Independent and Private Adoptions East Tennessee

Maryville Adoption Lawyers Helping Families in Independent and Private Adoptions

Compassionate legal support for adoptions in Blount County & East Tennessee

Helping place a child in a loving and stable home is one of the most joyful things about our jobs. Still, the adoption process can be overwhelming with a good amount of red tape, as well as several different types of adoption from which to choose.

Independent, or private adoptions, take place without the involvement of an adoption agency. Most private adoptions are facilitated through networking among the prospective adoptive parents and the birth parents who are looking to find the right home with which to place their child. Regarding home studies, with a private adoption, prospective parents must set up their own study with an independent provider.

The Maryville adoption lawyers at Shepherd & Long, P.C. happily support our clients who are looking to adopt through a private adoption. We are here to consult with you, counsel and guide you, and answer any of your questions about private or independent adoption.

What are the benefits of private adoptions?

Private adoptions have the potential to move more quickly because there are not as many restrictions placed on the process other than what Tennessee law requires. There is no waiting list, no agency red tape to wade through, and it is a more personal and flexible process for all involved. Additionally, many prospective parents prefer an independent adoption, as it allows them to be more actively involved in the adoption process.

With private adoption, adoptive parents must have physical custody of the child for six months before the adoption is finalized, but termination of parental rights typically occurs sooner. Termination usually occurs in these types of cases through surrender or consent to termination. Once the birth parents’ rights have been terminated, the adoptive parents become the child’s legal guardians until finalization of the adoption occurs.

Are there any disadvantages to private adoptions?

Typically, in private adoptions, a prospective adoptive family reaches an agreement with a pregnant birth mother and the birth father that they will adopt the child. Sometimes complications can occur in private adoptions, and the prospective adoptive parents should have the counsel of an experienced Maryville adoption attorney.

The outcome of a private adoption is never certain until the six months have passed that finalize the adoption. There is always the chance the birth mother could change her mind – but in the event this occurs, the adoption attorneys at Shepherd & Long can help. Costs for private adoption can also vary widely. Birth mothers are also entitled to their own legal representation and counseling, should they wish to have either, and the adoptive parents are generally responsible for the cost.

What is the difference between private adoption and foster care adoption?

Each of these paths to adoption have different pros and cons, and neither one is necessarily better than the other. However, private adoption and foster care and agency adoption are distinctly different. According to American Adoptions, the waiting time for an independent adoption could be anywhere from one month to a year, while a state adoption could be immediately to five years (these are just approximations, of course).

There are also levels of risk involved with both. With foster care adoption, there is always the risk the child will be reunited with their family. With private adoption, there is always the risk the birth mother will change her mind. The age of the adoptive child is different for both types as well. American Adoptions reports the average age of an adoptive foster child is seven and a half years old, while private adoptions mostly involve infants.

What is the difference between an open or closed adoption?

The adoptive parents and the birth parents decide whether the adoption will be open or closed.

  • In a closed adoption, the birth parents typically have no further contact with the child once their parental rights have been terminated.
  • In an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth parents agree on the frequency and degree of contact the birth parents will have with the child once the adoption has been finalized. Perhaps the birth parents will receive pictures of the child, or have yearly phone calls or visits. Depending on the unique circumstances of the child, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents, the continued involvement of the birth parents may be good for the child’s emotional health.

It is important to note that these agreements, even if written and signed by all parties, are not legally binding or enforceable.

Can a birth mother change her mind after adoption?

Yes, it is possible she can. With private adoptions, the birth mother is typically pregnant at the time the adoption process begins. As a result, the adoptive mother is dependent on the birth mother voluntarily terminating her parental rights upon the birth of the child. Our Maryville attorneys understand this can put an adoptive parent or parents under a great amount of stress, and we will support you during the entire process.

Can an adoption be reversed in Tennessee?

“Reverse adoption” is the term used in the rare event an adoption fails. Sometimes an adoptive child fails to bond with the family, commits acts of self-harm or violence, or has endured an extreme amount of trauma that the parents cannot handle on their own. Tennessee offers resources through the Adoption Support and Preservation (ASAP) program for families who need help, with the priority on keeping families together. In cases where this fails, the court must get involved. Our East Tennessee adoption attorneys can provide legal support during this emotional time.

How can a Maryville attorney help me with a private adoption?

Our adoption lawyers take care of everything an adoptive parent needs to move through the bureaucratic and legal process of bringing their child home. We work on the details of your case, termination of parental rights, and all the other legal paperwork – filled out properly and filed on time.

We also review and draft legal documents, facilitate interstate adoptions, help initiate the home study process, and finalize the adoption when the happy time comes.

In our experience, private adoptions are a suitable choice for clients who are well-suited to taking the initiative as they plan their journey to parenthood.

Consult with a Maryville adoption attorney experienced with independent and private adoptions

Adoption is a huge decision, and once you make it, you have a lot ahead of you. You will require experienced legal assistance throughout the process, and it is vital that you work with an adoption attorney you can trust. At Shepherd & Long, P.C. we are your advocates, and we know how to handle the complicated legal and emotional aspects of growing your family. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call us at 865-982-8060 or fill out our contact form. We regularly represent clients in Madisonville, Oak Ridge, Lenoir City and throughout East Tennessee.