The legal process is similar whether you adopt a child from foster care or from a private agency. Typically, the agency handles the termination of parental rights and maintains guardianship of the child until the adoption is finalized. They also conduct the home study and supervision for the required six-month period.
Foster care adoptions are a beautiful gift to the child, adoptive family, and our community. Often a child has lived with their foster family for years before the family is able to finalize the adoption. When a child enters foster care, the Department of Children’s Services is required to attempt to reunify the child with their birth family. When reunification is successful, birth parents remedy the problems that brought the child into DCS custody through drug and alcohol treatment, mental health treatment, individual and/or family counseling, obtaining stable housing, etc.
As the parent makes progress toward their goals, visitation with the child is increased until the court grants a trial home visit. Ultimately, custody is returned to the parents. When efforts at reunification are not successful, DCS typically files the Petition to Terminate Parental Rights. Or the birth parents may agree to voluntarily terminate their parental rights, usually via surrender of parental rights. Once the child is in the full guardianship of the State, DCS can give consent for the foster parent to adopt the child.
There is no cost to foster parents for a DCS adoption. The State pays a stipend to the attorney through the Adoption Assistance program. The State also reimburses the attorney for the filing fee and any related costs such as charges for certified copies.
When families use a private agency for placement, the agency is licensed by DCS, and serves a similar role. The agency conducts the home study, supervision, and authors the final court report. They usually facilitate the process of terminating the parental rights of the birth parents. If the child is born out of the State of Tennessee, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) will apply.
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Adoption Law Center, PLLC
3102 West End Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203
Call: (615) 543-8640
Monday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm
Sat: by appointment only