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How to Adopt

To adopt a child in Tennessee, either you can foster to adopt through the Department of Children’s Services or you can contact one of Tennessee’s private adoption agencies.

Watch this video to learn more about the foster to adoption experience:

Are you interested only in adopting? If so, please understand that about 80% of the children who are adopted from foster care are adopted by the families who already are, and have been, their foster parents.

Our practice is to work with individuals who sign up to become foster parents, and then, if a child in DCS custody becomes available for adoption, the family caring for that child is the first option for adoption. This helps ensure the child already has a relationship with potential adoptive parents who have helped him or her navigate change, trauma and uncertainty and already long offered comfort, safety and love.

If your goal is to adopt only, you must complete the following steps in order to be selected to be considered as an adoptive placement for a child, who is in full guardianship of the Department of Children's Services:

Step 1: Obtain a formal “home study” by a licensed child placing agency.

The home study process allows you to learn about the realities of adoption and share information about yourself and your family with your adoption counselor. The final written home study will include:
• A description of your family
• Verifications
• Medical and financial statements
• References
You will also be asked to identify and describe the type of child you feel you can most successfully parent.

Step 2: Submit the home study for a specific child. (You may have identified the child via the Heart Gallery of Tennessee or Adopt US Kids, for example.) Final decisions about placement of a child are made by the child's team after sharing extensive information with you. Children are placed with the family best able to meet their needs.

When you have been identified as an adoptive parent for a particular child, and you have agreed to parent that child, you will then receive PATH training.

PATH is an education and self-assessment process that:

  • Helps families understand the requirements for becoming a foster/adoptive parent
  • Helps families gain an overview of the child welfare system and the role of foster/adoptive parents
  • Help families know who the children are in the child welfare system and who they can most successfully parent
  • Help families understand the value of partnership
  • Introduces disciplinary techniques that work well with children who have experienced trauma
  • Helps families understand the feelings of grief and the loss that children can experience
  • Helps identify family strengths and understand the parents abilities
  • Know what lies ahead in becoming approved foster/adoptive parents
  • Helps families understand the feelings of grief and the loss that children can experience

Your local Department of Children's Services office has more information. Call 877-DCS-KIDS (327-5437).

Find additional helpful information about adopting Tennessee children at the AdoptUSKids website.