Wanting to adopt? What steps are required?

The moment is still fresh in my mind because it is not something that happens every day. I have been in court plenty of times, but it’s not routine that people in a courtroom begin clapping. I would like to say it was because of my trial skills, but the reality is, the people were clapping for a much worthier reason. A little boy was joining a new family! The Order approving the adoption we had submitted was being signed by the judge, and it was truly a joyous occasion.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to assist clients in many types of cases over the years, and adoption matters are some of the most rewarding I have handled.

Because even a quick overview of the subject is broad, I will highlight some of the key concepts and steps necessary to complete an adoption through multiple posts. The first of such, being this one, will focus on the threshold issue of the biological parents’ rights.

The Tennessee Constitution recognizes that a parent has a fundamental right to parent his or her child. Therefore, it is an exceptionally weighty matter for the courts to consider when a request has been made to terminate a parent’s rights as to his or her child. Simply put, a child cannot be adopted unless the biological parents’ rights have been voluntarily surrendered or terminated by a court. In some instances, a parental consent is an option to address a parent’s rights as to her child.

The name distinction between the two most common forms (voluntary surrender and petition to terminate) evidences which is the quickest and easiest. A voluntary surrender is a much quicker and simpler process than a petition to terminate parental rights, which requires a trial. In fact, decisions in termination of parental rights cases are some of the most appealed cases in Tennessee. I will elaborate on the differences in future posts, but to begin this series of posts, note that a genesis step in the process to adopt is that the parental rights of the child’s biological parents must be surrendered or terminated before a child is available to be adopted.

At Fidelis Law, PLLC, we can assist you through the life-changing process of adoption.