When a concerned adult in Tennessee considers terminating a parent’s rights, there are a lot of factors that come into play. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, every state has the right to develop their own rules for determining what constitutes an unfit parent and these laws may change over time.

Even so, there are some criteria for parental termination that are commonly found all across the United States. See some of these below:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Failure to remain in contact with the child
  • Abuse of the child or other children in the household
  • Abandonment of the child or other children in the household

If the parent meets these or other state-specific criteria, the State agencies are responsible for filing a petition to terminate parental rights after a period of time. In most instances, the child must have spent 15 of the most recent 22 months in foster care. Also, a court must determine that the child was abandoned or that the parent was involved in specific criminal activities.

It is well to note that this may not be the last of court proceedings. Many parents do overcome the situations that led to the child’s removal from their home. For instance, they may have become sober for several years and now have a steady job and stable home to care for the child.

According to the American Bar Association, adoptions are meant to be permanent. As a result, judges generally refuse the biological parents’ petition because they technically have no parental rights anymore. Note also that some states may take into consideration a child’s desire to be reunited with their parents. Generally speaking, however, while it is not impossible for a parent to have their rights reinstated, it does not happen very often.