Birth Mother Rights

Adoption Choices and Opportunities

If you are considering adoption for your expected child, you probably want to know what that process could look like. You have a number of choices and opportunities to create the process that you want along with the prospective adoption parents that you select, but some aspects of the process are covered by laws. Dawn has prepared a summary of those laws that impact your rights and choices. Adoption law is state law so it varies from state to state. This “Bill of Rights” is based on Tennessee law only.  A statement of rights or law like this one is useful for general information purposes only and is not as a substitute for legal advice. For answers to your particular legal questions, contact an attorney.

Young pregnant woman suffering from backache

TENNESSEE BIRTH MOTHER’S BILL OF RIGHTS

  • You have a right to place your child for adoption through an adoption agency or through a private adoption.
  • You have a right to choose the parents who will adopt your child, know their names, religion and other similar information and meet them, if desired.
  • You have a right to review the adoptive parents’ home study.
  • You have a right to make a written open adoption agreement to permit you pictures, letters or personal contact with the child after placement. 
  • You have a right to name your child on his or her first birth certificate. The adoptive parents have a right to name the child on the second birth certificate, which will be issued after the adoption is final.
  • You have the right to your own attorney at the expense of the adoptive parents. In most cases, you also have the right to decline counsel.
  • You have the right to receive counseling from the counselor of your choice for a total of 12 months, at the expense of the adoptive parents. You also have the right to decline counseling.
  • You have the right to have the adoptive parents pay for your birth related medical expenses.
  • If you are placing a newborn child for adoption, you have the right to financial assistance with your reasonable and actual housing, utilities, maternity clothes, food and transportation during the last 90 days of your pregnancy and for 45 days after the surrender of a newborn. You may also decline financial assistance.
  • You have the right to see or not see your child before you place him or her for adoption.
  • You have the right to change your mind about the adoption at any time before you sign a surrender form in front of a judge and for 3 days after you sign the surrender form. The three day period includes weekends and holidays, but if the third day is a weekend or holiday the last day to revoke is the next business day following the third day. There is no right to revoke beyond the 3-day period. You cannot sign a surrender before the child is four days old unless the judge says there is good reason to make an exception to this rule.
  • You have a right to receive a copy of the surrender form and any other forms you sign.

Your child is allowed to have his or her adoption records, including papers that disclose your identity, when he or she is 21 years old. You have the right to consent to, or prevent, contact from your adult child.

This fact sheet is intended for general information purposes only and not as a substitute counsel.

For answers to your particular legal questions, contact an attorney.