Tennessee Surrogacy Laws


 In Tennessee, both gestational surrogacy and traditional (genetic) surrogacy, are defined by a statute in the adoption code (Tennessee Code Ann. §36-1-102(50). While the statute neither expressly permits or prohibits either form of surrogacy, parentage can be established for a child born through gestational surrogacy, so long as at least one Intended Parent is genetically related to the child.

Tennessee has a number of cases that address surrogacy and govern the applicability of Tennessee’s statute defining surrogacy, and also provide predictability in the use of certain procedures to establish parentage dependent upon the circumstances of the case. In general, a pre-birth order may be obtained in Tennessee for an Intended Parent who is genetically related to the child; a non-genetic parent (who is married to the genetic parent) must complete a related-parent adoption after the child is born.

Types of Surrogacy Available in Tennessee

Can a parentage order be obtained for the following?

Gestational surrogacy

YES, as long as there is a genetic connection.

Altruistic surrogacy


Traditional surrogacy

NO, although traditional surrogacy isn’t prohibited in Tennessee, many attorneys and agencies advise against it due to the increased legal risks. The state of Tennessee 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.


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, who are married to a genetic parent, will have to establish their parentage through a related parent adoption following the birth of the child. Home studies are usually not necessary.

*For parents that are unmarried – the non-genetic parent would need to apply for a second-parent adoption in another state that allows for this situation.

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. Since there is no genetic connection to the child, it may be required for the Intended Parents to apply for adoption in another state.

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, and is married to a genetic parent, an adoption shortly after the birth is necessary to establish the non-genetic parent’s parentage.

For parents that are unmarried, the non-genetic parent would need to apply for a second-parent adoption in another state that allows for this situation.


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

Although pre-birth orders are recognized and given according to genetic connection, surrogacy contracts in Tennessee are not 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?

YES, but only for parent’s with a genetic connection.

Do courts issue post-birth orders?

YES, but this is dependent on the court.

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


Hearings are often required for birth orders. Appearance may be waived for out-of-state and international Intended Parent(s).

Bases of Venue

What are the bases of venue?

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

Do rulings vary by venue?

Generally, NO, rulings do not vary by venue.

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?

Yes, if the genetic parent would like to be named on the birth certificate without the non-genetic parent.

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

Regular processing time is 6-8 weeks after obtaining the 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

Chelsea Caldwell
Midwest Fertility Law Group, PLC 
740 Southwest Drive
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
(870) 280-2648

Assisted with 2023 Updates

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

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

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 May 2023