Tennessee Surrogacy Laws


Tennessee’s approach to surrogacy differs from that of the rest of the country. The current statute (Tennessee Code Ann. §36-1-102(50)) governing surrogacy neither permits nor prohibits surrogacy, but instead defines it. 

Moreover, there is little case law to provide instruction on surrogacy proceedings. The case law that does exist provides limited instruction for the courts. The Gestational Carrier is considered the legal parent unless the parents both use their own egg and own sperm. This stems from In re C.K.G., in which the Supreme Court of Tennessee ruled that if an egg donor is used, the Gestational Carrier must remain on the birth certificate until the genetically unrelated Intended Parent adopts the child. The Intended Parent(s) will then replace the Gestational Carrier on the birth certificate.

Types of Surrogacy Available in Tennessee

Can a parentage order be obtained for the following?

Although traditional surrogacy isn’t prohibited in Tennessee, many attorneys and agencies advise against it due to the increased legal risks. The state of TN feels uncomfortable providing a judgment for a parentage order under a traditional surrogacy. When the surrogate uses her own eggs, she is the legal and biological mother pending a formal adoption process after the birth.

Gestational surrogacy


Commercial surrogacy


Traditional surrogacy


Altruistic surrogacy



Who can be declared as the parent(s) of a child from a surrogate via a court parentage order?

💚 – Both Intended Parent(s) can be named on the parentage order.

💛 – Only a genetic Intended Parent can be named on the parentage order. A non-genetic Intended Parent will need to establish parentage via a second or stepparent adoption following birth.

Tennessee only grants parentage orders to Intended Parent(s) with a genetic connection to their child. Intended Parent(s) without a genetic connection will have to establish parentage through a relative adoption. Depending on kinship, there may be procedural variations on adoption and home studies may or may not be necessary.

If there is no genetic connection to a child, Intended Parent(s) can only establish parentage via adoption proceedings following the child’s birth. In these cases, there may be additional requirements as per the Tennessee adoption code.

How are Intended Parent(s) Listed on the Birth Certificate?

Intended Parent(s) may be listed as Father-Mother. 

Rights of Egg or Sperm Donor(s)

There are no statutes or case law in Tennessee that address the rights of an egg, sperm, or embryo donor over the donated gametes or a resulting child.

Surrogacy Steps in Tennessee

Surrogacy Process in Tennessee

Select your agency if applicable

Match with a gestational carrier

Complete medical and psychological evaluations

Select attorneys for the intended parents and gestational carrier and complete the gestational carrier agreement

Provide legal clearance to the fertility clinic

Begin IVF cycle with surrogate

Pre-birth order

Delivery and birth certificate finalization

If filing for a post-birth order, begin process after delivery

Birth Certificate Timeline

Birth certificate

It is typically available for pickup in 5-10 business days.

A pre-birth Order of Parentage will be issued for Intended Parent(s) that are genetically related. They are established as the legal parents and are listed on the child’s birth certificate.

When an Intended Parent is not genetically related to the child, an adoption shortly after the birth is necessary to establish parentage. An Intended Father that is unmarried can have the Gestational Carrier removed from the child’s birth certificate by disestablishing her parentage after the birth. Proceedings begin after the first trimester.

Legal and medical steps involved in the surrogacy process may differ from case to case. Please speak with your agency and attorneys about how the process might look for you.

Court Processes

Surrogacy Contracts

Surrogacy contracts in Tennessee are recognized and enforced by the state. 

Independent Counsel

Independent counsel is recommended, but not required, for all parties involved in a surrogacy agreement.

Requirements for Surrogates and Intended Parent(s)

Tennessee has no statutory requirements that must be met for surrogates to participate in a surrogacy agreement. However, agencies and fertility clinics have their own requirements based on the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys

Birth Orders

Do courts issue pre-birth orders?


Do courts issue post-birth orders?


Are hearings required to obtain either pre- or post-birth orders?


Pre-birth orders are issued under limited circumstances in Tennessee. 

Hearings are often required for birth orders. Appearance may be waived for out-of-state and international Intended Parents.

Bases of Venue

What are the bases of venue?

Can file anywhere the Intended Parent(s) or Gestational Carrier lives, or in Nashville

Do rulings vary by venue?

Generally NO

Can you file a motion to waive venue?


International Issues

International Intended Parent(s) will have additional legal steps to complete before their return home regarding their country’s immigration and citizen laws that impact the child. It’s imperative the international Intended Parent(s) speak with an experienced attorney in their home country about the facts of their situation. The law of more than one country will need to be considered if the Intended Parent(s) are citizens or residents of more than one country.  

Residency Requirements

Does Tennessee have any residency requirements for out-of-state or International Intended Parents?


Birth Certificates

Can an international same-sex male couple receive an initial birth certificate naming the biological father and gestational carrier?


Can an international same-sex male couple obtain an initial birth certificate naming only the biological father?

NO, but a Tennessee adoption can often be finalized shortly after the baby is born.

Can they obtain a birth certificate naming only the Intended Parent(s) with no mention of the gestational Carrier?

YES, after an adoption.

Passport Timeline

6-8 weeks after submitting birth certificate.

Passports can be expedited for a 2-3 week delivery with an extra fee. Intended Parent(s) can also visit a regional passport agency to receive one within 1-2 business days.

Passports are regulated at the federal level in the United States. To learn more about the process of receiving a US passport, visit Travel.State.gov.

Consulting Attorneys

Jennifer Hall
Adoption Law Center, PLLC 
3102 West End Ave, St. 400 
Nashville, TN 37203 

Stacie Odeneal
The Odeneal Firm 
411 West Gaines Street 
Lawrenceburg, TN 38464 

Legal Disclaimer

The content contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only. Content contained herein may or may not reflect the most current legal information on the subject; accordingly, this website is not promised to be correct or complete at any given time. Outcomes referenced should not be interpreted as an indication of future outcomes. Love & Kindness Surrogacy explicitly disclaims all liability for actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this website.

This website does not constitute a replacement for legal advice or counsel. Always consult an attorney before beginning the surrogacy process.

Last updated October 2019

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