State Laws and Legislation

Tennessee Adoption Law

Permits single LGBT individuals to petition to adopt? Yes.
Tennessee law permits any person over 18 years old to adopt. TENN. CODE ANN. § 36-1-115

Permits a same-sex couple to jointly petition to adopt? No explicit prohibition.
There is no explicit prohibition, but no state court has heard the issue of whether same-sex couples can or can not jointly petition to adopt.

Permits a same-sex partner to petition to adopt partner’s adopted child? No explicit prohibition.
There is no explicit prohibition, but no state court has heard the issue of whether a same-sex partner can or can not petition to adopt a partner’s child or child of the relationship.

Details: In 2000, biological grandparents appealed a trial court’s decision to approve their grandson’s adoption by a lesbian. In this case, grandparents challenged a trial court ruling that granted a petition of adoption to a lesbian.  On appeal, the grandparents argued, in part, that the trial court had erred in finding that the adoption was in the best interest of the child. The prospective adoptive parent’s sexual orientation was considered in this “best interest” analysis.  On appeal, the appellate court held that while sexual orientation may properly be an issue in “best interest” analysis, it could not control the outcome.  The court affirmed that the adoption was in the best interest of the child, regardless of the adoptive mother’s sexual orientation. In re Adoption of M.J.S., 44 S.W.3d 41, 56-57 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000).


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Last Updated: 12/14/2009  

Updated: Mon, December 14, 2009 - 12:00:13