Adoption is one of the most joyful events that families can experience together. In the State of Tennessee, if you want to adopt a child, ask a Nashville adoption attorney to explain the state’s adoption laws and to guide you through the complicated legal adoption process.
Adoptions in Tennessee are almost never simple and straightforward legal procedures, so prospective adoptive parents in this state must have a good adoption lawyer to advise them and to protect their legal rights from the very beginning of the adoption process.
How does adoption work in Tennessee, and what is a lawyer’s role in the process? What should prospective adoptive parents know about the adoption process? If you will keep reading this brief discussion of adoption and the law in Tennessee, these questions will be answered below.
How Do Adoption Attorneys Help Prospective Adoptive Parents?
Finding answers for children is among the most gratifying rewards of family law. Whatever time that a Tennessee family law attorney spends in negotiations, research, and litigation is nothing when compared with the joy of bringing families together with the children they have adopted.
A Nashville adoption lawyer will guide prospective adoptive parents through the adoption procedure. Your attorney will help you find the right adoption agency or independent adoptee while protecting your legal rights and advising you throughout the process. An adoption lawyer:
- offers legal advice and support to prospective adoptive parents
- negotiates the conditions and terms of an adoption
- deals with any legal actions or disputes that may emerge in the adoption process
- meets with adoption agency representatives and facilitates private adoptions
- prepares all of the legal paperwork for prospective adoptive parents
Adoption usually takes an extended amount of time, but when parents work with a Nashville adoption attorney, they are taking every step necessary to bring their new child home as quickly as possible while ensuring that there are no legal complications or barriers to the adoption.
Are There Different Kinds of Adoptions?
Adoptions are permanent. A prospective adoptive parent should completely understand the gravity and magnitude of the commitment to adopt.
When someone adopts a child, that person legally assumes parenthood and the right to make choices about the child’s health care, education, and overall well-being. The law in Tennessee provides for the following types of adoptions:
- domestic adoptions of children in the U.S. who aren’t related to the adoptive parents
- international adoptions of children who are not related to the adoptive parents
- stepparent adoptions and adoptions of children who are related to the adoptive parents
- adult adoptions in special situations
When a couple marries and one spouse has a child from a previous marriage, the other spouse may want to adopt. If the child’s other birth parent is alive, he or she must voluntarily consent to the adoption (except in abandonment cases). Adoption by the stepparent terminates all parental rights of the birth parent and grants all legal parental rights and responsibilities to the stepparent.
What Is Required to Become an Adoptive Parent?
Prospective adoptive parents in Tennessee must be able to provide both a safe home and a stable environment that enables and fosters a child’s psychological and physical health along with the child’s educational and social needs.
Parents in Tennessee are responsible to support their children financially. If you and your spouse adopt a child, you become parents with financial obligations, and if you divorce or separate, your responsibilities to the child you’ve adopted do not end until that child becomes an adult.
Adoption is not for every family. It entails substantial emotional, physical, mental, and financial challenges. However, when adoption is the right choice for a particular family, family members are almost always able to meet those challenges, and they consider their efforts well worth it.
Prospective adoptive parents may work with a domestic adoption agency, pursue an international adoption, or adopt a child who is currently in the foster care system in Tennessee. A Nashville adoption lawyer can advise prospective adoptive parents at each step of the adoption process.
Are You Adopting a Child From Another Nation?
An international adoption is considerably more complicated than a domestic adoption, usually costs more, and depends to a large extent on the laws in the child’s nation of origin. Several international adoption agencies and a good adoption lawyer can help.
Prospective adoptive parents who adopt internationally must obtain a visa for the child from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Visa applications for adoptions are complicated, but once a child’s visa is approved, he or she becomes a citizen upon entering the United States.
It is always possible that a birth parent, an attorney, or a judge in the child’s nation of origin may unexpectedly delay or disrupt an international adoption process. Consult an adoption attorney before you make any irrevocable commitment to adopting a child from another nation.
What Are “Closed” and “Open” Adoptions?
Open adoptions keep the lines of communication open among the biological parent or parents, the adoptive parent or parents, and the child. Prospective adoptive parents should settle only for an adoption agreement that they are entirely pleased and comfortable with.
In a closed adoption, all records of the adoption are legally and permanently sealed, and a biological parent may not attempt to reach, harass, or to interfere in any way with the child or with the adoptive parents.
What Else Should Prospective Adoptive Parents Know?
As you may imagine, a prospective adoptive parent will need a great deal of patience. Depending on the details of an adoption, the legal adoption process in Tennessee can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more.
Prospective adoptive parents who are working through an adoption agency should expect that the process will take at least nine months. International adoptions, in many cases, may take even longer.
Your lawyer will schedule a final adoption hearing, and a Tennessee judge will issue a final decree that grants you full legal parental rights and completes the adoption process.
If you are considering adoption and you have concerns or questions, if you are ready to adopt, or if you need specific legal advice or help with a particular adoption, a Nashville family law attorney will be ready to answer your questions and to help you begin the adoption process.