Experienced Adoption Attorneys Supporting Clients Through Agency and DCS Adoption in Tennessee

Maryville adoption attorneys with more than 40 years of combined legal experience serving clients throughout the state

For many reasons, the State of Tennessee serves as guardian to hundreds of children who need the love and security of their own families and many couples decide to turn to adoption to build families. When thinking about adopting a child to expand their families, some couples may not be aware that there are many children available for adoption in Tennessee, especially older children, sibling groups, and those with special needs. (You can view photos of Tennessee’s waiting kids on the DCS website and find out more about what it takes to bring them home.) Children who are waiting to be adopted may also be in the guardianship of a private licensed child-placing agency, or adoption agency.

The trusted adoption attorneys at the law firm of Shepherd and Associates, P.C. are ready to guide prospective adoptive parents through the entire process of adopting a child in need of a stable home.

Working with licensed adoption agencies in Tennessee

Whether a child is in the guardianship of the state or a private agency, the prospective adoptive parents will need a home study by a licensed agency.  The child must be in the adoptive parents’ physical custody for at least six (6) months before the adoption may be finalized, unless the child to be adopted is related to them.

If you need help choosing an adoption agency to work with, there are several adoption agencies in Tennessee that are licensed by the state to provide fee-based services to adoptive parents. Each year the TN Department of Children’s Services publishes a fee schedule so that you can compare the costs and services. It is also vital that you read each agency’s contracts carefully and to work with an experienced adoption attorney before you sign anything.

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Questions and answers about DCS adoptions in Tennessee

Any time you are working with a government agency or a privately-run adoption agencies, you will come up against rules and regulations, waiting lists and other obstacles that seem to be designed to frustrate you. But in the end every hoop you jump through and every document requiring answers to invasive questions is worth it when you hold that child in your arms. Here are just a few questions about agency and DCS adoptions in TN:

Can we foster a child temporarily so we can decide if we want to adopt them?

No. DCS tries to minimize the number of moves for children who are in the custody of the state. A child will not be moved from his or her foster home until you are approved as their adoptive parent.

I saw a child’s picture on the DCS website. Can we meet that child and decide if we want to adopt them?

DCS focuses on the needs of the child when matching them with prospective adoptive parents. They try to find the right people who will be a good fit with the child’s personality, needs, hopes fears and desires for their life.

If we have been approved as foster parents in Tennessee can we adopt a child from another state?

DCS in Tennessee can send your home study information, with your permission, to the state where the child resides.

What is the process for adopting a foster child?

Many foster parents seek to adopt the foster children in their care. Once a foster family has had a child for twelve (12) months, they will have preference over any other potential adoptive parents for the child, including any relative of the child who may be seeking custody.

The first step in becoming an adoptive parent to a child in DCS custody is to have a licensed child placement agency conduct a formal home study, and then you submit the home study for a specific child. Once you have been identified as a prospective adoptive parent for a specific child and you have agreed to become the child’s parent, the next step is PATH training. PATH (“Parents As Tender Healers”) training is a required course and self-assessment process that explores communication styles and helps adoptive families understand some of the emotional issues that may occur with children in the custody of the state who may have experienced a lot of loss, grief, trauma and upheaval in their short lives.

DCS will then decide if you are the right match for the child, and you are given information about the child so that you can make an informed decision about proceeding with the adoption. If DCS agrees that matching the child with you will meet the child’s needs, the child will become your child.

What does it cost to adopt a child in Tennessee?

Adoption assistance may be available to foster parents to help defray the cost of a child’s ongoing needs following the adoption. An adoption assistance contract is typically negotiated between the Department of Children’s Services and the adoptive parents.  The amount of assistance an adoptive family receives will depends on the needs of the child and the family. These contracts must be carefully negotiated, especially when it is likely that a special needs child will need significant, ongoing medical care for the rest of his or her life.

Work with a compassionate Maryville adoption lawyer today

After you have completed the soul searching and thoughtful consideration required, you may be ready to find out what is required to adopt a child from the Tennessee DCS. Your willingness to provide a safe, stable home for a child in the state child welfare system can change a child’s life and yours for the better. To get started you may schedule a consultation with an experienced adoption attorney from Shepherd and Associates, P.C. who can guide you each step throughout the adoption process you may call 865-225-9655 or fill out the contact form on this website.