, wait times will vary. Because of the varying wait times, this is why I find the support groups really helpful.
Catholic Charities of Tennessee can also assist you with an international adoption. They have been assisting families with placing children who are from the countries of China, Russia, Bolivia, Thailand, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and more. They are able to help you with your international home study as well as immigration paperwork, parent education, your dossier, and post-placement reports. Catholic Charities of Tennessee also offers the Parents in Process class which is 10 hours long and is a parent education class that is Hague approved.
For more information on Catholic Charities of Tennessee, contact them at:
Catholic Charities of Tennessee
Julie Bolles, Supervisor, Adoptions and Pregnancy Counseling
2806 McGavock Pike
Nashville, TN 37214
(615)-352-3087 ext. 2181
As I have mentioned herein, the adoption process is a personal and intimate experience, and I find it crucial to find an adoption agency you feel comfortable working with. As I suggested, meet with more than one agency, explore your options until you find the right one. They are not one-size-fits-all. However, there will be an agency that feels like the “right” one for you. I also suggest that you talk to other people who have used that agency before. Get their opinion on how the process worked. What did they like? What did they not like? But again, keep in mind that each person and each situation is unique. I wish you the best of luck with finding adoption agencies in TN.