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Child Adoption Laws
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Child Adoption Laws
Tennessee


We hope to help you learn more about the child adoption laws in the State of Tennessee.  Please note that while we have tried to be as current as possible, laws are occasionally rewritten and/or amended; accordingly, the Tennessee adoption law provided below may have errors, omissions, or may not be the most current version. Please remember that this information should not be used as the basis for making any legal decision. Please use appropriate resources and an attorney's advice when making legal decisions.

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Tennessee State Statutes

(Part 1)  of   (Part 2)     (PART 3)

Tennessee Adoption Statute and Law
Tennessee code Annotated
Title 36: Domestic Relations
Chapter 1: Adoption
Parts 1 and 3


(This page was last updated on (10/22/13.)


36-1-101. Purpose of part - Construction.

36-1-102. Part definitions.

36-1-103. Prior adoptions and terminations of parental rights involving minors and
prior adoptions of adults ratified.

36-1-104. Withholding of material information concerning the status of the parents or guardian of a child subject to surrender, termination of parental rights or adoption - Misdemeanor.

36-1-105. Violation of criminal provisions of part by state employee - Dismissal.

36-1-106. Readoption.

36-1-107. Persons to whom this part is applicable.

36-1-108. Entities authorized to place children for adoption - Advisory and agency capacity authorized - Injunction to stop illegal payments.

36-1-109. Illegal payments in connection with placement of child - Penalty.

36-1-110. Parent under eighteen years of age - Surrender.

36-1-111. Pre-surrender request for home study or preliminary home study - Surrender of child - Consent for adoption by parent - Effect of Surrender - Form of surrender - Waiver of interest - Interpreter for non-English speaking parents.

36-1-112. Revocation of surrender and parental consent - Form.

36-1-113. Termination of parental rights.

36-1-114. Venue.

36-1-115. Persons eligible to file adoption petition - Residence requirements - Preference for foster parents.

36-1-116. Pre-petition home study - Information from surrender court - Contents of petition - Effect of filing - Order of preference.

36-1-117. Parties to proceedings - Termination of rights of putative father - Consent of parent or guardian - Service of process.

36-1-118. Dismissal of adoption proceedings and guardianship orders - Revocation of surrender by court - Notice - Disposition of child.

36-1-119. Final order of adoption - When entered.

36-1-120. Final order of adoption - Contents - Report of foreign birth.

36-1-121. Effect of adoption on relationship.

36-1-122. Binding effect of adoption.

36-1-123. Biological parents illegally obtaining custody of a child - Custodial interference.

36-1-124. Contested terminations of parental rights and adoptions - Appeals - Expedited schedule.

36-1-125. Confidentiality of records - Penalties for unauthorized disclosure - Protected orders.

36-1-126. Record kept under seal - Confidential records - Access to certain records - Preservation of records.

36-1-127. Availability of records to adopted persons and certain other persons for adoptions finalized or attempted prior to March 16, 1951.

36-1-128. Contact veto registry - Persons eligible to have names entered.

36-1-129. Procedures for filing contact veto or giving consent.

36-1-130. Access to records - Search of registry - Restrictions on contact.

36-1-131. Search of sealed adoption record, sealed record or post-adoption records - Opportunity to veto contact.

36-1-132. Violation of contact veto a misdemeanor - Injunction and damages - Attorney's Fees - Using information to injure persons whose names were obtained.

36-1-133. Release of nonidentifying information concerning biological or legal family.

36-1-134. Transmission of information between affected parties - Access to records of deceased or disabled persons - Updating of information to allow contact.

36-1-135. Updated medical information in records - Searches for persons affected.

36-1-136. Notification made as part of search, contact or identifying requests.

36-1-137. Inability of department to verify adoptive status of relationships - Waiting period to request further searches - Limitations on searches.

36-1-138. Court orders for the release of information from adoption and sealed records.

36-1-139. Penalty for providing false information related to information requests.

36-1-140. Immunity for actions in good faith by department personnel and immunity of certain other persons.

36-1-141. Fees for searches, registration of contact vetoes, and copies - Promulgation of rules - Forms.

36-1-142. Voluntary delivery of infant to facility, revocation of voluntary delivery, and termination of parental rights.

Part 2

Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance.

36-1-201. Terms of compact.

36-1-202. Amount of assistance.

36-1-203. Documentation of eligibility.

36-1-204. Applicability of part.

36-1-205. Violations - Penalties.

36-1-206. Construction - Compliance with federal laws.

Part 3

Adoption Contact Veto Registry.

36-1-301. Advance notice system.

36-1-302. "Advance notice period" defined.

36-1-303. Persons entitled to file a request for advance notice.

36-1-304. Advance notice registry.

36-1-305. Promulgation of necessary rules and regulations.

Part 1
GENERAL PROVISIONS

36-1-101. Purpose of part - Construction.

(a) The primary purpose of this part is to provide means and procedures for the adoption of children and adults that recognize and effectuate to the greatest extent possible the rights and interests of persons affected by adoption, especially those of the adopted persons, which are specifically protected by the constitutions of the United States and the state of Tennessee and to those ends seek to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that:

(1) Children are removed from the homes of their parents or guardians only when that becomes the only alternative that is consistent with the best interest of the child;

(2) Children are placed only with those persons who have been determined to be capable of providing proper care and a loving home for an adopted child;

(3) The rights of children to be raised in loving homes that are capable of providing proper care for adopted children and that the best interests of children in the adoptive process are protected;

(4) The adoptive process protects the rights of all persons who are affected by that process and who should be entitled to notice of the proceedings for the adoption of a child;

(5) The adoption proceedings are held in an expeditious manner to enable the child to achieve permanency, consistent with the child's best interests, at the earliest possible date; and

(6) The adopted child is protected in the child's adoptive relationship from any interference by any person who may have some legal claim after the child has become properly adjusted to the child's adoptive home.

(b) The secondary purpose of this part is to:

(1) Protect biological parents and guardians of children from decisions concerning the relinquishment of their parental or guardian's rights to their children or wards that might be made as a result of undue influence or fraud;

(2) Protect adoptive parents from assuming the care and responsibility for a child about whose physical, mental, emotional, and hereditary background they are unaware;

(3) Protect the adoptive parents from the later disturbance of their parental relationship with their child by the biological or prior legal parents of the child who may have some legal claim due to the failure to protect their legal rights; and

(4) Provide adoption promotion and support services and activities designed to encourage early permanency and adoptions, when adoptions promote the best interests of children, including such activities as pre-adoptive and post-adoptive services and activities designed to expedite the adoption process.

(c) The purpose of this part shall also be to favor the rights of adopted persons or other persons for whom any closed records are maintained and their families to obtain information concerning the lives of those persons and to permit them to obtain information about themselves from the adoption records, sealed records, sealed adoption records, or post-adoption records to which they are entitled, but also to recognize the rights of parents and adopted persons not to be contacted by the persons who obtain such information, except in compliance with this part.

(d) In all cases, when the best interests of the child and those of the adults are in conflict, such conflict shall always be resolved to favor the rights and the best interests of the child, which interests are hereby recognized as constitutionally protected and, to that end, this part shall be liberally construed.

[Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 1 (Williams, § 9572.15); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-101; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, §§ 1, 2; 1998, ch. 1097, § 1.]

36-1-102. Part definitions.

As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) (A) For purposes of terminating the parental or guardian rights of parent(s) or guardian(s) of a child to that child in order to make that child available for adoption, "abandonment" means that:

(i) For a period of four (4) consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of a proceeding or pleading to terminate the parental rights of the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child who is the subject of the petition for termination of parental rights or adoption, that the parent(s) or guardian(s) either have willfully failed to visit or have willfully failed to support or have willfully failed to make reasonable payments toward the support of the child;

(ii) The child has been removed from the home of the parent(s) or guardian(s) as the result of a petition filed in the juvenile court in which the child was found to be a dependent and neglected child, as defined in § 37-1-102, and the child was placed in the custody of the department or a licensed child-placing agency, that the juvenile court found, or the court where the termination of parental rights petition is filed finds, that the department or a licensed child-placing agency made reasonable efforts to prevent removal of the child or that the circumstances of the child's situation prevented reasonable efforts from being made prior to the child's removal; and for a period of four (4) months following the removal, the department or agency has made reasonable efforts to assist the parent(s) or guardian(s) to establish a suitable home for the child, but that the parent(s) or guardian(s) have made no reasonable efforts to provide a suitable home and have demonstrated a lack of concern for the child to such a degree that it appears unlikely that they will be able to provide a suitable home for the child at an early date. The efforts of the department or agency to assist a parent or guardian in establishing a suitable home for the child may be found to be reasonable if such efforts exceed the efforts of the parent or guardian toward the same goal, when the parent or guardian is aware that the child is in the custody of the department;

(iii) A biological or legal father has either willfully failed to visit or willfully failed to make reasonable payments toward the support of the child's mother during the four (4) months immediately preceding the birth of the child; provided, that in no instance shall a final order terminating the parental rights of a parent as determined pursuant to this subdivision (iii) be entered until at least thirty (30) days have elapsed since the date of the child's birth;

(iv) A parent or guardian is incarcerated at the time of the institution of an action or proceeding to declare a child to be an abandoned child, or the parent or guardian has been incarcerated during all or part of the four (4) months immediately preceding the institution of such action or proceeding, and either has willfully failed to visit or has willfully failed to support or has willfully failed to make reasonable payments toward the support of the child for four (4) consecutive months immediately preceding such parent's or guardian's incarceration, or the parent or guardian has engaged in conduct prior to incarceration that exhibits a wanton disregard for the welfare of the child; or

(v) The child, as a newborn infant aged seventy-two (72) hours or less, was voluntarily left at a facility by such infant's mother pursuant to § 68-11-255; and, for a period of thirty (30) days after the date of voluntary delivery, the mother failed to visit or seek contact with the infant; and, for a period of thirty (30) days after notice was given under § 36-1-142(e), and no less than ninety (90) days cumulatively, the mother failed to seek contact with the infant through the department or to revoke her voluntary delivery of the infant;

(B) For purposes of this subdivision (1), "token support" means that the support, under the circumstances of the individual case, is insignificant given the parent's means;

(C) For purposes of this subdivision (1), "token visitation" means that the visitation, under the circumstances of the individual case, constitutes nothing more than perfunctory visitation or visitation of such an infrequent nature or of such short duration as to merely establish minimal or insubstantial contact with the child;

(D) For purposes of this subdivision (1), "willfully failed to support" or "willfully failed to make reasonable payments toward such child's support" means the willful failure, for a period of four (4) consecutive months, to provide monetary support or the willful failure to provide more than token payments toward the support of the child;

(E) For purposes of this subdivision (1), "willfully failed to visit" means the willful failure, for a period of four (4) consecutive months, to visit or engage in more than token visitation;

(F) Abandonment may not be repented of by resuming visitation or support subsequent to the filing of any petition seeking to terminate parental or guardianship rights or seeking the adoption of a child;

(G) "Abandonment" and "abandonment of an infant" do not have any other definition except that which is set forth in this section, it being the intent of the general assembly to establish the only grounds for abandonment by statutory definition. Specifically, it shall not be required that a parent be shown to have evinced a settled purpose to forego all parental rights and responsibilities in order for a determination of abandonment to be made. Decisions of any court to the contrary are hereby legislatively overruled; and

(H) Every parent who is eighteen (18) years of age or older is presumed to have knowledge of a parent's legal obligation to support such parent's child or children;

(2) "Abandonment of an infant" means, for purposes of terminating parental or guardian rights, "abandonment" of a child under the age of one (1) year;

(3) "Adopted person" means:

(A) Any person who is or has been adopted under this part or under the laws of any state, territory, or foreign country; and

(B) For purposes of the processing and handling of, and access to, any adoption records, sealed adoption records, sealed records, post-adoption records, or adoption assistance records pursuant to this part, "adopted person" also includes a person for whom any of those records is maintained by the court, other persons or entities or persons authorized to conduct a surrender or revocation of surrender pursuant to this part, or which records are maintained by the department, a licensed or chartered child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or the department of health or other information source, whether an adoption petition was ever filed, whether an adoption order was ever entered, whether the adoption was ever dismissed, whether the adoption was ever finalized, or whether the adoption was attempted or was otherwise never completed due to the abandonment of any necessary activity related to the completion of the adoption;

(4) "Adoption" means the social and legal process of establishing by court order, other than by paternity or legitimation proceedings or by voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, the legal relationship of parent and child;

(5) "Adoption assistance" means the federal or state programs that exist to provide financial assistance to adoptive parents to enable them to provide a permanent home to a special needs child as defined by the department;

(6) "Adoption record" means:

(A) (i) The records, reports, or other documents maintained in any medium by the judge or clerk of the court, or by any other person pursuant to this part who is authorized to witness the execution of surrenders or revocations of surrenders, which records, reports, or documents relate to an adoption petition, a surrender or parental consent, a revocation of a surrender or parental consent, or which reasonably relate to other information concerning the adoption of a person, and which information in such records, reports, or documents exists during the pendency of an adoption or a termination of parental rights proceeding, or which records, reports, or documents exist subsequent to the conclusion of those proceedings, even if no order of adoption or order of dismissal is entered, but which records, reports or documents exist prior to those records, reports, or documents becoming a part of a sealed record or a sealed adoption record pursuant to § 36-1-126; or

(ii) The records, reports, or documents maintained in any medium by the department's social services division, or by a licensed or chartered child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker, and which records, reports, or documents contain any social, medical, legal, or other information concerning an adopted person, a person who has been placed for adoption or a person for whom adoptive placement activities are currently occurring, and which information in such records, reports, or documents exists during the pendency of an adoption or termination of parental rights proceeding, or which exists subsequent to the conclusion of those proceedings, even if no order of adoption or dismissal of an adoption has been entered, but which records, reports, or documents exist prior to those records, reports, or documents becoming sealed records or sealed adoption records pursuant to § 36-1-126;

(B) The adoption record is confidential and is not subject to disclosure by the court, by a licensed child-placing agency, by a licensed clinical social worker or by any other person or entity, except as otherwise permitted by this part; however, prior to the record's becoming a sealed record or a sealed adoption record pursuant to § 36-1-126, the adoption record may be disclosed as may be necessary for purposes directly related to the placement, care, treatment, protection, or supervision by the legal custodian, legal guardian, conservator, or other legally authorized caretaker of the person who is the subject of the adoption proceeding, or as may be necessary for the purposes directly related to legal proceedings involving the person who is subject to the jurisdiction of a court in an adoption proceeding or other legal proceeding related to an adoption, including terminations of parental rights, or as may otherwise be necessary for use in any child or adult protective services proceedings concerning the person about whom the record is maintained pursuant to titles 37 and 71;

(C) The adoption record shall not, for purposes of release of the records pursuant to §§ 36-1-127 - 36-1-141, be construed to permit access, without a court order pursuant to § 36-1-138, to home studies or preliminary home studies or any information obtained by the department, a licensed or chartered child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or other family counseling service, a physician, a psychologist, or member of the clergy, an attorney or other person in connection with a home study or preliminary home study as part of an adoption or surrender or parental consent proceeding or as part of the evaluation of prospective adoptive parents, other than those studies that are expressly included in a report to the court by such entities or persons. Information relating to the counseling of a biological mother regarding crisis pregnancy counseling shall not be included in the adoption record for purposes of release pursuant to this part without a court order pursuant to § 36-1-138;

(7) "Adoptive parent(s)" means the person(s) who have been made the legal parents of a child by the entry of an order of adoption under this part or under the provisions of the laws of any state, territory or foreign country;

(8) "Adult" means any person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older. An adult may be adopted as provided in this part;

(9) "Aggravated circumstances" means abandonment, abandonment of an infant, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated child abuse and neglect, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated rape, rape, rape of a child, incest, or severe child abuse, as defined at § 37-1-102;

(10) "Biological parents" means the woman and man who physically or genetically conceived the child who is the subject of the adoption or termination proceedings or who conceived the child who has made a request for information pursuant to this part;

(11) "Biological relative" means:

(A) For adopted persons for whom any adoption records, sealed adoption records, sealed records, or post-adoption records are maintained: the biological parents or child of an adopted person or person for whom any adoption record, sealed record, sealed adoption record or post-adoption record is maintained, the brothers or sisters of the whole or half blood, the blood grandparents of any degree, the blood aunts or uncles, or the blood cousins of the first degree, of such persons; and

(B) For persons about whom any background information is sought as part of the surrender or parental consent process: the biological parents of the child, the brothers or sisters of the whole or half blood, the blood grandparents of any degree, or the blood aunts or uncles;

(12) "Chartered child-placing agency" means an agency that had received a charter from the state of Tennessee through legislative action or by incorporation for the operation of an entity or a program of any type that engaged in the placement of children for foster care or residential care as part of a plan or program for which those children were or could have been made available for adoptive placement and that may have, at sometime during its existence, become subject to any licensing requirements by the department or its predecessors;

(13) "Child" or "children" means any person or persons under eighteen (18) years of age;

(14) "Child caring agency" means any agency authorized by law to care for children outside their own homes for twenty-four (24) hours per day;

(15) "Consent" means:

(A) The written authorization to relinquish a child for adoption, which is given by an agency such as the department or a public child care agency of another state or country or licensed child-placing agency of this or another state, which agency has the authority, by court order or by surrender or by operation of law or by any combination of these, to place a child for adoption and to give permission for the adoption of that child by other persons;

(B) The written permission of a parent pursuant to § 36-1-117(f) to permit the adoption of that parent's child by that parent's relative or by the parent's spouse who is the child's stepparent;

(C) The process as described in § 36-1-117(g) by which a parent co-signs an adoption petition, with the prospective adoptive parents, for the purpose of agreeing to make the child available for adoption by the co-petitioning prospective adoptive parents, and that permits the court to enter an order of guardianship to give the adoptive parents custody and supervision of the child pending the completion or dismissal of the adoption proceedings or pending revocation of the consent by the parent. This process shall be called a "parental consent";

(D) The permission of a child fourteen (14) years of age or older given to the court, in chambers, before the entry of an order of adoption of such child;

(E) The permission of a guardian ad litem for a disabled child or an adult permitting the adoption of those persons pursuant to the procedures of § 36-1-117(i) and (j);

(F) The sworn, written permission of an adult person filed with the court where the adoption petition is filed that seeks the adoption of the adult; or

(G) The agreement for contact by the parties to the post-adoption records search procedures that may be required in §§ 36-1-127 - 36-1-141;

(16) (A) "Court" means the chancery or circuit court; provided, that "court" includes the juvenile court for purposes of the authority to accept the surrender or revocation of surrenders of a child and to issue any orders of reference, orders of guardianship, or other orders resulting from a surrender or revocation that it accepts and for purposes of authorizing the termination of parental rights pursuant to § 36-1-113; title 37, chapter 1, part 1; and title 37, chapter 2, part 4;

(B) All appeals of any orders relative to the juvenile court's actions in taking a surrender or revocation or in terminating parental rights shall be made to the court of appeals as provided by law; or

(C) A juvenile court referee, appointed by the juvenile judge pursuant to the provisions of title 37, shall have authority to take a surrender of a child and to take a revocation of such surrender, and no order of confirmation by the juvenile judge of the orders concerning surrenders and revocations shall be required; provided, that the referee's order recommending termination of parental rights shall require an order of confirmation by the juvenile judge;

(17) "Court report" means the report to the adoption or surrender court in response to an order of reference that describes to the court the status of the child and the prospective adoptive parents or the persons to whom the child is surrendered. Such a report may be preliminary, supplementary, or final in nature. The court report shall not include the home study or preliminary home study, but instead shall include a summary of such study;

(18) "Department" means the department of children's services or any of its divisions or units;

(19) "Eligible person" means, for purposes of §§ 36-1-125 - 36-1-141, a person who is verified by the department as being in the class of individuals who is permitted by this part to receive access to records;

(20) "Final court report" means a written document completed by the department or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker after submission of any prior court reports in response to the court's order of reference. It gives information concerning the status of the child in the home of the prospective adoptive parents and gives a full explanation to the court of the suitability of the prospective adoptive parent(s) to adopt the child who is the subject of the adoption petition. The final court report is designed to bring the status of the proposed adoptive home and the child up to date immediately prior to finalization of the adoption and should be the last report the court receives before finalization of the adoption by entry of an order of adoption;

(21) "Financially able" means that the petitioners for adoption of a child are able, by use of any and all income and economic resources of the petitioners, including, but not limited to, assistance from public or private sources, to ensure that any physical, emotional, or special needs of the child are met;

(22) Foster care has the meaning given to that term in § 37-1-102; provided, that no plan or permanency plan, as defined in § 37-2-402, shall be required in the case of foster care provided by or in any agency, institution or home in connection with an adoption of a child, so long as a petition for the adoption of that child by an individual or individuals to whom care of that child has been given is filed in a court of competent jurisdiction within six (6) months of the time that child first comes into the care of the agency, institution or home;

(23) Foster parent has the meaning given to that term in § 37-1-102;

(24) (A) "Guardian(s)" or "co-guardian(s)" means a person or persons or an entity, other than the parent of a child, appointed by a court or defined by law specifically as "guardian" or "co-guardian" or "conservator" to provide supervision, protection for and care for the person or property, or both, of a child or adult;

(B) "Guardian" or "co-guardian" also means a person or entity appointed as guardian(s) as the result of a surrender, parental consent, or termination of parental rights;

(C) The rights of the individual guardian or co-guardian or conservator of the person of a minor child or of an adult must be terminated by a surrender or court action before an order of adoption can be entered; provided, that an individual or individuals who receive(s) guardianship pursuant to a surrender, parental consent, or termination of parental rights pursuant to this part or title 37 need not give consent to the adoption when that individual is the petitioner in an adoption;

(D) When the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or a child-caring agency is the guardian of the child, its rights must be terminated by court action or it must provide consent as defined in subdivision (15)(A) before an adoption can be ordered;

(25) (A) "Guardianship" or "co-guardianship" means, for purposes of subdivision (24), a person or entity having the status of being a guardian or co-guardian who or which is responsible for the provision of supervision, protection, and assistance to the person of a child under this part or under other provisions of the law of this or any other jurisdiction;

(B) Guardianship as a result of a surrender, consent, or termination of parental rights pursuant to this part or title 37 or the law of any other jurisdiction may be "complete" or "partial";

(C) (i) A person or entity has "complete" guardianship for the purpose of permitting a court to order an adoption when all necessary parental or guardianship rights have been terminated by surrender, by consent, by waiver of interest, or by involuntary termination of parental rights proceedings by a court or otherwise, and the court(s) with jurisdiction to do so enters an order or orders granting guardianship status to the person or entity;

(ii) Complete guardianship pursuant to a surrender or consent under this part or pursuant to the termination of the rights of a parent or guardian of a child under this part or under title 37, and pursuant to the entry of an order of guardianship as provided in this part, shall entitle the person or entity to the right to care for the child as provided under § 37-1-140 or as otherwise provided by the court order, and shall permit the entity to place the child for adoption and to consent to the adoption, or shall permit the individual to be granted an adoption of the child, and shall authorize the court to proceed with and grant an adoption, without further termination of parental or guardian rights;

(D) (i) A person or entity has "partial guardianship" when a surrender or consent has been received from at least one (1), but not all, parents or guardians of the child, or when a court-ordered termination of parental or guardianship rights has been obtained against at least one (1), but not all, parents or guardians of the child, and the court has entered an order granting guardianship of the child to the petitioning person or entity, and the remaining parent or guardian of the child has not executed a surrender or consent or the child's parental or guardianship rights have not been terminated by waiver of interest pursuant to this part, court order, or otherwise;

(ii) Partial guardianship obtained pursuant to a surrender or consent or pursuant to an order terminating less than all parental rights, and an order of partial guardianship pursuant to this part or pursuant to title 37 shall entitle the person or entity to provide care, supervision, and protection of the child pursuant to the provisions of § 37-1-140, or to the extent permitted by the court order granting partial guardianship, but it shall not be effective to allow full consent to an adoption by an entity without termination by surrender or court order or otherwise of the remaining parental or guardianship rights of other parents or guardians, and shall not authorize the court to grant an adoption to an individual until all remaining parental or guardianship rights have been surrendered, terminated, or otherwise ended; provided, that the department or licensed child-placing entity may place a child for adoption with prospective adoptive parents and may consent to the adoption of the child by those prospective adoptive parents when the department or the licensed child-placing agency has partial guardianship, and the prospective adoptive parents then shall be required to obtain complete guardianship of the child by surrender, termination of parental rights, waiver of interest, or parental consent to effect the adoption of the child;

(26) "Home study" means the product of a preparation process in which individuals or families are assessed by themselves and the department or licensed child-placing agency, or a licensed clinical social worker as to their suitability for adoption and their desires with regard to the child they wish to adopt. The home study shall conform to the requirements set forth in the rules of the department and it becomes a written document that is used in the decision to approve or deny a particular home for adoptive placement. The home study may be the basis on which the court report recommends approval or denial to the court of the family as adoptive parents. A court report based upon any home study conducted by a licensed child-placing agency, licensed clinical social worker or the department that has been completed or updated within one (1) year prior to the date of the surrender or order of reference shall be accepted by the court for purposes of §§ 36-1-111 and 36-1-116. The home study shall be confidential, and at the conclusion of the adoption proceeding shall be forwarded to the department to be kept under seal pursuant to § 36-1-126, and shall be subject to disclosure only upon order entered pursuant to § 36-1-138;

(27) "Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)" means the provisions of §§ 37-4-201 - 37-4-207 relating to the placement of a child between states for the purposes of foster care or adoption. The ICPC is administered in Tennessee by the department through its state office in Nashville;

(28) "Legal parent" means:

(A) The biological mother of a child;

(B) A man who is or has been married to the biological mother of the child if the child was born during the marriage or within three hundred (300) days after the marriage was terminated for any reason, or if the child was born after a decree of separation was entered by a court;

(C) A man who attempted to marry the biological mother of the child before the child's birth by a marriage apparently in compliance with the law, even if the marriage is declared invalid, if the child was born during the attempted marriage or within three hundred (300) days after the termination of the attempted marriage for any reason;

(D) A man who has been adjudicated to be the legal father of the child by any court or administrative body of this state or any other state or territory or foreign country or who has signed, pursuant to §§ 24-7-113, 68-3-203(g), 68-3-302 or 68-3-305(b), an unrevoked and sworn acknowledgment of paternity under the provisions of Tennessee law, or who has signed such a sworn acknowledgment pursuant to the law of any other state, territory, or foreign country;

(E) An adoptive parent of a child or adult; or

(F) A man shall not be a legal parent of a child based solely on blood, genetic, or DNA testing determining that he is the biological parent of the child without either a court order or voluntary acknowledgement of paternity pursuant to § 24-7-113. Such test may provide a basis for an order establishing paternity by a court of competent jurisdiction, pursuant to the requirements of § 24-7-112;

(29) "Legal relative" means the person who is included in the class of persons set forth in the definition of "biological relative" or "legal parent," and who, at the time a request for search services or information is made pursuant to §§ 36-1-127 - 36-1-131, and 36-1-133 - 36-1-138, is related to the adopted person by any legal relationship established by law, court order, or by marriage, but specifically includes, in addition, a stepparent; or the spouse of any legal relative;

(30) (A) "Legal representative" means:

(i) The conservator, guardian, legal custodian, or other person or entity with legal authority to make decisions for an individual with a disability or an attorney-in-fact, an attorney at law representing a person for purposes of obtaining information pursuant to this part, or the legally appointed administrator, executor, or other legally appointed representative of a person's estate; or

(ii) Any person acting under any durable power of attorney for health care purposes or any person appointed to represent a person and acting pursuant to a living will;

(B) For purposes of this subdivision (30)(A), "disability" means that the individual is a minor pursuant to any state, territorial, or federal law, or the law of any foreign country, or that the individual has been determined by any such laws to be in need of a person or entity to care for the individual due to that individual's physical or mental incapacity or infirmity;

(31) "Licensed child-placing agency" means any agency operating under a license to place children for adoption issued by the department, or operating under a license from any governmental authority from any other state or territory or the District of Columbia, or any agency that operates under the authority of another country with the right to make placement of children for adoption and that has, in the department's sole determination, been authorized to place children for adoption in this state;

(32) "Licensed clinical social worker" means an individual who holds a license as an independent practitioner from the board of social worker certification and licensure pursuant to title 63, chapter 23, and, in addition, is licensed by the department to provide foster care placement services and adoption placement services;

(33) "Lineal ancestor" means any degree of grandparent or great-grandparent, either by birth or adoption;

(34) "Lineal descendant" means a person who descended directly from another person who is the biological or adoptive ancestor of such person, such as the daughter of the daughter's mother or granddaughter of the granddaughter's grandmother;

(35) "Order of reference" means the order from the court where the surrender is executed or filed or where the adoption petition is filed that directs the department or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker to conduct a home study or preliminary home study or to complete a report of the status of the child who is or may be the subject of an adoption proceeding, and that seeks information as to the suitability of the prospective adoptive parents to adopt a child;

(36) "Parent(s)" means any biological, legal, adoptive parent(s) or, for purposes of §§ 36-1-127 - 36-1-141, stepparents;

(37) "Parental consent" means the consent described in subdivision (15)(C);

(38) "Parental rights" means the legally recognized rights and responsibilities to act as a parent, to care for, to name, and to claim custodial rights with respect to a child;

(39) "Post-adoption record" means:

(A) The record maintained in any medium by the department, separately from the sealed record or sealed adoption record and subsequent to the sealing of an adoption record or that is maintained about any sealed record or sealed adoption record. The post-adoption record contains information, including, but not limited to, adopted persons or the legal or biological relatives of adopted persons, or about persons for whom sealed records or sealed adoption records are maintained, or about persons who are seeking information about adopted persons, or persons on whom a sealed record or sealed adoption record is maintained. The post-adoption record contains information concerning, but not limited to, the contact veto registry established by this part, the written inquiries from persons requesting access to records, the search efforts of the department pursuant to the requirements of the contact veto process, the response to those search efforts by those persons sought, information that has been requested to be transmitted from or on behalf of any person entitled to access to records pursuant to this part, any updated medical information gathered pursuant to this part, court orders related to the opening of any sealed adoption records or sealed records, and personal identifying information concerning any persons subject to the provisions of this part;

(B) The limited record maintained by the licensed or chartered child-placing agency or a licensed clinical social worker pursuant to § 36-1-126(b)(2), that indicates the child's date of birth, the date the agency received the child for placement, from whom the child was received and such person's last known address, with whom the child was placed and such person's or entity's last known address, and the court in which the adoption proceeding was filed and the date the adoption order was entered or the adoption petition dismissed; and

(C) This record is confidential and shall be opened only as provided in this part;

(40) (A) "Preliminary home study" means an initial home study conducted prior to or, in limited situations, immediately after, the placement of a child with prospective adoptive parents who have not previously been subject to a home study that was conducted or updated not less than six (6) months prior to the date a surrender is sought to be executed to the prospective adoptive parents or prior to the date of the filing of the adoption petition;

(B) The preliminary home study is designed to obtain an early and temporary initial assessment of the basic ability of prospective adoptive parents to provide adequate care for a child who is proposed to be adopted by those prospective adoptive parents, and is utilized only for the purpose of approval of surrenders or for purposes of responding to an order of reference pursuant to § 36-1-116(e)(2), or for purposes of entering a guardianship order under § 36-1-116(f)(3);

(C) The preliminary home study shall consist of a minimum of two (2) visits with the prospective adoptive parents, at least one (1) of which shall be in the home of the prospective adoptive parents, and the study shall support the conclusion that no apparent reason exists why the prospective adoptive parents would not be fit parents for the child who is the subject of the adoption. To be valid for use as the basis for a court report in connection with a surrender or a parental consent, the preliminary home study must have been completed or updated within thirty (30) days prior to the date the surrender is accepted or the parental consent is executed or confirmed or the guardianship order is entered. The home study shall be confidential, and, at the conclusion of the adoption proceeding, shall be forwarded to the department to be kept under seal pursuant to § 36-1-126, and shall be subject to disclosure only upon order entered pursuant to § 36-1-138;

(41) "Prospective adoptive parents" means a non-agency person or persons who are seeking to adopt a child and who have made application with a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker or the department for approval, or who have been previously approved, to receive a child for adoption, or who have received or who expect to receive a surrender of a child, or who have filed a petition for termination or for adoption;

(42) "Related" means grandparents or any degree of great-grandparents, aunts or uncles, or any degree of great-aunts or great-uncles, or stepparent, or cousins of the first degree or any siblings of the whole or half-degree or any spouse of the above listed relatives;

(43) (A) "Sealed adoption record" means:

(i) The adoption record as it exists subsequent to its transmittal to the department, or subsequent to its sealing by the court, pursuant to the requirements of § 36-1-126; or

(ii) The limited record maintained by the licensed or chartered child-placing agency or a licensed clinical social worker pursuant to § 36-1-126(b)(2);

(B) This record is confidential and shall be opened only as provided in this part;

(C) The sealed adoption record shall not, for purposes of release of the records pursuant to §§ 36-1-127 - 36-1-141, be construed to permit access, without a court order pursuant to § 36-1-138, to home studies or preliminary home studies or any information obtained by the department, a licensed or chartered child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or other family counseling service, a physician, a psychologist, or member of the clergy, an attorney or other person in connection with a home study or preliminary home study as part of an adoption or surrender or parental consent proceeding or as part of the evaluation of prospective adoptive parents, other than those studies that are expressly included in a report to the court by such entities or persons. Information relating to the counseling of a biological mother regarding crisis pregnancy counseling shall not be included in the adoption record for purposes of release pursuant to this part without a court order pursuant to § 36-1-138;

(44) (A) "Sealed record" means:

(i) Any records, reports, or documents that are maintained at any time by a court, a court clerk, a licensed or chartered child-placing agency, licensed clinical social worker, the department, the department of health, or any other information source concerning the foster care or agency care placement, or placement for adoption, of a person by any branch of the Tennessee children's home society authorized by Public Chapter 113 (1919); or

(ii) Any records, reports, or documents maintained by a judge, a court clerk, the department, a licensed or chartered child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, the department of health, or any other information source that consist of adoption records or information about an adoption proceeding or a termination of parental rights proceeding about an adopted person, or that contain information about a person who was placed for adoption but for whom no adoption order was entered or for whom an adoption proceeding was dismissed or for whom an adoption was not otherwise completed, or that contain information concerning persons in the care of any person or agency, and which records have otherwise been treated and maintained by those persons or entities under prior law, practice, policy, or custom as confidential, nonpublic adoption records, sealed adoption records, or post-adoption records of the person, or that may be otherwise currently treated and maintained by those persons or entities as confidential, nonpublic adoption records, sealed adoption records or post-adoption records of the person; or

(iii) The limited record maintained by the licensed or chartered child-placing agency or a licensed clinical social worker pursuant to § 36-1-126(b)(2);

(B) This record is confidential and shall be opened only as provided in this part;

(C) The sealed record shall not, for purposes of release of the records pursuant to §§ 36-1-127 - 36-1-141, be construed to permit access, without a court order pursuant to § 36-1-138, to home studies or preliminary home studies or any information obtained by the department, a licensed or chartered child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or other family counseling service, a physician, a psychologist, or member of the clergy, an attorney or other person in connection with a home study or preliminary home study as part of an adoption or surrender or parental consent proceeding or as part of the evaluation of prospective adoptive parents, other than those studies that are expressly included in a report to the court by such entities or persons. Information relating to the counseling of a biological mother regarding crisis pregnancy counseling shall not be included in the adoption record for purposes of release pursuant to this part without a court order pursuant to § 36-1-138;

(45) "Sibling" means anyone having a sibling relationship;

(46) "Sibling relationship" means the biological or legal relationship between persons who have a common biological or legal parent;

(47) "Surrender" means a document executed under the provisions of § 36-1-111, or under the laws of another state or territory or country, by the parent or guardian of a child, by which that parent or guardian relinquishes all parental or guardianship rights of that parent or guardian to a child, to another person or public child care agency or licensed child-placing agency for the purposes of making that child available for adoption; and

(48) (A) "Surrogate birth" means:

(i) The union of the wife's egg and the husband's sperm, which are then placed in another woman, who carries the fetus to term and who, pursuant to a contract, then relinquishes all parental rights to the child to the biological parents pursuant to the terms of the contract; or

(ii) The insemination of a woman by the sperm of a man under a contract by which the parties state their intent that the woman who carries the fetus shall relinquish the child to the biological father and the biological father's wife to parent;

(B) No surrender pursuant to this part is necessary to terminate any parental rights of the woman who carried the child to term under the circumstances described in this subdivision (48) and no adoption of the child by the biological parent(s) is necessary;

(C) Nothing in this subdivision (48) shall be construed to expressly authorize the surrogate birth process in Tennessee unless otherwise approved by the courts or the general assembly.

Acts 1951, ch. 202, §§ 2, 40 (Williams, §§ 9572.16, 9572.52); 1961, ch. 227, § 1; 1972, ch. 612, § 7; 1972, ch. 624, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; 1976, ch. 394, § 1; modified; Acts 1978, ch. 704, § 1; 1983, ch. 435, § 7; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-102; Acts 1990, ch. 988, § 1; 1993, ch. 124, §§ 5, 6; § 36-1-102; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, §§ 3-15, 104; 1996, ch. 1079, § 69; 1998, ch. 1097, §§ 2, 3; 2000, ch. 981, § 51; 2001, ch. 388, § 4; 2002, ch. 630, § 1; 2003, ch. 231, §§ 1-4; 2009, ch. 235, § 1; 2009, ch. 411, §§ 1-3; 2010, ch. 760, §§ 1, 2; 2010, ch. 887, § 2; 2010, ch. 888, § 1; 2010, ch. 924, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2009, ch. 235, § 1 directed the code commission to revise appropriate references from �child support referees� and �juvenile referees� to �child support magistrates� and �juvenile magistrates� in the code as supplements are published and volumes are replaced.

Acts 2009, ch. 411, § 12 provided that the act, which amended §§ 36-1-102, 36-1-108, 37-1-102, 37-2-402 and added new § 37-1-183, shall apply to conduct covered by the provisions of the act that occurs on or after July 1, 2009. The eighteen (18) month time period set out in § 37-1-102(b)(12)(J) shall not commence until July 1, 2009.

 

36-1-103. Prior adoptions and terminations of parental rights involving minors and prior adoptions of adults ratified.

(a) All proceedings for the adoption of children in the courts of this state, including any proceedings that terminated parental or guardianship rights, are hereby validated and confirmed and the orders and judgments entered therein prior to January 1, 1996, are declared to be binding upon all parties to the proceedings and such parties' privies and all other persons, until such orders or judgments shall be vacated as provided by law; provided, that this section does not apply to adoption proceedings or terminations of parental rights proceedings actually pending on January 1, 1996, in which the validity of a prior adoption or termination of parental rights proceeding is at issue.

(b) Adoptions and terminations of parental rights pending on January 1, 1996, and surrenders and consents executed prior to January 1, 1996, shall be governed by prior existing law.

(c) All adoptions of persons who are adults as of January 1, 1996, that were completed before January 1, 1996, in the courts of this state, pursuant to the then-existing provisions of this part, are hereby in all things ratified and confirmed.

(d) Notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary, surrenders taken and adoptions filed on or after January 1, 1996, and before October 1, 1996, which complied with the prior adoption law that was in effect on December 31, 1995, are in all things ratified and confirmed and shall be valid and lawful; provided, that this section does not apply to adoption proceedings or terminations of parental rights proceedings actually pending on January 1, 1996, in which the validity of a prior adoption or termination of parental rights proceeding is at issue. It is the intent of the general assembly to prevent any declaration of invalidity of any surrenders or adoptions taken or filed on or after January 1, 1996, and before October 1, 1996, for failure to properly comply with the provisions of Chapter 532 of the Public Acts of 1995, which took effect on January 1, 1996, and which amended prior adoption law and procedures. This section is remedial legislation and shall have retrospective effect in order to promote the public welfare and to preserve the permanency of adoptive placements for children.

[Acts 1965, ch. 152, § 1; T.C.A., § 36-138; Acts 1978, ch. 704, § 2; T.C.A., § 36-139; § 36-1-138; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, § 105.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-103, concerning persons to whom part is applicable, was transferred to § 36-1-107, effective January 1, 1996.

 

36-1-104. Withholding of material information concerning the status of the parents or guardian of a child subject to surrender, termination of parental rights or adoption - Misdemeanor.

Any person who, upon request by any party to an adoption or the party's agent or attorney, a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker, the department, or the court, knowingly and willfully withholds any information related to the child who is the subject of a surrender, a termination of parental rights, or an adoption proceeding, or who knowingly and willfully withholds any material information concerning the identity, status, or whereabouts of the child's parent(s) or guardian(s), or who knowingly and willfully gives false information concerning the child or the identity, status, or whereabouts of the child's parents or guardian commits a Class A misdemeanor. Nothing herein shall be construed to require any person or agency to disclose any information, the confidentiality or privilege of which is protected by any state or federal law or regulation.

[Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, § 16.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-104, concerning venue, was transferred to § 36-1-114.


36-1-105. Violation of criminal provisions of part by state employee - Dismissal.

Any employee of the state of Tennessee who is convicted of the violation of any of the criminal provisions of this part shall be instantly dismissed from the state service and shall never again be eligible for employment in state service.

[Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-105, concerning petition for adoption, was transferred to § 36-1-115.

36-1-106. Readoption.

(a) Any minor child who was previously adopted under the laws of any jurisdiction may be subsequently readopted in accordance with the provisions of this part.

(b) With respect to a child sought to be adopted a second time or subsequent time by new adoptive parents, all provisions in this part relating to the biological parents or legal parents or guardians shall apply to the prior adoptive parents, except that in no case of readoption shall a biological or legal parent or guardian whose rights were previously terminated before the child was initially adopted and whose rights were not subsequently restored be made a party to the new adoption proceeding, nor shall such person's surrender, parental consent, or waiver of interest be necessary. The prior adoptive parents whose rights have not been previously terminated and any other persons who otherwise would be entitled to notice pursuant to this part subsequent to the previous adoption of the child shall be the only necessary parties to the new termination or adoption proceedings and only their surrenders or parental consent, or the termination of their rights, shall be necessary.

(c) (1) With respect to a child sought to be readopted under the laws of this state who has been previously adopted pursuant to the laws of a foreign country, the circuit and chancery courts are specifically authorized to enter new orders of adoption as they may be required for purposes of compliance with any requirements of the government of the United States for children who were adopted in foreign countries. In such instances, if an adoption was conducted in accordance with the laws of the foreign jurisdiction, no further termination of parental rights of the child's parents or guardians need be made, no home study need be conducted, no court report need be made and no time period for which an adoption petition must be on file before a final adoption order is entered shall be required. Further, no consultation of the putative father registry maintained by the department shall be required, and the affidavits otherwise required by § 36-1-120(b)(1) and (2) need not be filed, if the attorney, social worker, or child-placing agency, as the case may be, that provided professional services in the underlying foreign adoption, does not maintain an office in the United States.

(2) (A) When a Tennessee resident adopts a child in a foreign country in accordance with the laws of the foreign country and such adoption is recognized as full and final by the United States government, such resident may file, with a petition, a copy of the decree, order or certificate of adoption that evidences finalization of the adoption in the foreign country, together with a certified translation of the decree, order or certificate of adoption, if it is not in English, and proof of full and final adoption from the United States government, with the clerk of the chancery or circuit court of any county in this state having jurisdiction over the person or persons filing such documents.

(B) The court shall assign a docket number and file and enter the documents referenced in subdivision (c)(2)(A) with an order recognizing such foreign adoption without the necessity of a hearing. Such order, along with the final decree, order or certificate from the foreign country, shall have the same force and effect as if a final order of readoption were granted in accordance with the provisions of this part.

(C) When the order referenced in subdivision (c)(2)(B) is filed and entered, the adoptive parents may request a report of foreign birth pursuant to § 68-3-310 by submitting an application for report of foreign birth.

(D) Individuals obtaining a report of foreign birth under the provisions of subdivision (c)(2)(C) are exempt from the disclosure of fees requirements of § 36-1-116(b)(16).

[Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 31 (Williams, § 9572.45); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-137; Acts 1978, ch. 704, § 2; T.C.A. orig. ed.), § 36-138; § 36-1-137; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, § 17; 2003, ch. 231, § 5; 2005, ch. 137, § 1.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-106 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 15 (Williams, § 9572.29); 1959, ch. 223, § 2; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-106; Acts 1986, ch. 767, § 6), concerning disclosure of adoption records, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1.

36-1-107. Persons to whom this part is applicable.

(a) Any person, irrespective of place of birth, citizenship, or place of residence, may be adopted or readopted in accordance with the provisions of this part.

(b) A single person may file a petition for the adoption of a child.

(c) An adult may be adopted.

[Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 3 (Williams, § 9572.17); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-103; § 36-1-103; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-107 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 14 (Williams, § 9572.28); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-107), concerning name of child used in adoption proceedings, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1.


36-1-108. Entities authorized to place children for adoption - Advisory and agency capacity authorized - Injunction to stop illegal payments.

(a)(1) No person, corporation, agency, or other entity, except the department or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker, as defined in § 36-1-102, shall engage in the placement of children for adoption; provided, that this section shall not be construed to prohibit any person from advising parents of a child or prospective adoptive parents of the availability of adoption, or from acting as an agent or attorney for the parents of a child or prospective adoptive parents in making necessary arrangements for adoption so long as no remuneration, fees, contributions, or things of value are given to or received from any person or entity for such service other than usual and customary legal and medical fees in connection with the birth of the child or other pregnancy-related expenses, or for counseling for the parents and/or the child, and for the legal proceedings related to the adoption.

(2) Only a licensed child placing agency, as defined in § 36-1-102, a licensed clinical social worker, as defined in § 36-1-102, prospective adoptive parents, or a lawyer who is subject to the Tennessee supreme court rules regarding lawyer advertising may advertise for the placement of children for adoption in this state. In order to advertise for the placement of children for adoption in Tennessee, out-of-state licensed child placing agencies, licensed clinical social workers or lawyers must:

(A) Be authorized to do business in this state under respective licensing laws; and

(B) Maintain a physical office within this state or incur expenses involved in the transportation of a licensing consultant to the closest physical office of the agency, social worker or lawyer.

(3) Any advertisement in this state for the placement of children for adoption in another state by an agency or individual not licensed or authorized to do such business in this state shall clearly state that the agency or individual is not licensed or authorized to do such business in this state.

(b) "Placement of a child or children for adoption" means, for purposes of this section and § 36-1-109 and for licensing purposes in title 37, chapter 5, part 5, and for § 37-5-507, that a person, corporation, agency, or other entity is employed, contracted, or engaged, in any manner for any remuneration, fee, contribution, or thing of value, of any type by, or on behalf of, any person:

(1) In the selection of prospective adoptive parents for a child by determining the relative qualifications of prospective adoptive parents in a decision by that person, corporation, agency, or other entity to place any child or children, including specifically, but not limited to, the preparation of home studies, preliminary home studies, court reports for surrenders or adoptions, or the provision of supervision of a child in a foster home or adoptive home as part of the adoptive process; or

(2) (A) In the business of arranging services or assistance directed primarily, and not as an incidental part of its primary business, toward bringing to or placing with prospective adoptive parents a child or children for the purpose of foster care leading to adoption or as an adoptive placement for a child or children, including, but not limited to, advertising for such services, accepting clients for a fee, or providing any placing services for a fee.

(B) Nothing in subdivision (b)(2)(A) shall include the provision of reasonable and necessary legal services related to the adoption proceedings, or medical or counseling services for the child or the parent in connection with the child's birth or in connection with the parent's decision to relinquish the child for adoption or for counseling services for the prospective adoptive parents.

(c) (1) Any court of competent jurisdiction, upon the filing of a sworn complaint by the department or by a licensed child-placing agency, or by any person aggrieved, may temporarily enjoin or restrain any person, corporation, agency, or other entity from engaging or attempting to engage in placing children for adoption in violation or in threatened violation of this part or title 71, chapter 3, part 5, and upon final hearing, if the court determines that there has been a violation, or threatened violation, thereof, the injunction shall be made permanent.

(2) If the court finds that any person, corporation, agency, or other entity has engaged in the illegal placement of children for adoption, that person, corporation, agency, or other entity shall be liable for all the costs of the legal proceedings and for all attorney fees for private persons or private agencies who brought the action, or for the cost of attorney and staff time for the department, involved in the proceeding.

(d) (1) In order to allow the prospective adoptive parents to have information available to them to permit informed choices regarding the employment of persons or entities involved in the placement of children, or in counseling, or in the provision of legal services, the department shall collect the information concerning fees or other costs charged by licensed child-placing agencies, licensed clinical social workers, attorneys, and counseling services that are disclosed in accordance with §§ 36-1-111(k)(4)(A), 36-1-116(b)(16) and 36-1-120(b).

(2) This information shall be used by the department to develop an informational database in order for the department to provide, upon request of prospective adoptive parents or other interested persons, information concerning fees charged for home studies, placement services, counseling and legal fees. Such information shall be made available by the department in written form to any person so requesting. No employee of the department shall make any recommendation regarding or comment upon any information concerning such attorney, licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker.

(3) The department is specifically authorized to promulgate rules pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, to regulate fees charged by licensed child-placing agencies and licensed clinical social workers or their practices, if it determines that the practices of those licensed child-placing agencies or licensed clinical social workers demonstrate that the fees charged are excessive or that any of the agency's practices are deceptive or misleading; provided, that such rules regarding fees shall take into account the use of any sliding fee by an agency or licensed clinical social worker that or who uses a sliding fee procedure to permit prospective adoptive parents of varying income levels to utilize the services of such agencies or persons.

(4) The department shall promulgate rules pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, to require that all licensed child-placing agencies and licensed clinical social workers provide written disclosures to all prospective adoptive parents of any fees or other charges for each service performed by the agency or person, and file an annual report with the department that states the fees and charges for those services, and to require them to inform the department in writing thirty (30) days in advance of any proposed changes to the fees or charges for those services.

(5) The department is specifically authorized to disclose to prospective adoptive parents or other interested persons any fees charged by any licensed child-placing agency, licensed clinical social worker, attorney or counseling service or counselor for all legal and counseling services provided by that licensed child-placing agency, licensed clinical social worker, attorney or counseling service or counselor.

Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 36 (Williams, § 9572.50); impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-135; Acts 1986, ch. 767, § 9; T.C.A., § 36-1-134; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, §§ 18, 127; 2000, ch. 981, § 54; 2009, ch. 411, § 4; 2009, ch. 519, §§ 1, 2.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-108, concerning parties to proceedings, consent of parent or guardian, and service of process, was transferred to § 36-1-117.

Acts 2009, ch. 411, § 12 provided that the act, which amended §§ 36-1-102, 36-1-108, 37-1-102, 37-2-402 and added new § 37-1-183, shall apply to conduct covered by the provisions of the act that occurs on or after July 1, 2009. The eighteen (18) month time period set out in § 37-1-102(b)(12)(J) shall not commence until July 1, 2009.


36-1-109. Illegal payments in connection with placement of child - Penalty.

(a) It is unlawful for any person, corporation, agency, or other entity other than the department or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker, as defined in § 36-1-102, that is subject to regulation by the department to:

(1) (A) Charge or receive from or on behalf of any person or persons legally adopting or accepting a child for adoption any remuneration, fee, contribution, or thing of value whatsoever for rendering any service described in § 36-1-108 in connection with the placement of such child for adoption or in connection with the placement of such child for foster care or adoption with one other than the child's parent(s) other than that now or hereafter allowed by law;

(B) (i) This section shall not be construed to prohibit the payment by any interested person of reasonable charges or fees for hospital or medical services for the birth of the child, or for medical care and other reasonable birth-related expenses for the mother and/or child incident thereto, for reasonable counseling fees for the parents or prospective adoptive parents and/or child, for reasonable legal services or the reasonable costs of legal proceedings related to the adoption of any child or for reasonable, actual expenses for housing, food, maternity clothing, child's clothing, utilities or transportation for a reasonable period not to exceed ninety (90) days prior to or forty-five (45) days after the birth or surrender or parental consent to the adoption of the child, unless a court with jurisdiction for the surrender or adoption of a child, based upon detailed affidavits of a birth mother and the prospective adoptive parents and such other evidence as the court may require, specifically approves in a written order, based upon a motion filed by the prospective adoptive parents for that purpose, any expenses specifically allowed in this subdivision (a)(1)(B) for a period prior to or after the periods noted above.

(ii) Such expenses must be incurred directly in connection with the maternity, birth, and/or placement of the child for adoption, or for legal services or for costs of legal proceedings directly related to the adoption of the child, or for counseling for a period of up to one (1) year for the parent who surrenders the child or consents to the adoption of the child;

(iii) The payment for such expenses may only be for expenses or costs actually incurred during the periods permitted in subdivisions (a)(1)(B)(i) and (ii). This shall not be construed to prohibit the actual payment or receipt of payment for such expenses or costs after those periods that were actually incurred during those periods.

(2) Sell or surrender a child to another person for money or anything of value; and it is unlawful for any person to receive such minor child for such payment of money or thing of value; provided, that nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting any person who is contemplating adopting a child not yet born or surrendered or for whom a parental consent may be given from payment of the expenses set forth in subdivision (a)(1)(B);

(3) Having the rights and duties of a parent or guardian with respect to the care and custody of a minor child, assign or transfer such parental or guardianship rights for the purpose of, incidental to, or otherwise connected with, selling or offering to sell such rights and duties for money or anything of value; or

(4) Assist in the commission of any acts prohibited in subdivision (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(3).

(b) A violation of this section is a Class C felony.

(c) Any adoption completed before March 27, 1978, shall not be affected by this section.

[Acts 1978, ch. 704, § 2; T.C.A., § 36-136; Acts 1992, ch. 1019, § 1; T.C.A., § 36-1-135; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, § 19; 2003, ch. 231, § 6.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-109, concerning parents under eighteen, was transferred to § 36-1-110.

36-1-110. Parent under eighteen years of age - Surrender.

(a) A parent who has not reached eighteen (18) years of age shall have the legal capacity to surrender a child or otherwise give parental consent to adoption or execute a waiver of interest and to release such parent's rights to a child, and shall be as fully bound thereby as if the parent had attained eighteen (18) years of age.

(b) The court shall have the authority to appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor parent of a child who may be surrendered or for whom a parental consent or waiver of interest is given if deemed necessary to advise and assist the minor parent with respect to surrender, parental consent, waiver, or termination of the minor parent's parental rights.

[Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 8 (Williams, § 9572.22); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-109; § 36-1-109; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, § 20.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-110, concerning abandonment, was transferred to § 36-1-113.


36-1-111. Pre-surrender request for home study or preliminary home study - Surrender of child - Consent for adoption by parent - Effect of Surrender - Form of surrender - Waiver of interest - Interpreter for non-English speaking parents.

(a) (1) Prior to receiving a surrender by a parent of a child or prior to the execution of a parental consent by a parent in a petition for adoption, the prospective adoptive parents may request that a licensed child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or, if indigent under federal poverty guidelines, the department, to conduct a home study or preliminary home study for use in the surrender, or parental consent proceeding, or in the adoption.

(2) A court report based upon the home study or preliminary home study must be available to the court or, when using a Tennessee surrender form, to the persons under subsection (h), (i), or (j), and, before the surrender to prospective adoptive parents is executed, the court report must be reviewed by the court or persons under those subsections in any surrender proceeding in which the surrender is not made to the department or a licensed child-placing agency. When a parental consent is executed, the court report based upon the home study or preliminary home study must be filed with the adoption petition, and must be reviewed by the court before the entry of an order of guardianship giving the prospective adoptive parents guardianship of the child.

(3) All court reports submitted under this subsection (a) shall be confidential and shall not be open to inspection by any person except by order of the court entered on the minute book. The court shall, however, disclose to prospective adoptive parents any adverse court reports or information contained therein, but shall protect the identities of any person reporting child abuse or neglect in accordance with law.

(b) All surrenders must be made in chambers before a judge of the chancery, circuit, or juvenile court except as provided herein, and the court shall advise the person or persons surrendering the child of the right of revocation of the surrender and time for the revocation and the procedure for such revocation.

(c) A surrender or parental consent may be made or given to any prospective adoptive parent who has attained eighteen (18) years of age, the department, or a licensed child-placing agency in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(d) (1) No surrender or any parental consent shall be valid that does not meet the requirements of subdivision (a)(2).

(2) No surrender or parental consent shall be valid that is made prior to the birth of a child, except a surrender executed in accordance with subsection (h).

(3) No surrender or parental consent shall be valid that is made within three (3) calendar days subsequent to the date of the child's birth, such period to begin on the day following the child's birth; provided, that the court may, for good cause shown, which is entered in an order in the minute book of the court, waive this waiting period.

(4) No surrender or parental consent shall be valid if the surrendering or consenting party states a desire to receive legal or social counseling under subdivisions (k)(2)(E) and (k)(2)(F) until certification of satisfaction or withdrawal of such request is received by the court as provided in subsection (l).

(5) Unless the surrender or parental consent is made to the physical custodian or unless the exceptions of subdivision (d)(6) otherwise apply, no surrender or parental consent shall be sufficient to make a child available for adoption in any situation where any other person or persons, the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or other child-caring agency in this state or any state, territory, or foreign country is exercising the right to physical custody of the child under a current court order at the time the surrender is sought to be executed or when a parental consent is executed, or when those persons or entities have any currently valid statutory authorization for custody of the child.

(6) No surrender shall be valid unless the person or persons or entity to whom or to which the child is surrendered or parental consent is given:

(A) Has, at a minimum, physical custody of the child;

(B) Will receive physical custody of the child from the surrendering parent or guardian within five (5) days of the surrender, as evidenced by the affidavit of the person or persons receiving the surrender and by affidavit of the surrendering or consenting parent or guardian or court order;

(C) Has the right to receive physical custody of the child upon the child's release from a health care facility as evidenced by an affidavit of the person or persons or entities receiving the child and by the affidavit of the surrendering or consenting parent or guardian or court order; or

(D) Has a sworn, written statement from the person, the department, the licensed child-placing agency, or child-caring agency that has physical custody pursuant to subdivision (d)(5), which waives the rights pursuant to that subdivision (d)(5).

(e) The surrender form shall incorporate a provision stating to the surrendering parent or guardian the beginning and ending period for revocation of the surrender and the procedures for revoking the surrender, and shall include a place in which the date of the expiration of the revocation period shall be inserted.

(f) The commissioner, or the commissioner's authorized representatives, or a licensed child-placing agency, through its authorized representatives, may accept the surrender of a child and they shall be vested with guardianship or partial guardianship of the child in accordance with the provisions of this section and § 36-1-102; provided, that the department or any licensed child-placing agency may refuse to accept the surrender of any child.

(g) In any surrender proceeding, the court or other person authorized herein to conduct a surrender proceeding, and when a parental consent is executed in the adoption petition, the court shall require that the person or persons surrendering the child for adoption or the person or persons giving consent and the person or persons accepting the child through the surrender or receiving parental consent to satisfactorily prove their identities before the surrender is executed or the parental consent is accepted. No surrender or parental consent may be executed in any form in which the identities of the person or persons executing the surrender or parental consent or the person or persons or agencies receiving the surrender or the identity of the child whose name is known are left blank or in any form in which those persons, the child, or agencies are given pseudonyms on the form or in the petition at the time of the execution of the surrender or parental consent.

(h) In cases where the person executing the surrender resides in another state or territory of the United States, the surrender may be made in accordance with the laws of such state or territory or may be made before the judge or chancellor of any court of record or before the clerk of any court of record of such state or territory and such surrender shall be valid for use in adoptions in this state.

(i) In cases where the surrendering person using the Tennessee form of surrender or the form provided by applicable law resides or is temporarily in a foreign country, the surrender may be made before any officer of the United States armed forces authorized to administer oaths, or before any officer of the United States foreign service authorized to administer oaths. A citizen of a foreign country may, in accordance with the law of the foreign country, execute a surrender of a child that states that all parental rights of that person are being terminated or relinquished by the execution of the document or that the child is being given to an agency or other person for the purposes of adoption.

(j) In cases where the person executing the surrender is incarcerated in a state or federal penitentiary, the surrender may be executed before the warden of the penitentiary; provided, that the signature of the person executing the surrender and the signature of the warden before whom the surrender is executed are acknowledged before a notary public.

(k) (1) (A) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this part, in obtaining any medical or social background information, contact veto information or other information required as part of the surrender or parental consent process pursuant to this part, the court, or, at its direction, its court officers or its clerks, or other persons authorized to accept a surrender or parental consent pursuant to this part, may accept notarized statements attached to each of the forms promulgated by the department that verify that the informant of the required information has previously reviewed the form or, if unable to read, has had the contents of the form explained to the person, and that the person has accurately supplied the information on the form and the person's responses have not been subject to duress by any person.

(B) (i) The court, or other persons authorized by this part to accept surrenders, shall personally, however, verify under oath by the surrendering or consenting person who has provided the information in a surrender or parental consent process pursuant to this part, that the parent or guardian agrees with the information provided in the forms required pursuant to this part, and the notarized statement shall have a section for the court, or other persons authorized by this part to accept surrenders, to ratify that this verification has occurred by providing a space for the signature of the judge or chancellor accepting the surrender or parental consent or other person authorized by this part to accept a surrender, and the date on which this was done.

(ii) The notarized statements must be attached to the surrender or parental consent and maintained with the surrender or parental consent form by the court or the court clerk, or person authorized by this part to accept surrenders, and transmitted to the department as otherwise required by this part.

(C) (i) In all other respects, the court, or other persons authorized by this part to accept surrenders, must witness the actual act of surrender, or must confirm the parental consent, by verifying directly with the parent or guardian the parent's or guardian's understanding and willingness to terminate parental rights and, by witnessing the parent's or guardian's signature on the surrender form, or by questioning the parent on the matters required by this part before the entry of an order of confirmation of the parental consent.

(ii) The court may not accept any surrenders executed prior to its approval of the surrender that relinquish the parent's or guardian's rights, nor may it enter any orders confirming a parental consent, based upon any written statement of the parent agreeing to relinquish the parent's rights to the child, except as may be otherwise specifically provided by this part.

(iii) The execution of the surrender or parental consent shall occur in private in the chambers of the court or in another private area, and in the presence of the surrendering or consenting person's legal counsel if legal counsel has been requested by the surrendering or consenting person. In the discretion of the court or other person conducting the surrender or parental consent proceeding, the court's officer or other employee may be present.

(D) For surrenders taken pursuant to subsection (h), (i) or (j), the information required by this part to be supplied by the prospective adoptive parents, the department, or a licensed child-placing agency and the acceptance of a surrender by the prospective adoptive parents or the department or the licensed child-placing agency may be made by affidavit contained with the Tennessee surrender forms.

(2) In accordance with the provisions of subdivision (k)(1), the following information shall be obtained under oath at the time of the surrender in Tennessee, when using a Tennessee surrender form, or at the time of the confirmation of the parental consent:

(A) A statement of the surrendering or consenting parent identifying any other legal or biological parent or legal guardian of the child being surrendered or for whom parental consent is being given and such person's whereabouts, or a statement that the identity or whereabouts of such other parent or guardian is not known;

(B) Whether the child is of Native American heritage and the tribal organization of which the child is a member or in which the child is eligible for membership, if known;

(C) Whether the child is intended to be sent out of state for the purposes of adoption, and, if the child surrendered is to be adopted under the laws of any jurisdiction other than Tennessee, a statement of the surrendering parent or guardian stating that the surrendering parent or guardian elects to have the surrender governed in all respects by Tennessee law, including choice of law;

(D) Whether the person has paid or received or has been promised any money or other remuneration or thing of value in connection with the birth of the child or placement of the child for adoption and, if so, to or from whom, the specific amount, and the purpose for which it was or is to be paid or received;

(E) Whether such person desires counseling from the department or a licensed child-placing agency or a licensed clinical social worker concerning the decision to surrender or give parental consent to the adoption of the child and if the person has been made aware of any assistance that might be available to the person should the person decide not to place the child for adoption;

(F) Whether the person is represented by legal counsel and, if not, whether the person wishes to consult with legal counsel prior to execution of the surrender or prior to the confirmation of the parental consent;

(G) Whether such person is freely and voluntarily executing the surrender or parental consent with full knowledge of its consequences and whether such person knows and understands the right to revoke the surrender or consent and the time limits in which the revocation may be executed;

(H) Whether the child is possessed of any real or personal property of any kind, or has any expectation of any real or personal property and the nature of such interest;

(I) A statement of the surrendering parent or guardian concerning whether that parent or guardian or some other person or persons or entity has legal and/or physical custody of the child at the time of the surrender or whether such person intends to give custody to the prospective adoptive parents, the department or a licensed child-placing agency.

(3) (A) The court shall require the person or persons surrendering the child for adoption or consenting to the child's adoption to complete the portion of the surrender or a parental consent form that indicates whether the person desires, or wishes to veto, further contact with other persons eligible under this part to have contact with the surrendering parent at a later time in accordance with §§ 36-1-127 - 36-1-131.

(B) The form that the surrendering or consenting parent signs shall notify the parent that the parent may withdraw or vary the veto or consent at any time and the form, or an attachment to the form, shall inform the parent of the procedures for doing so.

(C) Upon receipt of the completed form, the department shall enter the surrendering or consenting person's request on the contact veto registry and shall maintain a copy of the form and all modifications to the form as part of the post-adoption record.

(4) (A) The court or persons authorized to receive the surrender shall obtain from the prospective adoptive parents or from a licensed child-placing agency receiving the surrender at the time of the execution of the surrender, or the court shall obtain, at the time an order of guardianship is entered that is based upon the execution of a parental consent, a statement of the fees paid to any person or persons, licensed child-placing agency, licensed clinical social worker, attorney, or other entity for the placement of the child or for legal costs or any other costs related in any way to the adoption or placement for adoption of the child as of the time the surrender is executed or at the time the parental consent is executed.

(B) In the case of a surrender of a child to be removed from Tennessee for adoption, the court shall obtain a statement from the prospective adoptive parents that there will be compliance with the interstate compact on the placement of children and how that compliance will be effected;

(l) (1) In the case of a surrender directly to prospective adoptive parents, if the person surrendering the child desires under subdivision (k)(2)(E) to have counseling prior to execution of the surrender and the child is being surrendered directly to the prospective adoptive parents, the prospective adoptive parents shall, if so requested by the surrendering person or persons, compensate a licensed child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or the department for such counseling, which must be certified as having been completed before the surrender can be executed;

(2) If the person surrendering the child states a desire under subdivision (k)(2)(F) to have legal counseling prior to or during the execution of a surrender directly to the prospective adoptive parents, the prospective adoptive parents shall, if so requested by the surrendering person or persons, compensate the attorney for such counseling sought, which must be certified as having been completed before the surrender can be executed;

(3) The provisions of this subsection (l) shall also apply to the use of parental consents pursuant to § 36-1-117(g) prior to entry of the order of confirmation.

(4) The payment of compensation by the prospective adoptive parents shall not establish any professional/client relationship between the prospective adoptive parents and the counselor or attorney providing services under subdivisions (l)(1) and (2);

(5) The department shall, by rule, establish the form of the certification required by this section, including the counseling criteria that must be met the surrendering parent as part of the certification.

(m) Before the surrender is received and before an order of guardianship is entered based upon a parental consent, the person or persons to whom the child is to be surrendered or the persons to whom a parental consent is given, other than the department or a licensed child-placing agency, shall present with the surrender executed in Tennessee or on a Tennessee form at the time of the execution of the surrender or before confirmation of a parental consent by the court, all of the following documents:

(1) A court report based upon a currently effective or updated home study or preliminary home study conducted by a licensed child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or the department;

(2) Certification of the completion of any counseling requested under subsection (l);

(3) An affidavit of the person or persons stating whether they have physical custody of the child at the time of the surrender or the affidavits required by subdivision (d)(6);

(4) If the child has been brought to Tennessee from another state or territory, a copy of the ICPC Form 100A, or other substitute form required for ICPC compliance, showing approval of the department for the child brought into Tennessee for foster care or adoption or a sworn statement stating why such form is not required pursuant to the ICPC; and

(5) A sworn statement that if the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., applies because of the child's Native American heritage, there has been compliance with that act.

(n) (1) A licensed child-placing agency receiving the surrender shall complete the provisions of subdivisions (m)(3)-(5).

(2) The department, when receiving the surrender, shall complete the provisions of subdivisions (m)(3) and (5).

(o) No surrender shall be accepted by the Tennessee court or on a Tennessee form by those persons authorized to accept a surrender under subsection (h), (i) or (j), nor shall a parental consent be confirmed by the court, nor shall an order of guardianship be entered by the court under subsection (r) based upon a surrender or a parental consent until there has been compliance with the provisions of subsections (l), (m) and (n).

(p) (1) (A) The person or persons executing the surrender and the person or persons, the local representative of the department or the local representative of the licensed child-placing agency to whom the child is surrendered shall receive certified copies of the original surrender from the clerk of the court immediately upon the conclusion of the surrender proceeding.

(B) Costs of all certified copies provided under this subdivision (p)(1) shall be taxed only to the person or persons receiving the surrender, the department, or the licensed child-placing agency.

(2) (A) The original of the surrender executed before the court shall be entered on a special docket for surrenders and shall be styled: "In Re: (Child's Name)," and shall be permanently filed by the court in a separate file designated for that purpose maintained by the judge, or the judge's court officer, who accepted the surrender and shall be confidential and shall not be inspected by anyone without the written approval of the court where the file is maintained or by a court of competent jurisdiction with domestic relations jurisdiction if the file is maintained elsewhere. There will be no court costs or litigation tax assessed for the surrender. Within five (5) days, a certified copy of the surrender shall be sent by the clerk or the court to the adoptions unit in the state office of the department in Nashville.

(B) (i) The original of the surrender executed before the persons authorized under subsections (h) and (i), or, in out-of-state correctional facilities under subsection (j), shall be maintained in a separate file designated for that purpose, which shall be confidential and shall not be inspected by anyone else without the written approval of a court with domestic relations jurisdiction where the file is maintained.

(ii) For surrenders executed under subsection (j) in federal and state correctional facilities in Tennessee, the original shall be filed in a secure file in the office of the warden, which shall not be open to inspection by any other person, and after ten (10) days from the date of the surrender, the original shall be sent to the adoptions unit in the state office of the department in Nashville and a copy shall be maintained by the warden.

(3) (A) The clerk of the court, or the department as the case may be, upon request, shall send certified copies of the original surrender to:

(i) The court where the adoption petition or where the petition to terminate parental rights is filed;

(ii) A party who is petitioning for an adoption in cases where the child was not placed by the department or a licensed child-placing agency; provided, however, where the child was placed by the department or a licensed child-placing agency, the parties petitioning for an adoption or termination of parental rights are not entitled to copies of the surrenders made to the department or a licensed child-placing agency; and

(iii) The department's county office or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker that or who is performing any service related to an adoption or that has intervened in an adoption proceeding.

(B) Costs of providing certified copies under this subdivision (p)(3) may be taxed or charged to the person, the department, or the licensed child-placing agency that requests the certified copies, except where the department, the licensed child-placing agency, or licensed clinical social worker is responding to an order of reference from a court or where the department, licensed child-placing agency, or licensed clinical social worker is conducting any investigation related to the adoption or to the child's welfare.

(q) (1) The party to whom the child is surrendered pursuant to subsection (h), (i) or (j) shall file a certified copy of the surrender of a child with the chancery, circuit, or juvenile court in Tennessee where the child or the prospective adoptive parents reside, or with the court in which an adoption petition is filed in Tennessee, within fifteen (15) days of the date the surrender is actually received, or within fifteen (15) days of the date the child or the person or persons to whom the child has been surrendered becomes a resident of the state of Tennessee, whichever is earlier.

(2) The surrender filed pursuant to subdivision (q)(1) shall be recorded by the court and shall be processed by the clerk as required by subdivision (p)(2)(A).

(3) In cases under subdivision (q)(1), where the child is in the legal custody of the department or a licensed child-placing agency, the surrender also may be filed in the chancery, circuit, or juvenile court or other court that had placed custody of the child with the department or the licensed child-placing agency.

(4) In cases under subdivision (q)(1), and in accordance with subsection (r), the court shall enter such other orders for the guardianship and supervision of the child as may be necessary or required pursuant to this section or § 36-1-118.

(r) (1) (A) (i)A surrender, a confirmed parental consent, or a waiver of interest executed in accordance with this part shall have the effect of terminating all rights as the parent or guardian to the child who is surrendered, for whom parental consent to adopt is given, or for whom a waiver of interest is executed. It shall terminate the responsibilities of the surrendering parent or guardian, the consenting parent, or the person executing a waiver of interest under this section for future child support or other future financial responsibilities pursuant to subsection (w) if the child is ultimately adopted; provided, that this shall not be construed to eliminate the responsibility of such parent or guardian for past child support arrearages or other financial obligations incurred for the care of such child prior to the execution of the surrender, parental consent or waiver of interest; and provided further, that the court may, with the consent of the parent or guardian, restore such rights and responsibilities pursuant to § 36-1-118(d).

(ii) If, after determining the surrender to be in the child's best interest, the department accepts a surrender of a child, who was previously placed for adoption by the department, from the child's adoptive parent or parents, the unrevoked surrender of such child shall terminate the responsibilities of the surrendering adoptive parent or parents for future child support or other future financial responsibilities; provided, that this shall not be construed to eliminate the responsibility of such parent or parents for past child support arrearages or other financial obligations incurred for the care of such child prior to the execution of the surrender; and provided further, that the court may, with the consent of the parent or parents, restore such rights and responsibilities pursuant to § 36-1-118(d).

(B) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (r)(1)(A), a child who is surrendered, for whom a parental consent has been executed, or for whom a waiver of interest has been executed, shall be entitled to inherit from a parent who has surrendered the child or executed a parental consent or waiver of interest until the final order of adoption is entered.

(2) (A) Unless prior court orders or statutory authorization establishes guardianship or custody in the person or entity to whom the surrender or parental consent is executed, the surrender or parental consent alone does not vest the person, persons or entities who or that receive it with the legal authority to have custody or guardianship or to make decisions for the child without the entry of an order of guardianship or partial guardianship as provided in subdivision (r)(6)(A) or as provided in § 36-1-116(f). The court accepting the surrender or the parental consent shall not enter any orders relative to the guardianship or custody of a child for whom guardianship or custody is already established under prior court orders or statutory authorization, except upon motion under subdivision (r)(4)(D) by the person, persons or entities to whom the surrender or parental consent is executed.

(B) In order to preserve confidentiality, the court clerk or the court shall have a separate adoption order of guardianship minute book, which shall be kept locked and available for public view only upon written approval of the court.

(3) (A) Except as provided in subdivisions (r)(2) and (4), a validly executed surrender shall confer jurisdiction of all matters pertaining to the child upon the court where the surrender is executed or filed until the filing of the adoption petition, at which time jurisdiction of all matters pertaining to the child shall transfer to the court where the adoption petition is filed; provided, that the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to adjudicate allegations concerning any delinquent, unruly, or truant acts of a child pursuant to title 37 shall not be suspended.

(B) A waiver of interest does not confer jurisdiction over the child in any court nor does it permit the entry of any order of custody or guardianship based solely upon such waiver, but shall only permit a court to find that that person's parental rights, if any, are terminated.

(4) (A) When, at the time the surrender or parental consent is executed, a prior court order is in effect that asserts that court's jurisdiction over the child who is the subject of the surrender or parental consent, the prior court order shall remain effective until, and only as permitted by this section, an alternate disposition for the child is made by the court where the surrender is executed or filed or until, and only as permitted by this section, an alternate disposition is made for the child on the basis of a termination of parental rights proceeding, or, as permitted by § 36-1-116, until an alternate disposition for the child is made by the court where the adoption petition is filed.

(B) If the prior court order under subdivision (r)(4)(A) gives the right to legal and physical custody of the child to a person, the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or other child-caring agency, a surrender or parental consent by the parent or guardian to any other person, persons or entities shall be invalid as provided under subdivision (d)(5), and any purported surrender or parental consent to such other person or persons or entities shall not be recognized to grant standing to file a motion pursuant to subdivision (r)(6) and § 36-1-116(f)(3) to such other person or persons or entities who or that received the surrender or parental consent, and no order of guardianship or partial guardianship based upon that surrender or parental consent and motion shall be effective to deprive the existing legal or physical custodians under the court's prior order of legal or physical custody of that child. Any orders to the contrary shall be void and of no effect whatsoever.

(C) If the court that has entered the prior custody order under subdivision (r)(4)(A) has subject matter jurisdiction to terminate parental or guardian rights at the time a surrender of the child who is the subject of that order is validly executed in another court pursuant to subdivision (r)(4)(D) or at the time a petition to terminate parental rights is filed pursuant to subdivision (r)(4)(E), it shall continue to have jurisdiction to complete any pending petitions to terminate parental or guardian rights that are filed prior to the execution of the surrender or prior to the filing of the petition to terminate parental rights in the other court pursuant to subdivision (r)(4)(E). The court shall not have jurisdiction to complete any pending petitions to terminate parental rights subsequent to the filing of a petition for adoption. The court may enter orders of guardianship pursuant to the termination of parental rights proceedings unless prior thereto an order of guardianship is entered by another court pursuant to subdivisions (r)(4)(D) and (r)(4)(E). Any orders of guardianship entered pursuant to subdivisions (r)(4)(D) and (E) or pursuant to § 36-1-116 shall have priority over the orders of guardianship entered pursuant to this subdivision (r)(4)(C); provided, that orders terminating parental rights entered pursuant to this subdivision (r)(4)(C) shall be effective to terminate parental rights.

(D) If the person, persons or entities in subdivision (r)(4)(B) to whom the surrender is made have legal and physical custody of the child or the right to legal and physical custody of the child pursuant to a prior court order at the time the surrender is executed to them, any court with jurisdiction to receive a surrender may receive a surrender that is executed to them and shall have jurisdiction, upon their motion, to enter an order giving guardianship or partial guardianship to those person, persons or entities, and, notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (r)(4)(A), such order may make an alternate disposition for the child.

(E) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (r)(4)(A), a person, the department, or a licensed child-placing agency that had custody of the child pursuant to a court's prior order, may file in any court with jurisdiction to terminate parental or guardian rights, and in which venue exists, any necessary petitions to terminate the remaining parental or guardian rights of any person or persons to the child, and if they have any subsequent orders of guardianship or partial guardianship based upon an executed surrender or a termination of parental rights from the other court of competent jurisdiction, they may place the child for adoption in accordance with those subsequent orders.

(5) If multiple surrenders or parental consents are received with respect to the same child in different courts, subject to the restrictions of subdivisions (r)(2) and (4), the court that first receives a surrender or parental consent or in which the surrender is first filed pursuant to subsection (q), and that enters an order of guardianship or partial guardianship, shall have jurisdiction of the child and shall issue any necessary orders of reference required by this section. Any other court that receives a surrender or parental consent or in which a surrender or parental consent is filed pursuant to subsection (q) subsequent to the surrender shall, upon notification by the first court, send the original of the surrender or filed pleading to the first court and shall retain a certified copy of the original in a closed file, which shall not be accessed by any person without the written order of the court.

(6) (A) Subject to the restrictions of subdivisions (r)(2) and (4), a validly executed surrender under this section or a parental consent shall give to the person to whom the child is surrendered or to whom a parental consent is given standing to file a written motion for an express order of guardianship or partial guardianship, as defined in § 36-1-102, from the court where the child was surrendered or where, under subsection (q), the surrender was filed, or in the court that, pursuant to subdivision (r)(4)(A), has granted legal custody of the child to such person, or in the court in which the adoption petition is filed. A validly executed surrender shall entitle the department or the licensed child-placing agency that received the surrender to have the court enter an order of guardianship pursuant to subdivision (r)(6)(C).

(B) The motion, which may be filed by any person or by that person's attorney, shall contain an affidavit that the party seeking the order of guardianship or partial guardianship has physical custody of the child, or if filed at the time of the execution of the surrender or the filing of the adoption petition containing a parental consent, it shall contain the affidavits otherwise required by subdivision (d)(6).

(C) If the person, the department, or the licensed child-placing agency to whom the child is surrendered or to whom parental consent is given has physical custody or has otherwise complied with the requirements of subdivision (d)(6), and if there has been full compliance with the other provisions of this section, the court may, contemporaneously with the surrender or the filing of an adoption petition, immediately upon written motion by the person or the person's attorney, and the court shall, if the surrender is to a licensed child-placing agency or the department, enter an order giving the person, the licensed child-placing agency, or the department, guardianship or partial guardianship of the child.

(D) A copy of the surrender, the motion and any resulting order shall be sent by the clerk to the adoptions unit in the state office of the department in Nashville, which shall record the surrender, the motion, and the order and their dates of filing and entry for purposes of tracking the child's placement status and the status of the adoption process involving the child.

(7) If an order of guardianship is entered, the appointed guardians shall have authority to act as guardian ad litem or next friend of the child in any suit by the child against third parties while the child is in the care and custody of the petitioners. The court may appoint a special guardian for the child for such purpose upon motion by the department for a child in its guardianship.

(8) If the court grants guardianship or custody of the child upon the filing of the surrender or upon the filing of a parental consent and the child is possessed of any real or personal property to be administered, the court shall appoint a guardian of the property of the child if no guardian of the property exists, and such guardian may be the same person or persons who are guardians of the person of the child except if the child is in the guardianship of the department in which case another person or entity shall be appointed.

(s) The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, compiled in chapter 6, part 2 of this title, shall govern jurisdiction for the disposition of the child and the proceedings under this section.

(t) (1) Upon receipt of the surrender or upon filing a parental consent for an adoption by a person other than a related person, and if no home study had been completed or updated within six (6) months prior to the surrender or the filing of a parental consent, and no court report based upon the home study has been filed with the court, the court shall, by an order of reference issued within five (5) days, direct that a home study be conducted and filed as provided in this part.

(2) The order of reference shall be directed to a licensed child-placing agency or a licensed clinical social worker unless the prospective adoptive parents are indigent under current federal poverty guidelines, in which case the order shall be directed to the department.

(3) The court report based upon the home study shall be filed with the court within sixty (60) days of the date of the order of reference.

(4) The court shall order a licensed child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or the department, if the parents are indigent under federal poverty guidelines, to provide supervision for the child who is in the home of prospective adoptive parents pursuant to a surrender or a parental consent under this section, and to make any necessary court reports that the court should have concerning the welfare of the child pending entry of the final order in the case; provided, that this subdivision (t)(4) shall not apply when the surrender is made to related persons.

(5) If the adoption petition is filed before the home study is completed or before the court report based upon the home study is filed, and the adoption petition is filed in a court other than the one where the surrender was executed, the court where the surrender was executed shall, upon request of the court where the adoption petition is filed or upon motion of the prospective adoptive parents, send any court report it receives to the adoption court.

(Part 1)     (Part 2)     (PART 3)

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