Organization pushes to change Tennessee's adoption, foster care system

More than 7,000 children are in state's care
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Posted at 8:49 AM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 09:49:58-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new organization is on the rise to change the state's adoption process in order to make it easier for families to grow. More than 7,000 children are in Tennessee's foster care system.

The Adoption Project launched this week and will be led by two adoptive parents, Jeremy Harrell and Jennifer Donnals, who struggled in the adoption process themselves. The initial focus is to make Tennessee the most adoption-friendly state in the country.

“There were many times where we found ourselves frustrated by the adoption process. We would talk to other people who experienced similar challenges, and almost everyone agreed the process was too difficult,” Harrell said. “Then we would talk to people engaged in foster care and hear heartbreaking stories about the kids who never find a permanent family.”

Because of what they faced, they were inspired to focus on changing the system itself. The Adoption Project will work with policymakers to propose changes to legislation, making it easier to build families through adoption, and will work to form other strong bonds between adoptive parents and birth parents.

The organization will research current policies across the country regarding every aspect of adoption to see what can change in Tennessee. It will also develop best practices for the child welfare system focusing on the best interest of the child to achieve a safe, loving, permanent family.

Also involved in this initiative are Former Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam. They will be leading two advisory committees to support the organization.

“The Adoption Project will focus on public policy to help build a child welfare system that genuinely focuses as much as possible on the best interests of the children and families involved," Haslam said. "By making it easier to unite children and families, we can make Tennessee the most adoption-friendly state in the country.”