Tennessee is a state known for its quintessential, southern charm and welcoming atmosphere. Though Tennessee is often not considered to be an overly populated state, there is a thriving adoption community. In each of its three regions—West, Middle, and East—Tennessee adoptions exist within certain guidelines that are specific to Tennessee.

As an expectant parent living or planning to place a child for adoption in Tennessee, you may have questions regarding adoption TN. This article will not be an exhaustive list but will guide you through the types of adoptions in Tennessee, what rights surround expectant parents, birth fathers, potential expectant parent expenses, life after adoption, finalization, and post-placement care. It is extremely important that you research adoption laws in your state since adoption laws vary greatly from state to state. You will need to know what stance your state takes on post-placement agreements, expenses, adoption professionals, and other adoption-related topics. As mentioned previously, this article will specifically discuss adoption TN. Though this article provides an overall understanding of adoption in Tennessee, it is still wise to get further information from adoption professionals that are in your area. Adoption professionals can answer your questions and provide you resources as you need them.

Why Adoption?

There is likely a lot that is on your mind and heart as you face your pregnancy. The circumstances that surround your pregnancy are uniquely yours. Regardless of the reason or the circumstances, you are here exploring adoption in Tennessee. Please know there is a great deal to learn, but adoption is worthy of your time to learn. No one can dictate the path you choose for your unborn child. The decision to place your child for adoption is not an easy decision, but in some cases, it is potentially what is best for the child.

There are several things you will need to consider before deciding that adoption is the best choice for your child. At this point in your journey, you may want to consider obtaining some preplacement counseling to determine if adoption is the right choice for you and your child. Preplacement counseling would be especially beneficial if you find yourself struggling to make a decision. As you decide on whether or not to place your child for adoption, you will need to consider everything from the financial responsibility of having the child to the future you want for your child and for yourself. Adoption, today, looks drastically different than it did years ago. Adoption has changed for the better, and you may be surprised to learn how adoptions can and do exist all across our country.

Additionally, there is a large presence of adoption on social media, and now more than ever, adoption has a huge platform that is changing the narrative around adoption on a daily basis. At the center of this narrative is often the stories of birth mothers and fathers, open adoptions, and a push to use positive adoption language. All of these components are changing the landscape of adoption in our country. Regardless of what brought you to this place of considering adoption for your child, know that adoption can be a transformative and powerful experience between all parties involved. Adoption does require an enormous amount of sacrifice on the part of the expectant parents, so while adoption is a powerful experience, it is not without sacrifice.

Type of Adoptions in TN

In Tennessee, there are essentially three different types of adoptions which include adoption from foster care, domestic adoption, or international adoption. Kinship adoptions also exist, but these are adoptions that occur within biological families. For example, an uncle legally adopts his biological nephew. However, as an expectant parent, your child would be considered a domestic adoption since you are living within the United States. More specifically, if an expectant parent places her child for adoption in Tennessee, there would be a few options in terms of what type of adoptions can exist. Once a child is placed for adoption, the expectant and adoptive parent can have an open, closed, or semi-open adoption. Open adoptions mean that the relationship between the birth family and adoptive family is open, which would likely mean in-person visits. The level of openness can vary and evolve over time, but in general, an open adoption involves both parties being as open as possible. Some examples of open adoption may include the birth family attending the birthday party of the child or maintaining social media contact including video chats and similar media outlets. Read more about the benefits of open adoption here.

A closed adoption means that there is no ongoing contact between either party. Lastly, a semi-open adoption means that there is contact between both parties periodically. This contact does not likely include in-person visits but instead may include letters and pictures throughout each year. These types of adoptions will be discussed with the adoption professional you partner with during your adoption process. As an expectant parent in Tennessee, you will need to think about what type of adoption you are most comfortable with.

Expectant Parent Rights

As an expectant parent, you are the most important individual in the adoption process. Everything that occurs within the adoption process goes at your speed and with your permission. Once you partner with an adoption professional or an adoption agency, they will walk you through each part of the process. With the help of your adoption professional, you will review profiles of prospective adoptive parents to determine who you would like to parent your child. Once this has taken place, your adoption professional will begin to facilitate the relationship between you and your prospective adoptive family. Once again, all of this takes place at your speed and in a way that you find comfortable. This process will progress with your desires and preferences at the forefront.

Once your child is born, something called “relinquishment” comes into play. Adoption in Tennessee requires that birth parents wait until three days after the date of the child’s birth to give consent to the adoption. The actual relinquishment of a child for and consent to adoption must be done before a judge. Once this is completed before a judge, birth parents will swear that they are freely relinquishing their parental rights. The judge will also make sure that your decision to place your child for adoption was not done under any duress or coercion. Birth parents can change their minds within ten days of consenting to the adoption. As a result, nothing is finalized permanently until ten days after the relinquishment.

Birth Fathers in Tennessee

Adoption in Tennessee is also explicit when it comes to birth fathers. Birth mothers are legally required to provide the name of the birth father. Some states do not require birth fathers to be formally named, but Tennessee does require it, which adds to Tennessee’s effort to be as exhaustive as possible. Marriage is an important component of adoption in Tennessee. If the birth father is married to the birth mother, the birth father’s permission for adoption is legally required. If the man has begun the process to establish paternity, he is also required to give adoption consent. On the other hand, if the man is not married or starting the process to establish paternity, he has no legal rights. An important note to know concerning birth fathers in Tennessee is that a putative registry exists, which allows potential birth fathers to publicly announce their effort in establishing paternity.

Expectant Parent Expenses in Tennessee

Another component to adoption in Tennessee involves potential expectant parent expenses between the expectant parents and the prospective adoptive parents. Prospective adoptive parents can provide financial support to expectant parents to assist with expenses related to pregnancy, birth, and the placement of the child. Some of these expenses include medical, legal, and counseling services. However, the expenses for counseling only cover up to one year after placement. Living expenses can also be included for up to 90 days prior to birth and 45 days after the consent to adopt. Your adoption professional will ensure the financial aspects are done ethically between both parties.

Life After Adoption in Tennessee

Once you place your child for adoption in Tennessee, you will enter into the phase commonly referred to as “post-placement.” It is in this phase that you have gone from an expectant parent to a birth parent since you have successfully placed your child for adoption. While your title may have changed, your importance has not. Your adoption professional will facilitate the post-placement agreement you want to make with your child’s adoptive family. A post-placement agreement is an agreement about the ongoing contact between you, the child, and the adoptive parents. There are many versions of a post-placement agreement, and they typically vary within each adoption since they are specific to each family. However, a post-placement agreement details how much contact will be maintained after the adoption is finalized. In Tennessee, the law allows adoptive families full control in making decisions about post-placement agreement details such as contact and visitation with birth parents. As a birth parent, it is important for you to know that post-placement agreements are signed in good faith and are not legally enforceable.

Adoption Finalization in Tennessee

A period of six months will have to elapse between the time of placement and the time of finalization within Tennessee. Before finalization can occur, your rights as the biological parent must be terminated. Then, the adoptive parents—with legal assistance—will file a petition to adopt.

Post-Placement Care in Tennessee

Another component of adoption that you need to think about as an expectant parent is post-placement care. Remember that you are commonly referred to as an expectant parent until your adoption is completed, which at that point, you may be referred to as a birth parent. Post-placement care is critical for birth parents, and it would be unrealistic to think that once an adoption is completed, there is no residual grief. Your adoption professional will likely offer you counseling services during your pregnancy, but post-placement counseling is critically important to your emotional health in years to come. While your emotional health is important, post-placement counseling is also helpful in navigating the relationship between yourself, your child, and your child’s adoptive parents. Open adoptions are not the case for every adoption situation, but processing your adoption story and maintaining a healthy perspective is for all members of the adoption triad, and it is especially imperative for you as the birth parent.

You made the ultimate sacrifice, so it is important that you honor yourself by taking proactive steps to keep yourself emotionally healthy. You may have family, friends, or members of your community that do not agree with your adoption plan. This is actually fairly common, but if that is true for you, you must be intentional by remaining focused on your personal desires for yourself and your child. It is easy for those individuals to cast judgment on you, but knowing where you stand will help you stand strong in your decision if adoption is the right choice for you.

A Final Word

There is something profound that takes place within adoption no matter what state you place your child in. Research is a wise thing to do if adoption is on your radar, but a search of the heart is even more important. The fact that you are considering an adoption plan demonstrates the love and concern you have for your child, which is both commendable and amazing. Sacrifice can be scary, but difficult things are typically always scary. Feelings of uncertainty, sadness, anxiousness, and loneliness may seem overwhelming to you during this time. However, there are adoption communities that strive to help expectant parents. Take ownership of your journey and remain determined to navigate your potential adoption experience with perseverance and love. If you would like to connect with other birth mothers for support, visit this link.