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Gay and lesbian couples may have trouble adopting

In Tennessee, gays and lesbians are able to adopt, but they may face obstacles that other people do not. While there are thousands of children who are lingering in the foster care system around the country, some gays and lesbians who are willing to adopt them may encounter bias.

What to know about the adoption process

When Tennessee residents want to adopt a child, it must be approved by an adoption court. This is true whether the adoption itself was handled by an agency or by private means. A hearing will be held, and parties such as the child's biological parents will need to be notified. If the child is old enough, he or she may take part in the hearing.

How adoption placements may happen

Birth parents, legal guardians and guardians ad litem generally all may have the right to place a child for adoption. Tennessee is one of 46 states that allows private adoptions. Also known as "independent adoption", this is a process that cuts out the adoption agency and may involve directly placing a child with an adoptive family. Four states require a parent to get permission from a court or the Department of Social Services to make a private placement.

How stepparents can adopt a spouse's children

When a Tennessee resident marries a person with children, he or she is often referred to as a stepparent. However, it is a relatively easy process for that person to adopt the children and become their other legal parent. The process is typically expedited because the person requesting the adoption is already related to the child's other parent. The main obstacle is getting the other biological or current legal parent to consent to the adoption.

The differences between open and closed adoptions

For many generations, almost all adoptions in Tennessee were "closed." In closed adoptions, the birth parents were not allowed to contact the child or adoptive parents and vice versa. These days, however, open adoptions are trending. In these adoptions, all of the parties involved are allowed to meet or have some form of contact.

Adoption and unmarried fathers

In a perfect world, all children would be born to parents who are willing and able to care for them. However, there are situations, throughout Tennessee and around the country, in which parents find themselves coping with an unplanned pregnancy. In some cases, placing the child for adoption may be a wise option. While a biological mother's role is relatively straightforward in the adoption process, an unmarried father's rights are sometimes less clear.

The adoption rights of grandparents

If parents in Tennessee or elsewhere in America are unable to take care of their children, a grandparent could try to adopt them. If a grandparent is allowed to adopt the child, he or she is formally recognized as his or her legal parent. Parents may be declared unfit to raise their children if they are suffering from a physical or mental health condition.

Types of adoptions and cost

Tennessee couples who are considering adoption might wonder what it may cost. This depends upon what kind of adoption it is and may range from very little to as much as $50,000 or more. There are four main ways that people may adopt. In a private agency adoption, parents might spend between $20,000 and $45,000. These costs could include legal fees, court documentation, parental training, a home study, and various other medical, legal and counseling expenses.

Gay and lesbian adoptive parents still face bias

Gay adoptive parents may still face discrimination when they try to adopt a child. In Tennessee, a gay pediatrician struggled to adopt a child 17 years ago before finally finding an agency that helped him do so. However, although there are more opportunities for gay and lesbian people than there were at that time, the process can still be a struggle. Furthermore, Texas and South Dakota have both passed laws that allow agencies that are state-funded to refuse gay and lesbian parents.

Types of adoption

In Tennessee, a child may be placed for adoption by the biological parents or by a guardian or guardian ad litem. Some state agencies can do so as well.

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