Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - Tennessee

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Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-111; 36-1-116; 36-1-120

A citizen of a foreign country may, in accordance with the law of the foreign country, execute a surrender of a child that states that all parental rights of that person are being terminated or relinquished by the execution of a surrender document or that the child is being given to an agency or other person for the purposes of adoption.

Effective July 1, 2019: The petition to adopt must include the following:

  • The full name of the petitioners
  • The name used for the child in the proceeding
  • The birth date, State, and county or country of birth of the child, if known
  • The information necessary to show that the court to which the petition is addressed has jurisdiction
  • 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
  • That it is the desire of the petitioners that the relationship of parent and child be established between them and the child
  • Whether the petitioners desire that the name of the child be changed, together with the new name desired
  • The value of any property owned by the child
  • That the petitioners are fit persons to have the care and custody of the child and that it is in the best interests of the child for this adoption to occur
  • That the petitioners are financially able to provide for the child
  • Whether the child was brought into Tennessee for adoption from a foreign country and, if so, the following evidence must be attached to the petition:
    • The 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
    • That the petitioners have legal authority under that country's law to have the custody of the child
    • That the Immigration and Naturalization Service,* the Department of Justice, or the Department of State has issued the proper authorization for the child to enter the United States
  • 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

The final order of adoption must state the following:

  • The full name of the child used in the proceeding
  • The full names of the petitioners and their county of residence
  • The date of the filing of the petition
  • The date when the petitioners acquired physical custody of the child
  • The fact and date of the filing of a guardianship order, if such order has been entered
  • That all persons entitled to notice of the proceedings have been served
  • That if the child has been brought into Tennessee from a foreign country, there has been compliance with the requirements of the foreign government for the petitioners to have custody of the child and with all requirements of the U.S. government for the immigration of the child to this country

*As of March 1, 2003, the responsibility for providing immigration-related services was transferred from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The statutes do not yet reflect this change.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-111; 36-1-116

A court report based upon the home study or preliminary home study must be available to the court. Before the surrender to prospective adoptive parents is executed, the court report must be reviewed by the court or persons in any surrender proceeding in which the surrender is not made to the Department of Children's Services or a licensed child-placing agency. When parental consent is executed pursuant to § 36-1-117(g), the court report based upon the home study or preliminary home study must be filed with the adoption petition and must be reviewed by the court before the entry of an order of guardianship giving the prospective adoptive parents guardianship of the child.

Effective July 1, 2019: A surrendering party shall complete a social and medical history form, as promulgated by the department, or a substantially similar form and attach the completed and executed form to the surrendering party's presurrender information form.

Unless waived by the court , the court shall order a licensed child-placing agency, 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 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 with the petition a court report based upon a timely home study or timely preliminary home study.

Background Studies

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-111; 36-1-116

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

Effective July 1, 2019: Prior to filing a petition for the adoption of a child, the prospective adoptive parents shall, except as otherwise provided by law, contact a licensed child-placing agency; a licensed clinical social worker; or, if indigent under Federal poverty guidelines, the department and request a home study or a preliminary home study concerning the suitability of their home and themselves as adoptive parents. The court may waive this requirement when the child is to be adopted by related persons.

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-1-116

Effective July 1, 2019: The court shall order a licensed child-placing agency; 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. The court may waive this requirement when the child is to be adopted by related persons.

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-121; 36-1-122

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 or parents and the adopted child as if the adopted child had been born to the adoptive parent or parents. The adopted child shall be deemed the lawful child of such parent or parents, the same as if the child had been born to the parent or parents, for all legal consequences and incidents of the biological relation of parents and children.

When a child is adopted pursuant to this part, the adoptive parents shall not thereafter be deprived of any rights in the child, at the insistence of the child's birth 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 legal parents or guardians of their children or wards as provided by law.

After the final order of adoption is entered, no party to an adoption proceeding, nor anyone claiming under such party, may later question the validity of the adoption proceeding by reason of any defect or irregularity therein, jurisdictional or otherwise, but shall be fully bound by the order, except for such appeal as may be allowed by law.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-120; 68-3-310

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.

The court clerk shall supply the registrar 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:

  • The full adoptive name of the child
  • The adopted child's date of birth
  • The adopted child's sex
  • The city, province, and country of the adopted child's birth
  • The full name of the adoptive father
  • The full maiden name of the adoptive mother
  • The legal residence of the adoptive parents

The State registrar shall prepare a report of foreign birth for a child not born in any State, territory, or possession of the United States whose adoptive parents are residents of Tennessee when required adoption papers have been received from a court of competent jurisdiction in Tennessee.