The adoption process can be an emotional rollercoaster. Making the decision to adopt often comes after some intense soul searching. You deal with mountains of paperwork to start the process. You may also go through a lengthy and invasive home study that may feel intimidating and overwhelming. Then you wait.
When a child becomes available, your life can change in an instant. While your complete focus may be on bonding with your child and making him or her part of your family, there are still steps to the adoption process you must complete. It is important that you understand and prepare for these steps so that the Tennessee courts can finalize your adoption, legally granting you parental rights to the child.
Not finished yet
Before a judge will sign a final decree of adoption, you will need to have completed all the steps of the process. This does not end when you have the baby in your arms or the child at your side. You must present evidence that you are in compliance with state laws regarding the following:
- Birth parent rights: You may have custody of the child, but the birth parents have several days to agree to terminate their parental rights. You will want to make sure they have taken this step.
- Post-placement visits: A social worker will visit your home numerous times to ensure you and your child are adjusting to your new circumstances. The agent will evaluate the standards of your home and answer any questions you may have.
- State laws: Each state has its own laws and regulations you must follow to ensure your adoption is legal.
- Special circumstances: Your situation may require additional legal procedures, for example if you are adopting a child who is Native American, born in another state or coming from outside the U.S.
During the finalization hearing, the judge will ask you about your ability to provide a loving and stable home for the child. You can expect to be in court between 30 minutes to an hour while the judge discusses the adoption with you. If all goes well, the judge will sign the adoption decree. You may then apply to have your child's birth certificate and social security card amended.
Adoption is more complicated than simply agreeing to be the parents of a child. The legal elements can be complex and delicate, and you will want to be sure you complete them with the attention to detail they deserve. Having a skilled attorney on your side throughout the process can provide you with the guidance and assistance you need to complete the adoption process with as little stress as possible.