Memphis Adoption Attorneys
Q. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is a legal process through which an individual or couple establishes a legal parent-child relationship with a person (usually a child) born to other parents. An adoption gives the adoptive parents all of the same rights and responsibilities regarding the child as they would have regarding their biological children.
Q. Will I need to have a home study done?
A. Depending on the circumstances, you will probably be required to have a home study completed. This study is conducted by a certified home study worker to ensure that you will offer the child a safe, healthy environment. For foster parents, a home study is likely to be done before becoming foster parents, so a second study is not usually required for the adoption. Home studies can also be waived in stepparent adoptions and other situations in which the child already has a relationship with the adopting parents.
Q. Who can adopt a child in Tennessee?
A. Under Tennessee law, an individual person or a couple who are married to one another may seek to adopt a child. Each adopting parent must be at least 18 years old and have lived continuously in Tennessee for at least six months. Exceptions may be possible to the residency requirement for members of the military and in certain relative adoption cases. Adoption agencies may have more specific requirements to adopt through their programs as well.
Q. How long does an adoption take?
A. Each adoption case is different and the amount of time required will depend on the circumstances involved with your specific situation. Some adoptions can be completed in just a few weeks, while others might take several months or even years to complete. Your attorney can help you understand the factors that might affect your expected timeline.
Q. How much does adoption cost?
A. Similar to the question about how long an adoption will take, the cost of your adoption could range from no cost at all to thousands of dollars. You are likely to pay less, for example, if the proceedings are uncontested and the child is in the custody of the state than if you have to prove that the child’s birth parents are unfit and should have their parental rights terminated.
Q. When will the court terminate a parent’s parental rights?
A. Under Tennessee law, a child can only have two legal parents. This means that an adoption requires one or both birth parents to relinquish their parental rights or have their rights terminated. The court will only terminate a parent’s rights if the parent is deemed unfit and if the adoption is in the child’s best interests. A parent may be deemed unfit for abandonment, child abuse, criminal convictions, or mental incapacities that prevent the parent from caring for the child properly.
Q. What is a foreign adoption?
A. A foreign adoption is an adoption that allows Tennessee parents to adopt a child from another country. In many foreign adoption cases, agencies are involved to facilitate the adoption, but it is important to work with a knowledgeable attorney to help you address any legal concerns that may arise.
Q. Can I adopt my stepchild?
A. If you are a stepparent, adopting your stepchild would give you full legal parental rights regarding him or her. Your child would also gain access to legacy benefits and other considerations through your parentage. A stepparent adoption can only proceed if the child’s other parent consents, is deemed unfit, or if there is no other living parent. A child aged 14 years or older must also consent to a stepparent adoption.
Q. Where can I get help?
A. For more information about adopting a child in Tennessee, contact the office of Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law. Call 901-480-4156 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable member of our team today. We have personal and professional experience with adoption, and we are here to help families in Memphis, Bartlett, and throughout Shelby County.