Consent to Adoption - Tennessee

Date: October 2021

Who Must Consent to an Adoption

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-117; 36-1-110

The following persons must be made parties to an adoption proceeding:

  • The parent, the legal parent, or the guardian
  • The putative father of the child

A parent who has not reached age 18 shall have the legal capacity to surrender a child or otherwise give parental consent to adoption or execute a waiver of interest and to release his or her rights to the child and shall be as fully bound thereby as if the parent had attained age 18.

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

Consent of Child Being Adopted

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-117

When the child who is the subject of the adoption is age 14 or older, the adoption court must receive the sworn, written consent of the child to the 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.

If the child is mentally disabled, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to give or withhold consent for the child.

When the person sought to be adopted is age 18 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.

If the adult adoptee has been adjudicated incompetent, then the written consent of the adult adoptee's conservator shall be required. If the adoptee is without a conservator and the court has reason to believe that the adoptee 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.

When Parental Consent is not Needed

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-117

The parent, legal parent, guardian, or putative father of the child shall not be made a party to the adoption proceeding if any of the following apply:

  • He or she has surrendered parental or guardianship rights to the child.
  • He or she has executed a parental consent that has been confirmed by the court.
  • He or she as waived his or her rights or has had his or her rights terminated by the order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

When Consent Can Be Executed

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-111

No surrender or parental consent shall be valid that is made within 3 calendar days after the date of the child's birth beginning on the day following the child's birth. The court may, for good cause shown, waive this waiting period.

How Consent Must Be Executed

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-111

All surrenders must be made in chambers before a judge of the chancery, circuit, or juvenile court, and the court shall advise the person or persons surrendering the child of the right of revocation of the surrender and time for the revocation and the procedure for that revocation.

No surrender or parental consent shall be sufficient to make a child available for adoption when any other person; the Department of Children's Services; a licensed child-placing agency; or other child-caring agency in this State or any State, territory, or foreign country is exercising the right to physical custody of the child.

When the person executing the surrender resides in another State or territory of the United States, the surrender may be made in accordance with the laws of that State or territory or may be made before the judge of such State or territory, and such surrender shall be valid for use in adoptions in this State.

When the surrendering person resides or is temporarily in a foreign country, the surrender may be made before any officer of the U.S. armed forces or foreign service authorized to administer oaths.

In cases in which the person executing the surrender is incarcerated in a State or Federal penitentiary, the surrender may be executed before the warden or deputy warden of the penitentiary or a notary public.

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

Revocation of Consent

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-112

A person who executed a surrender may revoke the surrender at any time within 3 calendar days of the date of the surrender. The surrender shall be revoked by appearing before the judge who accepted the surrender or the judge's successor or substitute. 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 shall sign and date the revocation form.

No surrender may be revoked by the person surrendering the child or set aside by a court after the expiration of the 3-day period except as the surrender may be invalidated by court order entered pursuant to a timely filed complaint or as permitted by order of the court entered pursuant to § 36-1-118.

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. The parent who executed the parental consent shall appear before the judge of the court in which the adoption petition is filed and shall execute a revocation of the parental consent.

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 invalidity; and no surrender, waiver of interest, or parental consent may be set aside for any reason unless the action based on these grounds is initiated within 30 days of the execution of the surrender or within 30 days of the date of entry of the order of confirmation of parental consent.

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