Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Tennessee

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

The agency shall make a thorough study of the applicants before the home is approved.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-116

The study may be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or the Department of Children's Services if the parents are indigent under Federal poverty guidelines.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-115

Any person older than age 18 may petition to adopt a child. The petitioners must have physical custody or must demonstrate to the court that they have the right to receive custody of the child.

The petitioner shall live and maintain their regular place of abode in this State when the adoption petition is filed. Nonresidents may also file a petition to adopt a child in this State if they file such petition in the county where a court granted the nonresidents partial or complete guardianship of the child.

If the petitioner is an active duty service member in the U.S. military, the service member and any copetitioner with the service member may file a petition for adoption in this State without actual residency in this State if the service member has lived or maintained a regular place of abode within this State for 6 consecutive months immediately prior to entering military service or if this State is the service member's State of legal residence as identified to the U.S. military.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

The adoptive home study shall be based on consideration of the following points:

  • Information obtained through interviews with all members of the family living in the home
  • At least one visit to the home
  • The applicants' motivation to adopt a child
  • The applicants' ability to provide for the child
  • Information obtained through contacts with references that shall include members of the extended family as well as individuals who are not related to the applicants
  • The character, values, and ethical standards of the applicants
  • The physical and mental health of the applicants
  • Health and fire safety conditions within the home

The agency shall ascertain that the applicants have reasonably good health and average life expectancy so that the security of having parents is unlikely to be cut short before the child matures. Except for the placement of special needs children, the agency shall require that the cause of childlessness be evaluated by a physician. This medical evaluation shall be included in the agency assessment of the motivation to adopt a child.

The adoptive home study shall include the caseworkers' evaluation of the applicants' suitability as adoptive parents and recommendations as to approval of the home. The home study shall also include a face sheet, study references, health examinations, and verification of marital status.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

When the adoptive home study is completed, the applicants shall be informed in writing as to the disposition of their application.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-116; Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

Prior to filing a petition for the adoption, the prospective adoptive parents shall request a home study or a preliminary home study concerning the suitability of their home and themselves as adoptive parents. To be valid, the home study must have been completed or updated within 1 year prior to filing of the petition. The preliminary home study must have been completed within 30 days prior to the filing of the petition.

Upon filing the adoption petition, the prospective adoptive parents shall notify the court if they have requested a home study or preliminary home study 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.

In regulation: For a public agency adoption, the adoptive home study shall be completed before the placement of a child in the home.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-116; Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

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.

In regulation: After placement, the caseworker shall visit in the home at least quarterly until the adoption is finalized.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-115; 36-1-116

The requirement for State residency for a period of 6 months shall not apply when the petitioner is seeking to adopt a child who is related as long as the petitioner is an actual resident of the State at the time the petition is filed.

The court may waive the requirement for a home study and postplacement supervision when the child is to be adopted by related persons.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-116; 37-4-201

The petition to adopt must indicate whether the child was brought into Tennessee for adoption and, if so, that there has been full compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) or, if compliance has not occurred, a statement alleging good cause for such noncompliance.

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the ICPC. The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-115

When a child is placed in a foster home 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 12 or more consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of an adoption petition.

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.

Links to Resources

Adoption Best Practices Manual (Tennessee Department of Children's Services)

State regulations