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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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Adopting Families in Tennessee

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Tennessee State Statutes

Part 2

(Part 1)     (Part 2)     (PART 3)

(6) Unless they are indigent under federal poverty guidelines, the prospective adoptive parents shall be assessed by the court the costs of the study and the supervision of the placement by the agency, and the costs shall be paid by them to the licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker that performed the home study or supervision.

(u) (1) Failure to fully comply with the provisions of this section or failure to file the surrender executed pursuant to subsection (h), (i) or (j) within the fifteen-day period required by subsection (q), or failure to obtain an order of guardianship in accordance with this section within thirty (30) days of the date the surrender is executed or filed, or within thirty (30) days of the date parental consent is filed, shall be grounds for removal of the child from the physical care and control of the person, the department, or licensed child-placing agency receiving the surrender; provided, that this shall not apply when the persons, the department or the licensed child-placing agency have legal custody or partial guardianship under an order of a court entered prior to the execution of the surrender or parental consent or pursuant to any statutory authority giving custody to the department or licensed child-placing agency.

(2) A sworn complaint concerning the grounds alleged in subdivision (u)(1) and concerning the best interests of a child for whom a surrender is sought or on whom a surrender or parental consent was executed or guardianship order entered, or which complaint otherwise seeks to present proof concerning the best interests of the child, may be filed by any person, the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or a licensed clinical social worker.

(3) The complaint may be filed in the court where the surrender was executed or filed or where the adoption petition containing a parental consent was filed. If the surrender was not executed or filed in Tennessee or if the surrender was not executed before a court or if the surrender was not filed at all, then the complaint may be filed in the circuit, chancery, or juvenile court in the county where the child resides.

(v) (1) (A) Upon its own motion or upon the complaint filed pursuant to subsection (u) and subject to the restrictions concerning custody of the child who is not in the custody of the prospective adoptive parents as stated in subdivisions (r)(2) and (4) and § 36-1-116(f)(1), the court receiving the surrender or entering the order of guardianship or partial guardianship and the adoption court to which jurisdiction may be transferred may make any suitable provisions for the care of the child and, notwithstanding the restrictions of subdivisions (r)(2) and (4) and § 36-1-116(f)(1), the court shall have jurisdiction to enter any necessary orders, including any emergency ex parte orders for the child's emergency protection, care, and supervision based upon probable cause that the child's health and safety is immediately endangered; provided, that such emergency orders shall only remain effective for thirty (30) days when the restrictions of subdivisions (r)(2) and (4) and § 36-1-116(f)(1) apply.

(B) If another court has jurisdiction under a prior order because of such restrictions, upon completion of all proceedings to protect the child, the court shall then return all jurisdiction over the child to the court having jurisdiction under the prior order; provided, that the juvenile court shall maintain jurisdiction pursuant to title 37 to adjudicate allegations of delinquency, unruliness, or truancy involving the child.

(C) If the child has no legal custodian with authority to provide temporary care for the child, then, subject to the restrictions of subdivisions (r)(2) and (4) and § 36-1-116(f)(1), the court shall give temporary legal custody pursuant to § 37-1-140 to the department or a licensed child-placing agency until full compliance has been effected and until a guardianship or partial guardianship order can be entered, or until some other disposition is made for the child by the court. The court may permit the department or a licensed child-placing agency, in its discretion, to place the child with any suitable person, including the prospective adoptive parents, under the department's or the licensed child-placing agency's supervision.

(D) If an emergency ex parte order removes the child from the custody of the prospective adoptive parents or the department or licensed child-placing agency, a preliminary hearing shall be held within five (5) days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, to determine if probable cause exists for the continuance of such order.

(2) The prospective adoptive parents or entities from which the child was removed shall be necessary parties at the preliminary hearing and the final hearing, and the court may order the department or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker to provide any necessary information or court reports concerning the welfare of the child as it may require.

(3) A final hearing shall be held within thirty (30) days of the date of the preliminary hearing, except for good cause entered upon the record.

(4) Upon the final hearing, and based upon clear and convincing evidence that the action is in the best interests of the child, the court shall have jurisdiction to enter an order removing the child from the prospective adoptive parents or other custodian or guardian of the child, and may award temporary legal custody giving any person, the department or licensed child-placing agency, or a child-caring agency, the care and custody of the child as provided under § 37-1-140 or may enter a guardianship or partial guardianship order with the rights provided under this part, all subject to the rights of any remaining parent or guardian.

(w) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a waiver of interest and notice, when signed under oath by the alleged biological father, shall serve to waive the alleged biological father's interest in the child and the alleged biological father's rights to notice of any proceedings with respect to the child's adoption, custody or guardianship. The alleged biological father who executes the waiver shall not be required to be made a party to any adoption proceedings, custody or guardianship proceedings with respect to the child and shall not be entitled to receive notice thereof, and the court in any adoption proceeding, notwithstanding any law to the contrary, shall have jurisdiction to enter a final order of adoption of the child based upon the waiver, and in other proceedings to determine the child's legal custody or guardianship shall have jurisdiction to enter an order for those purposes. The waiver may not be revoked.

(2) (A) The execution of the waiver, in conjunction with a final order of adoption of the child, shall irrevocably terminate all rights the alleged biological father has or may have to the child and any rights the child has or may have relative to the alleged biological father. Upon entry of a final order of adoption of the child, the waiver, except as provided in subdivision (2)(B), shall also terminate the responsibility of the alleged biological father for any future child support or other financial obligations to the child, or to the child's mother that are related to the child's support, arising after the date of the execution of the waiver.

(B) If, after execution of the waiver, a final order of adoption is not entered, and a parentage action is initiated against the alleged biological father or the alleged biological father executes a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, the alleged biological father shall become liable for child support or other financial obligations to the child, or to the child's mother that are related to the child's support, arising after the execution of the waiver and beginning with the date of the entry of an order establishing the biological father's parentage to the child or upon the date of the biological father's execution of a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity; provided, if paternity is later established, the alleged biological father who executed the waiver shall be liable for all or a portion of the actual medical and hospital expenses of the child's birth and all or a portion of the mother's pre-natal and post-natal care up to thirty (30) days following the child's birth if the parentage action is initiated or the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is executed within two (2) years of the date of the execution of the waiver.

(3) The waiver shall not be valid for use by a legal father as defined under § 36-1-102 or for any man listed as the father of a child on the child's birth certificate.

(4) The waiver of interest and notice may be executed at any time after the biological mother executes a sworn statement identifying such person as the biological father of the biological mother's child to be born, or at any time after the birth of the child.

(5) The waiver of interest and notice shall be legally sufficient if it contains a statement comparable to the following:


WAIVER OF INTEREST AND NOTICE
STATE OF __________________ )
COUNTY OF ________________ )

Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, § 36-1-111(w), and first being duly sworn according to law, affiant would state the following:

My name is ________________________ . I understand that I have been named by ________________________, the mother of a child [to be born], or a [child who was born in ________________________ (City) ________________________ (State) on the ________ day of ____________, 19________ (or 20________ )], as the father or possible father of that child. I further understand that the mother has placed or wishes to place this child for adoption or that the child is the subject of legal proceedings leading to the child's adoption or leading to a determination of the child's legal custody or guardianship.

I am not necessarily admitting or saying that I am the father of this child, but if I am, I do not wish to provide care for this child, and I feel it would be in the child's best interest for this adoption to occur, or for other custody or guardianship proceedings to occur in the child's best interests. I hereby formally waive any right to notice of the legal proceedings: to adopt this child; to otherwise make this child available for adoption; or to award the child's legal custody or guardianship to other persons or agencies. I hereby formally waive any further parental rights to the child and execute this document to finally terminate my rights, if I have any rights, to this child, upon entry of a final order of adoption for this child.

If the child is not yet born:

[I have received and reviewed a copy of the sworn statement of the child's mother in which the mother identifies me as the father of the child.]

I consent to adoption of this child by any persons chosen by the child's mother or by any public or private agency, and consent to the establishment of any legal custody or guardianship arrangements for the child.

I understand that by execution of this waiver, this child may be adopted by other persons or that other custody or guardianship proceedings regarding the child's status may occur and that I will have no rights, if I have any, to act as parent, to visit with, or otherwise be involved in this child's life, unless and until a legal relationship is established between me and the child.

I further understand that I may not revoke this waiver at any time after I sign it.

I further understand that if the child is not adopted, that legal proceedings can be brought to seek to establish me as the legal father, and I may become liable for financial support or financial obligations for this child or to the child's mother that are related to the child's support, arising after I sign this waiver, and beginning on the date an order is entered that establishes me as the child's father or beginning on the date I sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity of the child. I also understand that if the child is not adopted and paternity is later established by legal proceedings, or if I sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, I could be liable for all or a portion of the actual medical and hospital expenses of the child's birth and all or a portion of the mother's pre-natal and post-natal care up to thirty (30) days following the child's birth if the legal proceeding to establish me as the child's father is brought, or the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity of the child is signed, within two (2) years of the date I sign this waiver.

FURTHER, AFFIANT SAITH NOT.
DATED: THE ________ DAY OF ______________ ,19____ (20____ ).


___________________________________________

Alleged Father (Please Print)


___________________________________________

Signature of Alleged Father


___________________________________________
Address

Personally appeared before me the above-named ______________________ who is known to me and who acknowledged that he executed the above Waiver of Interest and Notice as his own free and voluntary act.


___________________________________________
Notary Public
My commission expires: __________________________

(x) (1) If a child is surrendered to a person other than a licensed child-placing agency or the department, and, after the expiration of the ten-day period for revocation, the person or persons to whom the child was surrendered decide that they no longer wish to adopt the child, and if no order of guardianship has been entered by a court that gives those persons who had received the surrender the guardianship of the child, they may surrender the child to a licensed child-placing agency or the department without notice to the parent or guardians who originally had executed the surrender to them.

(2) In this event, the licensed child-placing agency or the department shall have the same rights as set forth above just as if the child had been originally surrendered to them; provided, that if the court has entered a guardianship order as set forth above, the surrender cannot be utilized in this manner, and a motion must be made to the court to modify the existing guardianship order.

(3) Certified copies of all such surrenders and orders modifying any order of guardianship shall be sent by the clerk to the adoptions unit in the state office of the department in Nashville.

(y) An interpreter shall be provided to a surrendering parent or guardian who is not fluent in English, before a final hearing on an adoption is conducted. The prospective adoptive parent or parents shall be responsible for payment of the cost of such interpreter.

Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, §§ 21-39, 106-110; 1998, ch. 1098, § 3; 2000, ch. 922, § 3; 2003, ch. 231, § 7; 2005, ch. 409, § 1; 2010, ch. 915, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-111 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 6 (Williams, § 9572.20); 1975, ch. 196, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-111; Acts 1984, ch. 681, § 2; 1986, ch. 767, § 1; 1992, ch. 994, §§ 2, 3), concerning children born out of wedlock, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

This section, as enacted by Acts 1995, ch. 532, did not contain a subdivision (p)(3). The compiler has redesignated (p)(4) in the act as (p)(3).

 

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

(a) (1) (A) A person who executed a surrender may revoke the surrender at any time within ten (10) calendar days of the date of the surrender.

(B) The surrender shall be revoked by appearing before the judge who accepted the surrender or that judge's successor or substitute, or another judge of a court with jurisdiction to accept a surrender in the absence of the judge who accepted the surrender or that judge's successor or substitute, or by appearing before the person, or that person's successor, pursuant to § 36-1-111(h), (i) or (j) before whom the surrender was executed and by executing the revocation of surrender form.

(C) If the tenth day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the last day for the revocation shall be the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. The ten-day period for revocation of the surrender shall not limit the court's authority to order the revocation of the surrender pursuant to § 36-1-118.

(D) The revocation of the surrender shall be executed under oath by the parent or guardian who executed the surrender of the child, and the judge or other person who accepted the surrender or the judge's successor or substitute as indicated in subdivision (a)(1)(B) shall sign and date the revocation form.

(E) In the event the person under § 36-1-111(h), (i) or (j) is unavailable or has no authorized successor, the person may apply to a court that is qualified to receive a surrender in Tennessee or a court with domestic relations jurisdiction in another state or country to execute the revocation before a judge of that court as provided herein.

(F) (i) No surrender may be revoked by the person surrendering the child or set aside by a court after the expiration of the ten-day period except as the surrender may be invalidated by court order entered pursuant to a timely filed complaint filed pursuant to subsection (d) or as permitted by order of the court entered pursuant to § 36-1-118.

(ii) The execution of a revocation of a surrender within the ten-day period shall be grounds for the dismissal of any adoption petition filed during that period and, upon motion of the person who revoked the surrender, the court shall dismiss the adoption petition without prejudice.

(2) (A) A parental consent may be revoked at any time prior to the entry of an order of confirmation of the parental consent by the court.

(B) The parent who executed the parental consent shall appear before the judge of the court in which the adoption petition is filed, or in the judge's absence, the judge's successor or substitute or, if no successor or substitute, any judge or a court with jurisdiction to adjudicate adoption petitions, and shall execute a revocation of the parental consent.

(b) The form for the revocation of a surrender or parental consent shall be prescribed by the department pursuant to rules promulgated by it pursuant to this part, and a copy of the form shall be attached to the parent's copy of the surrender.

(c) (1) The court or person receiving the revocations shall maintain the originals in the office of the clerk or the office of the person receiving the surrender, together with the original of the surrender or adoption petition containing the parental consent, if available, and shall personally give or shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, certified copies of the revocations to the child's parents, the prospective adoptive parents, the local office of the department, or a licensed child-placing agency to whom the child had been surrendered, and if the prospective adoptive parents are represented by counsel, a certified copy of the revocation shall be forwarded to such counsel.

(2) (A) When the revocation is received, the court or the person before whom the revocation was executed shall attach a certified copy of the revocation to a certified copy of the surrender or petition for adoption containing the parental consent, and shall within three (3) days mail the copies of both documents by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the adoptions unit in the state office of the department in Nashville.

(B) If the revocation must be executed before a court or person before whom the surrender was not executed or in which the adoption petition was not filed, the original of the revocation shall be sent within three (3) days to the court or person before whom the surrender was executed or in which the adoption petition was filed, and that court or person shall be responsible for sending the forms to the department and to the persons or agencies who are entitled to copies of the revocation.

(C) The department shall record the revocation with the copies of the surrender or adoption petition containing the parental consent and the order of guardianship for purposes of tracking the adoptive placement status of the child.

(d) After the revocation period has expired or after the court has entered an order confirming a parental consent, no surrender or waiver of interest or parental consent shall be set aside by a court except upon clear and convincing evidence of duress, fraud, intentional misrepresentation or for invalidity under § 36-1-111(d), and no surrender, waiver of interest, or parental consent may be set aside for any reason under this part unless the action based on these grounds is initiated within thirty (30) days of the execution of the surrender, waiver of interest or within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of the order of confirmation of the parental consent.

(e) (1) A surrender or parental consent that is revoked shall have the effect of returning the child's legal status to that which existed before the surrender was executed, and the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or the person who or that had custody or guardianship of the child prior to the surrender pursuant to any parental status, prior court order or statutory authorization shall continue or resume custody or guardianship under that prior parental status, prior court order, or statutory authority, that had established the custodial or guardianship status of the child prior to the execution of the surrender or parental consent, unless a court of competent jurisdiction shall otherwise determine as specifically provided herein.

(2) (A) Unless they had received or maintained custody or guardianship of the child pursuant to a court order entered or pursuant to statutory authority prior to the execution of the surrender or parental consent, the department, the licensed child-placing agency, or the person or persons to whom the child was surrendered and who has physical custody of the child, shall, within five (5) days of the receipt by such department, agency or person of the revocation, return the child to the child's parents or guardian who executed and revoked the surrender or parental consent; provided, that a sworn complaint may be filed in the court where the revocation was executed, or in the event that the surrender was executed before a person or court pursuant to § 36-1-111(h), (i) or (j), in the chancery, circuit, or juvenile court where the child resides in Tennessee, to show cause why the child would likely suffer immediate harm to the child's health and safety if returned to the child's parent or parents or guardian who had executed the surrender.

(B) If a complaint is filed pursuant to subdivision (e)(2)(A), the child shall remain in the physical and/or legal custody or guardianship of the persons or agencies to whom the child was surrendered or with respect to whom the parental consent was executed until the court makes any further orders pursuant to this section, and those persons or agencies shall have authority to provide any necessary care and supervision of the child, subject to further orders of the court.

(C) (i) The complaint filed under subdivision (2) shall name the parent(s) or guardian who executed and revoked the surrender or parental consent as defendant(s). Except for cause shown in an order entered on the record, the court shall hold a preliminary hearing within three (3) days of the filing of the petition to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the child will be subject to immediate harm to the child's health or safety if the child is returned to the child's parent(s) or guardian.

(ii) If probable cause is not established in the preliminary hearing, the child shall be immediately returned to the child's parent or parents or guardian who executed the surrender that has been revoked.

(iii) If probable cause is established, the court shall continue the child in the custody of the persons or the agency to whom the child was surrendered or with respect to whom a parental consent was executed, subject to further orders of the court, pending the final hearing.

(iv) The court may make any necessary orders pending the final hearing for the protection of the child.

(D) The case shall be set for a final hearing on the merits within thirty (30) days of the preliminary hearing except for cause shown in a written order of the court entered on the record.

(E) Unless clear and convincing evidence at the final hearing shows that the child's safety and health would be in immediate danger if the child is returned or remains in the custody of the parent or guardian who executed the surrender or filed the parental consent, the complaint shall be dismissed. If the child was not returned to the parent at the preliminary hearing, the child shall be immediately returned to the child's parent or guardian who had executed the surrender or filed the parental consent.

(3) (A) If no complaint is filed pursuant to subdivision (e)(2), the court where the surrender or parental consent was revoked shall enter any orders that are necessary to effect the return of the child to the parent(s) or guardian who had custody of the child prior to the execution of the surrender or prior to filing the parental consent, unless another person, the department, or a licensed child-placing agency had custody or guardianship of the child under a prior order entered before the execution of the surrender or filing of the parental consent, or that had custody or guardianship under statutory authorization prior to the execution of the surrender or parental consent that was revoked by that parent.

(B) The court in which a surrender, revocation or parental consent is given or filed, or adoption court may not modify any prior custody or guardianship order that had given custody or guardianship of the child to the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or another person under a prior order or pursuant to any statutory authorization prior to the surrender or the filing of the parental consent, and if such order or statutory authority exist, the court's jurisdiction over the child shall terminate after the execution of the revocation of the surrender or parental consent, and the prior parental status, prior court order or prior statutory authority shall continue in effect; provided, that if for any reason, the agencies or persons who had prior custody or guardianship of the child are unable or unwilling to resume custody of the child, the court receiving the revocation shall be authorized to make a custody determination and award temporary custody of the child to any suitable person, the department, or a licensed child-placing agency with custodial authority pursuant to § 36-1-140, or it may make an order of guardianship or partial guardianship pursuant to § 36-1-102, with the right to adopt or consent to the child's adoption.

(4) In the event that the surrender was executed before a person or court under § 36-1-111(h), (i) or (j), the chancery, circuit or juvenile court where the surrender was filed pursuant to § 36-1-111(q), or in the county where the child resides in Tennessee if the surrender has not been filed, shall have jurisdiction to enter orders in compliance with this subsection (e) to effect the child's return to the child's parent(s) or guardian or to provide for the child's custody or guardianship as permitted herein.

(f) If the child is not returned to the child's parent(s) or guardian pursuant to subdivision (e)(2)(E), and unless the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or another person to whom the child was surrendered or to whom a parental consent was executed had custody or guardianship of the child pursuant to a court order entered prior to the filing of the surrender or the parental consent or pursuant to statutory authorization prior to the execution of the surrender or parental consent, the court where the revocation was executed shall have jurisdiction following a revocation of the surrender or parental consent to award temporary custody to any appropriate person, the department, or any other licensed child care agency, with the authority as legal custodian pursuant to § 37-1-140, or the court may award guardianship or partial guardianship pursuant to § 36-1-102 with the right to adopt or consent to the child's adoption.

(g) The department or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker shall have the right to intervene in any complaint filed pursuant to subdivision (e)(2)(A) for the purpose of introducing proof as to the child's health and safety.

[Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 11 (Williams, § 9572.25); 1959, ch. 223, § 6; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-117; Acts 1986, ch. 767, § 7; 1993, ch. 124, § 3, 4; T.C.A., § 36-1-117; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, §§ 40, 111; 2000, ch. 981, § 51.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-112 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, §§ 9, 11 (Williams, §§ 9572.23, 9572.25); impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-112), concerning filing of consent making the consenting person a party to the proceedings, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

36-1-113. Termination of parental rights.

(a) The chancery and circuit courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the juvenile court to terminate parental or guardianship rights to a child in a separate proceeding, or as a part of the adoption proceeding by utilizing any grounds for termination of parental or guardianship rights permitted in this part or in title 37, chapter 1, part 1 and title 37, chapter 2, part 4.

(b) The prospective adoptive parent or parents of the child, including extended family members caring for related children, any licensed child-placing agency having custody of the child, the child's guardian ad litem, a court appointed special advocate (CASA) agency, or the department shall have standing to file a petition pursuant to this part or pursuant to title 37 to terminate parental or guardianship rights of a person alleged to be a parent or guardian of such child. The prospective adoptive parents, including extended family members caring for related children, shall have standing to request termination of parental or guardianship rights in the adoption petition filed by them pursuant to this part.

(c) Termination of parental or guardianship rights must be based upon:

(1) A finding by the court by clear and convincing evidence that the grounds for termination of parental or guardianship rights have been established; and

(2) That termination of the parent's or guardian's rights is in the best interests of the child.

(d) (1) The petition, or allegations in the adoption petition, to terminate parental rights may be made upon information and belief and shall be verified. If a parent whose parental rights are proposed for termination is the legal parent of the child, as defined in § 36-1-102(28), and if such parent is alleged to be deceased, then diligent efforts must be made by the petitioner to verify the death of such parent.

(2) The petition, or allegations in the adoption petition, shall state:

(A) The child's birth name;

(B) The child's age or date of birth;

(C) The child's current residence address or county of residence or that the child is in the custody of the department or a licensed child-placing agency; and

(D) Any other facts that allege the basis for termination of parental rights and that bring the child and parties within the jurisdiction of the court.

(3) (A) The petition, or allegations in the adoption petition, shall contain a verified statement that:

(i) The putative father registry maintained by the department has been consulted within ten (10) working days of the filing of the petition and shall state whether there exists any claim on the registry to the paternity of the child who is the subject of the termination or adoption petition;

(ii) Indicates if there exists any other claim or potential claim to the paternity of the child;

(iii) Describes whether any other parental or guardianship rights have been terminated by surrender, parental consent, or otherwise, and whether any other such rights must be terminated before the child can be made available for adoption;

(iv) Any notice required pursuant to subdivision (d)(4) has been given; and

(v) The medical and social history of the child and the child's biological family has been completed to the extent possible on the form promulgated by the department pursuant to § 36-1-111(k); provided, however, the absence of such completed information shall not be a barrier to termination of parental rights.

(B) Any person or persons entitled to notice pursuant to the provisions of § 36-1-117 shall be named as defendants in the petition to terminate parental rights or in the adoption petition and shall be served with a copy of the petition as provided by law.

(C) The petition to terminate, or the adoption petition that seeks to terminate parental rights, shall state that:

(i) The petition or request for termination in the adoption petition shall have the effect of forever severing all of the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of the parent(s) or guardian(s) to the child who is the subject of the order, and of the child to those parent(s) or guardian(s);

(ii) The child will be placed in the guardianship of other person, persons or public or private agencies who, or that, as the case may be, shall have the right to adopt the child, or to place the child for adoption and to consent to the child's adoption; and

(iii) The parent or guardian shall have no further right to notice of proceedings for the adoption of the child by other persons and that the parent or guardian shall have no right to object to the child's adoption or thereafter, at any time, to have any relationship, legal or otherwise, with the child.

(4) The petition, if filed separately from the adoption petition, may be filed as provided in § 36-1-114. If the petition is filed in a court different from the court where there is a pending custody, dependency, neglect or abuse proceeding concerning a person whose parental rights are sought to be terminated in the petition, a notice of the filing of the petition, together with a copy of the petition, shall be sent by the petitioner to the court where the prior proceeding is pending. In addition, the petitioner filing a petition under this section shall comply with the requirements of § 36-1-117(e).

(e) Service of process of the petition shall be made as provided in § 36-1-117.

(f) Before terminating the rights of any parent or guardian who is incarcerated or who was incarcerated at the time of an action or proceeding is initiated, it must be affirmatively shown to the court that such incarcerated parent or guardian received actual notice of the following:

(1) The time and place of the hearing to terminate parental rights;

(2) That the hearing will determine whether the rights of the incarcerated parent or guardian should be terminated;

(3) That the incarcerated parent or guardian has the right to participate in the hearing and contest the allegation that the rights of the incarcerated parent or guardian should be terminated, and, at the discretion of the court, such participation may be achieved through personal appearance, teleconference, telecommunication or other means deemed by the court to be appropriate under the circumstances;

(4) That if the incarcerated parent or guardian wishes to participate in the hearing and contest the allegation, such parent or guardian:

(A) If indigent, will be provided with a court-appointed attorney to assist the parent or guardian in contesting the allegation; and

(B) Shall have the right to perpetuate such person's testimony or that of any witness by means of depositions or interrogatories as provided by the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure; and

(5) If, by means of a signed waiver, the court determines that the incarcerated parent or guardian has voluntarily waived the right to participate in the hearing and contest the allegation, or if such parent or guardian takes no action after receiving notice of such rights, the court may proceed with such action without the parent's or guardian's participation.

(g) Initiation of termination of parental or guardianship rights may be based upon any of the following grounds:

(1) Abandonment by the parent or guardian, as defined in § 36-1-102, has occurred;

(2) There has been substantial noncompliance by the parent or guardian with the statement of responsibilities in a permanency plan or a plan of care pursuant to the provisions of title 37, chapter 2, part 4;

(3) (A) The child has been removed from the home of the parent or guardian by order of a court for a period of six (6) months and:

(A) The conditions that led to the child's removal or other conditions that in all reasonable probability would cause the child to be subjected to further abuse or neglect and that, therefore, prevent the child's safe return to the care of the parent(s) or guardian(s), still persist;

(B) There is little likelihood that these conditions will be remedied at an early date so that the child can be safely returned to the parent(s) or guardian(s) in the near future; and

(C) The continuation of the parent or guardian and child relationship greatly diminishes the child's chances of early integration into a safe, stable and permanent home.

(4) The parent or guardian has been found to have committed severe child abuse as defined in § 37-1-102, under any prior order of a court or is found by the court hearing the petition to terminate parental rights or the petition for adoption to have committed severe child abuse against the child who is the subject of the petition or against any sibling or half-sibling of such child, or any other child residing temporarily or permanently in the home of such parent or guardian;

(5) The parent or guardian has been sentenced to more than two (2) years' imprisonment for conduct against the child who is the subject of the petition, or for conduct against any sibling or half-sibling of the child or any other child residing temporarily or permanently in the home of such parent or guardian, that has been found under any prior order of a court or that is found by the court hearing the petition to be severe child abuse, as defined in § 37-1-102(b)(21). Unless otherwise stated, for purposes of this subdivision (g)(5), "sentenced" shall not be construed to mean that the parent or guardian must have actually served more than two (2) years in confinement, but shall only be construed to mean that the court had imposed a sentence of two (2) or more years upon the parent or guardian;

(6) The parent has been confined in a correctional or detention facility of any type, by order of the court as a result of a criminal act, under a sentence of ten (10) or more years, and the child is under eight (8) years of age at the time the sentence is entered by the court.

(7) The parent has been convicted of or found civilly liable for the intentional and wrongful death of the child's other parent or legal guardian.

(8) (A) The chancery and circuit courts shall have jurisdiction in an adoption proceeding, and the chancery, circuit, and juvenile courts shall have jurisdiction in a separate, independent proceeding conducted prior to an adoption proceeding to determine if the parent or guardian is mentally incompetent to provide for the further care and supervision of the child, and to terminate that parent's or guardian's rights to the child.

(B) The court may terminate the parental or guardianship rights of that person if it determines on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that:

(i) The parent or guardian of the child is incompetent to adequately provide for the further care and supervision of the child because the parent's or guardian's mental condition is presently so impaired and is so likely to remain so that it is unlikely that the parent or guardian will be able to assume or resume the care of and responsibility for the child in the near future, and

(ii) That termination of parental or guardian rights is in the best interest of the child.

(C) In the circumstances described under subdivisions (8)(A) and (8)(B), no willfulness in the failure of the parent or guardian to establish the parent's or guardian's ability to care for the child need be shown to establish that the parental or guardianship rights should be terminated.

(9) (A) The parental rights of any person who, at the time of the filing of a petition to terminate the parental rights of such person or, if no such petition is filed, at the time of the filing of a petition to adopt a child, is not the legal parent or guardian of such child or who is described in § 36-1-117(b) or (c) may also be terminated based upon any one (1) or more of the following additional grounds:

(i) The person has failed, without good cause or excuse, to pay a reasonable share of prenatal, natal, and postnatal expenses involving the birth of the child in accordance with the person's financial means promptly upon the person's receipt of notice of the child's impending birth;

(ii) The person has failed, without good cause or excuse, to make reasonable and consistent payments for the support of the child in accordance with the child support guidelines promulgated by the department pursuant to § 36-5-101;

(iii) The person has failed to seek reasonable visitation with the child, and if visitation has been granted, has failed to visit altogether, or has engaged in only token visitation, as defined in § 36-1-102(1)(C);

(iv) The person has failed to manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the child;

(v) Placing custody of the child in the person's legal and physical custody would pose a risk of substantial harm to the physical or psychological welfare of the child; or

(vi) The person has failed to file a petition to establish paternity of the child within thirty (30) days after notice of alleged paternity by the child's mother, or as required in § 36-2-318(j), or after making a claim of paternity pursuant to § 36-1-117(c)(3).

(B) (i) For purposes of this subdivision (g)(9), �notice� means the mailing, postage pre-paid, or the sending by, express mail, courier, or other conveyance, to the person charged with notice at such person's address a statement that such person is believed to be the biological parent of a child. Notice shall be deemed received if the statement sent is not returned undelivered or evidence is not otherwise received by the sender that the statement was not delivered; and

(ii) "Notice" also means the oral statement to an alleged biological father from a biological mother that the alleged biological father is believed to be the biological father of the biological mother's child.

(10) The parent has been convicted of aggravated rape pursuant to § 39-13-502 or rape pursuant to § 39-13-503, from which the child was conceived.

(h) (1) The department shall file a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child's parents (or, if such a petition has been filed by another party, seek to be joined as a party to the petition), and, concurrently, to identify, recruit, process, and approve a qualified family for an adoption, under the following circumstances:

(A) In the case of a child who has been in foster care under the responsibility of the department for fifteen (15) of the most recent twenty-two (22) months; or

(B) If a court of competent jurisdiction has determined a child to be an abandoned infant as defined at § 36-1-102; or

(C) If a court of competent jurisdiction has made a determination in a criminal or civil proceeding that the parent has committed murder of any sibling or half-sibling of the child who is the subject of the petition or any other child residing temporarily or permanently in the home, committed voluntary manslaughter of another such child, aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a murder or such a voluntary manslaughter of the child that is the subject of the petition or any sibling or half-sibling of the child who is the subject of the petition or any other child residing temporarily or permanently in the home, or committed a felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury or severe child abuse as defined at § 37-1-102 to the child that is the subject of the petition or any sibling or half-sibling of the child who is the subject of the petition or any other child residing temporarily or permanently in the home. For the purposes of this subsection (h), such a determination shall be made by a jury or trial court judge designated by § 16-2-502 through an explicit finding, or by such equivalent courts of other states or of the United States; or

(D) If a juvenile court has made a finding of severe child abuse as defined at § 37-1-102.

(2) At the option of the department, the department may determine that a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child's parents shall not be filed (or, if such a petition has been filed by another party, shall not be required to seek to be joined as a party to the petition), if one of the following exists:

(A) The child is being cared for by a relative;

(B) The department has documented in the permanency plan, which shall be available for court review, a compelling reason for determining that filing such a petition would not be in the best interests of the child; or

(C) The department has not made reasonable efforts under § 37-1-166 to provide to the family of the child, consistent with the time period in the department permanency plan, such services as the department deems necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home.

(i) In determining whether termination of parental or guardianship rights is in the best interest of the child pursuant to this part, the court shall consider, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) Whether the parent or guardian has made such an adjustment of circumstance, conduct, or conditions as to make it safe and in the child's best interest to be in the home of the parent or guardian;

(2) Whether the parent or guardian has failed to effect a lasting adjustment after reasonable efforts by available social services agencies for such duration of time that lasting adjustment does not reasonably appear possible;

(3) Whether the parent or guardian has maintained regular visitation or other contact with the child;

(4) Whether a meaningful relationship has otherwise been established between the parent or guardian and the child;

(5) The effect a change of caretakers and physical environment is likely to have on the child's emotional, psychological and medical condition;

(6) Whether the parent or guardian, or other person residing with the parent or guardian, has shown brutality, physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse, or neglect toward the child, or another child or adult in the family or household;

(7) Whether the physical environment of the parent's or guardian's home is healthy and safe, whether there is criminal activity in the home, or whether there is such use of alcohol or controlled substances as may render the parent or guardian consistently unable to care for the child in a safe and stable manner;

(8) Whether the parent's or guardian's mental and/or emotional status would be detrimental to the child or prevent the parent or guardian from effectively providing safe and stable care and supervision for the child; or

(9) Whether the parent or guardian has paid child support consistent with the child support guidelines promulgated by the department pursuant to § 36-5-101.

(j) In the hearing on the petition, the circuit, chancery, or juvenile court shall, in addition to the Tennessee Rules of Evidence, admit evidence as permitted under the Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Procedure, and shall recognize the exemptions to privileges as provided pursuant to §§ 37-1-411 and 37-1-614.

(k) The court shall ensure that the hearing on the petition takes place within six (6) months of the date that the petition is filed, unless the court determines an extension is in the best interests of the child. The court shall enter an order that makes specific findings of fact and conclusions of law within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the hearing. If such a case has not been completed within six (6) months from the date the petition was served, the petitioner or respondent shall have grounds to request that the court of appeals grant an order expediting the case at the trial level.

(l) (1) An order terminating parental rights shall have the effect of severing forever all legal rights and obligations of the parent or guardian of the child against whom the order of termination is entered and of the child who is the subject of the petition to that parent or guardian. The parent or guardian shall have no further right to notice of proceedings for the adoption of that child by other persons and shall have no right to object to the child's adoption or thereafter to have any relationship, legal or otherwise, with the child. It shall terminate the responsibilities of that parent or guardian under this section for future child support or other future financial responsibilities even if the child is not ultimately adopted; provided, that the entry of an order terminating the parental rights shall not 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 entry of the order terminating parental rights.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (l)(1), a child who is the subject of the order for termination shall be entitled to inherit from a parent whose rights are terminated until the final order of adoption is entered.

(m) Upon termination of parental or guardian rights, the court may award guardianship or partial guardianship of the child to a licensed child-placing agency or the department in any separate proceeding of the child with the right to place the child for adoption with the right to consent to the child's adoption, or to any prospective adoptive parent(s) with the right to adopt the child, as the case may be, subject to the remaining rights, if any, of other parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child.

(n) An order of guardianship or partial guardianship entered by the court pursuant to this section shall supersede prior orders of custody or guardianship of that court and of other courts, except those prior orders of guardianship or partial guardianship of other courts entered as the result of validly executed surrenders or revocations pursuant to § 36-1-111 or § 36-1-112, or except as provided pursuant to § 36-1-111(r)(4)(D) and (E), or except an order of guardianship or partial guardianship of a court entered pursuant to § 36-1-116; provided, that orders terminating parental rights entered by a court under this section prior to the filing of an adoption petition shall be effective to terminate parental rights for all purposes.

(o) If the court terminates parental or guardianship rights, under the provisions of this part or title 37 or a consent is given pursuant to § 36-1-117(f) or (g), or if there have been surrenders of parental or guardianship rights of all other necessary parties, then no further surrender or consent of that parent or guardian shall be necessary to authorize an adoption; provided, that the adoption court may review and confirm the validity of any denials of parentage made by persons under any statutory provisions from outside the state of Tennessee.

(p) A copy of the order or orders obtained by the prospective adoptive parents terminating parental or guardianship rights under this section shall be filed with the petition for adoption.

(q) After the entry of the order terminating parental rights, no party to the proceeding, nor anyone claiming under such party, may later question the validity of the termination proceeding by reason of any defect or irregularity therein, jurisdictional or otherwise, but shall be fully bound thereby, except based upon a timely appeal of the termination order as may be allowed by law; and in no event, for any reason, shall a termination of parental rights be overturned by any court or collaterally attacked by any person or entity after one (1) year from the date of the entry of the final order of termination. This provision is intended as a statute of repose.

Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 5 (Williams, § 9572.19); Acts 1955, ch. 320, § 1; 1957, ch. 292, § 1; 1959, ch. 111, § 1; 1959, ch. 223, § 4; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-110; § 36-1-110; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, §§ 41-44; 1997, ch. 379, § 1; 1997, ch. 551, § 54; 1998, ch. 1097, §§ 4-11; 1998, ch. 1098, § 4; 1999, ch. 467, § 1; 2000, ch. 683, §§ 1, 3; 2003, ch. 84, §§ 1, 2; 2003, ch. 231, §§ 9, 10; 2006, ch. 890, § 2; 2007, ch. 372, §§ 1, 2; 2008, ch. 1059, §§ 1-3; 2008, ch. 1162, §§ 3, 4; 2010, ch. 821, § 1; 2010, ch. 842, § 1; 2010, ch. 881, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-113 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 9 (Williams, § 9572.23); impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-113), concerning consent filed with petition, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

Acts 2000, ch. 683, § 4 provided that the act shall apply to all proceedings and petitions pending on May 8, 2000 and all arising on or after May 8, 2000.

Acts 2006, ch. 890, § 1 provided that the provisions of the act may be collectively known as the �Child Protection Act of 2006.�


36-1-114. Venue.

The adoption petition may be filed in the county:

(1) Where the petitioners reside;

(2) Where the child resides;

(3) Where the child resided when:

(A) The child became subject to the care and control of a public or private child-caring or child-placing agency; or

(B) The child became subject to partial or complete guardianship or co-guardianship pursuant to a surrender proceeding as provided in this part; or

(4) In which is located any licensed child-placing agency or institution operated under the laws of this state having custody or guardianship of the child or to which the child has been surrendered as provided in this part.

Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 12 (Williams, § 9572.26); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-104; 36-1-104; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 2008, ch. 1059, § 4.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-114 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 12 (Williams, § 9572.26); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-104), concerning surrender of child, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.


6-1-115. Persons eligible to file adoption petition - Residence requirements - Preference for foster parents.

(a) Any person over eighteen (18) years of age may petition the chancery or circuit court to adopt a person and may request that the adopted person's name be changed.

(b) The petitioners must have physical custody or must demonstrate to the court that they have the right to receive custody of the child sought to be adopted as provided in § 36-1-111(d)(6) at the time the petition is filed, unless they are filing an intervening petition seeking to adopt the child.

(c) If the petitioner has a spouse living, competent to join in the petition, such spouse shall join in the petition; provided, that if the spouse of the petitioner is a legal or biological parent of the child to be adopted, such spouse shall sign the petition as co-petitioner, and this shall be sufficient consent by the legal or biological parent for the petitioner's spouse to adopt the child of the legal or biological parent, and no surrender shall be necessary by such co-petitioning legal or biological parent. Such action by the legal or biological parent shall not otherwise affect the legal relationship between that parent and the child.

(d) The petitioner or petitioners shall have lived, or maintained a regular place of abode, in this state or on federal territory within the boundaries of this state for six (6) consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the adoption petition.

(e) If the petitioner is in military service stationed out of this state, but had lived, or maintained a regular place of abode, within this state for six (6) consecutive months immediately prior to entering military service, the residency requirement in subsection (d) shall not apply.

(f) Where the petitioner is seeking to adopt a child that is related, the residency requirement in subsections (d) and (e) shall not apply if the petitioner is an actual resident of this state at the time the petition is filed.

(g) (1) When a child is placed in a foster home by the department or otherwise, and becomes available for adoption due to the termination or surrender of all parental or guardianship rights to the child, those foster parents shall be given first preference to adopt the child if the child has resided in the foster home for twelve (12) or more consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of an adoption petition.

(2) In becoming adoptive parents, the foster parents shall meet all requirements otherwise imposed on persons seeking to adopt children in the custody of the department, and shall be subject to all other provisions of this part.

[Acts 1951, ch. 202, §§ 4, 40 (Williams, §§ 9572.18, 9572.52); Acts 1959, ch. 223, § 1; Acts 1961, ch. 150, § 1; 1971, ch. 232, § 1; 1971, ch. 329, § 1; 1972, ch. 612, § 7; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; Acts 1976, ch. 481, § 1; 1977, ch. 232, § 1; 1979, ch. 107, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-105; § 36-1-105; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-115 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, §§ 10, 40 (Williams, §§ 9572.24, 9572.52); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-115), concerning consent of child fourteen years of age or over, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

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

(a) (1) Prior to filing a petition for the adoption of a child, the prospective adoptive parents may contact a licensed child-placing agency, or a licensed clinical social worker, or if indigent under federal poverty guidelines, they may contact the department, and request a home study or a preliminary home study concerning the suitability of their home and themselves as adoptive parents.

(2) To be valid for use in response to the order of reference issued pursuant to subsection (e), the home study must have been completed or updated within six (6) months prior to the date of the order of reference. The preliminary home study must have been completed within thirty (30) days prior to the filing of the petition.

(b) The petition to adopt must state:

(1) The full name of the petitioners;

(2) The name used for the child in the proceeding. In the petition or other orders related to the custody of the child and the final order of adoption, and in all other documents related to the case, the name selected by the petitioner as the name for the child may be used as the true and legal name of the child, and the original name of the child shall not be necessary. Only in the court report required by law on the investigation of the conditions and antecedents of the child sought to be adopted and on the form requesting the new certificate of birth by adoption shall the original name of the child given by the biological or prior legal parent or parents be necessary;

(3) The birth date, state, and county or country of birth of the child, if known;

(4) The information necessary to show that the court to which the petition is addressed has jurisdiction;

(5) That the petitioners have physical custody of the child or that they meet the requirements of § 36-1-111(d)(6), and from what person or agency such custody was or is to be obtained;

(6) That it is the desire of the petitioners that the relationship of parent and child be established between them and the child;

(7) The desire of the petitioners, if they have such, that the name of the child be changed, together with the new name desired;

(8) The value of the personal and real property owned by the child or in which the child may have some legal or equitable interest;

(9) That the petitioners are fit persons to have the care and custody of the child and that it is in the best interest of the child for this adoption to occur;

(10) That the petitioners are financially able to provide for the child;

(11) That there has been full compliance with the law in regard to surrender of the child to the petitioners, or termination of parental or guardianship rights, or consent to the adoption of the child by the agency with rights to place a child for adoption, or that the petitioner intends to effect compliance with the requirements for termination of parental or guardianship rights or parental consents as part of the adoption proceeding, and how such compliance will be effected. A copy of any orders obtained by the prospective adoptive parents terminating parental or guardianship rights and copies of any surrenders that were executed to the prospective adoptive parents shall be filed with the petition;

(12) (A) Whether the biological parent is giving parental consent for the adoption of the child as defined pursuant to § 36-1-102 and as executed pursuant to § 36-1-117(g), or that the parent is signing the petition pursuant to § 36-1-117(f) and that the parent understands that the child will be adopted by the relatives or stepparent of the child and that, in the case of the adoption by relatives, the parent will have no legal rights to the custody, control, or to visitation with the child in the future;

(B) In the case of a parental consent pursuant to § 36-1-102 and § 36-1-117(g), the petition must state that the parent understands that the entry of an order confirming the parental consent, without revoking the parental consent prior to the entry of such order, will terminate that parent's parental rights to the child forever and that the parent will have no legal rights to the custody, control, or to visitation with the child in the future;

(13) (A) That the petitioner has made inquiry to the putative father registry within ten (10) working days prior to the filing of the petition to determine whether any person claims a paternity interest in the child who is the subject of the proceeding by having entered a claim with the registry, the result of such inquiry, and that, if the child is less than thirty (30) days old at the time the petition is filed, the petitioner provided notice of the filing of the adoption petition to the registry; and

(B) Whether there are any other persons known to the petitioner(s) who are entitled to notice under § 36-1-117 and the identity of such persons;

(14) Whether the child was brought into Tennessee for foster care or adoption, and, if so, that there has been full compliance with the ICPC or, if compliance has not occurred, a statement alleging good cause for such noncompliance. Evidence of compliance in the form of the ICPC Form 100A or other form from the department, if appropriate, or a sworn statement stating why such form is not required shall be included or attached as an exhibit to the petition;

(15) (A) Whether the child was brought into Tennessee for foster care or adoption from a foreign country, and, if so, evidence shall be attached to the petition showing approval of the government or legal authority in the country from which the child was brought that the child's placement with the petitioners was appropriate and that the petitioners have legal authority under that country's law to have the custody of the child;

(B) The petition shall exhibit evidence from the immigration and naturalization service, the department of justice or the department of state that the child has proper authorization to enter the United States;

(C) If a child who was the subject of an adoption decree from the foreign country must be re-adopted under Tennessee law to effect a valid adoption due to any interpretation of the United States government, the petition shall so state and state that this is necessary for the child to be legally adopted in the United States, and the court shall have jurisdiction to enter an order of adoption for this purpose;

(D) If a child is in this country and the provisions of subdivision (b)(15)(A) cannot be met, the petitioners shall file an affidavit and any other available documentary evidence satisfactory to the court that shows why there is no approval available for the child from the foreign government or legal authority in the foreign country concerning the child's placement with the petitioners;

(16) (A) Whether the petitioners have paid, or promised to pay, any money, fees, contributions, or other remuneration or thing of value in connection with the birth, placement or the adoption of the child, and if so, to or from whom, the specific amount, and the specific purpose for which these were paid or promised;

(B) The disclosure required by this subdivision (b)(16) shall specifically include whether any attorney's fees or medical expenses or counseling fees and the other expenses permitted under §§ 36-1-108 and 36-1-109 or any other fees, remuneration, or contribution, were paid or promised in connection with the child's birth, placement, or adoption and if so, to whom, the specific amount and the specific purpose for which they were paid or promised;

(C) The disclosure required by this subdivision (b)(16) shall also specifically include the amount of fees paid to any licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker in connection with the placement of the child.

(c) The petition must be signed by each petitioner personally and must be verified and must be filed with the clerk of the court, who shall send a certified copy of the petition to the director of adoptions in the state office of the department in Nashville, and to the local office of the department or the licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker that or who has been directed to answer the order of reference issued in accordance with subsection (e) within three (3) business days after its filing.

(d) Any person who files a petition to adopt a child less than thirty (30) days old shall notify the putative father registry maintained by the department of the filing of the petition unless the known biological or legal father has:

(1) Executed a surrender or a waiver of interest in accordance with this part;

(2) Had parental rights terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction; or

(3) Been made a party to the adoption proceedings and has been served notice as required by law.

(e) (1) Upon filing the adoption petition, the prospective adoptive parents shall notify the court if they have requested a home study or preliminary home study pursuant to subsection (a) and shall file or cause to be filed a copy of the court report based upon the home study or preliminary home study with the court, under seal, unless the court waives the home study or the preliminary home study for prospective adoptive parents who are related to the child.

(2) (A) Upon filing of the petition for adoption, the petitioners also shall inform the adoption court of the name of the court in which the surrender was filed, and the adoption court shall request the court where the surrender was filed to forward a certified copy of the surrender and copies of the medical and social information obtained at the time of the surrender to the adoption court and any court reports based upon home studies that were ordered by the court. This information shall be made a part of the adoption record, but shall be confidential and shall be placed in a sealed envelope within the court file or shall be filed in a protected electronically maintained file and shall remain under seal and shall not be open to inspection by any person or agency other than the department or the licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker to which the order of reference is issued under this subsection (e), except by written order of the court or as otherwise permitted under this part.

(B) Unless waived by the court in accordance with subdivision (e)(1), the court shall order a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker, or the department if the petitioners are indigent under federal poverty guidelines, to conduct a preliminary home study, and a court report based upon such a study must be submitted within fifteen (15) days of the date of the order if, at the time the petition is filed, the petitioners have custody of the child, and the petitioners have not submitted to the court a court report based upon a timely home study or timely preliminary home study with the petition, and the court may enter any orders necessary for the child's care and protection as permitted by subsection (f) pending receipt of the preliminary home study.

(3) If no prior or updated home study of the prospective adoptive parents has been conducted and a court report filed with the court at the time the order of reference is issued and such home study has not been waived in accordance with subdivision (e)(1), then the court, within five (5) days of the date the petition is filed, shall direct the order of reference to a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker chosen by the petitioners or, if the petitioners are indigent under federal poverty guidelines or if the child was placed with the petitioners by the department, to the department, to submit a preliminary court report, and any supplemental court reports as may be necessary, and a final court report concerning the circumstances of the child, the child's antecedents, and the proposed adoptive home. Except for good cause shown, the court shall issue the order of reference to the licensed child-placing agency, the licensed clinical social worker, or the department that conducted the home study pursuant to the prospective adoptive parents' request pursuant to subsection (a).

(4) The information in subdivision (e)(2) shall be made available to the licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker or the department which responds to the order of reference. If the necessary medical and social information was obtained by the court pursuant to the provisions of § 36-1-111, it shall not be necessary for the department or the licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker to have any further contact with the biological parents in response to the order of reference, unless it is believed the information contained in the statements is inaccurate or incomplete, in which case the department, licensed child-placing agency, or the licensed clinical social worker may contact the biological or prior legal parents or the guardian to obtain such information.

(5) (A) A preliminary court report shall be filed by the department, the licensed child-placing agency or the licensed clinical social worker within sixty (60) days of the receipt of the order of reference and may be supplemented from time to time as the licensed child-placing agency, the licensed clinical social worker or the department determines necessary, or as ordered by the court.

(B) A final court report shall be submitted immediately prior to the finalization of the adoption upon fourteen (14) days' notice to the department, the licensed child-placing agency, or the licensed clinical social worker.

(f) (1) Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of all matters pertaining to the child, including the establishment of paternity of a child pursuant to chapter 2, part 3 of this title, except for allegations of delinquency, unruliness or truancy of the child pursuant to title 37; provided, that, unless a party has filed an intervening petition to an existing adoption petition concerning a child who is in the physical custody of the original petitioners, the court shall have no jurisdiction to issue any orders granting custody or guardianship of the child to the petitioners or to the intervening petitioners or granting an adoption of the child to the petitioners or to the intervening petitioners unless the petition affirmatively states, and the court finds in its order, that the petitioners have physical custody of the child at the time of the filing of the petition, entry of the order of guardianship, or entry of the order of adoption, or unless the petitioners otherwise meet the requirements of § 36-1-111(d)(6).

(2) Except for proceedings concerning allegations of delinquency, unruliness, or truancy of the child under title 37, any proceedings that may be pending seeking the custody or guardianship of the child or visitation with the child who is in the physical custody of the petitioners on the date the petition is filed, or where the petitioners meet the requirement of § 36-1-111(d)(6), shall be suspended pending the court's orders in the adoption proceeding, and jurisdiction of all other pending matters concerning the child and proceedings concerning establishment of the paternity of the child shall be transferred to and assumed by the adoption court; provided, that until the adoption court enters any orders affecting the child's custody or guardianship as permitted by this part, all prior parental or guardian authority, prior court orders regarding custody or guardianship, or statutory authority concerning the child's status shall remain in effect.

(3) If no prior order of guardianship or custody has been entered giving guardianship or legal custody to the petitioners, the court may, upon receipt of a satisfactory preliminary home study or a satisfactory home study, and if the petitioners have physical custody of the child or otherwise meet the requirements of § 36-1-111(d)(6), issue an order of guardianship or custody with the same authority given to the petitioners as is provided pursuant to §§ 36-1-102, and 37-1-140 as the case may be.

(4) If an order of guardianship is entered pursuant to this part, the petitioner or petitioners 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.

(g) (1) The court shall order a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker, or the department if the parents are indigent under federal poverty guidelines or if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents by the department, to provide supervision for the child who is in the home of prospective adoptive parents and to make any necessary reports that the court should have concerning the welfare of the child pending entry of the final order in the case; provided, that the court may waive this requirement when the child is to be adopted by related persons.

(2) Unless they are indigent under federal poverty guidelines, the prospective adoptive parents shall pay the costs of the home study and the supervision required by this subsection (g) and the supervision required by the court.

(h) The filing of the petition shall be deemed the commencement of a custody proceeding for purposes of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), compiled in chapter 6, part 2 of this title.

(i) If the court grants guardianship or custody of the child upon the filing of the petition or at any time thereafter to any person, 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 or trustee is currently appointed to care for the child's property.

(j) When the husband and wife are joint petitioners, the death of one (1) spouse shall not result in the dismissal of the petition for adoption for that reason alone, and the court may proceed to grant the adoption to the surviving petitioner.

(k) (1) The department, a licensed child-placing agency, or a licensed clinical social worker shall have the right to intervene in the adoption proceeding at any time to present evidence as to the best interests of the child by filing a sworn complaint in the adoption proceeding.

(2) (A) Subject to the provisions of subsection (f), the court may make any necessary orders upon its own motion or upon the sworn complaint of the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or a licensed clinical social worker for the protection and welfare of the child, including emergency ex parte orders for the immediate care and protection of the child as permitted pursuant to § 36-1-111(v)(1)(A)-(C).

(B) Any emergency ex parte orders for the protection of the child may be entered if the court finds probable cause to believe that the child's immediate health or safety would be endangered. The ex parte order may direct the removal of the child from the custody of the prospective adoptive parents.

(3) If an ex parte order of protection is entered that removes the child from the custody of the prospective adoptive parents, a preliminary hearing shall be held within five (5) days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, to determine the need for the continuance of such order.

(4) The prospective adoptive parents shall be necessary parties at the preliminary hearing and the court may order the department or the licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker to provide any necessary information or court reports concerning the welfare of the child as it may require.

(5) If the court determines at the preliminary hearing that there is probable cause to believe that the child's health or safety will be immediately endangered if the child remains in or is returned to the custody of the prospective adoptive parents, or that any other orders must be entered to ensure the health and safety of the child, it shall make such orders as are necessary to protect the child and may continue or place temporary legal custody of the child with the department or a licensed child-placing agency or any other suitable persons approved by the department or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker.

(6) The court shall set a final hearing concerning the allegations involving the prospective adoptive parents within thirty (30) days, except for good cause shown in an order entered by the court.

(7) If the court determines upon clear and convincing evidence at a final hearing that it should make another disposition of the child, it may remove the child from the custody of the prospective adoptive parents and may make any other orders necessary for the child's welfare and best interests, including an alternate custody or guardianship order for the child, and the court may dismiss the adoption petition as provided in § 36-1-118. If the court does not find by clear and convincing evidence that it should make another disposition of the child, it shall dismiss the complaint that had made the allegations concerning the child's best interests and the adoption proceedings shall continue pending further orders of the court.

[Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, §§ 45-52, 112; 1997, ch. 551, §§ 55, 56; 2003, ch. 231, §§ 11-13.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-116 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 35 (Williams, § 9572.49); 1953, ch. 171, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-116), concerning consent of persons eighteen years of age or older, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

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

(a) (1) Unless the parent, the legal parent, or the guardian, or, as provided in subsections (b) and (c), the putative biological father of the child has surrendered parental or guardianship rights to the child, has executed a parental consent that has been confirmed by the court, has waived such person's rights pursuant to § 36-1-111(w), or unless such person's rights have been terminated by the order of a court of competent jurisdiction, the legal parent(s), guardian of the person of the child or of an adult, and the biological parents of the child must be made parties to the adoption proceeding or to a separate proceeding seeking the termination of those rights, and their rights to the child must be terminated by a court to authorize the court to order the adoption of the child or adult by other persons.

(2) The parental rights of a putative biological father who has filed a petition to establish paternity of the child shall be determined by the procedures in subsection (b).

(b) (1) If a petition has been filed to establish paternity of the child who is the subject of the adoption proceeding, the adoption court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide any paternity petition filed in the adoption proceeding or that has been transferred to it pursuant to § 36-2-307.

(2) The paternity petition shall be heard and concluded prior to any action by the adoption court to determine whether to grant the petition for adoption.

(3) (A) The petition shall be granted if it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the person alleged to be the father of the child is the father of the child; provided, that the entry of such an order shall not prevent the filing and consideration of a petition pursuant to § 36-1-113.

(B) If the petition to establish paternity is granted, then the parental rights of the legal father must be terminated as provided by § 36-1-113 or as otherwise provided by law, or the legal father must execute a surrender under the provisions of § 36-1-111, file a parental consent, or the legal father must co-sign the petition for adoption pursuant to the provisions of subsection (f) before the court may be authorized to order an adoption of the child.

(4) If grounds for termination of parental rights do not exist, then the child's legal father shall be granted custody of the child, unless the court determines, upon clear and convincing evidence, that the legal father is unable currently to provide proper custodial care for the child, in which case the court shall make such orders as may be necessary for the child's care and supervision pursuant to § 37-1-140; or unless the child's mother's rights have not been previously terminated, in which case the court shall make a determination of the custodial status of the child between the legal father and the mother, and the court may make such other orders as are necessary to provide for the child's care and supervision. If the court determines that neither parent is suitable to provide for the care of the child, it shall make such other orders as it may determine are necessary for the child's care and supervision.

(5) If the petition to establish paternity is not granted by the court after a hearing and determination based upon subdivision (3), then the court may enter an order to that effect specifying the basis for the determination, and may proceed with the adoption proceeding without further need to terminate the rights of that putative father.

(6) The provisions of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), compiled in chapter 6, part 2 of this title shall govern jurisdiction of the adoption court in this state if a paternity proceeding has been filed by the putative father in another state, territory, or foreign country.

(c) The parental rights of the putative biological father of a child who has not filed a petition to establish paternity of the child or who has not established paternity of the child who is the subject of an adoption proceeding and who meets any of the following criteria shall be terminated by surrender, parental consent, termination of parental rights pursuant to § 36-1-113, or by waiver of interest, before the court may enter an order of adoption concerning that child:

(1) The biological father of a child has filed with the putative father registry, pursuant to § 36-2-318 a statement of an intent to claim paternity of the child at any time prior to or within thirty (30) days after the child's birth and has notified the registry of all address changes;

(2) The biological father has been specifically identified to the petitioners or their attorney, or to the department, the licensed child-placing agency, or the licensed clinical social worker involved in the care, placement, supervision, or study of the child as the child's father by the child's biological mother in a sworn, written statement or by other information that the court determines to be credible and reliable;

(3) The biological father has claimed to the child's biological mother, or to the petitioners or their attorney, or to the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or a licensed clinical social worker who or that is involved in the care, placement, supervision, or study of the child that the biological father believes that the biological father is the father of the child; provided, that if the biological father has previously notified the department of the biological father's claim to paternity of the child pursuant to the provisions of the putative father registry, § 36-2-318(e)(3), the biological father shall be subject to all the requirements for waiver of notice provisions of § 36-2-318(f)(2) and to all requirements for filing a paternity petition;

(4) The biological father is recorded on the child's birth certificate as the father of the child;

(5) The biological father is openly living with the child at the time the adoption proceeding is commenced and is holding himself out as the father of the child; provided that, if custody of the child has been removed from the biological mother by court order, notice shall be given to any man who was openly living with the child at time of the initiation of the custody or guardianship proceeding that resulted in the removal of the custody or guardianship of the child from the biological mother or biological father, if the man held himself out to be the father of the child at the time of the removal; or

(6) The biological father has entered a permanency plan or plan of care under the provisions of title 37, chapter 2, part 4, or under similar provisions of any other state or territory in which the biological father acknowledges paternity of the child.

(d) (1) Other biological or legal relatives of the child or the adult are not necessary parties to the proceeding and shall not be entitled to notice of the adoption proceedings unless they are legal guardians as defined in § 36-1-102 or legal custodians of the person of the child or adult at the time the petition is filed.

(2) The legal custodian of the child may only receive notice of the proceeding and may only present evidence as to the child's best interests.

(e) Any public or private agency that may have custody or complete or partial guardianship of the child and that has not given consent as provided under this part shall be made a defendant and given notice of the filing of the adoption or termination of parental or guardian rights petition filed under this part or under title 37, and shall be permitted to assert its rights to custody or guardianship of the child.

(f) When the child is related to one (1) of the petitioners or is the stepchild of the petitioner, and the legal or biological parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child signs the adoption petition as a co-petitioner for the specific purpose, as stated in the petition, of giving consent to the adoption, no further surrender, parental consent, or termination of parental rights shall be required as to that parent or guardian, as the act of joining in the adoption petition shall be deemed a complete surrender, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (g), and no further notice or service of process need be made to that person; provided, that where the stepparent of a stepchild seeks to adopt a stepchild, the co-signing of the petition by the child's parent who is the spouse of the petitioner shall not affect the existing parent/child legal relationship between that parent and the parent's child who is the subject of the adoption petition by the stepparent of the child.

(g) (1) A parent may sign a petition for adoption as provided by § 36-1-102 for the purpose of giving parental consent to the adoption of the parent's child by unrelated persons. The petition must state that the parent understands that the entry of an order confirming the parental consent, without revoking the parental consent prior to the entry of such order, will terminate that parent's parental rights to the child forever and that the parent will have no legal rights to the custody, control, or to visitation with the child in the future.

(2) It is specifically and expressly declared that the act of signing the adoption petition shall not terminate the parental rights of such parent until the court where the adoption petition is filed has entered an order confirming the parental consent and until the court shall have required such parent to answer, under oath, each of the questions required of parents pursuant to § 36-1-111(k), including the question regarding the contact veto required by § 36-1-111(k)(3).

(3) The parent signing the petition for the purpose of giving parental consent shall be provided ten (10) calendar days' written notice by the court of the appearance date for the required response to the court pursuant to § 36-1-111 before entry of the order confirming the parental consent is entered by the court. Unless the parent is disabled or the parent's appearance is impracticable as determined by the court, that parent must personally attend the hearing before the court in chambers. If the parent is disabled or the parent's appearance is impracticable as determined by the court, the answers shall be taken under oath at the parent's location by the court or by any person appointed by an order of the court to do so. If the parent executing the parental consent cannot be found or does not appear at the time of such hearing, the court may terminate that parent's rights upon any grounds available pursuant to § 36-1-113.

(4) Following the satisfactory completion of such questions, which shall be recorded on the forms required pursuant to § 36-1-111, the court shall enter an order that confirms the parental consent, and the court shall then, and only then, be authorized to enter an order terminating such parent's rights to the child who is the subject of the adoption petition; provided, that a parental consent may be revoked at any time prior to the entry of an order of confirmation of the parental consent by the court by executing a revocation form as provided in § 36-1-112, and such revocation shall negate and void the parental consent executed pursuant to this subsection (g).

(5) The death of the consenting parent or termination of parental rights of such parent by a validly executed surrender or by court action prior to the entry of the adoption order will make any requirements for the parental consent contained herein unnecessary.

(6) Upon entry of the order of confirmation, the clerk shall send certified copies of the order to the adoptions unit in the state office of the department in Nashville.

(h) The department, through any authorized person, or the executive head of such licensed child-placing agency may give consent to the adoption of the child by the petitioners for whom it holds complete or partial guardianship.

(i) (1) When the child who is the subject of the adoption is fourteen (14) years of age or older at any time before the granting of the petition, the adoption court must receive the sworn, written consent of such child to the adoption, which shall be filed with the record, and the consent of such minor shall be recited in the order of adoption. The court shall receive the consent and testimony from the child in chambers with only the child and a guardian ad litem if required and appointed by the court for the child present.

(2) If the child is mentally disabled, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to give or withhold consent for the child to the adoption and the court shall follow the procedure of subdivisions (j)(2)(B) and (C).

(j) (1) When the person sought to be adopted is eighteen (18) years of age or older, only the sworn, written consent of the person sought to be adopted shall be required and no order of reference or any home studies need be issued.

(2) (A) If the adult person to be adopted has been adjudicated incompetent, then the written consent of the adult person's guardian or conservator of the person shall be required.

(B) If the person is without a guardian or conservator and the court has reason to believe that the person is incompetent to give consent, then the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem who shall investigate the person's circumstances and that guardian ad litem shall give or withhold consent.

(C) The guardian ad litem shall file a written report stating the basis for the decision and the court shall afford a hearing to all parties to present evidence as to the best interests of the person, and if the court determines upon clear and convincing evidence that the decision to withhold consent by the guardian ad litem is arbitrary and is not in the best interests of the incompetent person, it may proceed to make any other orders it deems necessary for the person's welfare, including granting the adoption petition.

(3) In all other situations under this subsection (j) for adult persons who are the subject of an adoption petition, no order of reference, social investigation, report to the court by a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker or the department, or the waiting period under § 36-1-119 shall be required.

(k) When the child has been surrendered or parental rights have been relinquished to an agency operating under the laws of another state, territory, or foreign country, or such agency has received guardianship or the right to place a child for adoption pursuant to the laws of its jurisdiction, the surrender or relinquishment, or any order terminating parental rights, and the written consent of the agency pursuant to the laws of its jurisdiction or pursuant to its procedures shall be filed with the adoption petition and shall be sufficient for the purposes of providing the necessary consent required by this part.

(l) If a person has surrendered that parent's parental rights or guardianship rights, if a person has filed a parental consent and the consent has been confirmed as provided herein, if a person has executed a waiver of interest pursuant to this part, if a person or agency has consented to the adoption of the child who is the subject of the adoption proceeding, or if a person's parental or guardianship rights to the child have been properly terminated, no notice of the adoption proceeding or service of process shall be made to that person or agency.

(m) (1) Service of process for adoption proceedings pursuant to this part shall be made pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and the statutes governing substituted service.

(2) Service of process for proceedings to terminate parental rights in juvenile court shall be pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Procedure, the statutory requirements of title 37, chapter 1, part 1, where not otherwise in conflict with this part, and the statutes governing substituted service.

(3) Any motion for an order for publication in these proceedings shall be accompanied by an affidavit of the petitioners or their legal counsel attesting, in detail, to all efforts to determine the identity and whereabouts of the parties against whom substituted service is sought.

(n) The court may enter a default judgment against any party to the adoption or termination proceeding upon a finding that service of process has been validly made against that party in accordance with the Tennessee Rules of Civil or Juvenile Procedure and the statutes concerning substituted service; however, in termination proceedings, proof must be presented as to legal grounds and best interest pursuant to § 36-1-113.

Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 7 (Williams, § 9572.21); Acts 1955, ch. 320, § 2; 1955, ch. 345, § 1; 1959, ch. 223, § 3; 1961, ch. 150, § 2; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; 1976, ch. 455, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-108; § 36-1-108; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, §§ 53-56, 113; 1997, ch. 551, §§ 57-65; 1998, ch. 1098, §§ 5-7; 2003, ch. 231, § 14; 2007, ch. 199, §§ 1, 2; 2008, ch. 1059, § 5; 2008, ch. 1162, § 1; 2010, ch. 842, § 2; 2010, ch. 849, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-117, concerning revocation of surrender, was transferred to § 36-1-112.


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

(a) If at any time between the surrender of a child directly to prospective adoptive parents and the filing of an adoption petition or at any time between the filing of an adoption petition and the issuance of the final order of the adoption, it is made known to the court on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that circumstances are such that the child should not be adopted, the court may dismiss the adoption proceedings or, if no adoption proceedings have been commenced, the court may order the surrender or parental consent to prospective adoptive parents to be revoked and may modify or dismiss any order of guardianship previously entered, and may order the reinstatement of parental rights, all in consideration of the best interests of the child.

(b) If it is made known to the court where the surrender of a child directly to adoptive parents was executed or filed and that, in accordance with § 36-1-111(r), has jurisdiction of the child, that the prospective adoptive parents to whom the child had been surrendered have not filed a petition to adopt the child within thirty (30) days of the date of execution of the surrender, or if the court where the adoption petition determines that the prospective adoptive parents do not have, or have not obtained, an order of guardianship or an order of legal custody for the child who is the subject of the adoption petition within thirty (30) days of the date of the filing of the petition, the court shall set a hearing for the purpose of determining if any surrender to the prospective adoptive parents should be ordered revoked, if any order of guardianship should be modified or dismissed, if an order of custody or guardianship should be entered, if parental rights should be reinstated, or if some other disposition should be made for the child in the child's best interests.

(c) (1) Before entering an order pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) directing that the surrender directly to prospective adoptive parents be revoked or that the parental consent to prospective adoptive parents disallowed, or that the order of guardianship be modified or dismissed, that an order of custody or guardianship be entered, or that parental rights be reinstated, or before dismissing the adoption proceedings, the court must give written notice of not less than five (5) days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, of its intent to do so.

(2) The notice shall be given to the persons to whom the child was surrendered and for whom an order of guardianship was entered, to any petitioners and other parties to the proceeding, and to the department or licensed child-placing agency, or licensed clinical social worker that or who placed the child or conducted any studies involving the placement of the child in the home, and to the parent whose rights were terminated, but only if the court will consider reinstatement of that parent's rights.

(d) (1) Following the hearing, the court may order the revocation of the surrender or any parental consent, modify or dismiss the order of guardianship, may enter an order of custody or guardianship, may order reinstatement of parental rights, or may dismiss the petition if it determines upon clear and convincing evidence that such action is in the child's best interests.

(2) The court may reinstate parental rights only with the consent of the parent whose rights were terminated.

(e) (1) After the court's dismissal of the petition or after the order of revocation by the court of a surrender or parental consent, if the child had been in the legal custody or guardianship of the department or a licensed child-placing agency prior to the surrender, the parental consent, the entry of a guardianship order, or the filing of the adoption petition, the court shall enter an order directing that the child shall be placed in the guardianship of the department or the licensed child-placing agency that had legal custody or guardianship of the child immediately before the placement was made with the prospective adoptive parents or immediately before the surrender was executed or parental consent was filed or before the prior order giving guardianship to the prospective adoptive parent was entered.

(2) In all other cases in which the child was not in the legal custody or guardianship of the department or a licensed child-placing agency prior to the revocation by the court of the surrender or parental consent to prospective adoptive parents or prior to the dismissal of the guardianship order, or prior to the dismissal of the adoption proceeding by the court, or when the agency that had had custody or guardianship of the child prior to the child's placement or prior to the revocation of the surrender by the court, or dismissal of the petition cannot or will not resume guardianship or custody of the child, the child shall remain a ward of the court, which shall have jurisdiction to award the child's guardianship or legal custody according to the best interest of the child.

(3) The court shall continue to have jurisdiction of the child to make such further orders as are necessary until another adoption petition is filed, at which time jurisdiction over the child shall transfer to the court where the new adoption petition may be filed; provided, the juvenile court shall retain jurisdiction of the child for allegations of delinquency, unruliness, and truancy pursuant to the provisions of title 37, chapter 1, part 1.

(4) (A) Unless the child's custody or guardianship is required to be returned to the custody of the department or a licensed child-placing agency, or unless the court must return jurisdiction of the child to a court with prior jurisdiction, then, after entry of an order revoking the surrender or parental consent, dismissing the order of guardianship, after entry of an order of custody or guardianship, or after dismissing the petition for adoption, the court may, in its discretion, by order entered in the record, transfer all jurisdiction and wardship of the child to the juvenile court of the county of the child's residence.

(B) (i) After the clerk has transferred to the department the information required under this part, certified copies of any records of the child needed by the juvenile court from the court where the surrender was revoked, the guardianship order was dismissed, the custody or guardianship order was entered, or the adoption petition was dismissed, shall be transferred to the juvenile court and the clerk of the court that had taken action pursuant to subsection (d) and subdivision (e)(4) shall maintain the original of the records in that court's files.

(ii) Except as otherwise provided by this part, all such records shall remain confidential in the files of the juvenile court and shall not be open to any person except the child's legal custodian or legal guardian, or pursuant to a written order of the court, or to the department that may be investigating a report of child abuse or neglect or that may be responding to an order of reference by the juvenile court, or to a law enforcement agency investigating a report of child abuse or neglect or that is investigating any crime involving the child.

(5) Any order of guardianship or legal custody entered pursuant to this subsection (e) shall continue until modified by the court to which the jurisdiction is transferred or by the court where a new adoption petition is filed.

(6) If guardianship is awarded pursuant to this section, the court shall, in addition to the authority under § 37-1-140, give authority to place the child for adoption and to consent to adoption, or to adopt the child, or may give authority to surrender the child for that purpose.

(7) The department or the licensed child-placing agency receiving guardianship of the child under this section shall have authority to make another placement of the child for adoption and to consent to the adoption by new adoptive parents without further approval of the court.

(8) For purposes of this section, legal custody awarded by the court shall vest the legal custodian with the authority to provide the care and control of the child as set forth in § 37-1-140, but does not, by itself, without entry of an order of guardianship pursuant to this part, authorize the legal custodian to place the child for adoption or to consent to the adoption.

(9) Prior to entering an order establishing a permanent plan for the child who is not returned to the department or a licensed child-placing agency as provided in subdivision (e)(1), the court shall order the department or a licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker to investigate and report to the court within sixty (60) days regarding a suitable permanent plan for the child. Subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for allegations of delinquency, unruliness, or truancy against the child pursuant to title 37, the court may make further orders of custody or guardianship upon receipt of the report.

[Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-118 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 16 (Williams, § 9572.30); 1959, ch. 223, § 7; 1961, ch. 150, § 4; 1961, ch. 264, § 1; 1971, ch. 286, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; Acts 1978, ch. 611, §§ 3, 4; 1983, ch. 435, § 6; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-118; Acts 1986, ch. 767, § 8; 1988, ch. 560, § 12; 1991, ch. 158, § 1), concerning investigation by the human services department or agency, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

 

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

(a) Unless the child is related to the petitioners, no final order of adoption shall be entered before the home study has been filed with the court and before the petition has been on file at least six (6) months and before a final court report is filed with the court, except when the order is based upon a petition for readoption pursuant to § 36-1-106.

(b) If the child is related to the petitioners, the court may, in its discretion, waive the six-month waiting period, the orders of reference, the preliminary home study and home study, the order of guardianship or custody, and the final court report and may proceed to immediately grant an order of adoption.

(c) If the child has already resided in the home of the petitioners for six (6) months, the court has received the final court report concerning the circumstances of the child and the petitioners, and is satisfied that the adoption will be in the best interest of the child, the court may waive the six-month waiting period after the filing of the adoption petition and may enter an order of adoption.

(d) If no appeal has been taken from any order of the court, the court must complete or dismiss the adoption proceeding by entering a final order within two (2) years of the filing of the petition, unless the petitioner shows good cause why such final order should not be entered.

(e) If an appeal is taken from an order of the court, the proceeding must be completed by the court by entering a final order of adoption or a final order dismissing the proceeding within one (1) year from the final judgment upon appeal, except for good cause shown by the petitioner.

Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 21 (Williams, § 9572.35); Acts 1955, ch. 320, § 4; 1959, ch. 223, § 9; 1961, ch. 150, § 5; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-124; Acts 1989, ch. 229, § 1; 1992, ch. 994, § 1; T.C.A., § 36-1-124; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, § 57; 2006, ch. 890, § 3.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-119 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 17 (Williams, § 9572.31); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-119), concerning interlocutory decrees, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

Acts 2006, ch. 890, § 1 provided that the provisions of the act may be collectively known as the �Child Protection Act of 2006.�

 

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

(a) The final order of adoption must state:

(1) The full name of the child used in the proceeding;

(2) The full names of the petitioners and their county of residence and whether the petitioner is a stepparent of the adopted person;

(3) The fact and date of the filing of the petition;

(4) The date when the petitioners acquired physical custody of the child and from what person or agency or by which court order;

(5) The fact and date of the filing of a guardianship order, if such order has been entered;

(6) (A) That all persons entitled to notice of the proceedings have been served with process and the status of those persons in the proceedings and that all necessary parties were properly before the court;

(B) That the time for answering the petition has expired;

(C) That termination of all parental or guardian rights to the child by court order or surrenders or parental consents that are necessary to proceed with the adoption have occurred; and

(D) That orders reflecting the termination of parental rights pursuant to actions filed by the prospective adoptive parents, orders confirming parental consents, or the consents of the department or a licensed child-placing agency with authority to place and consent to the child's adoption, the consent of the child who is over fourteen (14) years of age, the consent of the guardian ad litem of an incompetent adult or mentally disabled child, or of any other person or entity required by law have been filed in the court record;

(7) That if the child has been brought into Tennessee from another state or foreign country, there has been compliance with the ICPC, if applicable, or with the requirements of the foreign government or legal authorities in the foreign country for the petitioners to have custody of the child and with all requirements of the United States government for the immigration of the child to this country, unless good cause has been shown to excuse such compliance;

(8) That the child's adoption is in compliance with or is not subject to the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.;

(9) Whether the child has been the subject of an adoption decree in a foreign country in which the petitioners were given the child in adoption by such decree and whether this adoption is a readoption for the purpose of complying with the requirements of the United States government for the purposes of the child's immigration or naturalization;

(10) That the petitioners are fit persons to have the care and custody of the child;

(11) That the petitioners are financially able to provide for the child;

(12) That the child is a suitable child for adoption; and

(13) That the adoption is for the best interest of the child.

(b) Before the entry of the final order, there shall be filed with the proposed order:

(1) An affidavit by the attorney for the petitioners detailing the fees charged for any services rendered in the placement of the child or for legal services, and any fees paid by the attorney to any other person or entity for services rendered in securing the placement of the child or for providing any services related to securing any home studies to secure a surrender or adoption of the child; and

(2) An affidavit by the licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker that or who placed the child with the petitioners regarding the fees charged by such agency or social worker to the adoptive parents for the placement of the child and for any home studies and supervision of the placement conducted by the licensed child-placing agency or by the licensed clinical social worker.

(c) The court shall review the affidavits required in subsection (b) and shall determine whether all fees set forth therein are reasonable. The court shall retroactively approve such fees or order reimbursement of any fees it determines to be unreasonable.

(d) The court shall, if satisfied that all the requirements necessary for the adoption of the child are present, thereupon decree the adoption of the child by the petitioners and shall order that the name of the child be changed to that requested by the petitioners.

(e) The clerk of the court shall furnish the department a certified copy of all final orders of adoption and the affidavits required under subsection (b) or final orders dismissing the adoption proceedings, and the department shall record pertinent information from the order, and the department shall maintain a copy of the order with all other information in the sealed adoption record.

(f) (1) All final orders of adoption shall be reported by the clerk to the division of vital records of the department of health by sending a certified copy of the order or a certified certificate of adoption, and by reporting the information required by that division for a new certificate of birth or for a Report of Foreign Birth for the child to the registrar of the division of vital records for preparation of a new certificate of birth by adoption or for a Report of Foreign Birth as provided in §§ 68-3-310 - 68-3-313.

(2) The court clerk shall supply the registrar of the division of vital records the following information for the preparation of a Report of Foreign Birth if the child who has been adopted was born in a foreign country:

(A) The full adoptive name of the child;

(B) The adopted child's date of birth;

(C) The adopted child's sex;

(D) The city, province and country of the adopted child's birth;

(E) The full name of the adoptive father;

(F) The full maiden name of the adoptive mother; and

(G) The legal residence of the adoptive parents.

(g) Costs for furnishing certified copies under subsections (e) and (f) shall be taxed to the petitioners.

(h) Notwithstanding the sealing and confidentiality of adoption records pursuant to this part, the clerk of the court in which adoption proceedings have occurred, upon being furnished verification of the identity of the requesting person, shall furnish to the adopted person, adoptive parents or their attorney or attorneys, upon their request at any time, certified copies of the final order of adoption or re-adoption or final orders dismissing such adoption proceedings. Nothing other than certified copies of the final order of adoption or re-adoption or final order dismissing such adoption proceedings shall be released pursuant to this subsection (h).

[Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 22 (Williams, § 9572.36); Acts 1959, ch. 223, § 10; impl. am. Acts 1975, ch. 219, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-125; § 36-1-125; Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1; 1996, ch. 1054, § 128; 2003, ch. 231, § 15.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-120 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 18 (Williams, § 9572.32); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-120.), concerning disposition of a child following an interlocutory decree, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

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

(a) The signing of a final order of adoption terminates any existing guardianship orders and establishes from that date the relationship of parent and child between the adoptive parent(s) and the adopted child as if the adopted child had been born to the adoptive parent(s) and the adopted child shall be deemed the lawful child of such parent(s), the same as if the child had been born to the parent(s), for all legal consequences and incidents of the biological relation of parents and children.

(b) The adopted child and the child's descendants shall be capable of inheriting and otherwise receiving title to real and personal property from the adoptive parents and their descendants, and of succeeding to the rights of either such parent or such parent's descendants in such property, whether created by will, by other instrument or by law, including, but not limited to, taking as a beneficiary of a remainder interest following a life interest or estate in either such parent or such parent's ancestor or descendant. The adopted child shall have the same such rights as to lineal and collateral kindred of either adoptive parent and the ancestors or descendants of such kindred, as the adoptive child has as to such parent, and the lineal and collateral kindred of either adoptive parent and the descendants of such kindred shall have the same such rights as to the adopted child and the child's descendants, but only as to property of the adopted child acquired after the child's adoption.

(c) In the construction of any instrument, whether will, deed, or otherwise, whether executed before or after August 24, 1995, and whether the testator or other party creating an interest by such instrument died before or after August 24, 1995, or before or after an adoption, a child so adopted and the descendants of such child are deemed included within the class created by any limitation contained in such instrument restricting a devise, bequest or conveyance to the lawful heirs, issue, children, descendants, or the like, as the case may be, of the adoptive parent, or of an ancestor or descendant of one (1) of them, and such adopted child shall be treated as a member of such class unless a contrary intention clearly shall appear by the terms of such instrument or unless the particular estate so limited shall have vested in interest and in possession in and as to the person or persons entitled thereto on August 24, 1995; provided, that this sentence shall not apply in the construction of any instrument as to any child who is over twenty-one (21) years of age at the time of such child's adoption.

(d) "Contrary intention clearly shall appear," as set forth in this section, shall not be found by any court to exist by use in such instrument of such terms as "issue," "children" or similar legal terms, unless the instrument specifically states that adopted children are to be excluded from such class.

(e) An adopted child shall not inherit real or personal property from a biological parent or relative thereof when the relationship between them has been terminated by final order of adoption, nor shall such biological parent or relative thereof inherit from the adopted child. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), if a parent of a child dies without the relationship of parent and child having been previously terminated and any other person thereafter adopts the child, the child's right of inheritance from or through the deceased biological parent or any relative thereof shall be unaffected by the adoption.

(f) The adoptive parents of a child shall not be required by any order of the adoption court to permit visitation by any other person, nor shall the order of the adoption court place any conditions on the adoption of the child by the adoptive parents. Any provision in an order of the court or in any written agreement or contract between the parent or guardian of the child and the adoptive parents requiring visitation or otherwise placing any conditions on the adoption shall be void and of no effect whatsoever; provided, that nothing under this part shall be construed to prohibit "open adoptions" where the adoptive parents permit, in their sole discretion, the parent or guardian of the child who surrendered the child or whose rights to the child were otherwise terminated, or the siblings or other persons related to the adopted child, to visit or otherwise continue or maintain a relationship with the adopted child; and provided further, that the permission or agreement to permit visitation or contact shall not, in any manner whatsoever, establish any enforceable rights in the parent or guardian, the siblings or other related persons.

(g) The adoption of a child shall have no effect upon arrearages owed by an obligor of child support for that child that existed prior to the termination of parental rights or to that child's adoption and that are owed by an obligor to any person or any governmental agency, nor shall it affect any other financial obligations of a person that may be related to the care of the adopted child prior to a surrender, termination of parental rights, or adoption involving that child.

[Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 23 (Williams, § 9572.37); Acts 1955, ch. 302, §§ 1, 2; 1957, ch. 345, § 1; 1968, ch. 406, § 1; 1976, ch. 751, § 1; 1983, ch. 432, §§ 1-4; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-126; Acts 1992, ch. 994, § 4; 1995, ch. 532, § 1.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 36-1-121 (Acts 1951, ch. 202, § 19 (Williams, § 9572.33); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-121; Acts 1988, ch. 560, § 12; 1991, ch. 158, § 2), concerning supervision of children in adoptive homes, was repealed by Acts 1995, ch. 532, § 1, effective January 1, 1996.

36-1-122. Binding effect of adoption.

(a) When a child is adopted pursuant to the provisions of this part, the adoptive parents shall not thereafter be deprived of any rights in the child, at the insistence of the child's biological or prior legal parents or guardian of the child or any other person or agency except in the same manner and for the same causes as are applicable in proceedings to deprive biological or legal parents or guardians of their children or wards as provided by law.


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