How to Adopt from Foster Care

There are more than 250 children available for adoption thru Tennessee's Foster Care.

The Adoption Process

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) approves families to foster and adopt. We believe that by experiencing the training, preparation, benefits and challenges of foster care, prospective adoptive parents develop a stronger foundational knowledge of the joys and special needs required to adopt a child from foster care. This experience can also aid you in matching to the right child based on your individual or family needs. There is no cost to adopt a child from foster care. Nor is there a cost to complete your training and home study. 

Requirements for becoming a Foster Parent

  • Single or married
  • With or without children of their own
  • Must be financially stable
  • Must be in good health
  • Should be 21 years of age
  • Homeowner or Renter
  • Have room in your home and in your daily life
  • Learn and use proven behavioral management skills
  • Love and care for children with problems
  • Give without the expectation of immediate returns

Next Steps

If you are ready to begin the journey to becoming a licensed foster / resource parent, we encourage you to explore your options. You can work directly with DCS or you can partner with a licensed private agency. DCS uses these private agencies all the time to assist in managing the volume of kids in need. Some agencies offer extra training for working with sibling groups, troubled behaviors, special needs, medically fragile kids, and more. By reviewing the providers available, you can discover the best option for you. Sometimes it might be a training schedule that works better or extra services you might require. 


Therapeutic Interventions, Inc.

TN Department of Children's Services (DCS)

Camelot Care

Youth Villages

Tennessee Baptist Children's Home

Service Providers

Contact one of these agencies to become a licensed foster parent

We’ve compiled a list of the state and private agencies available to train and license you to become a foster parent. Some things you’ll want to consider as you evaluate an agency is:

  • Does their training program for PATH training work into your schedule? 
  • What type of children do they typically get referrals for (placements)? Some agencies work with sibling groups, medically fragile, teenagers, etc. You’ll want to find one that fits what you are hoping to match with. 
  • What additional services do they provide to assist you in the transition (on-going therapy and support)?

The best recommendation we can provide is to speak with other foster parents licensed with a particular agency to gather some experienced, honest feedback. They’ll be able to provide you a better picture of what life like a foster parent will be like and how the agency operates. 


How to become an adoptive parent

Step 1: Complete Your PATH Training

PATH (Parents As Tender Healers) Training Program is a seven week, usually one night a week, course held in various locations in a variety of counties and regions. We provide the training at no cost to you. Each session lasts about three hours. We fill each course will valuable information to assist and prepare you for becoming a resource parent of a child(ren) in foster care. You’ll hear first hand accounts, learn necessary skills, and come out knowing if foster care and/or adoption is the right choice for you. All potential resource parents must provide five references and will be fingerprinted and undergo a complete background check.

Step 2: Complete Your Home Study

A social worker from The Department of Children’s Services will talk with you about your living situation, personal lifestyle and expectations. They will review your home to make sure it is a safe and comfortable environment for a child. This is not a white-glove inspection, but rather just making sure you have the space to provide proper accommodations for a child. The home study is provided to you at no cost and is valid for two years.

Special Disclaimer

The process is a journey unique to every child and situation. The Department of Children’s Services of Tennessee is committed to helping educate and empower you to make the best choice possible. We also offer on-going support and encouragement.

Step 3: Serve as a Resource Parent

Be willing to serve as a resource (foster) parent while you await the ideal match to a permanent placement. During this time you will be matched with a child(ren) that are temporary placements with the goal of reunification with their birth parent. Working with them during this time away from their family, will help you develop valuable skills and understanding, that will benefit a permanent placement with a child in need of a forever family.

Step 4: Make Your Request For a Permanent Placement

See a child that tugged at your heart strings on The Heart Gallery? Notify Karen Chamberlain with The Department of Children’s Services at 615.741.9858 or via e-mail at to submit your inquiry. Each child’s adoption team will review the child’s individual case file, along with your home study and experience to see if this would make an ideal match. Moving forward is different in every case, but would consist of meeting the child after a decision has been made to pursue adoption, supervised visits, weekend visits and eventually a six month temporary custody placement, followed by the official adoption decree.

Review "Adoption Best Practices" Manual

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