Many step-parents choose to legally adopt their stepchildren. In the state of Tennessee, the adoption process for step-parents can either be very quick and easy or very complicated depending on your family's circumstances. In either case, having the proper paperwork prepared and filed on time makes the adoption of stepchildren in Tennessee a much smoother process. In Tennessee, most adoption cases are handled locally by the district court of the county the child resides in. In the event that one of the birth parents of the child contests the adoption, the matter may be handled by the Superior Court of Tennessee.
Obtain written consent from both birth parents or guardians of the stepchild to the adoption. In order for a step-parent to legally adopt a stepchild in Tennessee, one of the birth parents must give up their legal rights to guardianship of the child. If the other parent is deceased, written consent of the living parent along with a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased parent can be substituted in Tennessee.
Create a written agreement between the step-parent and the parent giving up guardianship rights to the child concerning the care of the child. Note whether the birth parent will be given visitation rights and whether or not the birth parent is required to financially provide support for the child to the step-parent.
Complete a Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) class and submit to a home study with a social worker. Tennessee requires that all adoptive parents complete the 30 hour PATH class. The state also mandates that each adoptive parent submit to a home study where a social worker will come to your home and evaluate you, your family, your financial records and your medical records to determine if you can provide the stepchild with a suitable home as defined by the state.
File all required paperwork with your local district court and pay any required filing fees. Fees vary by the adoption agency or lawyer that you choose to engage in assisting the adoption process and can range anywhere from $3,000 - $10,000, as of 2011.
Receive consent of the stepchild to the adoption. In Tennessee, if the stepchild is fourteen years of age or older, the court is required to take a sworn statement from the child that they consent to their step-parent legally adopting them before the petition of adoption can be approved by the court.
Wait 10 days. After the initial court hearing determining the eligibility of adoption of the stepchild, any other family members who have legal guardianship claim to the child including the birth parents, have a right to contest the adoption. After 10 days, if there are no other legal issues present with the adoption, the state will move to make a judgment on the adoption.