Adoption Attorneys in Knoxville
Ready to see your family grow? So are we!
Adoption is the legal process where an adult or couple takes responsibility for the life and care of another person, typically a child. People adopt children for many reasons, and all of them valid. Maybe you can’t have children of your own, or you’ve bonded with your foster child, or want to adopt the child of a relative who can’t (or won’t) raise their own. Whatever your reason, we can help.
For many parents-to-be, though, the adoption process can a roller coaster of exhilarating hope and crushing disappointment. The experienced Knoxville adoption attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter can smooth out that ride by vetting adoption agencies, conducting background checks on birth parents, mediating with Social Services and ensuring that parental rights are legally transferred.
We also offer families the support they need to complete the rigorous filing and child placement process. Our family law firm guides you through all stages of the adoption process, from the initial orientation to the training classes to home study and your background checks. Your only worry should be preparing for the new addition to your family.
What kind of Tennessee adoption services does your firm handle?
Placing a child in a loving home is a joyous and rewarding experience. And here, we get so much satisfaction from helping families seeking legal recognition of their special relationships. We have extensive experience in all aspects of the Tennessee adoption process, including:
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What are the different types of adoption in Tennessee?
You have quite a few options when you’re ready to adopt a child. Many parents go through the Tennessee foster care system to adopt a child, which is a public option through the state. If you currently have a foster child – and if you do, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you do – who you plan to adopt, you’ll be given preference. According to the state, foster parents “are dually approved to adopt, which means they have the first option of adopting a child they have fostered, or another child who has become eligible for adoption.”
Private options for adopting take place through an agency or non-profit. Or, you can go through an independent adoption between you and the birth parents. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney if you’re considering private adoption to ensure everyone’s rights are protected.
Okay – what do I have to do to adopt a child in Tennessee?
We get a lot of clients who are scared that they have to be 100% perfect, role model parents to be eligible to adopt a child. Listen, nobody is a perfect parent – nobody. Of course, however, every state has a list of requirements to meet to ensure a child is safe and loved, and here are Tennessee’s.
To be eligible to adopt in Tennessee, you must meet the following two requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a resident of Tennessee for at least six consecutive months (exceptions may be made for certain relative adoptions and members of the military)
That’s it. You can be any gender, any race, from any background, LGBTQ, single, married, divorced – just ready and able to provide a loving home for a child. And we’ll fight for your right to adopt.
Keep in mind, though, these are just the legal requirements for adopting. You’ll also want to be prepared for a home study and other types of vetting. The adoption attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter can help you prep for the approval process, so you don’t run into any surprises.
A note to our LGBTQIA+ friends: In early 2020, Governor Lee signed a controversial law allowing religious adoption agencies deny child placement to same-sex couples. We’re keeping an eye on this decision as well as current appeals. If you’re concerned or need help, call us.
What is an adoption home study?
An adoption home study is one of the biggest fears of prospective parents. It really doesn’t have to be, if you’re prepared. According to American Adoptions, you can expect the following:
- Health records and exams
- Interviews with all family members in the household
- One or more visits to the house
- Reference letters from close friends and family
- Verification of marital status, if applicable
You’ll also speak with a social worker about:
- The health and safety conditions of your home (fire escape plans, etc.)
- Why you want to adopt
- Your ability to provide for the child
- Your character, ethics, and values
- Your physical and mental health
Talk to our adoption attorneys and we’ll get you prepped, ready, and confident for a home study, and show why you’ll give a child a wonderful, loving, and stable home.
How long does it take to adopt a child in Tennessee?
Honestly? We know it’s not the answer you want, but literally from a couple weeks to a couple years. It really depends on the adoption route you take. Come talk to us about your situation and we can give you a more definitive answer, or guide you toward opportunities you may not have known about. Just keep in mind that the adoption process is full of surprises – some good, some bad – but we’ll be here to handle them with you.
How much does it cost to adopt a child?
This is another question without a firm answer. If you wanna get technical, the cost of an adoption can start at zero and climb up from there, depending on the situation. But let’s get real – because we’re dealing with the life of a child, there are going to be expenses, like:
- Home study fees
- Living expenses for the birth mother
- Medical expenses
- Placement fees
- Travel expenses
Don’t panic over money just yet. Not every adoption is the same, they don’t all require the same expenses, and many prospective parents are eligible for financial assistance. We can help you look into government programs like assistance for special need adoptions, federal tax credits, adoption loans, and, if applicable, employer adoption assistance.
You should never be held back from providing a safe, stable, and loving home for a child in need.
What will I know about the birth parents in a Tennessee adoption?
In a domestic adoption, the adoptive parents have the right to find out certain information about the child’s birth family. This includes stuff like medical info and history about the family, going back a few generations. With international adoptions, adoptive parents typically get as much information available, which can be a lot or nothing, depending on the situation.
I want to adopt a child, but we can’t locate the birth father. Can you help?
There’s nothing more heartbreaking when an adoption seems to be moving forward only to be stalled or derailed by an overlooked technicality. For instance, an unwed birth mother may wish to find a secure home for her child. But Tennessee law requires that the biological father consent to an adoption proceeding or have his rights legally terminated.
When the birth father’s whereabouts are unknown, the court requires that the parties involved notify him before his parental rights can be terminated. Our firm helps you serve notice by publication in a manner acceptable to the court. Then we’ll prepare a comprehensive affidavit listing all the steps you have taken to inform the birth father that he is relinquishing parental rights. You can trust LaFevor & Slaughter to touch all the bases as you bring your baby safely home.
Want to read more about adoption?
- Helping Families Grow through Adoption
- Frequently Asked Questions About Stepparent Adoption in Tennessee
- Grandparents’ Rights to Adopt Grandchildren in Tennessee
- Frequently Asked Questions about Interstate Adoption in Tennessee
Contact a compassionate and devoted Knoxville adoption lawyer
LaFevor & Slaughter is dedicated to helping you complete your adoption in a timely, cost-effective and legally sound manner. Adopting a child is a joyous and exciting occasion, and we want to ensure you dot every “i” and cross every “t” as you welcome the new addition to your family. To schedule a consultation with one of our Tennessee attorneys, call us at (865) 637-6258 or fill out our contact form today.