If you are a Tennessee resident interesting in adopting a child, one of the first things you may want to do is ensure you meet all the state’s requirements for adoptive parents. While some states only allow married couples to adopt children, Tennessee has no such restriction. As long as you meet all the state’s other requirements for adopting a child, you may do so whether you are married, divorced or single. Same-sex couples may adopt as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

While you do not have to be married to adopt a child in Tennessee, you may have to be a foster parent first. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services states that it does not recruit prospective parents for adopt-only situations. As such, you may have a much greater chance of completing an adoption if you become a foster parent first. The department indicates that approximately 80% of adoptions from the DCS foster care system include people who are (or have been in the past) foster parents.

If you complete the steps to become a foster parent, you may end up with the option to adopt a child you foster. In fact, the department may consider you the best permanent guardian for a foster child who becomes available for adoption. The state considers this sort of adoption best in many cases, as you and the child may already have a safe, loving relationship.

If you do decide to pursue adoption without becoming a foster parent first, you may have to complete a home study with a licensed agency. Once you complete the study, it is valid for the next year. If everyone involved agrees you are able to provide the right home for a child, you may be able to finalize the adoption within 12 months.

This information about adoption is intended for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice.