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Tennessee Adoption Laws

Tennessee Adoption Laws: Overview

State laws govern the adoption process in the U.S. and can often vary, despite efforts to adopt a common uniform code. State adoption laws regulate who is eligible to adopt a child, the age a child's consent is required, the protocol that must be followed, and other aspects of the adoption process. Prospective parents in Tennessee must complete a home study program, which educates the adoptive family and allows the child's social worker to sign off on the adoption.

See the following chart to learn the basics of Tennessee's adoption laws, and visit FindLaw's Adoption section for more resources.

Code Section 36-1-101, et seq.
Who May Be Adopted Any person
Age that Child's Consent Needed 14 years and older
Who May Adopt Any person over 18 years of age who has been Tennessee resident for 6 months. Residency requirement may be waived under certain circumstances. Spouse shall join in petition if competent (unless natural parent of child to be adopted).
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption? 1 year
State Agency/Court Children's Services/Chancery or Circuit
Statute of Limitations to Challenge 1 year

Note: State laws are constantly changing. FindLaw regularly updates these pages, but you may also want to contact a Tennessee adoption attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Who May Adopt a Child in Tennessee?

Tennessee's adoption laws are fairly welcoming, as the requirements for adoptive parents are primarily focused on the adopted child's well-being. In Tennessee, prospective parents must be at least 18, a resident of Tennessee for at least six months, and the ability to provide for the financial and emotional needs of your family.

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services provides the following resources for prospective parents:

Information for Birth Mothers

At the earliest, legal adoption proceedings may not begin until four days after the birth of the child. However, mothers can get the process started sooner, which may include access to counseling; legal help; and additional resources. Unless there is some other court proceeding in effect, the birth mother remains the legal parent until the point of surrender. The birth parent may choose the adoptive parent, but may have limited options at that point.

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