In Tennessee, families come in all shapes and sizes. While laws have traditionally centered around heterosexual family units, the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling granted legal recognition of same-sex marriages, too.
As a result, there are many family law concerns among many married same-sex couples in Tennessee. One of the topmost of these is adoption. If you and your spouse are in a same-sex relationship and you want to start your family here in Knoxville, this is what you need to know.
You have the right to adopt
As a result of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, federal law now requires states to extend all marriage rights and benefits of married heterosexual couples to married same-sex couples. Stepparent adoption and joint adoption are two of these benefits. According to the law, your sexual orientation cannot prohibit you from exercising either benefit.
Some adoption agencies may refuse to work with you
Although the law does not prohibit you and your spouse from adopting, Tennessee does give adoption agencies the right to only allow heterosexual adoptions for moral or religious reasons. As such, you may encounter organizations that are unwilling to work with you. However, there are other options available such as the state fostering program and private LGBTQ-friendly agencies.
If you and your spouse are in a same-sex relationship and you are ready to start your family, do not let outdated ways of thinking hold you back. While it can be more difficult to find the right adoption agency in Tennessee than in some other states, it is not impossible. Do not give up hope.