The process of adoption in Tennessee begins with a mandatory parent preparation program called PATH, which is administered by the Department of Children's Services. Prospective parents must also undergo a home study from a licensed child placing agency of their choosing.
Anyone seeking to adopt a child in Tennessee must be at least 18 years of age, a resident of the state and able to meet the financial and emotional needs of their family. Parents who meet these criteria can begin the process by filling out an application at their local Department of Children's Services office.
If the application is accepted, parents then need to complete the PATH program. The program reinforces communication skills for parents and prepares them for emotional issues that an adopted child may have.
After the PATH program, parents must select a licensed agency to conduct a home study. An adoption counselor reviews information about the family and advises them on what to expect as parents of an adopted child. The counselor also reviews medical and financial statements as well as references.
The social worker for each child makes the final decision about placement, based on an assessment of which family best meets the needs of the child. Parents can ask to be matched with a particular child.