How Do I Adopt My Grandchild in Tennessee?

In an ideal world, you will raise your children to adulthood and then have the pleasure of becoming the “fun” grandparent to your grandchildren in the years to come. Sometimes, however, the role of grandparent become the role of parent once again for one reason or another. If you have stepped in and taken over the care of your grandchild and you expect the situation to be permanent, it is imperative that you take the legal steps necessary to adopt the child. Since you have likely never been in this situation before you may be wondering “ How do I adopt my grandchild in Tennessee?

A grandparent may end up raising a grandchild for a variety of reasons. Typically, it is either because the parents are unable to parent the child because of death or disability or because the parents are unwilling to parent the child. A parent who is struggling with an addiction problem, for example, may be unable to properly parent a child. When that parent is also your child, you may find yourself in a very difficult situation. Ultimately, you must focus on your grandchild and what is best for him or her in the long run.

If you are considering adoption, your first step is to determine if adoption is the best option. If the situation that led to you caring for your grandchild may be temporary, adoption is probably not the best alternative. Although you do need the legal authority to care for the child, guardianship may be a better route to take for the time being. Guardianship will allow you to make decisions for the child, consent to medical treatment, and do everything else a parent does but without terminating the parents’ rights.

If, on the other hand, the situation is likely permanent, as in the case of death or permanent disability, adoption is likely the best option. While a relative adoption is a bit less formal, the same legal steps must be taken as with any other adoption. First and foremost, the parents’ rights must be terminated before youkan petition to adopt the child. If a parent is deceased, this is simple to show as death clearly terminates the relationship. Likewise, if the State of Tennessee has involuntarily terminated the parents’ rights you are already a step ahead in the adoption process. If, however, neither of those scenarios apply you will need to legally terminate both parents’ rights before proceeding with the adoption process.

Once the parental rights have been terminated, you will need to file a petition to adopt with the appropriate court, submit to a home study and possibly attend a parenting class, and provide the court with any other documents required to facilitate the adoption process. Once the court is satisfied that the legal steps required to adopt have been completed the adoption will be finalized.

If you wish to adopt a grandchild in the State of Tennessee it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee adoption attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Stan Bennett
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