adoption attorney

Adopting a Foster Child in Tennessee

When a child is removed from his or her home by the state, the child ends up in the foster care system if a suitable relative cannot be located to care for the child. That often means that the child is placed with a foster parent (or parents). Foster parents play a vital role in the life of children who have been displaced because of abuse, neglect, or the temporary or permanent absence of the child’s biological parents. The goal is always to reunite the child with his/her parent(s); however, if that is not possible,adoption attorney the child may become available for adoption. If you are a faster parent contemplating adoption, a Murfreesboro family attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby discusses adopting a foster child in Tennessee.

How Does a Foster Child Become Eligible for Adoption?

As a foster parent, you likely already know that the law requires the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to provide services to biological parents to try and address the issues that led to the child’s removal from the home. The primary goal is always reunification of the child with the parent(s). If, however, efforts at reunification are not successful, DCS may petition the court to terminate the parental rights of the parent(s). Once those rights have been terminated, the child is eligible for adoption. If a relative has not already stepped in and offered to care for the child, DCS will usually give foster parents the first opportunity to adopt the child. At that point, the child has often been living with the foster parent(s) for months (even years) and has bonded with the foster family.

What Are the Requirements for Adopting a Foster Child in Tennessee?

To adopt a child in the State of Tennessee, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a resident of Tennessee
  • Complete Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) training
  • Complete an approved home study
  • Be able to meet your family’s financial needs

The good news is that if you are already an approved foster parent, you have “dual approval” which means you already meet the basic requirements for adoption as well. 

What Is the Process for Adopting a Foster Child in Tennessee?

If a foster child in your care becomes eligible for adoption, you should be notified by the DCS caseworker. If you have not already expressed your desire to adopt the child, you should do so immediately so that DCS does not look for other prospective adoptive parents. You will likely be asked to sign an “Intent to Adopt” form that formally expresses your intention to make the child a permanent part of your family. DCS will conduct an investigation to ensure that your family is a suitable place for the child. Once DCS has officially signed off on the adoption, you can begin the legal process by filing a Petition for Adoption. It is best to work with an experienced adoption attorney throughout the legal process. In some cases, fees involved in the adoption process may be directly reimbursed or may qualify for a tax credit.

Is Financial Help Available If I Adopt a Foster Child?

Whether the child you adopt creates a family or adds to an existing family, the reality is that there are expenses involved in raising a child. Sadly, those expenses may be even higher for a child who was removed from his/her home because there is an increased likelihood that the child suffered physical or emotional abuse and/or has a physical or emotional disability. If an adoptive child was in DCS custody prior to being adopted, the child is usually eligible to receive a monthly adoption subsidy, TennCare, and non-recurring expenses associated with finalizing the adoption up to $1,500. The amount of the monthly adoption subsidy is subject to change and will depend on things such as the age and needs of the child.

Contact a Murfreesboro Family Attorney

If you have questions or concerns about adopting a foster child in the State of Tennessee, contact a Murfreesboro family attorney to discuss your options. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Stan Bennett