Where Do We Begin?

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First – Contact Us – Let Us Help You!

When you contact us – let us know where you live. We will help you locate your local foster care and/or private adoption agencies that work with adoptions from Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Remember when contacting agencies or local DCS offices, ask questions to get all the information you need so that you and your family can make the best decision based on the information you have collected.

Your local agency will invite you to an open house or adoption orientation. Here you will learn about becoming a foster or adoptive parent.

Register for PATH classes. PATH is a 23-hour class. All families wanting to adopt or foster must attend PATH training. PATH is a 23-hour education and self-assessment process. It explores communication styles. It helps families understand the feelings of grief and loss that children can experience. It helps identify family strengths. The process also helps adults identify the child they feel they can most successfully parent. The PATH classes may go by different names in different areas of the state.

Home Study – The home study is actually a ‘story of your life’ designed to make sure you can provide a child with a safe and nurturing environment. This includes:

  • Information about your physical and emotional health
  • Background clearance is required
  • References will be requested from your employer, school officials, if you have children in school
  • Character references from individuals who know you
  • An adoption counselor will visit your home a minimum of three times for single applicants and four times for couples during the adoption process to complete the home study interview.

Note: One of the visits must be in the home.

Some of the topics that will be discussed with you and your family include:

  • Your reasons for adopting
  • Your childhood
  • The strengths of your marriage or current significant relationships
  • Your thoughts on the effects of a new child on your current home
  • Your financial situation
  • Health
  • How you handle discipline
  • How you and your family handle grief/loss
  • Your parenting philosophy

Approval – All of the information is gathered into a home study packet that is reviewed and sent for final approval by the Director of Permanency.

Once you have received you approval from the State – search Forever Family videos, state websites, and attend recruitment activities, especially the matching events where you can meet the children who are available for adoptions. Once you’ve identified a child or sibling group who you are interested in, notify your counselor who can provide more information. Several families may be interested in the same child(ren). The workers will want to take as much time as necessary to ensure the family selected is the right match. Remember the Home Study will only get you in the door.

Match – When the needs of the child or sibling group are matched with your family, your adoption team will discuss with you the pre-placement activities, including supervised and unsupervised visits with the child. Once you, your family, the child, and the child’s team determine that the child is ready, the official placement will occur.

Placement – After a child is placed, the child’s team will continue to be involved in order to assess the child’s adjustment and if new or additional services are needed. The supervision period lasts a minimum of 6 months and will end when the foster to adopt parents sign the “intent to adopt letter.

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