Adopting a child is a life-changing event that can enlarge an existing family or create a new family. The adoption process itself, however, can be fraught with obstacles that cause a roller coaster of emotions. For many hopeful adoptive parents, one of the biggest fears is that the birth mother will change her mind. A Murfreesboro family law attorney explains the adoption process in Tennessee and addresses the issue of a birth mother changing her mind.
Paths to Adoption Process in Tennessee
The State of Tennessee recognizes several different types of adoptions, including
- Birth mother adoption – also referred to as a “private adoption,” this type of adoption is generally facilitated by an adoption attorney and only involves the birth mother and prospective adoptive parent(s). There is no agency involved. The birth mother often chooses the baby’s adoptive parent(s) herself. The adoptive parent(s) may be directly and intimately involved with the pregnancy, often paying the medical bills and living expenses of the birth mother.
- Agency adoption – there are several well-known adoption agencies in Tennessee that help match birth mothers with prospective parents. With an agency adoption, it can be an open adoption or closed adoption, depending on the wishes of the parties. Although the agency does much of the behind the scenes work, as a prospective parent you should always have your own adoption attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.
- State agency adoption – another option for adoption is to adopt a child, or sibling group, from those children who are wards of the State of Tennessee. These are children whose parents have had their parental rights terminated for one reason or another.
- International adoption – adopting a child from another country is a very complex process because you must comply with all the adoption laws of both the country of origin and the United States.
- Family adoption – a family adoption could refer to a step-parent adoption or a grandparent, aunt, or other relatives adopting a child within the existing family unit.
If you are using the state agency, international, or family adoption path you will not typically need to worry about the birth mother changing her mind. With an international or state agency adoption, the birth mother’s parental rights have usually been terminated for some time before you even begin the adoption process. Likewise, with a family adoption, the birth mother may be out of the picture altogether or, in the case of step-parent adoption, may not need to terminate her rights. With a birth mother or private agency adoption, however, the birth mother is usually pregnant at the time the adoption process begins. Consequently, an adoptive parent is depending on the birth mother to voluntarily terminate her parental rights after the child is born. Understandably, this can create a considerable amount of stress and worry for a prospective parent.
The Adoption Process in Tennessee
Whether you work with an attorney to locate a birth mother who wishes to place her child up for adoption, or you go through an agency, the legal adoption process begins with the filing of a petition to adopt with the appropriate court. After that, you will need to complete adoption training and submit to an intensive background investigation as well as a home study. With this type of adoption, there is also a mandatory waiting period of six months from the time the petition to adopt is filed with the court before the adoption can be finalized.
Birth Mother Consent in Tennessee
After the child is born, the birth mother must officially consent to the adoption. Tennessee law requires birth parents to wait at least 72 hours after birth before consenting to the adoption; however, this waiting period may be waived by the court for good cause and the adoptive parents may be able to take physical custody of the child prior to the end of the 72 hours.
Surrendering of the child takes place in the judge’s’ chambers and by law, only the birth mother, her attorney, and the judge may be present. The judge must witness the actual act of consent.
Of crucial importance to any adoptive parent is the fact that a birth mother’s consent may be revoked within 10 days of execution. The birth parent who wishes to revoke consent must appear before the judge who accepted the consent and execute revocation under oath. After the 10 day period has passed, the consent becomes irrevocable.
Contact a Murfreesboro Family Law Attorney
If you are contemplating adoption, or you are already in the process of adopting, in Tennessee, and you are concerned that the birth mother may change her mind, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro family law attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.