Nashville, Middle Tennessee Adoptions
The Adoption Law Center, PLLC is a boutique law firm devoted to Making Love Official. We guide families through a complex legal process to attain a binding legal adoption, making your forever family legally secure.
The Adoption Law Center focuses exclusively on adoptions and only in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Your attorney’s time is not split between divorces, child support, and custody actions. We welcome all inquiries regarding adoption from birth parents, prospective adoptive parents, agencies, and lawyers.
Jenny Hall is the Founder and Managing Attorney at the Adoption Law Center, PLLC. She is certified as a Child Welfare Law Specialist through the National Association of Council for Children, which is accredited by the American Bar Association. She is always happy to talk through options with families, consult with out-of-state attorneys, and provide guidance to fellow attorneys practicing in Tennessee. We offer free consultations to prospective clients! We do not take your trust for granted, but believe that we must earn it by getting to know you and explaining the best course of action in your case.
It’s important for your attorney to both have experience with adoption law and to know the local practices of different Courts in the area. For example, the Fourth Circuit handles all adoptions filed in Davidson County. The presiding Judge requires a home study in stepparent adoptions. Other counties in Middle Tennessee typically waive the home study in relative and stepparent adoption Petitions.
In Clarksville, you file the Petition for Adoption with the Montgomery County Chancery Court Clerk, and they assign your case to either a Chancellor or a Circuit Court Judge. In Sumner County, the Circuit Court is located in Gallatin, Tennessee. The Judge requires that Petitioners submit the Final Decree of Adoption for him to review in advance of the final hearing. The Wilson County Circuit Judge and Circuit Court Clerk’s office in Lebanon are notoriously helpful!
Jenny also has an excellent working relationship with agencies, and can connect you to an agency that will best meet your family’s needs to conduct a home study or assist with placement. The adoption triad consists of the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child. All three parties are emotionally vulnerable during the process of matching and placing the child.
Jenny will advocate for you, advise you, and maintain impeccable ethics while guiding you through your options. No adoption is without risk. Jenny will be honest about assessing the risk in your particular situation so that you have the information you need to make decisions that are best for your family.
A prerequisite to all adoptions is that the birth mother’s parental rights are terminated and that the legal, biological, and putative fathers’ parental rights are terminated. Some cases require termination of more than two parents’ rights. For example, if the birth mother is married when she gives birth, her husband is the legal father, but not necessarily the biological father. Termination of parental rights can be accomplished by agreement or via a contested hearing. Stepparent adoptions are the primary circumstance under which the law allows one parent’s rights to be terminated while another parent’s rights remain intact.
Stepparent adoptions are the most common form of adoption, and a beautiful choice of love and commitment. Typically, once a stepparent adoption is finalized, nothing changes in the family dynamic because the family is already living together and formed the relationship of parent and child. Although commonly the child’s last name is changed. On adoption day, it’s a pleasure to hear, “Now I get to have the same last name as my mom and dad!”
Independent adoptions occur when custody or guardianship of the child goes directly from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. Sometimes agencies are involved in the cases, and sometimes birth mothers find a prospective adoptive family on their own. Jenny is often asked by prospective adoptive families if she knows of any birth parents looking for placement. The answer is usually no. Typically, when birth mothers contact the Adoption Law Center, they have already identified a prospective adoptive family.
Agency adoptions occur when the child is in the legal guardianship of the agency during the required waiting period. The agency matches birth parents with prospective adoptive families. Often these matters involve placing children in Tennessee that were born out-of-state, requiring the prospective adoptive family to travel. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) must be followed when the child is brought into Tennessee for foster care or adoption.
Foster care adoptions are also considered agency adoptions. The State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) is the licensing body in Tennessee for licensed child placing agencies and serves as the placing agency in foster care cases. Permanency for children in foster care is a priority, and DCS usually files the Petition for Termination of Parental Rights. Adoption Assistance covers the costs of the adoptions, including court costs, attorney’s fees, and birth certificate fees provided they do not exceed a certain amount.
Adult adoptions and International adoptions are among the simpler adoptions from a legal perspective. There is no defense to an adult adoption. If the adoptive parents and adult adoptee both agree to the adoption, it is just a matter of drafting the documents, having them notarized, and filing them with the clerk’s office. Then everyone appears for the final hearing and takes lots pictures!
International adoptions typically occur in the country the child is from. The primary purpose of an International adoption is for a Tennessee court to formally recognize the foreign adoption decree and order that a Certificate of Foreign Birth from Tennessee be issued by the Tennessee Department of Health, Division of Vital Records.
On your final hearing date, Jenny will meet you at court early. This is the perfect time to take pictures of this memorable moment! Most Courts that prohibit cell phones in the courthouse are happy to make an exception for adoption cases. Just let the court officer at security know why you are there, and get ready to document your special day!