Tennessee foster care and adoption guidelines
Thank you so much for considering adoption or fostering as an option for your family! We are available at 877-DCS-KIDS (877-327-5437) if you would like to learn more about becoming a foster parent. We are available at 615-741-9858 to learn more about adopting an older child or sibling group from foster care.
Things you should know
- Foster and adoption licensing requirements
- Costs to foster and adopt
- Parent support groups
- Agency contact and orientation information
- Information on Tennessee's children
Tennessee's foster parents are dually approved to adopt. This allows foster parents to adopt the child they are fostering in their home should the child become available for adoption. Our primary goal is reunification.
To be approved as a foster-adoptive parent in Tennessee you:
- Can be married, single or divorced
- May or may not have other children
- Can own or rent where you live
- May be employed or not employed, but must be able to meet your own financial needs (potential foster-adoptive parents should be able to financially support themselves and their family without the need for a board payment)
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Must be a resident of the state of Tennessee
Should you decide to become a foster-adoptive parent through the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, you will need to complete a parent preparation process called PATH (Parents as Tender Healers). PATH is a 23-hour education and self-assessment process. It explores communication styles. It helps families to understand the feelings of grief and the loss that children can experience. It helps identify family strengths and in what situations you can most successfully parent.
While completing PATH, you will begin the home study-process. The exact process will be outlined by the agency you choose. In general, the homestudy process is a combination of education for you about the realities of foster and adoption and information about yourself and your family, which you will share. The final written home study will include a description of your family, verifications, medical, and financial statements and references. You will also be asked to identify and describe the type of child you feel that you can successfully parent.
Are you interested only in adopting?
If so, please understand that about 80 percent of the children who are adopted from foster care in the state are adopted by the families who already are, and have been, their foster parents. State practice is to work with individuals who sign up to become foster parents, and then, if a child in DCS custody becomes available for adoption, the family caring for that child is the first option for adoption. This helps ensure the child already has a relationship with potential adoptive parents who have helped him or her navigate change, trauma and uncertainty, and already long offered comfort, safety and love.
To be selected to adopt a child, who is in full guardianship of the Department of Children's Services, you will need to:
- Obtain a formal “home study” by a private licensed child placing agency.
- Submit the home study for a specific child on AdoptUSKids or other photolistings.
When you have been identified as an adoptive parent for a particular child, and you have agreed to parent that child, you will then receive PATH training.
To learn more about adopting children from foster care, please read the FAQs and answers on the DCS website.
State of Tennessee’s toll free number for more information about foster care: 877-DCS-Kids (1-877-327-5437).
Visit the foster parent training information page to view an introduction to training, the PATH training calendars, training requirements and more.
It is free to foster.
The legal fees at the very end of the process are the only fees that you will pay if you work with your local department office to complete the adoption process and if the child is waiting in the state.
If you work with your local department office to complete the adoption process and the child is waiting in foster care in another state, it may be possible for the child’s state to purchase the services of your department office. Or, there may be fees. If you work with a nonprofit or private agency instead of the department, the nonprofit or private agency may charge additional fees.
However, when families adopt children who are in foster care and are eligible for subsidy, the families may be eligible for reimbursement of limited nonrecurring adoption-related costs, such as attorney’s fees and court fees, through the child’s state or federal options. Adopting does not have to be expensive. In fact, many families choose low-cost options every year. Please call us if you have questions (865-594-0864).
The Resource Parent Support Group in Chattanooga meets every fourth Tuesday of the month. The address is 503 N. Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37405. Call (423) 267-4992.
You can work with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to find a DCS office near you.
Please talk to individual agencies and offices to learn when their next orientation is and whether they charge any fees.
Adoption Place, Inc.
Phone: (615) 365-7020
Contact: Judy Rister, director of Social Services
Address: 4555 Trousdale Drive, Nashville, TN 37204
America World Adoption Association
Address: 2124 ieper Dr., Spring Hill, TN 37174
Phone: 800-429-3369 x 161
Associated Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Memphis
St. Peter Maternity and Adoption Services
Address: 1325 Jefferson St., Memphis, TN 38127-7799
Bethany Christian Services of East Tennessee
Contact: Lauren Wilson, Director
Address: 318 Erin Drive, Suite 10, Knoxville, TN 37919
Bethany Christian Services of Greater Chattanooga
Contact: Amy Scott, Director
Address: 930 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37403
Bethany Christian Services of Middle Tennessee
Contact: Luke Delavergne, Director
Address: 230 Great Circle Rd. #229, Nashville, TN 37228
Bethany Christian Services of West Tennessee, Inc.
Contact: Teri Seaton, Director
Address: 1255 Lynnfield Rd. #236, Memphis, TN 38119
Camelot of Southeast TN-Cleveland
Camelot of Southeast TN-Jasper
Camelot of Southeast TN-Athens
Camelot of Southeast TN-Chattanooga
Camelot of West TN-Memphis
Camelot of West TN-Covington
Camelot of West TN-Bolivar
Camelot of Mid-South TN
Camelot of Mid-North TN-Goodlettsville
Camelot of Mid-North TN-Lebanon
Camelot of Mid-North TN-Cookeville
Camelot of Northeast TN
Camelot of East TN-Oak Ridge
Camelot of East TN-Lafollette
Catholic Charities of East Tennessee
Address: 119 Dameron Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917
Catholic Charities of Middle Tennessee, Inc.
Address: 30 White Bridge Road, Nashville, TN 37205
Center for Family Development
Address: 100 East Side Square, Shelbyville, TN 37160
Toll-Free Phone: 888-462-2999
Chattanooga Resource Center
Address: 7155 Lee Hwy., Suite 300, Chattanooga, TN 37421
Free Will Baptist Family Ministries, Inc.
Address: 90 Stanley Lane, Greeneville, TN 37641
Address: 2001 Stonebrook Place, Kingsport, TN 37660
Greater Chattanooga Christian Services
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 16396, Chattanooga, TN 37416
Street Address: 6816 Ty-Hi Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37421
Heaven Sent Children
Address: 307 N. Walnut St., Murfreesboro, TN 37130
Helen Ross McNabb Center
Address: 901 East Summit Hill Drive, Knoxville, TN 37915
Jewish Family Services
6560 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38138
Contact: Carla Proctor, Adoption Supervisor
Jewish Family Services of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Inc.
Address: 801 Percy Warner Boulevard, Suite 103, Nashville, TN 37205
Life Choices, Inc.
Address: 5575 Raleigh LaGrange, Memphis, TN 38134
Contact: Sue Parker, executive director
Mercy Ministries of America
Street Address: 15328 Old Hickory Blvd.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 111060, Nashville, TN 37222-1060
Address: 522 Russell St., Nashville, TN 37206-4114
Address: 1120 Glendale Lane, Nashville, TN 37204
Nashville Resource Center
Address: 301 S Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 202, Nashville, TN 37211
Address: 301 South Perimeter Park Dr., Ste. 210, Nashville, TN 37211
The Partnership for Families Children and Adults Chattanooga, Inc.
Address: 1800 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37403
Porter-Leath Children’s Center
Address: 868 N. Manassas St., Memphis, TN 38107-2516
Small World Adoption Programs
Address: 13345 Lebanon Road, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee 37122
Smoky Mountain Children’s Home
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4391
Street Address: 449 McCarn Circle, Sevierville, TN 37864
Tennessee Children’s Home - East
Street Address: 3834 Copper Ridge Road
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7347, Knoxville, TN 37931
Address: 3320 Brother Blvd., Barlett, TN 38134
Children enter foster care because their birth families cannot care for them safely.
There are 8,146 children in custody (foster care) and 400 children in full guardianship (available for adoption) in Tennessee who need an adoptive home.