The loss of parental rights is most parent’s nightmares, but in cases where parents are abusive, neglectful or absent, it can be the opportunity for the child to have a greatly improved life. Foster parents or family members that have been taking care of a child for a period of time should consider speaking to an experienced Tennessee adoption attorney about beginning the process.
The First Step is Terminating Parental Rights
If parents do not agree to voluntarily terminate their legal relationship with their children, the court can determine what’s in the best interests of the child. The court will only do this upon sufficient evidence that the parent is unfit after an extensive inquiry. Some of the most common grounds for terminating parental rights are:
- Severe abuse and neglect
- Sexual abuse
- Failure to support
- Failure to maintain contact
- Serious long-term alcohol or drug abuse
- Incarceration for some types of crimes
Who’s Eligible to Adopt in Tennessee?
You must be a resident of Tennessee for at least six consecutive months, with some exceptions. The residency requirement can be waived in some cases where the adoptive parent is in the military. Relatives of the child are only required to be residents of Tennessee when the petition is filed. You don’t need to be married to be eligible to adopt, but if you are, both spouses must agree to the adoption. LGBTQ are welcome to adopt in Tennessee.
New Laws for Adoption in Tennessee
Last year, Tennessee made the use of a “Post Adoption Contact Agreement” (PACA) enforceable. These agreements between adoptive and biological parents have been used officially for years as a way to see pictures of a child, get updates and in some cases even have occasional visits. PACA’s must be properly drafted to protect everybody’s rights. If you’re serious about adopting a child, it’s important to work with an experienced and caring Tennessee family lawyer to ensure that the process is smooth.