Tennessee House Advances Religious Exemption Bill Regarding Adoptions

The Tennessee House on Monday advanced legislation that that would allow adoption agency denial of service to same-sex couples based on religious objections by a 67–22 vote, with three abstentions. HB0836/SB1304 amends TCA Title 36, Chapter 1, Part 1 to prohibit the requirement that those agencies “perform, assist, consent to, refer, or participate in any child placement for foster care or adoption that would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions.” The companion Senate bill was reset for hearing yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee to its final calendar date.

read more »

Correction: 2nd Annual Adoption Law Forum a Huge Success

An Adoption Law Section Connect item on March 21 failed to include executive council members Dawn Coppock (East Tennessee Delegate) and Jennifer L. E. Williams (Middle Tennessee Delegate).

read more »

2nd Annual Adoption Law Forum a Huge Success

The TBA Adoption Law Section presented its second annual forum to a packed house at the Tennessee Bar Center on March 6. Through the dedication of the section and top-notch programming, this event has become a staple for not only adoption law practitioners, but lawyers of associated practices as well. Thanks to the TBA Adoption Law Executive Council members for their time and assistance with another remarkable forum. Stay tuned for more exciting events to come from this section.
Jason Long, Section Chair, London & Amburn, P.C.
Mike Jennings, Vice-Chair, Samples Jennings Clem and Fields
Bob Tuke, Trauger & Tuke
Julia Tate, TN Baby Law
Lisa Collins, Attorney at Law
Sharon Massey, Attorney at Law
Wende Rutherford, Rutherford & Demarco
Kevin Weaver, Weaver & Craig PC
Meredith Brasfield, Weaver & Craig, P.C.
Andy Roskind, Pratt Aycock, PLLC
Elizabeth Carrol, Harmony Family Center
Julia Spannaus, Attorney at Law
Stewart Crane, Crane, Lee & Moya, PLLC
Susan Kovac, Tennessee Department of Children's Services
Theodore Kern, Eshbaugh, Strange-Boston, Metcalf & Kern
Will Veterick, Samples, Jennings, Clem & Fields, PLLC
read more »

Foreign Adoptions in U.S. Down 14 Percent

The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. families fell 14 percent last year, The Washington Post reports. The U.S. State Department this month issued a report showing that there were only 4,059 foreign adoptions in 2018, compared to 4,714 the previous year. Although there was an increase in adoption of children from India and Columbia, a decline in adoptions from China and Ethiopia negated the increase. The U.S. is responsible for about half of all foreign adoptions.

read more »

Clergy Sign Proclamation Opposing Religious Exemption for Adoption Agencies

A number of religious leaders in Tennessee are taking a stand against legislation allowing exemptions for adoption agencies to refuse services to LGBT clients, The Tennessean reports. The Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBT advocacy group, assisted with the pronouncement that was signed by more than 100 clergy. Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders regarding the move said:  "These six bills attack our marriages, ability to form families, exist in public spaces, and they even undermine our ability to advocate with our own city governments for protection against discrimination.” One of the bills in question — SB1304 — will be considered by the  Senate Judiciary Committee on March 26.

read more »

Adoption Law Section Legislation on the Move

The TBA Adoption Law Section proposed two pieces of legislation to the 111th General Assembly — SB0207/HB0288 allowing for the modification and enforcement of a contract for post-adoption contact between certain parties, and SB0208/HB0287 which makes several amendments to Tenn. Code Ann. Title 36, Chapter 1, Part 1; Title 36, Chapter 2 and Section 37-1-102. Both of the section’s bills have passed the Senate with no objections. The House will consider the legislation in its next session this Thursday, March 7, 2019. If enacted, it will be requested that the bills go into effect with the governor’s signature, prior to the normal enactment date of July 1. Stay tuned for more info.

read more »

Advocates Push Back on Religious Exemption Adoption Bill

Legislation proposed by State Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, that allows Tennessee providers to deny adoptions to same-sex couples on religious grounds has been met with consternation from not only LGBT proponents, but social workers as well, The Daily News Journal reports. Opponents of Rudd’s bill point to the fact that the state has around 8,000 children in foster care, of which only about half will be placed in foster families and contend that the measure creates more unnecessary barriers in guaranteeing these children find homes. Rudd maintains that his bill is not discriminatory, rather prevents faith-based organizations from ceasing services because of lawsuits, and that LGBT families can still pursue adoptions through non-faith-based organizations. "Nowhere in this bill does it say anything about outlawing anyone from adopting," said Rudd when asked about his measure. "It's simply protecting the constitutional rights of religious freedom from being persecuted."

read more »

Tennessee General Assembly to Consider Religious Exemptions for Adoption Agencies

The Tennessee General Assembly is set to consider several bills that would allow agencies to deny adoptions to gay couples based on religious objections, The Tennessean reports. Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, have sponsored one such bill, HB1152/SB0848, which as introduced specifies that a child-placing agency shall not be required to provide adoption services that conflict with the agency's sincerely held religious beliefs. It joins similar bills sponsored Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, and Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon. The measures are comparable to legislation passed in Kansas and Oklahoma just last year. When asked about his bill, Hensley said: "There's a lot of other adoption agencies that are not religious-based … There's certainly other options for people who want to adopt."

read more »

Tomorrow: TBA Adoption Law Forum 2019

Don’t miss the TBA Adoption Law Forum 2019, which will be held at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville tomorrow, March 6. This year’s forum will feature information on recent changes to adoption law, including a case law update from Department of Children’s Services attorneys. We will also examine ICPC, host an interactive ethics panel and end the day with a networking reception, allowing you to meet TBA and section leadership. Lunch is included with registration. Don’t sleep on this opportunity to obtain CLE credit and build relationships with colleagues of a similar focus. Here are the key details:
When: Wednesday, March 6, registration at 11:30 a.m., CST
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville
read more »

DHS Seeks Assistance With Summer Food Service Program

The Tennessee Department of Human Services will open the application process to those willing to assist with the agency’s Summer Food Service Program on Friday, Feb. 1. The program seeks to ensure that children 18 and younger who benefit from school meal programs have access to nutritious food during the summer months. Applications will be accepted from organizations, governmental entities, schools, religious entities, and non-profit residential camps interested in sponsoring the program and serving meals to children in their communities — with an emphasis on Bedford, Cheatham, Hickman, Humphreys, Moore, and Wayne Counties, which did not have sponsors last year. Applications will be accepted until May 1. You can learn more detailed information, including how to apply using this link.

read more »