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Finalization – Six Months or Three Months?

Attorneys & Courts, Adoption, Foster Parents, General, Legislation

Question: I understand that the waiting period for adoption, the time the child must live with the prospective adoptive family before the adoption can be finalized, has been reduced from 6 months to 3 months, correct?

Answer: Not exactly. The waiting period is still 6 months but the judge in the case CAN, but does not have to, reduce the wait to 3 months. Judges are expected to be most open to reducing the waiting period in newborn adoptions. When older children are new in a home at least 6 months for the child and family to adjust to one another and for problems to arise and be resolved is usually recommended by social workers and is good common sense in most cases. Judges know this and often will not reduce the waiting period for children older than newborns. Also, when an agency has guardianship of the child, as in DCS or private agency adoptions, the agency’s consent is required. Agencies typically will not consent until they feel the family has had sufficient time to settle in together. Regardless of the waiting period, when a child is in full guardianship of an agency, an adoption cannot be finalized until the agency is ready to consent.

About Dawn Coppock

Tennessee Adoption Attorney and Author

For over 30 years, Dawn has been an adoption and child-welfare advocate nationally and in Tennessee. She knows where the system is working and the many places that it is not. When she provides her frank assessment to policy makers, they listen. She has drafted and passed many child-welfare bills in the Tennessee Legislature, founded, encouraged and supported advocacy organizations, educated lawyers and judges on good practice, and pointed out places that we can do better for our children, openly and behind the scenes at every opportunity.

Dawn Coppock, Adoption Attorney

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