Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption - Tennessee

Date: January 2020

Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-115; 36-1-107

Any person over age 18, including a single person, may adopt, with the following stipulations:

  • 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.
  • Spouses must petition jointly, unless one of the spouses is found incompetent.
  • If the spouse of the petitioner is a legal or birth parent of the child to be adopted, the spouse shall sign the petition as co-petitioner.
  • The petitioners shall live and maintain their regular place of abode in this State when the adoption petition is filed.

The residency requirement is waived if any of the following apply:

  • The nonresident petitioner files the adoption petition in the county in which a court granted the nonresident partial or complete guardianship of the child.
  • An active duty service member may file a petition for adoption in this State without actual residency in this State if the service member 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.
  • The petitioner is related to the child. The petitioner need only be a resident of the State at the time of filing the petition.

When a child in foster care becomes available for adoption due to the termination or surrender of all parental or guardianship rights to the child, the 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.

Who May Be Adopted

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-107

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

An adult may be adopted.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-108

Only the following entities may place a child for adoption:

  • The child's parent
  • The Department of Children's Services
  • A licensed child-placing agency
  • A licensed clinical social worker